“…when denial threatens society, the Earth’s ecosystems, and a sustainable future, it has become not only a delusion, but a dangerous pathology… Possibly some Romans did the same as Attila the Hun marched into Rome, or some Chinese may have sipped tea as Genghis Khan marched his Mongol hordes into their cities…” ~ Haydn Washington
After discovering the website Media Roots a few years ago, I worked with its owner Abby Martin on a small project connected with my ‘Graffiti Philosophy’ video. If I remember correctly, I believe Abby worked for a short time as a newscaster for mainstream media in southern California, but became disenchanted and quit. From my brief experience, she struck me as nothing but sincere and dedicated to the cause of social change. Besides her TV work with RT, she is no different from you or I. I’m aware that RT serves as a “soft-power tool to improve Russia’s image abroad,” but it has also been extremely effective in providing alternative viewpoints to American corporate hegemony. Some of the more discerning readers of this blog have expressed exasperation at the incompleteness of Guy McPherson’s recent interview with investigative journalist Abby Martin. I thought it was rather short and could have been expounded upon if sufficient time were allowed.
No one in my immediate social circle really believes that humans will be extinct by 2030, but if I say circa 2100, then that seems to be sufficiently far enough off in the future for most to safely agree with me. With amplifying positive feedbacks loops just starting to kick into gear, the climate could spiral completely out of control within a short time span as expressed recently by the concern of a number of scientists overcatastrophic and abrupt climate change. After all, we humans are doing things to the planet that have never been done before at such a rapid pace, so the ‘unknown unknowns’ are sure to surprise us.
We all know what our response should be — should have been — in response to climate change, resource depletion, and environmental destruction, but all the evidence points to the system perpetuating itselfuntil it crashes like a speeding train with its conductor sound asleep. I personally think we need an entirely new socio-economic system that is completely counter to the current ecocidal paradigm. We know that corporate espionage against activists is insidiously preventing any sort of large-scale grassroots movement from forming and that the power of mass manipulation by corporate media is unprecedented in the history of civilization, so what are we, the few awake amongst us, to do. Some still feel it is worthwhile to invest time in the current political carnival with the ‘hopes’ of effecting incremental change while others feel that any meaningful decisions should have taken place decades ago. Still others feel our fate could never have been altered to any great degree due to biological imperatives and human psychology, and some humanely ask for mankind to save what biological diversity it can in these last days of the Anthropocene Age. In any event, our descendants will have quite a mess to deal with, that is if they are lucky enough to have been left with a planet that accommodates any sort of human population.
So we get to the purpose of this post. Suspend your jaded cynicism for a moment. Abby Martin, a dedicated activist, artist, and investigative journalist, has agreed to an internet interview for this site concerning the previously described state of the world. Abby has interviewed quite a few intelligent people including many we quote here, so this has the potential to be interesting. I’ve been told Brutus has an essay in the draft format and have asked him to hold off until next week. Help me formulate some intelligent questions for Abby. What questions should she have asked Guy? Does she believe in the possibility of humans going extinct? What does she envision the future to be? Has she ever been censored on RT? Hopefully, Guy McPherson and others will join in once the final interview is published. If you don’t want to post your questions here, send them to me at email@example.com.
As media spin and political rhetoric of the corporatocracy diverge further and further from reality, modern society appears more and more to have been lifted from the pages of dystopian fiction. While the majority of the population succumbs to a serial-bubble economy, a disintegrating social safety net, and extreme weather, The elite are wasting scarce resources in an effort to hold together the cracking and buckling foundation of our sprawling industrial civilization. It’s in the short-term interest of the elite to construct a police state that will protect the gamed system they have created for themselves even though we know such short-sightedness sets us all up for a more spectacular fall. Capitalism has enslaved the world to the lifelong pursuit of little bits of paper and metal in order to buy the mass-produced products and food that have become essential to the survival of billions of people. Money and the illusion of material wealth are now perceived as more important than preserving the habitability of the planet. We live in a pathological dystopia of money worship.
Punch-drunk on fossil fuels, humans have been more destructive than a bull in a china shop; the true cost of fossil fuels continues to be externalized and downplayed as ever more ecological debt racks up, revealing itself in an increasingly destabilized biosphere and collapsing web of life. Sadly, the ‘climate emergency‘ has become yet another excuse for the elite to accelerate their looting by treating CO2 emissions as one more capitalist market tool — tax/trading policies as well as the costly and impractical capture and storage of carbon. In the end, any such market schemes will fail due primarily to the harsh consequences of human ecological overshoot and the complexity trap modern civilization has created for itself.
“…Societies struggling with the dilemmas of complexity are vulnerable from two directions. First, systems that are too tightly coupled or too efficient are fragile; they lack resilience. Thus they risk being toppled by a cascade of failure. That is how region-wide electrical outages propagate. The failure of one sector brings down another and another until the grid itself fails, and once down it takes a heroic effort to get it up and running again.
Second, they are exposed to simultaneous failure. When formerly separate problems coalesce into a problematique, a nexus of interlocking problems, the society does not face one or two discrete challenges, as in simpler times, but instead a swarm of simultaneous challenges that can overwhelm its capacity to respond, thereby provoking a general collapse.
Take climate change as a current example. To address this overall problem will require us to surmount a host of challenges in many different sectors (e.g., agriculture, forestry, public health, energy production, infrastructure and so on) not only in one country or economy but in every country—to varying degrees…”
In the geological blink of an eye — 20, 40, 60, or 80 years from now, ghostly ruins will be all that remains of the most technologically advanced civilization that once spanned the globe. I don’t believe there will appear any sort of Hail Mary invention to solve the gauntlet of problems facing mankind — peak fossil fuels, climate change, ocean acidification, keystone species extinction, water scarcity, peak antibiotics, chemical pollution, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation, capitalism, and the complexity trap. Just a few weeks ago, a drill was conducted between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in order to simulate a large-scale electric grid failure:
“…The vulnerability of our power grid due to solar flares or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is getting new attention. Our system of interconnected power generation, transmission facilities, and distribution facilities are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than ever before. It would cost $3.6 trillion to fix everything, and would not be completed until 2020.
Smart grid systems make the power grid more accessible to cyber hackers so the upgrade can increase the risk. Electric car charging stations are essentially an accessible computer that cyber hackers can access the power grid. Right now, America has relatively few electric car charging stations, but we will be seeing a significant increase in government and privately funded vehicle charging station projects…
…It is estimated that a long-term failure of the power grid would likely be so catastrophic to society that casualties would be in excess of 60% of the population, according to the Chairman of the EMP Commission. With the grid vulnerable to solar flares, cyber attacks, EMP’s and weather related events it is important that we have supplies in stock to reduce the waiting time for overseas shipments and manufacturing delays. Currently we lack the inventory.
When, not if, the power grid fails, not only will the citizens of the U.S.A. be at risk of interrupted supplies of water, fresh food, fuel and the shut down of communications, but our very own military will suffer the same affects. Civil unrest would inevitably overwhelm the police department’s ability to respond…”
…”Energy officials worry a lot these days about the stability of the massive patchwork of wires, substations and algorithms that keeps electricity flowing. They rattle off several scenarios that could lead to a collapse of the power grid — a well-executed cyberattack, a freak storm, sabotage.
