How About An Open Thread?

There is a lot going on right now (everywhere) and plenty of new commentators here.  How about an open thread, where you can state what’s on your mind? Reminder to all – any posts with links require admin pre-approval before they display to weed out  the spam bots.

I need a short break anyway, so somebody else step up to the emptying ‘plate’ and state / share something of interest.

admin

admin at survivalacres dot com

38 thoughts on “How About An Open Thread?

  • August 2, 2007 at 2:16 pm
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    Okay, since I’m the designated resident ‘big-mouth’ here, here’s my 2-cents worth.

    Because this blog has recently added several 1000 new “unique viewers” (within the past few weeks to a month), I’ll ask if the SA Forum might be reopened (again) in yet another attempt to create some input/content there (other than as dispensed by Admin and myself). There already exists a ‘wealth’ of how-to, and what-if information there that was developed over a couple years of daily efforts and which is currently not accessible by anyone. I ‘think’ this is a waste of effort/time if (when) it can not be accessed by those who perceive a need.

    I do understand and fully appreciate (empathisze) that maintaining the Forum is a time-consuming process (hassle) – and literally absent all/any reward/benefit to he who does so and especially given the incessant porn-peddling and viagra-vendor ‘attacks’ that is the ‘normative’ (lowest common demominator) internet today. And I also understand, that like with this blog (if not the “internets” in it’s entirety),Forum mainenanace/moderation can be seen as a complete ‘waste of time’. OTOH, this blog – as ‘great’ as it is IMO – is not well-formatted for ‘discussion’ or information exchanges (nor is any blog).

    But, my ‘vote’ does (should) not count. ‘We’ need to achieve a critical mass of other involved people who don’t just ‘promise’ to participate, but actually contribute on a ongoing basis, in order to ‘justify’ reopening the Forum (IMO)

    For those you hadn’t had the opportunity/pleasue to access the (former) forum in it’s previous incarnations, IMO, it was one of the best if not the best on the web (if I do say so myself). And, it could be again – assuming that the ‘work’ isn’t left to the whims of just two beguilng (aka ‘disturbed’) ‘actors’

    So, what say all? Whom amongst us self-avowed ‘rejects of civilization’ (no offense intended, actually to the contrary) would vow to ‘step up to the plate’, to actually contribute, add to the weath of information presented, expand upon our perspective/understanding of current events and encroaching reality. Is there remotely a ‘critical mass’ of contributors yet – or, if not, when (if ever)?

  • August 2, 2007 at 2:44 pm
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    You do realize I’m quite capable of a head shot at a 1,000 yards, right? And that I know where you live? And that those ridgelines surrounding you are known to me?

    Your opinion / input into this rather sore subject is important, but do you realize what your asking for?

    I’ve yet to see a forum that does not degenerate into a slinging-shit fest of the disgruntled and unhappy sorts, who have their ‘agenda’ and aren’t being given the proper air time. And the porn merchants are absolutely relentless, I spent more time cleaning this scum up then anything else.

    Blog formats are quite lousy for interactive exchange among registered users, I agree with this 100%. But… the food fights are considerably less and easily ignored. Nor do the spammers hack through so easily (last count, there were 1,624 spam attacks on this blog in less then a year – none got through).

    I’m not saying “No” – not yet. But lets hear some ideas/input/suggestions and/or contribution of effort from others first. Do not forget – past promises of “I’ll participate, I promise” never materialized – several times.  I do not want to see a repeat of the past and frankly, would much prefer to have a basic IQ test / personality test for board members to be allowed to post (I’m not kidding). DNA samples would also be helpful, we could at least identify what part of the gene pool we occupy.

    To those that don’t know – lonewolf was the board moderator, but didn’t have to deal with any of the headaches of upgrades/backups/spammers or web hosting issues, of which they were plenty.

    His contribution was huge – the majority of the posts and in short order, we found ourselves talking only amongst ourselves, board participation died, despite the huge volume of information (which is still “there”), almost always after some ‘turkey’ gagged about something or other they didn’t like and staring this shit-fests which are so common to boards.

    I don’t post on other boards anymore for this very reason. There is a very strange behavior that arises from other board members when a “business” owner posts his or her topical opinion. The reaction by the ‘regulars’ and many board moderators is appalling, damaging and carries long term impacts. See blog topic Customer Responsibilities (which I’d really love to expand).

    Other links pertaining to this topic – http://survivalacres.com/blog/?p=649

  • August 2, 2007 at 6:12 pm
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    I enjoy reading this blog as well as other. Do I agree all the time, NO. However I appreciate the insite and opinion of this blog.
    For me I work non-stop trying to get ready. Building a larger pantry, getting a large walk-in cooler in place, new solar hot water system, upgrade the solar electric system and finish all the other projects.
    I would love to add inputs but what to write about. Most of my expetrise is hands on and not news worthy.

  • August 2, 2007 at 6:14 pm
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    I would like to hear some details of Lonewolf’s experiences if he/you are willing.

