addiction, Collapse, communication, community, Dark Mountain Project, Industrial Civilization, MZBs, preppers, self defense, Self improvement, tribe
Cross Posted from: Prayforcalamity.com
Cold northern air pushed south for a few days granting us the slight chill we have come to expect on a November morning. Heavy winds rattled the bare fingers of oak and hickory like blades of prairie grass. Woodsmoke seasoned the air and warmed my soul as I walked the compost toilet bucket out to the pile to be dumped and covered. Two days later temperatures were right back up again as firearm deer hunting season opened. I wanted to spend my Sunday morning waiting quietly in a tree, scanning the ridge line for a sizable white tail, but decided against it when I saw that the high for the day would be seventy degrees. The forecast calls for the cool air to return, so for now, I postpone the hunt, and cross my fingers in the hope that driving home from work late at night I will see a freshly hit roadkill deer that I can harvest instead. Their habitat long converted to highway, I honestly prefer making use of a collision killed deer than pulling the trigger anyway.
The collapse blogs and forums are often rife with talk of such things. There are those who suggest that in a world where grocery stores are shuttered or where there is no money to purchase what they might still contain, people will need to return to hunting and foraging where possible. At such suggestions, there are those who counter that the skill to harvest and process and meat is lost of the vast majority of the population. There are others who then counter that actually, in such a scenario the fields and streams would quickly be stripped bare of any game or fish as hordes of people begin shooting at anything that moves, whether they know how to properly process and preserve the meat or not. After years of collapse minded discussion on the internet, I think it is fair to say that there are many pockets of cliches and conventional wisdoms that have taken root and found their loyalties. Fast collapse, slow collapse, hyper inflation, deflationary depression, bug out, bug in, long slow die off, near term human extinction, etc. ad nauseam. Flow charts of collapse hypothesis each complete with their experts and their laundry list of survival purchases.
Over the years I have found myself settling in the realm of thought promoted by the Dark Mountain Project. I do my best not to make a lot of predictions that don’t go beyond vague guesses at trends, and I primarily try to push the notions of personal and communal endurance, adaptability, and dignity. History’s arc is very long, and it is easy to find ourselves as individuals belonging to a time that we believe from where we stand to be of particular importance or meaning. Such assumptions are vanity. The decline of industrial civilization, yes, will result in the creation of miserable conditions for most of humanity, and as we live through and beyond such times, we shall be tested. We are not going to solve the major crises. We are going to be called upon to endure them. Such endurance is likely beyond many in the western world who have never imagined, let alone suffered true hardship. The age of fossil fuels has not only softened rich bodies, but it has softened rich hearts and minds. It has convinced many that death and pain are an unfairness, one that we could, and should, banish from existence. More vanity. More hubris. To be sure, more blindness, as such soft minds are closed off to the suffering and death that formed the foundation of their very comfort to begin with.
Banish your vanity now. Welcome the dirt under your fingernails. Accept that you are not, nor your culture, the protagonist in a meaningful drama. Visions and stories you have created in your mind in which you are a central performer are phantoms of your own amusement. Dispel them. Be here. Take a good stock of who you actually are.
Mutant zombie bikers (MZB’s for short) are the foil of those who monitor collapse. MZB’s are the unwashed masses. Unprepared for collapse, they don their truck tire armor and necklaces strung with the teeth of their victims and then move over the suburbs and hinterlands seeking families and farmers to massacre in their grand quest for canned peaches, gasoline, and murderous skin harvesting glory. They are the primary enemy portrayed in the dystopian future sketched out in most collapse related conversation.
I would like to offer a counter notion; your worst enemy will be yourself. This suggestion, I hope, can steer us from the primacy of the notion that navigating social collapse is going to be best achieved by those who most willingly point guns at everyone else.
If in fact, a grand collapse of sorts occurs and the social and economic systems that the vast majority of people rely upon fail, it will not likely be a man built like a WWE wrestler riding a tricked out Harley and brandishing a flaming nail bat who kills you. It will be your own inability to work with a group. It will be your own lifetime of poor health choices. It will be all of the ebooks about wild edible plants that you downloaded and never read. It will be your hubris, your panic, your depression, your anger, and primarily your inability to adapt to unpredictable and ever changing conditions.