But as states, led by California, race to bring more wind, solar and geothermal power online, those and other forms of alternative energy have become a new source of anxiety. The problem is that renewable energy adds unprecedented levels of stress to a grid designed for the previous century.
Green energy is the least predictable kind. Nobody can say for certain when the wind will blow or the sun will shine. A field of solar panels might be cranking out huge amounts of energy one minute and a tiny amount the next if a thick cloud arrives. In many cases, renewable resources exist where transmission lines don’t.
“The grid was not built for renewables,” said Trieu Mai, senior analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The frailty imperils lofty goals for greenhouse gas reductions. Concerned state and federal officials are spending billions of dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer money in an effort to hasten the technological breakthroughs needed for the grid to keep up with the demands of clean energy”…
The electric grid truly is the Achilles heel of industrial civilization:
…”Outside of the electricity industry, few fully understand the centrality of the grid to life in America today. The most graphic realizations occur when the grid goes down. It’s not just a matter of light and comfort in our homes. Without electricity, citizens may have no access to potable water, sewage treatment, safe food, fuel supplies, traffic control, or health care…
…Not only is the electrical grid central to modern life, but the grid also has multiple vulnerabilities that make keeping it safe a very difficult task. Weather outages are common, although some, such as an ice storm, can do enormous damage. A January 1998 ice storm destroyed much of Hydro-Québec’s massive 765-kV transmission system, blacking out more than 3 million Canadians, causing 30 fatalities, and leaving many customers in the dark for weeks. Tropical storms, such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, can also cause long-term and widespread destruction.
Human error can also take down the grid in a hurry, as was the case with the massive August 2003 blackout that turned off power for 55 million people in the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada…
…The 2003 blackout also highlighted another chilling aspect of grid failure: the propensity of the system to suffer from a cascading failure. Because of the grid’s interconnectedness, grid failures can spread quickly, concatenating across the system. This same effect occurred during the 1965 blackout that slammed most of the eastern U.S., an event that began with a simple hardware failure in Canada.”…
…”Unfortunately, the world’s nuclear power plants, as they are currently designed, are critically dependent upon maintaining connection to a functioning electrical grid, for all but relatively short periods of electrical blackouts, in order to keep their reactor cores continuously cooled so as to avoid catastrophic reactor core meltdowns and fires in storage ponds for spent fuel rods….
What do extended grid blackouts have to do with potential nuclear catastrophes? Nuclear power plants are designed to disconnect automatically from the grid in the event of a local power failure or major grid anomaly; once disconnected, they begin the process of shutting down the reactor’s core. In the event of the loss of coolant flow to an active nuclear reactor’s core, the reactor will start to melt down and fail catastrophically within a matter of a few hours, at most. In an extreme GMD [geomagnetic disturbance], nearly every reactor in the world could be affected…
If an extreme GMD were to cause widespread grid collapse (which it most certainly will), in as little as one or two hours after each nuclear reactor facility’s backup generators either fail to start, or run out of fuel, the reactor cores will start to melt down. After a few days without electricity to run the cooling system pumps, the water bath covering the spent fuel rods stored in “spent-fuel ponds” will boil away, allowing the stored fuel rods to melt down and burn . Since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently mandates that only one week’s supply of backup generator fuel needs to be stored at each reactor site, it is likely that, after we witness the spectacular nighttime celestial light show from the next extreme GMD, we will have about one week in which to prepare ourselves for Armageddon.”…
The Energy Skeptic reports that Russia is on a crusade to spread these ticking time bombs all around the world.
Once in a while in that vast nothingness of the internet I’ll happen across a blog from someone who has something of substance to say. I have also learned that Dmitry Orlov is likely discontinuing any more ‘collapsitarian’ blog posts. Probably not a good subject to dwell on when you have an infant son. In ‘Dmitry flicks it in‘, Harry Willis reminds us that America has been the epicenter of capitalism, always for sale to the highest bidder and now home to a new growth industry – Doomsaying:
“…David Halberstam’s book The Fifties was, I think, very enlightening in this regard. We are the home of the chain hotel (Holiday Inn), the chain restaurant (McDonald’s and all its followers), the Big Box stores (Wal-Mart, CostCo), the mega-hardware store (Home Depot, Lowe’s), the strip mall, the suburban housing tract, and most importantly, the concept that corporate power should be concentrated in huge holding companies that own very diverse and large businesses. On this latter point, whether Americans realize it or not, every meal they eat out, every processed food they buy at the market, every sundry (detergent, household necessities) they purchase wherever, every drug and almost everything else they routinely buy is sold to them by about 10 huge holding companies. And all communications are essentially owned by 6 large corporations, so everything you ingest with your ears and eyes is also owned by a corporate cartel.
These huge companies are multinational in character, with much of their business (and payroll) located overseas. They are nominally American, but the sinking mass of the American middle and lower classes here are more or less of marginal relevance to them, and only to the extent that Americans form part of their customer base. The American booboisie needs to be manipulated because the U.S.A. is still nominally a democracy, de jure, although de facto it is what Sheldon Wolin calls an “inverted totalitarian state,” one where the government is owned by Big Business. We are not going to “vote” our way out of this situation, as Russell Brand, among numerous others (including Dmitry Orlov, most definitely) seems to get.
America is a corporate headquarters and tax haven which executes its business plans by means of a huge standing army, which does not often just stand around. We got this way because (a) power always tends to concentrate in fewer and fewer hands, even in a liberal democracy, since as money aggregates it can get rid of legal impediments such as high taxation and anti-trust laws, and (b) because America was the most innovative and naturally-blessed (our peerless real estate) nation on Earth. We also benefitted mightily from intellectual immigration to this country, made possible by the double-digit IQs in charge of Nazi Germany.
I don’t think the United States is going to collapse in the sense that the Collapsarian community talks and writes about. For one thing, the emphasis is too much on Peak Oil. I’ve written before that I think Peak Oil represents a kind of deus ex machina for anti-American wish fulfillment. Some sensitive souls, such as James Kunstler, Dmitry Orlov and many others, are so appalled by the grisly ugliness of the American crapscape, with its chain everything and grotesque proliferation of hideous suburban grids, that they long for some way to predict confidently that it must fall of its own weight. That’s where Peak Oil comes in: you posit that an economy runs on cheap energy, especially petroleum in the American economy, and this gives you a means of assuring everyone that it will all be over soon and an anodyne vision of Norman Rockwell’s neighborhoods will materialize peacefully out of the formless void.
No, I don’t think so. The lower 90% of the American populace has no way to go but down, until it reaches a rough parity with the hard-working masses in Asia who, after all, have many of the same employers as the Americans. The American multi-nationals are indifferent to the fate of their so-called “countrymen,” indifferent to the environment (mountain top removal, fracking, pesticide and fertilizer flushes into the Gulf and oceans, plastic waste, soil erosion, CO2 emissions) and essentially react only when conditions become so dire that the American “platform” is threatened. We’re inflating bubbles again through money printing to retard this natural contraction, and when the bubbles pop (again), we’ll have nother “crisis” which will in fact simply be another step-phase down after the gooey soap is cleaned up. I think that’s how we’ll get there, in a ratchet fashion. We will even adapt to oil high prices, as in fact Americans have done since the 2008 financial crisis began. Americans drive 3% fewer miles now per year than they did 5 years ago, despite increases in population and the “recovery.” Gasoline usage is way down, as people shift to fuel-efficient cars and just leave the car keys on the table in the hallway. Or by the oil can fire under the bridge.