    I would like to see a forum but agree they devolve to food fights and preaching hardcore evangelicals to easily.

    Doug Gnazzo at HonestMoneyReport.com does a great job of keeping spam and crap under control but it is a lot of work. TheDailyReckoning.com was good is now mostly a cesspool.

  • August 2, 2007 at 6:31 pm
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    Personally, I love hearing from farmers and homesteaders who share the Survival Acres viewpoint. I do like some homesteading blogs, but by and large, the posters simply enjoy the lifestyle—and without the big picture—their advice is always in question. I am not a fan of blogs and forums for the very reasons Admin mentions. The endless discussing of details, and all the mean-spirited bickering on the forums is a waste of valuable time. (Although I did like the SA forum….)

    I really like the idea of focusing the blog on collapse and post collapse. It does appear to be too late to spend much time living sustainably pre-collapse—except maybe for the practice. I would contribute more—and I will someday—but right now I am still a beginner. And Iâ’m uncomfortable discussing things I have not tested…. I would like to hear about ideas that work for people.

    This weekend, Iâ’m going to look at a potential homestead place. I think it would rate as “remote” as opposed to “rural.” It is in a tiny fertile valley, on a long paved, dead end road. But get this—the road drops to sea level long before the property Iâ’m thinking about. The only way out there will be through the mountains. (Bigfoot country;)

    There are many people like me, and we are looking to you all for any advice we can get. And finally, THANKS to everyone—you are my link to sanity!

  • August 2, 2007 at 7:20 pm
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    Kali wrote, “I would like to hear some details of Lonewolfâ’s experiences if he/you are willing.”

    Regardless of whatever it is you speak (ask), “No, … you wouldn’t!”

    OMFG, WTF for? Are you some kind of ‘bushing’ sadist, a voyeur/technician of torture, or perhaps involutarially medicated q.i.d ?

    And, if I told you, I’d have to terminate you for homeland security reasons. I don’t have this energy/time to spare (anymore) for one NTM, to accomodate 7000-plus unique volunteers per week.

  • August 2, 2007 at 7:41 pm
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    Yes – open the forum!!

    Truth is the tide is moving back – the birds have left…dogs on high ground…and J6P is at the beach with his buds.

    You sound like you burnt out before the party started.

    Didn’t yo momma tell ya not to start drinking at 6AM?

    The zombies are gonna need a place to rant and learn and just read.

  • August 2, 2007 at 11:39 pm
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    A recent trope I’ve seem lately on other blogs revolves around the plight of the poor in relationship to peak oil. For most poor people, and in the United States, that is a hefty percentage of the population, heading for the hills is effectively impossible. For many people wealthy enough to purchase land in the boonies and stock said homestead, poor people are simply those scary people they will be shooting at when the SHTF. Is there an element of classism, racism, or other ism in the post-oil paradigm?

    Will this simply bring us back to the lizard brain state that many see as natural, that is a hierarchy of self, immediate family, extended family, friends, tribe, city, state, and nation with each one becoming less and less important?

    Should there be a concentrated effort to “save” those who are too poor, but who are informed, from the crash? Or, will they simply become the new “serf?”

    I see several types, or classifications, of people involved in peak oil, including those on the left and those on the right. Can the humanitarianism of the left survive the brutality of the coming crash? Would we want to live under the cruelty of the right? Will there be a grey area? If so, what elements of each will we find useful? Which will be necessary? Unnecessary? Harmful?

    Many people see the coming chaos in terms of the “Wild West.” For many scholars, the “Wild West” was merely the chaotic zone where two civilizations clashed, that is between indigenous populations and western settlers. They like to point out that once one of the groups won, normal non-chaotic life returned eventually. Will we see a similar zone? A series of zones? Or, will we see one immense chaotic zone filled with thousands of “cultures” which all clash for their day to day survival and which will eventually evolve into major factions with “safe” non-chaotic zones within each territory?

    Maybe this will spur some thought and comment.

  • August 3, 2007 at 3:30 am
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    I came across this WaPo article on “Earthhaven”, one of those ecovillages Admin often talks about. Please read it and then evaluate their progress/planning for yourself.

    ‘Another Way’
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/14/AR2006111400979.html

    I found it sobering.

    In 13 years, this is all they have managed? Many are still PO unaware/deniers. Most still commute to work everyday.
    As a future warlord/raider, I wouldn’t even bother with this place, except maybe for fun….

  • August 3, 2007 at 5:14 am
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    Interesting observations, Cherenkov.
    As I see it, you are quite correct (especially with regard to the more “survivalist” blogs), many seem to see the less well off simply as future ‘mutant zombie bikers’, as if morality and decency was something you withdrew from the bank.

    There is a deep and divisive element of classism, racism, and other -isms already apparent in many of these discussions. Dmitry Orlov and others have written on this matter previously, that crisis actually pulls at the divides that already exist under the surface of society as a whole, magnifying them. The temptation to succumb to these is great.

