Truth Against the World

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Riding the Catabolic Collapse Coaster

We live in a world that has become uncertain. The only certainty is that the way we are used to living is changing and it's going to be getting much more drastic over the following years. The changes to our way of life that have been underway, mostly ignored, are set to become amplified by forces that are out of our hands just now. I've spoken about the Trifecta of climate change, economic implosion, and Peak Oil here. This post is not going to attempt to convince anybody of the reality of those three things. I'm going to proceed as if you understand the state of affairs in our world. The most popular answers to our dilemmas range from the "Cabin in the Woods" isolationism homestead to larger group efforts exemplified by what the Transition Movement is up to. There isn't much in-between those two attempts at answering the question as to what we are supposed to do about the fact that our way of life is in decline and will eventually no longer be viable.

The "Cabin in the Woods" is the idea that you can stock up on ammunition, canned foods, water, and cool "renewable" technologies like a roof full of solar panels, and essentially prepare yourself to hunker down in your homestead while the welfare junkie zombies and distraught housewifes fresh out of Xanax kill themselves off by all manner of violence. You'll be safe in your fortified cabin, and if need be you'll be able to pile the zombies and ravenous suburbinites up at the end of your driveway when they attempt to raid your garden and smash your solar panels all to hell. The problems with this particular method should be pretty obvious to those of us willing to pay attention to human nature.

One, the welfare junkies and intoxicated suburbanites are going to outnumber the amount of ammunition you'll be able to stock pile. Two, you probably don't have what it takes to shoot a zombie in the head, and even if you did manage to shoot your first zombie you probably wouldn't shoot another one due to guilt. Even if you could assassinate starving zombies they would eventually overtake your defenses and steal your stash of canned goods along with anything else of immediate use that was not nailed down.

The only way this method would work would have to be an actual cabin with acres of farmable land surrounded by wilderness with a source of water near by. Plus you would have to have something similar to a bomb shelter stocked to the hilt with food similar to what was featured in the book and movie "The Road". Next you would have to have the skills necessary to grow actual food on your farmable acreage with all the skills that accompany such an endeavor such as food preservation methods. You would also likely need a group of people willing to provide you with zombie security.

In short, if you want to use this method than you had better get started a couple of years ago. If you didn't start a couple of years ago than you better have a lot of money so that you can pay people with the necessary skills to manage your "Cabin in the Woods." But, at some point your money would become worthless and unless you had a necessary skill that your zombie security team didn't have, you to would become worthless. There are a lot of different approaches that the "Cabin in the Woods" may be attempted by, and they will mostly all fail. The reason for this is simple. If you are in a room full of people who are starving to death, and you have a stash of food on your back, it won't be long before the starving herd figured it out. You ever been starving to death? I hear starving people will do anything for some food.

The other method, the one being employed by the Transition Movement, is to create self sufficient communities. These communities are meant to be functional without the grid. That is they are supposed to be able to provide food, shelter, water, and a somewhat comfortable existence all while off the grid. Basically these communities will end up with the same problems as the loner barricaded in his the woods. However that could be remedied by focusing on security measures but how sustainable is that? Eventually the zombie bodies would pile up at the perimeter and they would just climb the pile of undead and eventually breach the perimeter. Zombies aside, there are other reasons why the Transition Movement probably won't amount to much.

Right now there is a minuscule amount of people who are aware of the Trifecta. Do you know anybody in your life who is aware of those three depressing realities? The only people I know who are aware I met on the internet, and I have never met any of them in real life. There are small bastions of transition hope scattered throughout America, but nowhere near me. The closest Transition town to me is 164 miles away. The point of transition is to be local. 164 miles is not local. In fact, by horse, that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of a 10 day trek. By car that's almost a three hour drive one way. My point is that Transition is only good for those who happen to be lucky enough to live in a Transition Town. In order to start your own Transition Movement locally you have to first meet the first requirement. From the official Transistion US website:
The Initial Stage: typically, a group of people start to meet each other, start to discuss the Transition concept, and begin the process of enthusing each other to initiate the process.
I don't know anybody who even knows what the Transition Movement is. I don't even know anybody aware of PO. Therefore I can't even get started on the process if I wanted to. That means my only option is to drop what I'm currently doing to move 164 miles away. That means walk away from my house and consequently sacrifice my credit on the alter of sustainable sanity after somehow convincing the wife that giving up her nest is necessary. Not to mention quiting my job which is akin to suicide in the America of 2011. If it was just me, a 31 year old bachelor with no immediate family to support financially, it would be relatively easy to make the sacrifice, drop everything, and move. This is simply not an option for the majority of Americans.

For those of us aware of the uncertain collapsing future, it's not enough to simply wait and hope that something happens locally. We want to know what we can do now to increase our chances of a decent life heading into the future of diminishing everything. The "Cabin in the Woods" is pretty much an exercise in the absurd and Transition Towns are barely on the map of viable options for most of us. What are we, the middle class people living in status quo suburbia, supposed to do about the fact that our entitlement cheap energy future is going to fulfill itself as a delusion of denial? It would be nice if we could just ask Agent Smith to plug us back into the Matrix as somebody important, but that's not an option either.