For what it is worth, this is the concept I would like to toss into the gyre of collapse discussion. How self improvement now not only increases one’s chances of survival in the event of any emergency, short or long, but further, how such improvement greatly benefits one’s life even in the absence of societal breakdown. Successfully navigating dire circumstances that present physical, mental, and emotional challenges requires fortitude on all fronts – body, mind, and soul. Doing the work to improve oneself on these fronts is not likely to be a waste should calamity never strike, in the same way that “prepper” purchases of five years worth of EZ Mac and banana chips might be. Mice will never eat your improved physical stamina. A flood will not wash away your uncluttered mind.
Let’s face it, life in the modern era in western nations has shaped most of our interactions to flow along the patterns and dictates of the economic system; capitalism. Short, shrift transactions where one exchanges paper notes for food do not establish a bond between buyer and seller. More often than not, the owner of such food is not even present, and we interact with low wage workers who operate cash registers, and the bulk of our acquisitions of necessities is at the behest of a system which at times even generates resentment of all the other humans around us. We are infuriated by traffic, long lines, and crowded spaces. Community bonds are threadbare. True reliance on one and other that flows equally back and forth is rare. So what happens when this social and economic paradigm crumbles? Do you have the ability to work well in a group? Can you keep from yelling or being over bearing? Do you dominate conversations and interrupt others? Do you dismiss women or people who aren’t white? Do you even notice if or when you do these things? When the humans around you become a de facto band that must cooperate to survive, can you set your ego and your ideology aside? Can you be the first to give before having received? Can you politely disagree? It may seem silly to present such concerns, but truly, communication has been so degraded by generations of commercial transaction replacing communal reciprocity, not to mention newly invented forms of abbreviated, faceless, eye-contactless device to device texting, that I think a focus on just being able to talk to one another in order to effectively organize crisis response should be a priority. Do you really want to find yourself outcast because everyone around you thinks that your a blowhard asshole?
Of course, habits that trend in the opposite direction could be just as deadly. Are you a doormat? Do you speak up for yourself? Are you easily manipulated? Do you fear speaking your mind when your opinion is unpopular? Can you say “no” and mean it? An ability to judge when to defer to group dynamics and when to pull back from activities you believe to be foolish, dangerous, or a waste of energy is crucial. Of course, navigating the emotions and egos of others is a delicate matter, and doing so forms the basis of politics. When your life is on the line, you will need to swallow your pride one day, draw a line in the sand the next, and hopefully make the right choice as to the when and why for both.
Meanwhile, our habits and addictions will haunt us when all of the usual patterns change, and then change again. If right now you are a smoker, a drinker, if you are addicted to sugar, to caffeine (my personal drug of choice) or just happen to need a particular anti-depressant or antipsychotic to get out of bed, how will you fare when the chemicals your brain requires to function are not available? What is your current physical status? Here in the US, the lion’s share of the population travels by some form of petroleum powered vehicle on a regular basis. Has this made you a bit soft around the middle? Or has a steady diet of sugar softened you sort of all over? The ability to walk long distances over varied terrain while carrying a load, perhaps water, perhaps wood, perhaps a child, would probably serve well. The ability to defend yourself without a weapon, would probably serve well. The ability to live two weeks on nothing but mashed turnips without flipping out on everyone around you at the slightest annoyance because your body is craving a Diet Coke and a Parliament Light might just serve you well.
And I am not pitching machismo. I know too well that a smile, a nod, a low calm voice, can in the right circumstances carry more power than a grounded right cross. Well rounded and adaptable, clear headed and resourceful, that is what I am pitching.