    I foresee the already deepening societal divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ getting much wider in the months and years to come, which bodes poorly for a stable transition. If history is any guide, the coming downturn will pull hard at the seams of unified society, resulting in fracturing and balkanization. Large bureaucracies are unwieldy and unresponsive, and historically grow bloated and inept as collapse looms. Expect a future “disunited states”, for example. Eventually, only local government will matter and therefore exist.

    Tainter’s discussion of past collapses was fascinating, and I couldn’t help wondering if they might be hints of our own future. Complex societies ensure their existence by two methods: legitimization, and coercion.

    Legitimization can involve non-material elements (the emperor is a god, democracy is the best way of government). But no society can continue to survive unless it provides actual material benefits. The people must be shown that their taxes are benefiting them more than they are hurting. So, even while Rome was going bankrupt, they kept increasing the public dole. They had to, to maintain their legitimacy. Eventually, one out of three people was on the dole. This is already occurring, one in seven Americans already work for a government entity (a form of state welfare).

    Coercion is another method, but it, too, is expensive. Higher and higher taxes are demanded, with greater and greater punishments for not paying. The state may control where you can live, what your occupation is, what you can say. People get more rebellious, and more resources must be allocated to social control. The wealthier areas that can make it on their own may try to pull away; the government won’t let them, because it needs their production.

    It is likely, as vital resources such as petroleum, water, even food, run out, our governments will use both methods. Taxes will rise, and so will handouts to the poor. We will lose freedoms as the government cracks down. This is already occurring.

    Given that possible vision of the future, collapse seems almost preferable. Indeed, Tainter argues that collapse is not necessarily catastrophe. Complex societies are a relatively new development in human history. They are what is unnatural, so collapse would be returning to a more natural state. And research shows that collapse does in fact yield benefits. Smaller kingdoms were more effective at repelling barbarian invasions than the Roman empire. Nutrition was better after the Mayan collapse than it was before.

    The drawback, of course, is the huge population drop that accompanies collapse. An 80%-90% loss is not unusual. While in the old days, those extra people may have simply migrated somewhere else, that is simply not possible in todays world, as I mention in another thread.

    So what will happen if our society collapses? Some key points, taking the past as a guide:

    Real Estate: Though survivalist types think salvation is a homestead in the country, that wasn’t the case for Rome, or for the Maya. In both cases, people moved near the cities in the decades before the collapse. Taxes grew so high in Rome that many farmers simply abandoned their land. It was easier to get food in the cities than on the farms that grew it. Many laws passed involved ways to tax abandoned land. Eventually, Rome passed laws ordering that the sons of farmer be farmers themselves…then had to spend more resources on enforcing those laws.

    Less is known about the Maya, but they, too clustered closer to the cities as the end approached. Likely this was because isolated farms and villages were vulnerable to raids. They already are in many countries (South Africa, Sierra Leone, Argentina during their 1999-2003 crisis, Northern Ireland during the IRA days, etc). Too many people, not enough food, and no way out leads to only one outcome: warfare.

    Population Growth: Societies that collapsed often suffered a leveling of population growth before the collapse; some even had decreases in population. This was seen as a serious social problem for the government, since it needed new citizens to provide labor and pay taxes. In Rome, laws were passed setting up state orphanages and offering tax incentives for having kids. Among the Maya, women were favored over men. While male skeletons grew stunted and diseased as collapse approached, the female skeletons remained as large and healthy as ever. Neighboring societies of the time honored reproducing women, and the evidence suggests the Maya did as well, feeding the females at the expense of the males.

    I can’t help but be reminded of that politican in Japan, who suggested cutting off social security benefits to women who don’t have at least one child, or Pat Buchanan, who wants to end abortion and birth control, in part because it will increase the number of taxpayers.

    Currency debasement: Collapsing societies all suffered from massive inflation. Even though the government knows it should not just print more money, it cannot resist when pushed into a corner. You have to pay the army and the civil servants. This is a way of pushing debts into the future, much as our deficits do. Because, as Tainter says, “the future can’t protest.”

    Who suffers: The wealthy suffered last when Rome collapsed. First the poor suffered, then the middle class, and only at the end, the wealthy. But it was the opposite when the Maya collapsed. The elite disappeared or were killed, and only the peasants remained. In some areas, there are signs the remaining population tried to continue the rituals and building that had gone before, but simply did not have the knowledge. Those who did were obviously gone.

    After the collapse: Sometimes a society recovers, but often, it never again reaches the complexity it once had. The Maya did not maintain their irrigation systems or raised beds. Either the land was too exhausted to make it worthwhile, or they had no inclination to go back to the way they were, once it was proven unfeasible.

    When a society is facing diminishing returns, something Tainter calls “scanning behavior” appears. People become dissatisfied with the present situation and ideological strife intensifies. The entire society starts looking around for a better way, or someone to blame. Segments of society may adopt foreign ideologies or ways of life. Some of these may be perceived as subversive, while others are height of fashion. Open rebellion often breaks out. Taxes rise, as the government invests more in R&D, trying to find a better way.