The dramatic immiseration of the American people (thanks, Rob Urie) since 2008 has made catastrophe prediction and doomsaying one of America’s chief growth industries, and many, many writers and speakers have gotten in on the act. But it’s not especially lucrative. Owning one of the Big Corporations is better for that, so the doomsayers drop out and flick it in. It’s always nice to go over to Mom’s house.”
Economic and cultural coercion are readily apparent in our society. And if those don’t work, the corporate state also has policies of overt force – military and law enforcement. You could call this arrangement an ‘open air prison’ or the more apt phrase for America would be ‘inverted totalitarianism’ in which the prisoners aren’t fully aware of their own shackles, transfixed as they are by mass media manipulation, the consumer culture, and the trappings of our high-energy way of life. Is there any wonder that a post apocalyptic scenario holds a certain amount of perverse romanticism for those yearning to escape capitalist modernity?
The question of whether the human species is smarter than yeast is answered daily as the ecocidal and homicidal activities of industrial civilization continue apace. I learned a few days ago that September 2013 was the warmest in recorded history, and this morning I read that 2012 was a record breaker for GHG emissions:
“The laws of physics and chemistry are not negotiable,” said Michel Jarraud.
“Greenhouse gases are what they are, the laws of physics show they can only contribute to warming the system, but parts of this heat may go in different places like the oceans for some periods of time,” he said.
This view was echoed by Prof Piers Forster from the University of Leeds.
“For the past decade or so the oceans have been sucking up this extra heat, meaning that surface temperatures have only increased slowly.
“Don’t expect this state of affairs to continue though, the extra heat will eventually come out and bite us, so expect strong warming over the coming decades.”
Speaking candidly about the prospects of the industrialized world being able to reduce its GHG emissions and avoid catastrophic warming, the only three living diplomats responsible for leading past and present UN global warming talks had this to say:
“‘There is nothing that can be agreed in 2015 that would be consistent with the 2 degrees,’ said Yvo de Boer, who was UNFCCC executive secretary in 2009, when attempts to reach a deal at a summit in Copenhagen crumbled with a rift between industrialized and developing nations. ‘The only way that a 2015 agreement can achieve a 2-degree goal is to shut down the whole global economy.’”
Another study explains that not even the supposed eco-friendly state of California is likely to meet its GHG reduction targets by 2050. So you see, the ‘radical ecoterrorists’ were right all along. Industrial civilization has to go, or we go. The improbable list of actions needed to preserve any semblance of humanity was recently laid out by George Mobus. But as you know, even if we stopped everything right now, there is still a lot of pent-up manmade global warming in the pipeline from past industrial activity that will wreak havoc for millennia to come, as Robert Scribbler points out:
“…we’ve already released enough greenhouse gasses to at least return Earth to climates not seen in 3.6 million years. In this respect, the Baffin Island study adds to research conducted at Lake El’gygytgyn showing that levels of CO2 comparable to those seen today resulted in Arctic temperatures 8 degrees Celsius hotter during the deep past…
…Most likely, we are headed to at least the temperatures last seen during the Pliocene, in which global averages ranged 2-3 degrees Celsius hotter than the present and during which oceans were 25-75 feet higher. Unfortunately, these are the long-term consequences we have probably already locked in. But without rapid reductions in carbon emissions to near zero over the coming decades, we can expect far, far worse outcomes.”
Russia recently answered the concerns of environmentalists over Gazprom’s drilling plans in the Arctic by summarily arresting numerous members of Greenpeace and charging them with piracy. This is a high-profile case illustrating that ecocide is embedded and enforced within the system of capitalist industrial civilization. A further example of the system’s omnicidal nature is the construction of nuclear-powered ice-breaker ships by Russia to plow through the waters of the Arctic:
“Russia has started building the world’s largest universal nuclear-powered icebreaker capable of navigating in the Arctic and in the shallow waters of Siberian rivers. The unique vessel will further increase Russia’s dominance in the region…
…Powered by two “RITM-200” pressurized water reactors the “Arctic” is being built to generate 175MWe. Its efficiency and power allows the new model to crack ice fields 3 meters thick…”
Then you have Canada racing towards eco-apocalypse with its tar sands, and America exporting its coal into the maws of China and elsewhere as well as fracking the countryside into toxic wastelands, but of course the disease has spread globally. As Michael T. Klare clearly stated after weighing the PR propaganda with observable reality:
“…The result is indisputable: humanity is not entering a period that will be dominated by renewables. Instead, it is pioneering the third great carbon era, the Age of Unconventional Oil and Gas….”
Delicate ecosystems are ground up into commercialized and commodified pulp and fed into the machine of capitalism, lost forever in the fumes of our consumptive madness. A rash of mass wildlife deaths is occurring this year to further evidence the fact that industrial man is pushing the planet to the brink. It appears we may be reaching more tipping points in ecological breakdown:
Robert MacNeil once observed, “Television is the soma of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.” Our global self-destruction is not visible to the Television-hypnotised masses when they look out their window, but for the few environmentally conscious beings amongst us, the destruction is as personal and painful as wartime torture. How depressive it is to see the natural world being chewed up and spit out at such an alarming rate. We are part of the environment and its death is humanity’s suicide. Some hope for a super-Carrington event that would leave the machine dead in its tracks, but then there is the problem of those hundreds of nuclear plants scattered around the world like the bomb-rigged vest of a terrorist.
A sociopathic economic system that crushes democracy, decency, and justice in the name of growth and profits has led to the catastrophe we now see unfolding. When the masses are dumbed-down to mere ‘consumers’ and powerless to make meaningful change, then those sociopaths at the helm of the ship are free to pull us all down into the black hole of war, famine, disease, and extinction.
They were called ‘consumers’. Their every behavior became just another stream of data to be tracked, recorded, quantified, and analyzed by corporations for their vast, profit-seeking conveyor belt of production, distribution and marketing to a sea of mouths. The machine was global and its hungry tentacles wrapped the Earth. Wherever it turned its covetous eyes, the Earth shook and its creatures large and small fled for cover. Government and corporate rule were fully enmeshed and the birth of a worldwide surveillance state was born. All mass communication systems were controlled and grassroot uprisings within the Empire’s homeland could be cut off at the knees before they ever gained traction. Protection of the homeland from terrorism was the initial excuse by which the fascist state expanded its power. Knowledge is power; foreign countries and governments could be manipulated from a distance. Privacy was a quaint relic of a bygone era. With the awareness that Big Brother was watching, few voiced their true opinions. The charade of democracy played on as the consumers retreated into their fabricated world of digital screens and commercialization.
“[Citizens became] one-dimensional idiots; consuming pointlessly, obsessing about lifestyle, gawping at celebrities, gazing blankly at moronic TV game shows, forever grasping towards the next, vacuous, artificial ‘want’ created by Global Gobble Corporation.” ~ Philip Mirowski
The captains of industry were happy with their scheme of manipulating markets, printing fiat money, continuously uprooting industry to cheaper labor pools abroad, keeping well oiled the wheels of the military industrial complex by waging war-for-profit wherever possible, and ravaging the Earth for every last bit of ancient carbon and minerals. Vast sums of money were spent on public relations and greenwashing in order to ensure the unwashed masses would stay ignorant and subservient to the looting and destruction of society and the environment. The elite were quickly turning the Earth into a death trap for all living things, and few noticed or cared. As long as cheap, mass produced, nutrient-poor food was on tap to fill the stomachs of the teeming masses, revolt and bloodshed were averted. The elite, however, could see the writing on the wall. Plans were drawn up to use force when the inevitable time arose that fuel, food, and water became scarce. The heavy stick of Empire so often used to smash swarthy radicals abroad would, in due time, be turned inward on the homeland.