This is why I decry the prepper mentality of stockpiling large caches of goods. That is just consumerism. That is just altering a bad habit to feel like a good habit. Sure, having food in the house, useful tools, toilet paper and jumper cables does make sense. Twenty-Five buckets of mylar sealed white sugar is an absurdity. No matter what emergency you encounter, be it a car accident on a stormy evening, a house fire, or full on “the-grid-went-down-thanks-to-Chinese-hackers-cracked-out-on-energy-drinks-and-promises-of-state-provided-communist-love-girls,” the one thing you will always have on you, is you. Your mind, your body, and your spirit are primary. If these are out of balance or in a dysfunctional state, why would you assume that a Rubbermaid Tub full of Pepto-Bismol would be of any use?
You need to fill your mind, hone your body, and steel your spirit. This is a constant as we live. The work never stops. But as we travel, and work at our wisdom, our knowledge, and our fitness, we must also learn how to successfully integrate this blossoming self with others. Communities don’t just happen, because trust doesn’t just happen; communication doesn’t just happen.
Tribe is hard. Manufactured tribe, anyway. I have never experienced a true tribe; a family linked through time and space, culture and common cause. What I have experienced are groups of people who came together with grand purpose. The torment of hours long meetings with Occupy, the drama of interpersonal conflicts with pipeline blockades, the sheer inability to commit to the work required at failed communes and intentional communities; I have seen it all. In each case, there was success and their was failure. In each case, good intentions ran head first into fatigue, a lack of resources, and at times, post traumatic stress. And in each of those cases, the greater support system of society still existed as a fall back. Dirty, cold and hungry, I watched people do unexpectedly amazing things, no doubt. But stores still had food, even if the only food we could afford was in the dumpster. We could check out, step back, any time we wanted. When the stress of it all was too much to bear, one could return to the “real world” and level out. A collapse scenario will offer no such quarter.
It is said that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. I am not trying to sell some notion of myself as complete or without flaw. I am just as guilty of seeing myself not as I am, but as I have imagined myself to be. I possess plenty of traits and habits which I need to work to better, starting with my ability to calmly and accurately communicate. If I were slower to frustrate and to anger, that would likely be a boon. Despite the constant work that living in a post collapse world would require, I could personally benefit from a greater ability to slow down, to sit still, and to meditate. To just breathe and exist. I think it would strengthen my spirit, even if only by allowing me to take in more beauty and joy that I currently let pass me by in favor of tending to endless tasks. We talk tirelessly about survival, but forget sometimes that without attention to the things that make life worth living, we can never truly thrive.
The time to work on ourselves, is now. Your communication, your patience, and your tolerance, all are best improved now while daily caloric intake doesn’t necessarily rest upon them. The time to break habits of sloth, or poor diet, or of resistance to any work that makes muscles sore and brow sweat, is now. The time to take self dense classes and to increase your self confidence and endurance, is now. The time to abandon phantom notions of your protagonist self in favor of honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses while simultaneously relieving yourself of your doughy first world comfort requirements, is now. Take cold showers. Eat more vegetables. Forgive small debts. Compliment and be patient with others. Walk.
Of course, the hard part is that the pizza is still hot, the beer still cold, and the new season of Game of Thrones is on, and all of it is available twenty-four seven and you wouldn’t even have to speak to another human being, let alone be kind to them, to get any of it. And there is work. And there are bills to pay. Maybe next month when I get a little further ahead. I’ll quit smoking. I’ll quit drinking. I’ll spend less time on the internet and more time with other people. Next month.
You are your worst enemy, but you don’t have to be.
Robert Martin said:
You mentioned never experiencing a true tribe, then mentioned several factors none of which factored in the biological, genetic inheritance which forms the backbone of all sociobiological/ communal interactions.
Ethnocentrism, I.e. that evil racism you implied is bad for group cohesion, is actually the prerequisite for group cohesion. Think in evolutionary terms, working in a group comes at individual expense, so for that to be sustainable in Darwinian terms, the group MUST share and protect the same genes responsible for the group cohesive/ kin selective altruistic behaviour. It is no surprise that the strongest social groups of organisms I.e. the eusocial insects and mammals, are almost totally homogeneous with respect to their genes, as these are the root origin of expected behaviours.
