On the Future of an Illusion – The Pre ‘Post-Civilization’ Blues


It is fascinating to see what is happening now in the world. There seems to be quite a lot of disaffection with the way things are “progressing” – ecocrises all around, meltdowns -financial and nuclear, peak oil, peak water, the growing drumbeat of war, unparalleled greed, apparently irrational terrorism, ethnic hostilities, and the evaporation of the American Dream like warm breath on a mirror. Even Mother Nature seems to be getting into the act with volcanoes, sinkholes, tornadoes, tsunamis, global warming. What’s next? It’s like the whole fricking thing is coming down around us all at once.

Barely two decades into America’s uncontested, unipolar imperial status, with the entire planet apparently globalizing around our self-delusional spectacle of democratic capitalism and its digital enclaves of techno-freakiness, and the whole thing starts to unwind. Planes began flying into buildings, insurrections, revolutions, and wars are popping up everywhere, terror is on the lips and in the minds of the populace, the world is eerily connected by virtual communities, the Euro zone is going under, Japan is history, North Africa and the Middle East are on fire, North and South Korea are playing paddy cake again, and everybody is a news reporter, political analyst, or terrorist. Why, even some Joe nobody and Sarah know-nothing became overnight national heroes not too long ago.

Now, for those of you who think this makes the system vulnerable, well perhaps you’re right. But don’t believe for one moment you are going to take it down. It will not come down by an act or even the collective acts of all the disgruntled middle class Americans and Europeans who have seen the light. There are centripetal forces holding it together as much as there are centrifugal forces pulling it apart. Aside from the controlling hands of the plutocracy, there is too much raw desire out there in the hinterlands of civilization, too many have-nots who have been living on the poverty stricken fringes of this beast just waiting their turn, and scratching for a piece of the elusive pie.

The entire Soviet Bloc, for example, was systematically and forcibly excluded from all the “fun” for almost a century. But the forbidden fruits are now within their grasp. And now the Chinese have finally woken up from their slumber as well and are quickly focused on putting a car in every one of their citizens’ driveways. The Indians as well have decided they want to play in the game. In Mumbai they have made a good beginning by taking over all of the telephone customer service functions for most major American corporations. Not only that, but a majority of citizens in the West (the first world) have been living at or below the poverty line for generations. They too want a payday and a taste of the forbidden fruit.

The only way you’re going to bring down Western civilization, its curriculum and its spectacle, is if you pry it from the dying hands of all these previously designated have-nots and the plutocrats who own and manage it. You can see it in the younger generation of Siberians here in Barnaul. They cannot live without their cell phones, their iPods, their recently financed cars and newly minted driver’s licenses. They are tasting the promise of the spectacle, and they are mesmerized by its elusive appeal. It is not just blue jeans they want… they want it all!

So, what about those of us who have this sense of ennui today, this feeling of pre post-collapse blues? How do we act on this feeling and prepare for the reality of a post-collapse world? First, if we think that we can somehow return to the Garden, how things were before the rise of civilization – back to the life of a hunter-gatherer – we are ourselves delusional. The conditions for the possibility of a return no longer exist. The land bases have been destroyed: raped and depleted of their natural flora and fauna. Moreover, the tools of civilization have become too much like a second skin for any of us to let go of them so easily, if at all. Rousseau was right when he said that civilization replaces our natural instincts with other, newer one’s, without which we cannot long survive in civil society. So, to prepare for such a return would be a fool’s errand.

However, it does seem that our current course is unsustainable, and will eventually consume itself in its own greed and shortsightedness. So, what does one do in this state of malaise, living with the pre post-collapse blues?

The most likely piece of advice is to find a small piece of manageable land in the more northern climes. This assures you that most freeloaders from the collapse won’t bother you. They will most likely head south, where it is warmer, thinking life should be easier there. But when global warming really sets in the north will be a paradise (relatively speaking), the south more like hell. And you will be sitting in the catbird’s seat, so to speak.

Next, it may be good to learn how to fish, hunt, and grow your own vegetables. Also, learn how to forage for mushrooms, berries, and nuts in the forests. A course in naturalism might be advisable. Make sure you understand which foods are edible and which are not when going into the forest.

Begin simplifying your life; wean yourself off of technology – computers, television, stereos and cell phones. Learn how to live without it all. Automobiles! Hah, that’s a joke. There won’t be any gas or oil around to run them. Remember Mad Max!! Bicycles may be a good source of transportation for short distances. But, then, you may be wiser learning how to enjoy life in the forest, the cave or your small cottage if you’ve prepared one that’s easily maintainable.

Try to locate a good source of drinking water to set up your outpost. And whatever you decide to do, do it with someone you trust and care for, and who cares deeply for you. You will need that security, because that will be all you get. A small tribe or perhaps a clan of loosely related, like-minded folk would be a good idea. The prospective anarchy that will follow the collapse of civilization will not resemble in the least the primal anarchy of egalitarian tribes of hunter-gatherers that preceded the fall into civilization.
This post-collapse anarchy may more truly resemble Hobbes’ war of all against all. It is best to be prepared; or perhaps, just let it be, and enjoy the moment!! After all, the moment is all we really have.