    Once a society reaches the point where investments in complexity no longer pay off at all, scanning behavior may cease altogether. The government enforces strict behavioral controls, in hopes of increasing efficiency. And they can no longer afford R&D.

    I’m not sure if I find Tainter’s book encouraging or not. One the one hand, he suggests that a soft landing is more likely than a sudden dieoff; the collapses he studied took place over decades. On the other hand, the years leading up to collapse tend to be very unpleasant, with brutal government control, high taxes, conscription, anarchy, banditry, widespread malnutrition, etc. Tainter expects that before collapse, we will be pouring a huge percentage of our GDP into R&D, trying to find a technology that will save us. You are seeing the start of this presently with the current spate of techno-optimistic vaporware announcements, the ethanol boondoggle, and coming soon, massive nuclear power ramp-up. That means the standard of living will fall, since there will be less to spend on other things.

  • August 3, 2007 at 5:32 am
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    Sorry for the lengthy post….I tend to ramble a bit when on a roll.

  • August 3, 2007 at 8:16 am
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    Thanks fallout. I enjoyed reading that.

    Collapse will affect everyone, no matter where someone is.

    That was interesting about the Romans in the real estate section.

  • August 3, 2007 at 9:13 am
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    Great post fallout. I wonder how closely past civilizations collapse will parallel our own. Never before has so many been so dependent upon so much. I can’t see how catastrophic (sudden) collapse could be avoided.

    Earlier civilizations still had other choices (relocate) for their potential recovery, while we don’t. And the basic knowledge on how to live off the land using rudimentary agriculture was still theirs. Plus far fewer people to feed.

    The contraction “to” the cities would also seem to be in opposition to what is happening now. Land is essential, an absolute requirement for any existing population base. But not just any land will do. The need for suitable soils, water and climate dictates where collapse survivors will eventually wind up.

    Our cities are concrete, glass, steel and asphalt and will be choked with useless houses, cars and pavement. No former civilization had to deal with this. The only things cities offer is housing (without food production). I can’t see how contraction and collapse will be to the cities, instead of away from them.

    Somewhere I wrote where someone said that there would be a massive influx to the cities because of jobs. This could be true, for a while, until the collapse is severe enough that the jobs are also gone.

    You first touched on social divisions, class warfare and racism. I’ve never believed that any of these have been abolished, only painted over and prettied up under the guise of ‘civilized behavior’. But the undercurrents have always been there and will explode forth during collapse.

    There has long been a ‘gathering’ occurring of different nationalities and races. The mixing pot of America is an illusion that doesn’t really fool anybody, only useful for politicians who seek more votes.

  • August 3, 2007 at 10:36 am
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    Knowing a little bit about the Russian revolution and civil war – some did survive the famine living in remote places. But people did move toward the cities – the cities and their armies that created the famine by conscripting the peasants and then sending troops into the country side to collect the food. A lot of the famine (millions did die) was caused by the seeds being taken by the city dwellers and eaten.
    It is of course stupid and atrocious to consume even the possibility of growing food, but imagine yourself in the shoes of a factory worker who is starving himself and has nothing to feed his children. He will go to the countryside and take whatever he can. I am not justifying that, just pointing out that such scenario is just imaginable but also easy to understand and has happened relatively recently – less than a 100 years ago.
    So having land, and growing food, armed to any level you can imagine – if the city/state is starving – you will also. And if you suggest something remote – try google maps with satellite images – any farming is plain to see. I don’t have to digest what that implies not for this audience. Prepared or not we will all be in the same boat.
    I am not advocating doing nothing, but health is the only real preparedness, (and maybe a spare pare of shoes 🙂 ). So I store some food, but investing only as much as I can stand loosing without getting an ulcer – very bad to have without food 😉
    With that I wish you all to enjoy the today, sign up for CSA, plant a fruit tree, pee under it, smile 🙂

  • August 3, 2007 at 11:19 am
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    Yupp….

    Knowledge and skills are one of the most primary asset classes. I’ve been working on health…getting dental work done, etc. I’m also a licensed EMT and an herbalist….at least if you have useful skills, a ‘gangster’ might give you a place in the group that just raided your home. My strategy is to try to team up with a strong roving gang and supply them food, etc….they sure don’t want to settle and farm, but food in exchange for ‘protection’ could work out once initial collapse works through.

    I still say grow as much food as you can…as many people as can…and focus on perennials…fruit trees, brambles, etc. Even if you don’t survive long….SOMEone will get that good food…even if it’s stressed wildlife.

    As a small farmer, I can tell you that I see no definite certainty ANYone can survive the coming changes….maybe the elites in protective bubbles…but I ask you all, then,…what kind of life IS that?!? Anyway…looming climate change has destroyed 30 years of planning, learning and prep for the collapse, for me. I can get the final preps done here and be forced to move out due to untenable climate conditions. As it is….new insect pests have been moving up from the south….doubly damaging because we locals have no idea what to look for in anticipation of insect arrival, and an area of potatoes I am growing has been destroyed due to a new bug this year.