The problem is that hopelessness is only good for cultivating depression. This is the first and vigilant everlasting hurtle of waking up to the realities of the Trifecta. It's very hard to continue the business as usual attitude of the past when the future begs to differ. If we have no options for action to help ourselves in the coming days of want how are we to carry on? I've thought about this question a lot lately. Taking a fukitol pill has never been, nor will it ever be, an option for me. I'm wired with the curse that requires me to operate under the guidelines of actuality. I'm allergic to the blue pill. I have found some answers.

John Michael Greer's "Green Wizard" movement strikes a cord with me. From the Green Wizard Forum's home page:

"One of the things the soon-to-be-deindustrializing world most needs just now is green wizards. By this I mean individuals who are willing to take on the responsibility to learn, practice, and thoroughly master a set of unpopular but valuable skills – the skills of the old appropriate tech movement – and share them with their neighbors when the day comes that their neighbors are willing to learn. This is not a subject where armchair theorizing counts for much – as every wizard’s apprentice learns sooner rather than later, what you really know is measured by what you’ve actually done – and it’s probably not going to earn anyone a living any time soon, either, though it can help almost anyone make whatever living they earn go a great deal further than it might otherwise go. Nor, again, will it prevent the unraveling of the industrial age and the coming of a harsh new world; what it can do, if enough people seize the opportunity, is make the rough road to that new world more bearable than it will otherwise be."

-- John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report

The idea behind the Green Wizard Movement is to assist individuals in padding their lives from the Trifecta. Most importantly about this particular movement is that it offers you hope no matter where you are. Information cannot be taken away from you and you don't have to have a place to store it. You can take it with you wherever you go because it fits in your head. However, you must seek this information now so that you can begin to apply it to your When it comes to the skills that are necessary in a World Made By Hand, they must be practiced to gain some type of competence. Growing food organically is not as simple as putting seeds in the ground and harvesting the results. It requires extensive knowledge on certain plant requirements, inter-cropping, attracting beneficial insects, cultivating soil, making compost, irrigation, companion planting, cold frame utilization, and seed saving just to name a few. If you have claim to some space that receives sunlight than you can begin learning how to grow food sustainably. Just because you are in an apartment doesn't mean that you cant vermicompost and grow maters in a pot. Food growing is not the only option you can take for action.

There are many skills that will be needed in the future. They are limited only to your imagination. The point is to learn how to do something that is going to be necessary when gas is 10 dollars per gallon. Learn a skill that will benefit your life now and ensure that you are useful in the future. This is the best approach to take because once something is learned it will always be with you. I believe mobility is going to be very important in the next 20 years or so. To survive the future you are going to have to be willing to go somewhere and you will have to know how to do something of value once there. It's impossible to know exactly what the future is going to entail. There are a few things that are certain.

Energy, in all forms, is going to continue to become more expensive. Food, petroleum, natural gas, and electricity are all going to become increasingly more expensive. All of those things are necessary to the success of suburbia. Without them suburbia starts to break down and the Zombies start to threaten you with turning you into a Zombie. This is why I say it's necessary for you to be willing to go. It may be the only way to escape the zombies. Learning methods for harvesting sun energy will prove themselves invaluable. Growing food is one such method that can be employed. Turning biomass into ethanol would be a magnificent skill to possess. Yet the most important factor needs to be your ability to achieve this energy utilization without needing to hoard things. The knowledge and experience is what's important.

I think the most important thing you can do to brace yourself is to begin accepting the terms of the future now, before they get here. You don't want to be paralyzed with depression and fear when the time comes that you can no longer afford to make your commute to work, or for when your work becomes nonapplicable. This psychological preparation will go a long way for your happiness. Whether you believe the Trifecta is real or not, understanding that the nature of reality is transience is the only sane thing to do. Nothing is guaranteed even under the best of civilizations circumstances. What was available to you a second ago may no longer be available to you because that's what happened and for no other reason. Maybe your job evaporates, or your car is stolen, or your identity is stolen, or your loved one is point is that the only stability to be found in this world is your reaction to it. A sane reaction to tragedy is the product of a disciplined mind that's operating under the terms and conditions of reality as it is and not as it's wished. What I'm talking about preparing yourself for is not part of the 20th century cheap oil fiesta that we've been accustomed to. Preparing yourself now is imperative.

I want to let you know what I refer to as a "zombie" is:

Zombies, by definition, are unsustainable. They represent the last phase of a societies collapse. If you turn on the television you will see that they are in abundance these days. The real housewives, the Jersey thing abominations, the Jerry Springer Bridalplasty drunk Hilton's, the hucksters finding and selling America's junk in pawn shops, out of vans, and out of foreclosed upon rental spaces, and the automatron, droid, talking heads who advise you what to believe about the supposed news, all represent a Zombie nation. A zombie is the perfect symbolic representation of society cannabolizing itself. Civilizations collapse when they run out of resources. During the collapse the already existing resources are sucked dry of any value. This is why Zombie movies are always dsytopian films set in an apocalyptic landscape. They depict the misery and hopelessness of a society mindlessly eating itself. They have to eat your brains in a futile attempt to magically make them their own so that they can think for themselves.

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