Monday, January 3, 2011

Unhappy New Year

The turning of the year is a time for many things -- optimism, reflection, melancholy, a chance for renewal or regret.  Somewhere, hidden in all the messages that bombard us during this time of year, there is one unwritten one -- the assumption that things will be okay, that we'll be here again next year, once more drowning the unpleasant thoughts in bottles of cheap champagne or randomly mixed drinks that are only slightly less toxic than if they were made with antifreeze instead of Everclear. 

The problem with this message is that it's absurdly, completely, patently wrong.  There are many parties complicit in spreading the message -- the media who increasingly see their role as mood management of the public, the advertisers whose support the media depends on, the people in government who have no real idea how to steer us out of this mess, and most of all we the people who lie to ourselves about our rosy future and how people are looking out for our best interests, much like a women whose husband comes home at two in the morning smelling of gas station perfume tells herself he's really working late every night.

The simple fact is that we've basically run out of manuvering time and space.  Much like a plane that just lost an engine, is sinking slowly, and can't maintain altitude long enough to reach a runway, our modern global industrial civilization has become boxed into an envelope of increasingly shrinking options.  Our ability to steer our way out of the mess has vanished under a massive, international case of self-delusion and political paralysis, where the honest men who tell the truth are branded as fools and nutjobs, people to be laughed at instead of taken seriously when they deliver warning after warning about where we're headed.

We could have once corrected the course, but that time is past.  Even now, with the writing on the wall for our civilization, we can look at the next bizarre round of political infighting between the Republicans and Democrats that's about to occur, like two people wrestling for a silver-plated candleabra as the waves wash over the ballroom deck of the Titanic.  The real lesson to be learned from this is that there's no real chance for any meaningful change in the country, guiding things to a somewhat softer landing as we readjust to the new realities of living in a post-collapse world.  Instead, when we do hit, it'll be far harder and worse than anything people might've once expected or hoped for.

So, it's the time for New Years resolutions.  Instead of resolving to lose some of those holiday pounds, to quit smoking or whatever else comes to mind, I suggest an alternative -- resolve to start using the time, energy and resources we have now to prepare for what's coming down the road for us all.  Make sure we have a way of making a living that will survive the collapse.  Make sure we are able to protect our health when the system of modern medicine fails.  Make sure we have friends and family that we can depend on -- and let them know they can depend on us, even if the subject of collapse never comes up.  Get involved and give back to the community when you can.  Finally, resolve to keep preserving knowledge for the future age when humanity crawls out from the rubble and decides to take another crack at getting it right. 

Happy New Year, everyone.  Let's make the most of it.


  1. This is a wonderful venture. I hope you stay encouraged to keep up the good work of preserving knowledge for what is bound to be an uncertain future, at best.

  2. Excellent post. My thoughts exactly. And I also would like to join the previous commenter in thanking you for doing this blog. As much as I enjoy Jim Kunstler's writing - that's how I found you, by reading his blog - he does not really focus on practical advice for everyday life in the Long Emergency. You are providing a valuable service - for however much longer the Internet remains functioning. Thank you!

  3. i'm going to post this url to some lists i belong to under the heading new year's resolution. i can't think of a better one. i try to hammer home the surreality of collapse in my writings and encourage others to seriously consider and prepare. i'm afraid i'm a hypocrite here at least somewhat, for i waste much time still and prepare little, as if i too am in denial. i must be. but then, my life's always been difficult and characterized by lack of achievement an fulfillment, so perhaps poor character's to blame. at any rate, i still say great advice is your new year's resolution to seriously prepare. i don't know what good is the word of a hypocrite, but i'll pass along the url and hope someone will take it to heart and be glad they did. i try to be virtuous and to recognize virtue in others, as i do in u.

    i usually blog at guy mcpherson's site, titled NATURE BATS LAST. u might like it.

  4. Thanks to all of you for the good words -- I am humbled and grateful to know that this blog is serving a purpose for people as our modern civilization begins its long downhill slide. I give James Kunstler a lot of credit for sticking with the subject as long as he has and removing the scales from many, many eyes (one reason he is listed on my blog as a resource). We all approach things from different angles.

    As far as preparation goes, we are all in a difficult spot in this day and age -- the writing is on the wall as to what's going to happen, but we are still not fully part of the collapse-centered world and still have to function in this vestige of modern life. The skills and tools we need to survive in one time are radically different from the skills and tools we need in another time, so it is a tricky thing to find the right balance, one reason I don't spend too much time saying that everyone needs to buy 12 cases of powdered milk or whatever.

    The other key point is that the collapse will affect us in different ways at different times...there won't be the effect of someone flipping a switch and all the lights going out at once. For the 99ers who have seen the prospect of meaningful employment vanish for good, they are already somewhat living it. For people who are still working, still in a house they can afford for now, the idea is very remote. We need to make sure that when it does touch our lives, we aren't caught off guard, even if we're not as adequately prepared as we like.

    Ultimately, surviving a collapse is as much a mental game as anything else, a long-term version of being stranded after a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness, with some comfort in knowing that one can still function as part of a network of human activity, albeit one which has dramatically changed from what we would be familiar with in the modern day.