    So…farmers/homesteaders….I see the (twelve) plagues might be inflicted on many of us as climate change really gets ‘hot’.

    I have had to face that there might be NOTHING I can do to prepare, at this point…I’ve been ‘warning’ for 30 years….noone has listened….it’s probably too late for the species and ‘basically’ the planet as we know it.

    I enjoy homesteading….I simply can’t stomach being among all the insane people anymore, so that’s what I do while I wait and watch and react to new factors. I keep the internet to stay abreast of all changes and discuss with others…I’ve given up trying to warn people, now….a waste of time. I feel a lot happier and saner having gotten away from most of the insane, ugly people, but I have no illusions of security.

    I do fear we did destroy the planet; as in reached critical tipping points already, so faced with that there’s just not a lot any of us can do, now.

  • August 3, 2007 at 2:56 pm
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    Thanks, folks.

    On moving toward the cities, versus away:
    Kunstler and iTulip.com make excellent points (imho) about an initial (key point here) inward retraction, towards the cities, and away from the uneconomical far-flung exurban hinterlands. This is already occurring via the housing bubble deflation, which is seeing more significant house price slumps and unsold properties rise more rapidly in the formerly rural satellite belt areas than in urban cores and older suburban zones. Inward retraction is, on its face, a natural response during the early stages of “collapse” (i.e. collapsing inward).
    Please hear me out….

    In the early stages of a collapse, initially a ‘maintenance crisis’, as defined by Tainter and Greer, or merely bad times in the industrial economy, rural areas typically suffer first and worst, as illustrated earlier and as also occurred during the Great Depression (Dust Bowl anyone?) Farmers lost their homes first. City folks stood in breadlines.

    There are signs it is already happening. A lengthy article at http://www.itulip.com/reportfromthefront.htm chronicles the collapse in the housing market in a rural area 90 minutes from a large city. The boost in oil prices made long commutes and heating costs unaffordable by many, who began selling. Forward momentum was lost. Prices dropped, builders went broke, leaving more unsold houses on the market, prices dropped further, and now the housing market is nearly dead in these areas. In some cases, entire suburban townships are at a virtual standstill.

    That is how a housing bubble bursts, not in sustained fall in price, but in a sharp drop followed by the disappearance of transactions. It does not perform like a stock market collapse, where, since no one really needs stock, sales skyrocket as everyone tries to unload their declining shares. Everyone still requires a place to live, so when the housing market declines and people cannot make a profit anymore, they just stop selling, or sit on it at ridiculous prices, or walk away from it, or have it repossessed. Psychology at work, the “desperate optimism of the invested”. Bankruptcies, repos, and unsold properties drive prices down further, circularly reinforcing a feedback loop, and neighborhoods slowly board up, fill up with squatters, are vandalized, or become the new ‘ghettos’. News stories of this area already commonplace.

    Housing-market declines that are based on high energy prices will move inward from rural sites. Trucks will stop delivering to small towns and rural hinterlands FIRST.
    And will not necessarily be safer there. Only 5% of all US ruralites actually farm; the rest have jobs they drive to every morning just like everyone else. So does it matter much if all your neighbors are hungry and jobless, as could happen in cities, or only 95%, as in the country?

    During Argentinaâ’s economic crisis (1999-2002), the rural hinterlands were the most dangerous places to live. Read more here:
    http://www.buildanark.net/survival_stories/ferfal1_1.html
    http://www.buildanark.net/survival_stories.html

    The same applies in Sierra Leone to this day. You also see this situation playing out in South Africa presently, isolated farms and homesteads are being targeted.
    http://www.iss.co.za/PUBS/OTHE…../Chap4.pdf
    Farmers in South Africa are trying mutual aid arrangements as they are now routinely attacked and murdered by armed gangs.
    http://www.africancrisis.org/ZZZ/ZZZ_News_008875.asp

    Even in first world countries (UK) in non-crisis situations , you see the same:
    Rural crime breeds â’siege mentalityâ’
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/815328.stm
    The IRA murdered several farmers (who often but not always also happened to be part-time policemen / soldiers) in remote parts of Northern Ireland on their farms; the farmersâ’ wives used to stand guard with shotguns while their husbands worked the fields, but it was little deterrent to the IRA when once they had targeted a farmer for elimination.

    Isolated homestead/farm = soft target.

    However!…..(please see next post)

  • August 3, 2007 at 3:37 pm
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    However, Admin correctly notes that western civilization’s complexity, interdependence, and interrelation is unprecedented in human history, as is our exploitation and profligate squandering of irreplaceable natural resources and our overall impact on the lifeboat we all live in…..Earth.

    For this reason, I agree that a Maintenance Crisis (as defined by Greer), a long slow slide into decline, will be the more optimistic outlook.

    The other, more pessimistic option is Catabolic Collapse (as defined by Greer and Diamond). Olduvai Gorge. Chaco Canyon.
    Initially, this looks like a maintenance crisis…..then it gets worse.