Collapse will favour groups that are in-group homogeneous and cohesive and aggressive to those who do not share enough of their genes or consequent behaviours to be trustworthy allies, they will also be extremely prejudiced against in-group cheaters who try to corrupt the group by accepting racial aliens with incompatible cultures and genes. Survivors will be extremely racist, ethnicist, etc and will protect their genes from unwanted pollution from out-groups, or else they will be fodder for others that ARE.
mike k said:
You are giving genes far more determinative power than they actually manifest. This is a misconception that is central to eugenic and racist thinking.
The world of survivors you are projecting is not worth conserving IMO.
Human survival at any cost is not a value that I support. If we cannot do any better than what you envision, then I would much prefer that we go extinct.
“My human race right or wrong.” I think not.
Robert Martin said:
Nope. They are fundamental, without genes there is merely organic molecule soup with no information /heritage ‘memorization’ possible.
I can read this and unveil a whole new meaning for soft, white, domesticated, deracinated individualists totally divorced from their direct ancestors:
“The age of fossil fuels has not only softened rich bodies, but it has softened rich hearts and minds. It has convinced many that death and pain are an unfairness, one that we could, and should, banish from existence. More vanity. More hubris. To be sure, more blindness, as such soft minds are closed off to the suffering and death that formed the foundation of their very comfort to begin with.”
Fossil fuels made it possible for social progress (as it is called) but what it really is, is a luxury that disintegrates time-tested sociobiological regimes. Is it any wonder why young children and less educated (i.e. closer to what is instinctive, innate) are so readily ‘racist’; it’s no fluke, it’s the operating system – it then requires state indoctrination, hours of television and media spin repeating the same egalitarian bullshit ad nauseum to try and cover up (all egalitarian propaganda, btw, is a product of industrial civilisation and its need for uniform, cultureless wage slaves and consumers and doesn’t exist outside of industrial civilisation EXCEPT in genetically homogeneous tribes).
As the quote suggests, yeah, most of us don’t realise the death, suffering and misery that built our present comfort; yes, it was built by racist, sexist, elitists, which built the present comfort. Now that all the goodies and resources are depleted, we are heading back to those same conditions which the racist, sexist, elitists were so effective at exploiting, albeit with a degraded carrying capacity on earth (but we only need to think outside the closed-earth system for what the biosphere is attempting to do by consuming its stored energy and attempting to grow beyond itself).
In the meantime, when there’s no cheap energy to police and oppress ethnic self interest and kin selection, we will naturally form cohesive groups based on prejudices and generalisations that are mostly correct. White fatalists who think Africans and Arabs won’t be prejudiced against them are in for a shock.
Professor Chomsky points out that the education provided by the civilization that is currently in the process of committing suicide, is a form of indoctrination.
The mythical human genome is but one example:
(On The Origin of Genieology). See further: (The Uncertain Gene, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11), (On the Origin of the Genes of Viruses – 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).
Beautiful piece. You draw attention many fatal flaw of industrial civilization, chief among them in my view our infantaliztion and alienation from our authentic selves. We’ve become utterly intolerant of silence, stillness and the inner work necessary to experience a balanced existence. Reared in a world predicated on competition, separation, judgment, exploitation, violence and cruelty, we’ve lost contact with so much of what is required, for sanity, health and well-being. When shit goes sideways, the PTSD will likely be too much for many of us to bear. I was in the subway the other day and happened upon a performance artist dressed up as a bushman, sitting in front of a faux fire with a sign around his neck that said ” Can You Become Indigenous?” The answer for many of us now is a resounding No. And it will likely be the death of us.
mike k said:
From a scientific point of view there is no such meaningful category as race. This is a social construction with a long history of evil manipulation. To pretend that it is some sort of genetic reality simply shows one’s ignorance, or perhaps some unpleasant agenda.
A variety of genes is beneficial to humans. Same principle as we implement with plants, dogs and all domesticated animals. Artificial selection or natural selection, what’s the dif? If you don’t introduce new genes into the pool, you end up with inbred royalty – insane and sickly. Neanderthal girls need loving too.