“The Will To Extermination is the very core of the Dark Side. It has been ignored at humanity’s own peril.” ~ Patrice Ayme
“Our technological abilities have made us tremendously successful animals, but also tremendously dangerous ones, glorified apes with nuclear capabilities. We tend to overexploit or destroy our resources, drastically modify or pollute our environments, overpopulate the planet, and wage war on our fellow inhabitants, all of which threaten our long-term viability as a species. Is self-induced extinction the ultimate fate of intelligent, tool-using organisms like ourselves? Are we smart, but not smart enough?”
~ Kathy D. Schick and Nicholas Toth
“This is what I recently learned from my friend, Professor Bill Rees:
During individual development, repeated sensory experiences and cultural norms literally shape the human brain’s synaptic circuitry in patterns that reflect and embed those experiences. Patterned thinking acquires a physical presence in the brain.
Subsequently, people seek out compatible experiences and, “when faced with information that does not agree with their [preformed] internal structures, they deny, discredit, reinterpret or forget that information.” (Brain and Culture, Bruce E. Wexler, The MIT Press, 2006).
Most people are genuinely unable to face the truth. Based on this premise, most if not all human civilizations have been built.
“The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error…” (Gustave le Bon, 1896).
~ Tadeusz (Tad) Patzek
Over at Nature Bats Last, my favourite virtual park bench to watch the virtual pigeons, the talk is of hospice. Life is a terminal disease.
I suppose there’s not a lot of difference between hospice and death row.
Degrees of freedom. How big is your prison cell ?
What’s the company like ? Do you get any choice ? What about the visitors ? Are they friends, priests, nurses, jailers, torturers ?
I have to say, for a man of my disposition, my own cell, here, is perfection.
Long ago and far away, in another lifetime, I did a course in kitchen design.
I found it fascinating and enjoyed it very much. Efficient use of work space. Sink. Work top. Storage. Things you use most often, nearest.
Later, I discovered Permaculture. Much the same idea, really, but working with the natural physical environment.
Design your prison cell. Oh, but you cannot, because you have no freedom to choose, because it’s not yours, you don’t own it… Ha !
That’s a problem isn’t it. Property and ownership. On a crowded island, a crowded continent, a crowded planet.
“The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: “Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”
~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract and The Discourses
Freedom to choose. Property. These barriers that we collide with when we desire to design our lives, the space between birth and death.
Used to be, long ago, you could just walk off into the desert, or into the forest, or into the mountains, and get away from it all, and find a place where you could settle yourself down and be undisturbed. But that’s not so easy anymore, at least, not where I live, and then what do you eat ?
When I was 20 I had a vision, with my wife, to find a ruin, some abandoned old farm in the mountains, where I could set up some home and make an anarchist commune. I found a couple with two kids, beatniks, about 15 years older; they were right into the idea. We had a good try but it didn’t work out.
We learned some of the reasons why it is hard to succeed.
Took me a lot of trying and a lot of failing to get what I got. The perfect prison cell.
People think I’m crazy. They are right. Depends what you mean by ‘crazy’, of course. You have to be crazy. You see, most people try things, twice or ten times, and fail, and give up, and say it’s impossible. But some things aren’t like that. You have to try 999 times and fail every time. And then the 1000th time, you make it. And only a crazy person discovers that, because everybody who wasn’t crazy gave up long ago.
But, you see, it really might be impossible. What if you have to try all your life to find that it was impossible ??
That’s circus people. They have to be crazy. Special sort of ambition to do something really peculiar. I knew some once. Not a proper circus, a really silly circus. All they had was a lama, and a sheep and a goat. And the guy could walk along a tightrope. A low one, about six foot off the ground. But if you can do it, doesn’t really matter about the height. It’s about the falling off.
So they were determined to have a circus for a livelihood. With one fucking lama that they decorated. And a sheep and a goat that they trained to go around in circles in a tent. And the guy walked along the tightrope. And twenty people would pay and wonder why these crazy people were doing this.
Point is, they were designing their own lives. They were AMAZING. You just wanted to help them because they were crazy. The crazy was contagious. In a good way. Two girls were identical twins, impossible to tell which was which; that was crazy in itself.
So, you find a place. Like designing a kitchen, the sleeping place is the centre. Or maybe, if you’re into Bodhidharma, your meditation place. Then comes the things you use and need most often, nearest. Then, like a spider in the middle of its web, you need strands that connect out into the world.
People are very different. Depends upon what your personality is like, what your desires are, what you require to be satisfied. Design the structure around you; design yourself to fit the structure. Build in the right habits, the rituals, the efficient and effective functioning. Remember, its death row. Nobody gets out alive. What’s worth caring about, what’s not ? Music !
I have a field which I’ve left for the grass to grow long. This is so it can be a refuge for the linnets. They are just small brownish song birds. They are somewhat endangered but not dramatically so; average little birds, so to speak, nothing spectacular or flamboyant, not the ‘most’ anything; finch family, thought to originate some time in the Middle Miocene, 10 to 20 million years ago. From what I gather, skeletons of these small song birds are rarely well-preserved in the fossil record, so it’s a patchy picture and much is guesswork.
The linnets are some of the company I have here, in my cell on death row.
In 1963, someone called Robert F. Stroud died. He had spent 54 years in solitary confinement in a prison cell. It states on the cover of the book he wrote that no man in the history of the world spent more time alone. I don’t know if his record has been broken since then. America seems so perverse and sadistic these days, it wouldn’t surprise me.
Anyway, Stroud spent his time researching bird diseases and became one of the world’s greatest bird pathologists. See. You’ve got to be crazy. He couldn’t design his cell at all. It was not his property. He had no freedom. But he could design himself. He wrote this incredible book Stroud’s Digest on the Diseases of Birds. Made a life for himself. Didn’t let the fuckers destroy him.
I think most people have got more options, bigger cells.
If you look at the previous mass extinction events, a few species made it through. My thinking is, try to save something for as long as possible.
Could be the linnets, this time. Who knows ? Nobody else seems to care.
But it’s just my version of the crazy circus…
Birds are much smarter than most people realise or appreciate:
“Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in particular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.” http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf
So, as far as I am concerned, on any sane scale of values, those circus people and the linnets are worth more than all the wankers on Wall Street and in the City of London put together. Because when it really comes down to it, freedom has, as Stroud discovered, to do with what’s inside you, not what’s outside.
Be realistic. Demand the impossible. Insist that you get it.