    Today, much of the world is already in some state of crisis. As Joseph Tainter argued in Collapse of Complex Societies, the competition between states in a peer polity system keeps any of them from truly collapsing on their own, catabolic collapse can only happen in a vacuum.
    The IMF, the World Bank, and various other forces (well-portrayed in the pharmaceutical and illegal arms trades by the 2005 movies The Constant Gardener and Lord of War, respectively) “prop up” collapsed states from the remaining pillars of complexity. This state of pseudo-collapse brings with it the worst of both worlds: the strife, poverty and violence of collapse, without the opening spaces and opportunities that a full collapse brings with it. By the end of the twentieth century, most of the world existed in such a state, with the United States and Western Europe essentially propping up complexity across the rest of the world. For most of the world, collapse is not a future possibility, but a very present reality.
    Thus one could argue that “modern western civilization” does exist in a vacuum. It is all pervasive. The world is much smaller. There are few who are not touched by it. There will be no other functioning civilizations to come in and pick up the pieces afterward, or take over where we leave off.

    The “long decline” is always an academic exercise. It is the perspective of an historian with hindsight, looking back and tracing the patterns that led to collapse, as well as the continuing attempts to maintain a way of life afterwards. It does not describe the experience of those who live through such events. It is all very relativistic.
    To quote Dmitry Orlov: “Because collapse will not be televised, you will not know that it has happened. You will only know that it has happened to you.”
    Contemporaries experience collapse as a swift transformation of their society; they might notice things getting somewhat worse beforehand, and desperate attempts to hold their way of life together in the aftermath, but for the most part, collapse is experienced as a sudden transformation. It is historians in future centuries that are able to distinguish the “long decline”, in much the same way that all things in history represent gradual trends, rather than instantaneous sudden changes. But there can be major climaxes, bumps and sudden “whammies” along the way. Peak oil is similar in this regard, only visible in the rear view mirror of time.

    Just as a societyâ’s anabolic growth is a self-reinforcing, positive feedback loop, so, too, is catabolic collapse: the fact that a society is in collapse makes it collapse more quickly. Such a system accelerates, building up speed as it continues, “snowballing” until they finally reach their completion—the next lowest level of sustainable complexity.

    Humans are highly adaptable, a “Just-in-Time Species.” It would be shocking to think that we would not conserve, adapt, react and change anything and everything in response to such events. This is the economistsâ’ argument in broad outline; the market can adapt to all needs, because once a need becomes strong enough, it spurs innovation to solve that need. Unfortunately, innovation has its limits. Humans will adapt, but the unfortunate truth is that there is no sustainable level of complexity for things to stabilize above the stone age. First, weâ’ll cut back on our energy use as it becomes more expensive; when it becomes expensive enough, weâ’ll invest in more long-term energy-saving measures. When even that becomes too expensive, youâ’ll start to see significant changes happening.

    The Rapa Nui of Easter Island had about two generations – 50 years – where they more or less continued on as usual, even though they knew they were running out of wood, and that meant the end of their way of life. They made some relatively small changes to adjust to the growing lack of resources. The cannibalism didn’t come until later.

    Greer and Fred Hoyle point out that after a catabolic collapse, it may become very difficult to create a sustainable society, because all resources are converted to waste. Trees cut down, water polluted or dried up, topsoil depleted, ores mined, etc.
    If this maintenance crisis becomes a sudden catabolic collapse, that would be really unpleasant for us, but we would have less opportunity to do damage. If collapse takes 400 years, those of us currently alive may not face too much difficulty, but the environment will be trashed, as we go through coal, nuclear, natural gas, ethanol, etc.
    Admin has written extensively on this before.
    I hope he is wrong…..

  • August 3, 2007 at 3:54 pm
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    Which leads me back to the matter of rural farms vs. cities. In a sudden and complete catabolic collapse, your only salvation may be isolation and insulation, becoming truly and completely self sufficient. There is NO ONE who is presently, despite claims to the contrary, as Admin has recently noted).

    What happened to the survivors of the Rappa Nui or the Anasazi?
    Effectively, there weren’t any. At least not on a cultural, societal, or even historical level. “A Canticle for Leibowitz” is suddenly looking optimistic.

    Catabolic collapse will see the cities, small towns, and suburbs in flames, the desperate population scattered like locusts before the wind. Rural retreat dwellers better not be found. But they will. If you can reach your property, so can they.

    Under these conditions, rural ‘survivalists’ will be no better off than anyone else, although they may live a bit longer. Until at some point in the future when some reconstituted neo-feudal city-state warlord’s army shows up, demanding tribute and fealty.

    Thanks for reading my lengthy diatribe. ^_^

  • August 3, 2007 at 4:25 pm
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    I read many who wonder where they might live that they might survive catastrophe. Some tout the ecovillages. These seem like a fashionable thing to me and not the real deal. Survivable living is a way of life not a theory or campfire where the in-crowd join hands and singing cumbaya. Some seem to be looking for the perfect place. Does that exist? Even if it does, will it stay perfect? Why not pick a reasonable place that meets minimum must-have requirements and work with it?