Humans evolved to be taller and smarter
People have evolved to be smarter and taller than their predecessors, a study of populations around the world suggests.
Those who are born to parents from diverse genetic backgrounds tend to be taller and have sharper thinking skills than others, the major international study has found.
How did Neanderthal genes affect humanity? Here are some answers.
“Two new papers, one in Nature and the other in Science, suggest that Neanderthal genes helped European and Asian peoples’ ancestors adapt to the colder environments outside of Africa. Twenty percent of the Neanderthal genome lives on in humans today, and non-African people generally have 1 to 4% Neanderthal DNA.”
Robert Martin said:
“education provided by the civilization that is currently in the process of committing suicide, is a form of indoctrination.”
Yeah, you provide a great example, looking at your conformist gullible opinions on race/ ethnicity indoctrinated to you from your sociopolitical surroundings.
I find it all *too* convenient that a godawful, crass, shitty globalist empire centred in Amerika that only cares about short-term economics can so easily steamroll over all biologically and genetically determined nature, regional biocultures and national sovereignty of physiologically distinct peoples.
Actually having a collective soul that you belong to of any sort that isn’t an undifferentiated grey-race mash of individualist, politically correct, special snowflakes is not good for business.
Surely there’s NO agenda behind all this globalist state sponsored multiculturalism… Surely the real evil here is evil nazis hiding in the shadows who do the unthinkable and notice the genetic underpinning of all inheritable characteristics…
“If you don’t introduce new genes into the pool, you end up with inbred royalty – insane and sickly”
Actually, eusociality, the highest form of social organisation in nature is based upon closely related, homogeneous organisms. When nature has something good, it enters evolutionary stasis, therefore doesn’t need a constant influx of ‘new’, it is fine just the way it is you ethnomasochistic prick.
““Natural selection” is one of the basic mechanisms of evolution, along with mutation, migration, and drift. Natural selection explains the appearance of design in the living world, and “inclusive fitness theory” explains what this design is for. Specifically, natural selection leads organisms to become adapted as if to maximize their inclusive fitness. The “fittest” individuals are those who succeed in generating more power and reproducing more copies of their genes than their competitors. Two of the most important methods of selection are “kin selection” and “coalitional killing”.
“Kin Selection” is the evolutionary strategy that favors the reproductive success of an organism’s relatives, even at a cost to the organism’s own survival and reproduction. The coalitional killing of adults in neighboring groups occurs regularly in humans, wolves and chimpanzees. Selection favors the tendency to form coalitions and kill rivals when the costs are sufficiently low. Here is the basic outline: genes cooperate to build cells, which cooperate to build bodies, which cooperate to form coalitions and kill competing groups, which facilitates the dispersal of the winning coalitions’ genes into the environment.”
Fuck you, you cock sucking loser.
Jay Hanson runs a doomer site, although it is maybe one of the first, that does not make him an evolutionary biologist.
There are millions of Robert Martins out there, and they are the reason humans will proceed to extinction. All other species will say, “Good riddance.”
Robert Martin said:
Millions of me out there? I wish! Sure as hell wouldn’t be a sixth mass extinction ongoing, the planet would be rewilded, all immigration ceased with the end of mass transport and globalisation, human biological differences fully identified, respected and rooted out to establish several new human species (rather than, STUPIDLY, throwing all our eggs in one pseudo-multiracial basket… that’s the subtle ongoing extinction YOU are all complicit in – the hominid line has already lost most of its true diversity).
All in all, the point i’ve made is simple. Collapse will un-do all ‘social progress’ and we will revert to genetic baselines/ instincts/ RACISM to try and survive the way our ancestors had to. Your sociopolitical views, although may be very good for ecology, are totally inadequate to continue your own genetic survival in lieu of increasing ethnic strife. Even if the earth wasn’t turning into a toxic hothouse, you’d still go extinct because you don’t have any defended region to call your own — you are a minority against a barbarian horde who wouldn’t think twice before killing you and stealing your resources because ‘YOU’ are not ‘THEM’. The human race is a fucking lie.