I haven’t kept up much on Fukushima because I find it too horrifying to contemplate; one quick look into this subject is enough to ruin your day. In a future of cascading failure, conceivably hundreds of nuclear meltdowns are in danger of being set off. The last breath of human life on Earth could be extinguished from such a toxic brew of radioactive isotopes. Thirty-one months after the nuclear catastrophe called Fukushima, this festering wound persists with hundreds of tons of radioactive water uncontrollably leaking into the Pacific each day and thousands of exposed fuel rods threatening to make Japan uninhabitable. In light of this ongoing manmade fiasco, I find it morbidly humorous that Japan has been chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. It’s like planning a house party while the roof is ablaze and a sinkhole is opening up under the home’s foundation. But this seems to be par for the course for a species that has come to rely on technology as its steadfast savior. Only as this century draws to a close and the polar regions are seen as the last refuge for a depopulated planet will humans have finally realized that their precious technology served to extend human overshoot only for a brief time… and at the expense of making the inevitable crash that much worse.
There is no better way in determining the worth of a society than the kind of future it leaves for its children and future generations. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “You can judge a society by how they treat their weakest members.” Are not the unborn generations of our descendants the most helpless of all, voiceless and invisible to those making the reckless choices of today? By this measure, modern capitalist industrial civilization, notwithstanding its technological marvels and humanitarian achievements, would have to rank quite low when we look at the silent, lifeless wasteland that our present way of life is creating. The specter of climate change has replaced the Cold War psychic burden of a nuclear winter. The children of the Atomic Age had the naive “duck and cover” plan to escape that monster, but what plan do the kids have today for the horror of runaway climate change? As the Energy Skeptic recently discussed, climate change has destroyed many civilizations in the past and our globalized one will undoubtedly be no different. A doomsday date of 2047 was recently set for the cities of today’s world:
Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered the barbarity of nuclear bombs, but these decimated cities were rebuilt. Climate Change will in time make all cities uninhabitable through flood, drought, scorching heat, fire, sea level rise, and continent-sized Frankentorms. There will be no rebuilding of such uninsurable cities. They’ll be left to wither away like the deindustrialzed and bankrupted city of Detroit. The lights will go out and stay out permanently in these ghost towns and ghost cities ravaged by an unstable biosphere. Climate refugees will strain the resources of countries and cause social unrest which may lead to more wars in the future. The response of our leaders at the helm of modern civilization is to build levees and dikes, geoengineer the planet, and bioengineer the food supply. None of these are adequate responses in the long run and only eat up finite resources that could go towards building a whole new way of life that is not under the dictate of Wall Street and disaster capitalism. Such solutions, however, are pipe dreams in a world so thoroughly controlled by the concentrated wealth of multinational corporations which are today’s feudal lords, their armed henchmen in the police state, and the insidious manipulation of public sentiment and behavior by corporate media and the security and surveillance state. I took it as ‘divine retribution’ when I read that the NSA has had a rash of electrical problems at its yet-to-be-completed data collection spy center.
So if the kids are feeling unmotivated and adrift in such a world, can they be blamed for wanting to drop out? Attention-deficit disorder and the epidemic of other behavioral problems that afflict the youth of today along with society’s knee-jerk response of medicating the misfits may just be another sign that things are far from alright in the world. Judging from the craziness of the people running the show, I’d say that capitalist industrial civilization has become one big insane asylum with the governments around the world acting as Nurse Ratched of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Everyone must acquiesce to the rules of the corporate state:
1. Keep the masses distracted via internationalised sport, celebrity gossip and ‘news’ about mating success of caged animals and dogs that can ride surfboards.
2. Keep creating money out of thin air, lending it as zero interest to members of the club, and charging everyone else significant interest. Dilute the purchasing power of money on a continuous basis and call that process inflation.
3. Manipulate or fabricate economic data to create the illusion that everything is just fine.
4. Ensure that official planning (at least that which is public) ignores everything that will actually determine the future.
5. Conduct wars or covert operation as necessary to maintain the flow of resources from poor nations to rich nations.
6. Ensure wealth continues to be transferred from the less wealthy to the ultra-wealthy.”
~ Kevin Moore
“The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine.” ~ Nurse Ratched
If you are a person who gets their news solely from mainstream media and forms a worldview from that information, then this website would perhaps strike you as radical, off-base, and conspiratorial. But what if nearly everything you listen to and read has been filtered through the monied interests of the most powerful entities on the planet? And what if those entities quite literally control the government by way of a revolving door, campaign contributions, and lobbyists who unduly influence the crafting of legislation in favor of big business while ignoring the needs of the common citizenry? What if you are merely a pawn in the machinations of such a system — a consumer for the all-important world market and a disposable human resource in its labor pool? What if the wealth created by such an economy is amassing at the very tip of this pyramid scheme while leaving those below to fend for themselves in a world depleted of its resources and poisoned by industrial waste. Would such a grim reality be considered a conspiracy theory? In other words, would the previously described outcome of such a socio-economic system necessarily have to be the plan of a secret cabal of powerful people? If corporations must compete to survive and are legally bound to look after the financial interests of their shareholders, then protecting and growing profits must in the end override all other concerns — environmental and social. The gross wealth disparity, environmental destruction, and political disenfranchisement created by capitalism is not the byproduct of a conspiracy; it’s simply the end-result of a system operating as intended. Concentration of wealth, a characteristic result of capitalism, inevitably leads to a near total corruption of journalism and democracy. Of course the corporate elite may collude to price-fix, bribe regulators or heads of state, and cover up environmental damage and dangers to public health, amongst many other devious activities, but it is invariably done in the interest of gaining dominance in the market place and protecting profits. Capitalism and democracy are not compatible. In fact, life on Earth is ultimately not compatible with capitalism.
“…Although conspiracy theories have been around for centuries, some gained in popularity during the 1960s and 70s as ‘post-modern disillusionment’ set in and people began to question the very notion of ‘progress’. Modernity had not lived up to expectations. Living under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation, environmental degradation, poverty and the inability of science or politics to address such concerns, people began moving towards ‘new age’ beliefs and concepts or embracing unconventional theories that seemed to explain humanity’s plight.
This all occurred against a backdrop of (failed) proposals to collectively address worldwide problems that went beyond the capacity of individual nation states acting alone. The UN had been set up along with various other international institutions in order to address global issues but also to cement US global hegemony…”
“…The advocates of populist conspiracy theories seek to explain everything in terms of secret societies and codes, Zionism, ‘communism’ or the hand of ‘Rothschild’. Of course, families like the Rothschilds and Rockefellers and groups like Bilderberg exist and do hold great power. That much is not in dispute. However, the nature of the dynamics of power is. Groups or think tanks like Bilderberg, Brookings Institute, Trilateral Commission, Chatham House, Council on Foreign Relations, RAND Corporation and so on are where capitalism’s state-corporate hegemons, including the rich families mentioned above, meet to discuss, devise policies and manage capitalism.
Radical critiques of society have often focused on the underlying logic and processes of capital accumulation and capitalist economic crises as well as capitalism’s inherent contradictions. An analysis of the historical antecedents of modernity according to scholarly analysis has also been prevalent. Today, it is popular to assert that the members of some shadowy group have been in charge all this time – the Illuminati, often used as a metaphor for ‘the Jews’.
The rise of such explanations are understandable in a complex world, where the ordinary person feels utterly powerless, confused and craves easy answers. Little surprise then that events and crises are said to be the work of some sinister ‘Illuminati’, an explanation which tends to steer clear of any genuine analysis of capitalism.