    We live in a poor, rural area in Argentina. These people live survival every day. Just watching them is a learning experience. Weâ’re learning the good and the bad and many, many things have turned out differently than weâ’d have liked or hoped, but we donâ’t regret stepping out to try and put ourselves in a position where we have a better chance of making it during catastrophic events. Even if we only have the time of feeling more free than we did prior to stepping out, then itâ’s been worth it. And then there are the days when something little and unexpected happens to make you go WOW. Let me give an example. One of our neighbors is a caretaker on the farm next to ours. He’s been over trying to acquaint himself with my husband. (My husband’s Spanish is coming along, mine’s still nada for the most part.) One day the next-door neighbor came over looking for a pipe wrench. My husband brought his tools from the US and has been generous in loaning/helping some of the neighbors fix things, cut up wood, etc. Anyway, he was curious why our neighbor wanted the wrench and followed him to another neighbor’s house where another fellow, who turned out to be the boss/owner of the land next to ours, had joined the fix-it crew. The neighbor who needed the wrench had a leaky roof from some frozen pipes and was attempting to fix it (with help from our caretaker neighbor and his boss). Argentines don’t fix things, they patch them or find a work around. After watching them struggle, my husband asked if he could help and promptly fixed the problem. They all started clapping. (This happens to him quite often.) Well, the boss man grabs my husbandâ’s hand and points to the group and indicates that they should all work together. And this is in an environment where we are outsiders in their country. How much better could Americans of like minds and purpose do without the language and cultural constraints? Maybe someone should start up a survival personal want ad blog or something to hook people up.

  • August 3, 2007 at 4:51 pm
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    Great posts fallout, nice job!

    “Only 5% of all US ruralites actually farm; the rest have jobs they drive to every morning just like everyone else. So does it matter much if all your neighbors are hungry and jobless, as could happen in cities, or only 95%, as in the country?”

    The difference is competition and population. Do you deal with 100,000 or with 1,000? At some point the numbers become meaningless anyway.

    But that 1,000 isn’t entirely helpless or dependent as the city dweller is. They do not lack for the means and the resources to do for themselves what every other rural dweller will be doing – working on the issue of something to eat.

    The city dweller will have far greater difficulty dealing with this (speaking from a self-reliant standpoint) and will remain dependent upon a constant flow of imports – just like they do now. Will those imports continue in an energy depleted world? Are you willing to bet your life on it?

    The comparison to past societies is useful, but not all-inclusive. It can’t be because mankind has never faced a global disaster on this scale before. When all of civilization collapses, more or less equally as decline knows no national boundaries, the means to sustain the cities with a constant flow of inputs will be equally diminished.

    And that means all arises from rural areas, where the products they consume are created.

    Because the decline affects everywhere. leaving no nation/state/region untouched, the nations/states/regions will be dealing with their own problems and will not be able to help out other areas as they did in previously documented collapses. This is a huge difference when comparing former collapses to the present one, who had outside help.
    This means what it seems – cities will be forced to conscript, and command for the resources required to keep them alive. This will come from the surrounding regions (rural areas, if they exist).

    The need for usable land is becoming more obvious. While nobody is really self-sufficient or sustainable, rural residents have something that city dwellers lack. Land. And oftentimes, water. The labor can be exported from the cities, if necessary, but I suspect catastrophic collapse will occur first, preventing this need. The survivors will quickly learn to step up to the plate if they hope to live. That won’t stop the tyranny, but that’s another subject area.

    The rural areas will be harder to police (tyranny), more difficult to maintain (distance), require more self-reliance, and will be less crowded. Perfect!

    I’ll happily take remote / rural over crowded / competition / dependency any day.

    Rural survivalists have to be better off in the end, at the final “tally” of “pros and cons” because they will simply have what the cities lack – the means (resources) to feed themselves. Who “needs” a job, when your job is feeding yourself? The raw, basic elements required are already there, no purchase necessary.

    The entire issue is can be broken down to primarily:

    a) food
    b) water
    c) security

    What areas offer all 3? Answer: None.

    So we must settle for 2 out of 3.

    Everyone will suffer, some more then others. I think we’ll all get to pick our poison as it were. We can join the teeming hordes in the cities and fight amongst ourselves, or we can take our chance in the Wild West.

    I was born in the wrong era, it’s hands down, no-brainer for me.

  • August 3, 2007 at 6:57 pm
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    Speaking of Earthhaven, I live about 40 min from there and the lack of reality you see in them is endemic of most here as well as everywhere else. I know of 3 people who know of peak oil/collapse, believe its gonna be ugly, and yet have made no preps *at all*. Looks like I’ll get to shoot both hippies and rednecks.

  • August 3, 2007 at 11:39 pm
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    I would like to point out one disheartening thing about the five percent of the population who live on, own, or work on a farm. Ninety-five percent of that five percent have no clue how to do what your average permaculturist knows how to do which is provide ALL the services necessary to survive.