“The coming years will prove increasingly cynical and cruel. People will definitely not slip into oblivion while hugging each other. The final stages in the life of humanity will be marked by the monstrous war of all against all: the amount of suffering will be maximal.”
“What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides.” CAN LIFE PREVAIL?
mike k said:
Racism and social darwinism have always been lovely partners.
mike k said:
Under what conditions would I act to save the human species from extinction?
Let’s say I found myself in the position to perform a certain action that would guarantee the continuation of our species for a very long period of time. If however I chose not to perform that action every human would be extinct in a very short time. How would I choose? To act or not to act, that is the question. How would I make that decision? You may pause here and look away from your screen, and consider what your response might be in such a situation. This is a thought experiment, and if you read on before making your own response, then you may be influenced by what I am about to share – so do your own version before seeing mine. I would then be more interested in your uninfluenced response, if you should choose to share it.
Good. My decision would be based upon my evaluation of how likely a radical change in humankind’s trajectory is. My own highest values do not necessarily include the survival of humankind under any conditions. My species right or wrong is not a value I subscribe to. Seeing my species’ arc throughout history of becoming more determined to rape, pillage, enslave and destroy this beautiful planet with all it’s wonderful life forms, and to extend this murderous rampage we call the history of civilization to include billions of our own kind as it’s victims – I have to wonder if this evil culture deserves to survive and continue it’s mad orgy of destruction, and possibly extend the holocaust to life bearing planets yet to be discovered. According to my analysis I could not rationally and ethically choose to act to prevent our species’ near term extinction.
Having long meditated on our situation and arrived at this conclusion, I do not intend for my actions in the future to be motivated by seeking to save our species from extinction. We are not worth saving, and show almost no desire to do what would be necessary to become beings worth saving. What I will do is seek to practice and foster the values and lifestyles I hold sacred during whatever time I have left.
Only communities can survive in the long term. Individuals outside communities have no chance. Even within communities, an individual who is detrimental to it will not be tolerated and are dealt with accordingly. If you really think collapse is imminent, my advice is to be part of a resilient community now.
To follow on from my last comment. I’ll give you one example where an individual is at a disadvantage compared to a community. Imagine a fully prepared, physically fit individual who has all the necessary skills to survive. This individual is only one illness or one injury from death. Within a community, he/she can be nursed back or be re-assigned to another essential activity beneficial to the survival of the community.
Aptitude design said:
Having returned from eight months of wandering in the wilds of Europe, I am able to say that finding a safe spot to sleep, and keep track of my budget, as well as adapting to changes of language. Also, that one needs no soft bed, but a dry and more or less warm one. Food is necessary. but it is not needed on a regular basis. I went by myself, but I didn’t go alone.
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I usually spend the winter months climbing and biking round Europe in a van. I too am never alone as there are many people doing the same thing; chasing the warm weather. Resilient small communities are to be found everywhere in Europe if you have the time and inclination to find them. These are communities that existed before the fossil fuel age and will exist long after the last bit of fossil fuel has been burnt no doubt.
Completely off topic but would you care to elaborate on your euro trip, I have been considering such a trip myself.
Awesome post! Very thoughtful!
Kudos to td0s (the author).
The identification of our problem is right on target–realistic and uncontroversial–though not necessarily good news. Notice that none of the commentators dispute it; they bicker about side issues.
There are a lot of paranoid, despairing, and shortsighted posts at this web site, but “Your Worst Enemy” is not one of them. Thank you very much for writing it!
In a few years, when solar photovoltaics cover 50% of houses and many households have multi-material 3D printers, a post-industrial collapse might never happen (it would probably be a large hiccup; less if the percentage is higher). OTOH, if we don’t have such a distributed source of energy and manufacturing (on which almost everything else depends), then we will desperately need the self-discipline that td0s espouses in order to build communities.
That said, it would be a good thing to start building communities now — even if no collapse ever happens.