In the West, jobs are being outsourced, wages are falling and unemployment rising. As the market becomes saturated with goods and demand is unable to mop up supply, firms go bust. There is a shift towards powerful monopoly capitalism, while citizens and workers experience increasing powerlessness and immiseration. And to seek out new profits, imperialist ventures abroad become the norm. State-corporate monopoly capitalism and imperialist intent are not part of a ‘New World Order’ but are part of a world in which the few benefit at the expense of the many and that has been in the making ever since Britain became the first industrial nation and capitalism emerged.
But what we now have isn’t free market capitalism, some might say. The notion of the free market has always been a myth. It’s always been controlled and manipulated. It’s never been ‘free’. And we are now witnessing advanced capitalism in all its gore.
Capitalism has inherent contradictions. All was never intended to be fine. Remember the slogan to end poverty by 2020 (or whatever the date was)? Capitalism thrives on poverty. It’s integral to the system. That’s why it is rampant in the West and much more so in the cheap labour economies of the ‘developing world’. The increasing concentration of power, ownership and wealth and the rising impoverishment of the masses is one of capitalism’s greatest contradictions. It’s not some kind of conspiracy to keep the masses in poverty or in fear of falling into it. It’s built in to capitalism.
But many do not refer Marx, Engels, Lenin or Trotsky to gain an understanding of the processes of dialectic materialism and capitalism. They and their theories are regarded as being part of the Zionist conspiracy. If socialism and communism are the creation of Zionism, which supposedly exerts so much control over the US and Britain, strange then that the secret services of both the US and Britain spent so much time and energy on infiltrating, deradicalising and subverting the left (3).
While the late Antony C Sutton (sometimes regarded as the father of modern conspiracy theories) provides food for thought in his writings and research (4), conspiracy theories tend to provide limited insight into the dynamics of power and oppression in the 21st century.
However imperfect the work of people like Robert Brenner (5) and Barrington Moore (6) may have been, their research was based on broad comparative sociological analysis of the cultural, historical, agrarian and economic factors that led to the rise of capitalism, fascism and communism in various societies. In the absence of this, however, prominent proponents of conspiracy theories in the US and Britain make crude assumptions about such phenomena comprising part of an Illuminati plot, which play on the prejudices and fears of ordinary people, who in turn latch on to the explanation offered as a proxy for the underlying causes of their powerlessness and frustrations.
Why bother having an informed understanding of the dynamics of the modern world based on rigorous research? Much easier to watch a few YouTube clips about some secret, manipulative elite or even amphibians from outer space with an agenda to control the world.
Many conspiracy theorists have indeed actually been quite informative on how the banking system works and how bankers conspire to control policies by keeping governments in permanent debt. They have also highlighted glaring flaws in official accounts of 9/11. They have rightly pinpointed what the mainstream misses out of its narratives and have raised issues that many on the left had tended to ignore or gave scant attention to. But such useful insights then become wrapped up in theories that too often appear to be based on flights of fancy.
There is no doubting that people can and do conspire to shape events. Not everything can be explained by structures where individual motive is eradicated. For example, corporations conspire to produce price cartels, media barons conspire to dominate and state-corporate interests embark on military jaunts to control markets and resources. And yes, bankers conspire to restrict credit for various reasons. But this has to be placed within the wider context of Empire and capitalism.
In capitalism, the compulsion to compete, dominate and pursue profit casts long shadows over virtually every social and cultural institution, from government and politics to education, law, agriculture and entertainment.
Conspiracy theorists and their followers may well appreciate aspects of this, but merely speculate about the intentions of and actions of groups of people without addressing how capitalism shapes any of it…”
How many commercials and advertisements are bombarded at the average person every waking day of their life. It’s in the thousands – everything from TV commercials to billboards to junk mail to radio adverts. Don’t you think this would have some sort of effect on a person’s psychological well-being? Is it any wonder that the one country in which conspiracy theories thrive most also happens to be the epicenter of unbridled capitalism? British author Roger Cohen said, “Captive minds… resort to conspiracy theory because it is the ultimate refuge of the disempowered.” In an environment where everyone is expected to sell themselves everyday in order to eat and ‘the truth’ is manufactured so as to protect the vested interests of those who bring you the ‘news’, desperate souls grasp at any explanation for why the system is so dysfunctional, corrupt, and unfair. According to Dr Patrick Leman, a psychologist at the Royal Holloway University of London, the weak and marginalized of society gravitate towards conspiracy theories because they have no voice in society:
…People are also more likely to believe in conspiracy theories if they feel powerless in the face of large social authorities or institutions, and not part of the mainstream of society.
This is supported by the observation in the USA that beliefs in conspiracy theories tend to be stronger amongst members of ethnic minority groups.
Sociologists suggest that these minority groups feel politically disenfranchised or discriminated against and this gives rise to higher levels of belief in conspiracy theories…
Development of hi-tech communication technology coupled with the rapid expansion of the World Wide Web and social networking has fueled the growth of conspiracy theories around the world. With little money, the rantings of anyone can be voiced to the world. Below is a picture of a twenty-dollar bill folded in such a way as to resemble the twin towers on 9-11. It quickly spread across the internet and was picked up by Glenn Beck, a monger of conspiracy theories, and featured on his blog:
“What are the odds that a simple geometric folding of the $20 bill would accidentally contain a representation of both terror attacks?”
“The radical analysis sees such things as ecological crises, military interventions, the national security state, homelessness, poverty, an inequitable tax system, and undemocratic social institutions such as the corporate owned media, etc… It sees these things not as the aberrant outcome of a basically rational system, but as rational outcomes of a system whose central goal is the accumulation of wealth and power for a privileged class…” ~ Michael Parenti
It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these. I plan on doing an essay on conspiracy theories and the dangers they impose when large numbers of people subscribe to them. I decided on this idea the other day after trying to have a discussion with a coworker about the state of the world. I quickly discovered that his head was filled with UFO’s, lizard illuminati, climate change denialism, chip implants for all under Obamacare, and a one-world totalitarian government. The only place in his fantastical worldview I could find any connection with reality was in the idea that governments are becoming more authoritarian. Perhaps this is where so many conspiracy theories spring forth. With only the interests of a small elite being served and nearly everyone else disenfranchised from the institutions of government, people are desperate to find meaning in such an exploitative and fraudulent system that they grasp at any story, no matter how outlandish and otherworldly it may be. And with a faux democratic government fictitiously “serving the people” and becoming increasingly dictatorial as the economy craters, the wealth gap continues to skyrocket, the environment melts down, peak net energy bites, and climate change worsens, such conspiracy theories will only continue to supplant the real world in the minds of the unwashed masses.
The Future: Delusional Hope vs. Stark Reality
The Corporate State (aka the military–industrial–congressional complex) : It’s own worst enemy…
“A man is like a novel: until the very last page you don’t know how it will end. Otherwise it wouldn’t be worth reading.” ~ Yevgeny Zamyatin, We.
Everything is going to go.
Let’s look back, where it started.
The Sumerians, formerly hunters and gatherers, began settling in villages in the fertile valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the period from 8000 to 7500 B.C.
According to the theory of Denise Schmandt-Besserat, this is how writing began:
Archaeological studies of the period show evidence of grain cultivation in fields surrounding villages, the construction of communal silos for storing grain, and a rapid increase in population. In such a setting, individual farmers needed a reliable way to keep track of their goods, especially the amount of grain stored in shared facilities.
It seems they did it by maintaining stocks of baked-clay tokens—one token for each item, different shapes for different types of items. A marble-sized clay sphere stood for a bushel of grain, a cylinder for an animal, an egg-shaped token for a jar of oil. There were as many tokens, or counters, of a certain shape as there were of that item in the farmer’s store.