    Remember, these farmers do not eat their grain. They sell their grain. Then they drive into town to the local grocery store and they buy the same pre-processed crap that most Americans buy and take it home and microwave it just like everyone else. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but most farmers have just about the same farming skills as a cubicle monkey. What they really know how to do is apply INDUSTRIAL techniques to agriculture, and that resembles real farming about as much as finger painting looks like magazine publishing.

    They may hunt and fish, but that means bupkiss when the deer are all slaughtered and the fish poisoned or fished out. Once the gasoline is gone, these poor ole farmers will have to walk to find their game. And, brother, that is not very damned likely.

  • August 4, 2007 at 6:36 am
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    I think the state will force support of the cities where rural non-self sufficient communities will have to come to trade anyway. I suspect we could upgrade the rail system pretty quickly when motivated to. Small cities may fair better than expected.

  • August 4, 2007 at 3:53 pm
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    As a former employee of the USDA, I dealt with southeastern US farmers on a frequent basis, and my own experiences firmly support Cherenkov’s rather bleak assessment. They also tend to specialize heavily (as with most things in an technologically advanced civilization), for example knowing all there is to know about raising broiler chickens, and little or nothing else outside of that narrow range of expertise, utterly dependent on products, services, and skills of society as a whole.

  • August 4, 2007 at 5:34 pm
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    To clarify my last post. Large cities and desert cities are totally screwed.

  • August 5, 2007 at 4:56 pm
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    Been practicing the “old fashioned farming/gardening” now for five years…hand tools and carrying water, mulching and companion planting. Though East Texas had been in a major drought for many years, this spring we were given mucho rain. We count our blessings, but continue to prepare for when TSHTF.

    Growing crops is only one of many ways to think about food survival. Perenniel plants scattered about – jerusalem artichokes, multipying onions, chinese yam, comfrey, horseradish, to name a few – all provide some year-round edible parts.

    In addition, food foraging is critical. Becoming familiar with all the wild, edible plants/weeds in your neck of the woods, or your city block, might come in handy to supplement your diet. In my backyard I already know where to find dandelions, burdock, acorns, pine needles, cattails, chufa, bulrush, groundnuts, sumac, greenbriar. I’ve started using them.

    Of course, we all know food storage is important. The basic four – wheat, sugar, salt, milk – are essential, and other longterm storage items are added as can be afforded. For me, I’ve still got more to add. (And will be ordering from Survival Acres tomorrow.)

    Bartering and trading are another angle.

    Who really knows exactly what is going to happen. But growing up with a father whose wages were paid by The Boy Scouts of America for 50 years, I can tell you that the message of “BE PREPARED” was hammered into my psyche.

    I will do all I can to prepare, and hope that actions speak louder than words.

  • August 6, 2007 at 2:53 pm
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    I think the only thing you can do to prepare long-term, really, is to stock up on the durables you’ll need, and learn the skills required to survive and teach others to survive. If anything does go wrong, we’ll really start to see the true meaning of “knowledge economy”.

    One thing I strongly believe is that, in a collapse situation, there’s no such thing as private property anymore. The only way to survive is to establish connections with intelligent, reliable, trustworthy people (you have to look really deep to find out such people: many “good people” and “nice guys” really aren’t, and a lot of them are psychopaths) who can be relied upon to come together to solve problems and defeat minor insurgencies and share what you have with them.

  • August 9, 2007 at 6:41 am
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    I’ve been reading these articles for awhile now and appreciate very much what is being said.
    One thing I’ve noticed consistently is a grammatical error involving the use of then and than. Then is consequential – if this happens, then that happens. Than is comparative – blood is thicker than water.
    I know many will object to “nitpicking” but I see this very widespread error as a sign or symptom of the deterioration of language and thus of thinking.

  • August 13, 2007 at 12:24 pm
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    NTM global drought and ‘freak’ weather in the grain belts.

    China is ‘bushing’ screwed. So am I.

  • August 13, 2007 at 2:09 pm
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    Normow

    If I have used “than” in an inconsequential way, then “my bad”.
    Sorry could not resist.

  • August 13, 2007 at 3:50 pm
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    And, of course, they will try to increase milk production. So, more grain required, and more cows = more methane, which is a greenhouse gas.

  • August 13, 2007 at 4:18 pm
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    If one considers exogenous grammatical propriety as one’s principle problem, then such truly isn’t. IMO.

    This too shall pass.

  • August 13, 2007 at 5:26 pm
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    ahhh!!!! To alight as a Blue Titmouse here, rather than the proverbial there, and see the titration of wit from the witan as his rejoinder expands on the whit of a premise in reflective sagacity.
    One can only meagerly try to aspire in life, then alas one day we expire. IMHO.

  • August 16, 2007 at 7:21 am
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    This week’s Economist has a good article on infrastructure maintenance and how its costs are preventing construction of new infrastructure. Of course, one of their solution is to promote public/private partnerships (better than the status quo, IMO, because at least the costs are more visible):

    http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9621456

    Has an interesting graph on the rising costs of maintenance per capita:

    http://www.economist.com/images/20070811/CUS778.gif

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