Thus, tokens could be lined up in front of accountants, who doubtless organized them according to types of goods and transactions. They could even be arranged in visual patterns to make estimation and counting easier.
This simple system of data storage persisted practically unchanged for almost 4,000 years, spreading over a large geographic area. Eventually, the growth of villages into cities and the increasing complexity of human activities, especially in southern Mesopotamia, forced a shift to a more versatile means of record keeping. This shift was marked by the appearance of elaborate tokens alongside the well-established system of simple counters. Though similar in size, material, and color and fabricated in much the same way as their plainer cousins, the new tokens bore surface markings and showed a greater variety of shapes.
The elaborate tokens were apparently used for manufactured products—the output of Sumerian workshops. Incised cones and rhomboids probably represented loaves of bread and vessels of beer. Disks and parabolic tokens marked with lines signified different types of fibers, cloths, and finished garments. Incised cylinders and rectangles stood for ropes and mats. Other tokens seem to have represented luxury goods, including perfumes and various kinds of metalwork.
The advent of complex tokens coincided with the emergence of powerful central governments and the construction of monuments and great temples, beginning around 3350 B.C. Art from that period shows the rise of a governing elite and the pooling of community resources for celebrating large festivals. The token system, extended to cover goods and services, played a key role in managing massive building projects and orchestrating large public events.
Temple excavations reveal that the Sumerians often kept sets of tokens in clay globes, or envelopes. Temple clerks marked the envelopes by pressing tokens into the soft clay before sealing and baking them, making visible the number and shape of tokens enclosed. Excavated specimens show circular imprints left by spheres and wedge-shaped imprints left by cones.
Once sealed in their clay cocoons, the tokens were hidden from view. It didn’t take long for busy bureaucrats to realize that once the clay envelopes were marked, it was no longer necessary to keep the tokens. In fact, the marks by themselves, impressed on a clay tablet, were sufficient.
Complex tokens couldn’t be stored in clay envelopes as conveniently as simple counters because they often left indecipherable impressions. Instead, perforations allowed such tokens to be strung together, with special clay tags apparently identifying the accounts. In this case, the shortcut that the bureaucrats discovered was to inscribe the incised pattern found on the surface of a complex token directly onto a clay tablet. For example, they could replace an incised ovoid token with a neatly drawn oval with a slash across it.
The result was a practical, convenient data storage system. A small set of clay tablets with neatly aligned signs was much easier to handle than an equivalent collection of loose tokens, and using a stylus for marking clay tablets was a lot faster than making an impression of every token.
Around 3100 B.C., someone had the bright idea that instead of representing, say, 33 jars of oil by repeating the symbol for one jar 33 times, it would be simpler to precede the symbol for a jar of oil by numerals—special signs expressing numbers. Moreover, the same signs could be used to represent the same quantity of any item.
The signs chosen for this new role were the symbols for the two basic measures of grain. The impressed wedge (cone) came to stand for 1 and the impressed circle (sphere) for 10.
In this way, the token system evolved into a kind of shorthand in which signs representing standard measures of grain, impressed on a clay tablet, came to represent not grain or any other specific commodity, but the concept of pure quantity. It was a revolution in both accounting and human communication. For the first time, there was a reckoning system applicable to any and every item under the sun.
Thus, “writing resulted not only from new bureaucratic demands but from the invention of abstract counting,” argued Schmandt-Besserat in How Writing Came About. “The most important evidence uncovered is that counting was not, as formerly assumed, subservient to writing; on the contrary, writing emerged from counting.”
Clay tokens became obsolete by 3000 B.C., replaced by pictographic tablets that could represent not only “how many” but also “what, where, when, and how.” With the introduction of a new type of stylus, pictographic writing developed into cuneiform notation. The resulting record-keeping system proved so efficient and convenient that it was used in the Near East for the next 3,000 years.
“The tokens were mundane counters dealing with foods and other basic commodities of everyday life, but they played a major role in the societies that adopted them,” concluded Schmandt-Besserat. “They were used to manage goods, and they affected the economy; they were an instrument of power, and they created new social patterns; they were employed for data manipulation, and they changed a mode of thought.
So once there was writing, there could be written stories, and one of the earliest we have is the glorious Epic of Gilgamesh. My favourite part is where Enkidu – who I see as representing the wild hunter gatherers and pastoralists who remain connected to wildlife and nature – is tempted by a prostitute to go to the bright neon lights of the city – the ‘lure of civilisation’ so to speak – the streets paved with gold, sex and drugs and rock & roll, something which must have happened to uncountable numbers of people over the millennia and which continues to this day as rural folk move into urban life in search of money and the buzz of ‘modern life’…
So then we have all of the world’s literature, one of the wonders of our species, the legacy of millions of minds and imaginations.
What would we be without that?
Fast forward several thousand years, of stories and cities and risings and vanishings of entire civilisations, to circa 1920 when we get a clear glimpse of something that joins the first city states of Sumeria to our own time today, using writing and the newly invented format of the dystopian novel.
‘’In a country constructed of glass, under complete surveillance…’’
Here we can already see the outlines of the NSA and Edward Snowden, as we look back past 9/11, past the Stazi, through 1984 and Brave New World, through the flames of the burning Reichstag the Sonderkommando arranging the corpses into neat piles to make smoke signals warning the coming generations – “Die now or, in four months time, you will know what makes time so precious.”
Nobody paid attention to Zamyatin; nobody paid attention to the smoke signals.
Enkidu always falls for temptation because he does not know any better, until it is too late…
The streets are never paved with gold, only blood, bones, tears and torment.
In a country constructed of glass, under complete surveillance and devoid of individuality, D-503 discovers he has a soul and is now in danger.
First there were a few hundred on the internet who discussed this and what to do.
It has grown to a few thousands, and now it grows faster and faster and soon, I suppose, millions.
And nobody knows what to do.
I was one of the first to face this matter head on without flinching.
This is the most amazing time in all of human history.
We have evolved since about a million or 2 million years or a couple of hundred thousand years depending upon how you define a human being exactly. And then we made the first cities about 6000 years ago and agriculture and civilisation and technology and writing and now we reach our peak, and destroy everything and become extinct and cause a mass extinction event of most of life on Earth.
That’s how I see it.
And just for a brief moment, we have all these things, computers, etc, and access to all this information. And we peer out into the Universe and try to understand why we are here and what’s going on…
And then we all vanish.
Every day I review this picture because every day people are questioning, and I am trying to reply.
Most people are unable to comprehend that this civilisation will collapse, with billions of people condemned to die prematurely, because it is too horrible to face. But it is absolutely inevitable, only a question of when, and exactly how it takes place.
It might be any time in the next 100 years which seems long and vague for humans, but is an instant in geological time, a millisecond, a nanosecond.
And then I think, going by previous mass extinction events, it takes about 10 million years for life to recover. But whatever it is, it will be nothing like us.
So the problem is, how does one live when one has this knowledge?
This terrible, TERRIBLE knowledge. Hahahaha, enough to make a strong man weep. Seriously. It is such a difficult matter each person has to solve for themselves and, if they have children, their predicament is made much worse.
But I think, live in the moment, striving to be as happy as you are able to be, because each moment is very precious and never returns.
And now, I think we come to write our last stories as our era draws to a close.
The Epic of Human Demise…
Everything is going to go.
So, if I did have children, anyone under thirty, say.
What could I possibly advise? This is very hard because I don’t want the responsibility and I don’t know what will happen, but I get a lot of emails from people who feel bad, and I feel obliged to reply and I feel obliged to say SOMETHING, and I can’t be dishonest or evasive…
You don’t need much of anything.
Cut possessions and consumption to essentials.
Stay fit and healthy, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
Get a network of others who share same views. Be loyal and supportive.
Everyone is monitored, so develop in-group language, opaque to outsiders.
Share what needs to be shared, need to know, otherwise keep stuff to yourself, especially stuff that matters. One good person you can trust is the most valuable asset you can have, the more the better.
Most people can’t keep secrets. The more they want to, the more they feel compelled to tell someone.
Regard all MSM info with suspicion, as propaganda; nowadays it’s often downright lies.
Distribute important and interesting information as widely as possible.
Don’t be naive. Don’t be anybody’s fool; be your own best friend who you can trust.
It’s going to get much, much worse, so expect that you’ll be shocked. Don’t get knocked off-balance; roll with the punches, bounce back.
Learn stuff all the time, something new every day. There’s a technique to this, make it fun. Go over what you learned yesterday. Get a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Build self-esteem. Learn about ecology, nature, wildlife, the land, the past, what happened. Learn critical thinking. Don’t let anything slide by unnoticed…
Permaculture is good to learn, so is Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Aikido, even basic gardening, cooking, food preservation. One of the saddest thing with so many old people, like me, haha, who have skills – I have knowledge of hand tools used in woodwork and chairmaking with a direct line going back to their invention in Egypt 6000 years ago – is that all this is lost as we die off with no young people who are interested to hand it on to. It’s not just one generation’s knowledge. It’s taken centuries to learn this stuff… Nobody wants to know. Sigh.
Know your enemy.
Who are they?
Well, as far as I am concerned, they are these people. Not necessarily the individual names with the faces and addresses attached, but the whole idea that is acceptable and alright to behave in this way. The whole idea that it is acceptable and alright to live and conduct yourself and your affairs in this way:
We look back a couple of hundred years at the way certain people were behaving and we are shocked and disgusted, and yet we have the same kinds of people behaving in the same kinds of ways, in fact even WORSE, if you check out the actual damage they do.
These people are insane. They have always been with us, since the first cities of Sumeria, these accumulators of wealth and power, whose lust for money is never sated.
But what good will it do them when they inhabit a dead planet? Because that is what is happening and they are to blame, their greed, ignorance and stupidity is the direct cause of this oncoming catastrophe. Everything has to be turned into money, and what good will money be, when Earth is like Mars? Because that’s what is happening….
You’re going to have to mix with the enemy, to survive, but you don’t have to become them, or support them, or fraternise with them. Just disguise yourself and shapeshift your way through to get whatever you need. Ostracise anyone who is supporting The Machine.
Some people think that what matters is people and social reform and justice and that sort of thing. I’m not against those things, just that I don’t think they matter anymore, at least not to me personally. I think the only thing that matters is saving the other species for as long as possible and stopping the killing Machine as much as possible. Pretty much the Deep Green Resistance agenda.
But if you disagree, who cares? I don’t have time to debate and argue over crap. I’d rather see some action, someone fighting to save some fucking butterflies or something, than complaining about the bankers. Sooner or later, all those bankers, anyone who even looks like a banker, are going to be ripped limb from limb by hordes of enraged starving folk with machetes. They’ll deserve it. But that’s not my agenda.
It’s time to get apocalyptic, or get out-of-the-way.
I mean, we all know everything is going to shit. We all know that’s extremely depressing. We all know it makes you feel suicidal. Okay. That bits done. Sorted. Leave it behind.
Like an old jacket you used to wear. Familiar but worn out.
If you’re into suicide, do it. There’s too many of us. Otherwise, get a grip. Don’t go the way that they are currently on NBL, of endless ‘counselling’, because IMHO that’s another disaster. It’s for the people who enjoy self-indulgence and self-pity and the people who exploit them by selling their books. The only person who can sort yourself out is you, and you do it! Right here, right now.
The way I see it, the Roman Catholics had Confession, which was a means for their power pyramid to gather intelligence, much like the NSA and GCHQ are doing now.
People could ‘sin’ and then be absolved and go away and ‘sin’ again, and that became an habitual lifestyle. Remember, the Inquisition was the equivalent of the CIA and lasted for 400 years.
Then Freud and Jung came along and Heaven and Hell were replaced by The Unconscious. Instead of Confession, people lay on the couch and talked about their childhood and their dreams. Same deal really. The equivalent of the Inquisition was perhaps Bedlam, the lunatic asylum.
Basically, all the pyramid power structures that are not fighting to SAVE the biosphere – are there any that are ?? – are the enemy. That doesn’t leave many powerful allies.
It does leave billions of ordinary, rather powerless people who know they don’t like what’s happening. If I was Che Guevara, I’d say it was a perfect time for revolution. The only problem is that a social reform doesn’t fix an ecological crisis caused by exceeding the carrying capacity.
These people are plain evil. They have done nothing good for anybody ever, in their entire history. How does humanity rid itself of such a monstrosity that has caused death suffering and misery for millions and millions of innocent people ?
The problem is power. If the greatest power is corrupt and evil, then who or what will hold it to account for its actions? How can it be removed? How do you prevent it being replaced by something even worse? Only the mass of the people can do this, and they have to understand the problem. Usually they don’t, or they are betrayed by leaders. Any leader who cannot be corrupted will be assassinated.
And now we have the New Age, and all kinds of therapies and therapists and counsellors who’ll take your cash for a book and dvd and a private consultation if you can afford it. It’s just a new priesthood for a new religion, and NTE is a whole new business opportunity for a whole new industry to arise, and some people will spend the whole of the rest of their lives ‘coming to terms with’ whatever it is…
Well, I am a warrior, and that’s not my way of dealing with this. If you get damaged and hurt, you heal yourself as well and effectively and efficiently as you can. I know, because I’ve been through a lot of stuff and been battered all to hell. Be as kind and gentle to yourself as you can possibly be. But there’s no need to rely on someone who doesn’t know any better than you do. How can they, if they have not been through what you have been through, and are doing what they do to make money? There’s a danger in that.
People who are addicted to booze or video games or who are obese or who expect to be told what to do, whole sectors of society – well, what will happen to them? Zombie food?
The old, the children and babies, the pregnant mothers, the weak and disabled, people who rely upon medication for survival, the gentle and tender-hearted ones – what happens?
We know what happens, because it has happened before. We can look back at history and see what happened when societies collapsed. It’s not a new thing. Inform yourself.
Next comes next. We’re going to die anyway. So how are we going to live while we are alive? That’s the bit that matters.
I think Enkidu has to get out of the rotting poisonous city, escape, get back to what he was… find himself again… his soul, his power, his way of being.
Forgive the male tense. There must be a female version of Enkidu, but I have failed to find one. Suggestions in the comments, perhaps.
“It is said there are flowers that bloom only once in a hundred years. Why should there not be some that bloom once in a thousand, in ten thousand years? Perhaps we never know about them simply because this “once in a thousand years” has come today.”
~ Yevgeny Zamyatin.