53 Responses to On the Future of an Illusion – The Pre ‘Post-Civilization’ Blues

  1. Straycat says:

    Thank you for the usual stark reality check. I’d like to lighten the mood a bit by suggesting that there persists in small towns and city neighborhoods the basis for a simpler life with enough people that security of a kind can be attained. There are those who see some changes coming because of the unsustainability of it all who are already growing our own vegetables and fruits, using non petroleum methods of fertilization and pest management, who are learning to fish for food, and who are surveying the proper places to go if it gets as bad as you envision.
    However, we think that it is possible to engage the larger part, or at least a large enough part of our neighbors and friends to be able to form an organized way of life without isolation and the all against all situation. We know who we are and we individually know of others who can be reliable in hard times. It is not organized, there are no meetings, but there is a tacit, and sometimes more than tacit understanding about the probabilities for the future. The people are of every imaginable profession and employment, with varied life histories and educational “status”, yet all, whatever pieces of paper they have collected, are highly educated, mature and productive people. We have resourced on both land and at sea.
    We live life as it is at present fully, but keep a weather eye out on a daily basis. We are involved with community activities and with local government. This is of course because national governments are becoming so removed from real life and have devolved into a nasty Punch and Judy show. We, however, know that disintegration of structural social mechanisms on a state and federal level may become radically disfunctional quickly. But there persist social norms that can be relied on by and among enough of the population that the descent into chaos may be moderated. Anyway, that’s my take on it at present.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Straycat – I agree with your direction here. As I said in the article… make your plans with people you trust, explicitly or implicitly. But we all do need a plan B. Just make sure you don’t forget the moment, as Bor states below. They have a saying here in Siberia where I now spend most of the year with my wife and her family. “This is Siberia, you can’t plan things here.” It is an experience of the world that comes from generations of living close to the land, and with relatively unreliable political leadership or services. They are prepared for an apocalypse here. There is a Russian comedian who has a short routine he likes to tell. His name is Zardanov:

      For Americans the Apocalypse will literally mean the end of their world. “Done! Finished! But for us Russians, what is this Apocalypse – bad weather all the time with no heat or air conditioning; and what? No electricity, no hot or cold running water, no gas; and what? Garbage and disease everywhere; and what? No jobs, no stores, no money; and what? So then we can just go to the forest and pick berries or hunt for mushrooms; go to our dachas and tend the gardens, or to the river and fish. Everyday is like an apocalypse here in Russia; we are accustomed to these things and we will survive. It will not mean the end of the world for us Russians.”

      Check out my book, The Recovery of Ecstasy;” you might enjoy it.

  2. Don Koenig says:

    Of course, it’s “patty cake,” but I’d like to think that your spelling was a deliberate evocation of place.

    A much more Kunstlerian view. I hope you’re right.

  3. Bor says:

    On one side everything that we truly love had been created long before this oil civilization started. On the other side – will I like my life without any ability to travel, to look into the world using television? Will I truly like this new vegetable life, life filled with instability and danger. I’m not sure. Therefore my choice is to enjoy the moment.

    • kulturcritic says:

      I have no problem with that attitude Bor. But, don’t be so foolish as to lavish in it. That will only depress you more. Start to wean yourself from some conveniences; and the starting point should be an attempt to dissociate yourself from the slavery of the clock!! Therein lies the recovery of ecstasy; not simply the enjoyment of the moment.

    • Straycat says:

      We, who are so used to the ability to travel to far and, to us, exotic places and cultures often travel so quickly that we miss the connections and the beauty that exists just down the road. If there is no television, and even no internet, there is so much out there to be seen and digested. Traveling on the water at six knots has taught me that what there is in China or in Paris also around the bend, and being outside the daily routine of living in one place sharpens the ear and the eye, and the nose, so that subtle differences are appreciated. I submit that it is time to slow down, to take the time to live with a lower level of energy on both a material and a personal level. The use and misuse of resources, especially those like petroleum, come from, in large part, a frenetic grasp of power that I have found to be empty and unsatisfying. We fly planes to places for the sole purpose of building more planes. We manufacture junk for the mere purpose of money, with no sense of accomplishment, and thus end up rich and empty. Joy can be experienced in a slow way, with new experiences arising from connections with people down the river, or out on an island who have things to offer just as textured and different as those far away. The fact is, that the exorbitant luxury of routine travel between continents will not be v=available in any period of post peak petroleum. It has already begun, and we must then seek closer to home. Maybe we just have to be content in the knowledge that electrons and photons move over large distances a infinitely lower cost than people, armaments and shark fins.

  4. Walt Long says:

    Perhaps we can be saved by something as simple as privatizing all the world’s postal and shipping venues. The enemy, after all, is the internet – not because it disseminates information, but because it has all but ruined local commerce and the ability of people to make a living. If it cost $20.00 to ship a book from wherever to wherever there might be a revival of local bookstores. (And clothing, electronics, et al). A good first step would be the abrogation of the stock market…more precisely, publicly-held corporations. Can we go back? Sure, we have to.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Walt – good to hear from you again. Now, come on, you know very well that the problems are not simply with capitalism. Nor, is the culprit the Internet, per se. OK, local trading of goods and services would dramatically improve our use of fossil fuels, reinvigorate neighborhoods, and reduce reliance on big government relative to certain issues. But, it will not really solve the crises we are facing. I mean, industrial civilization is not going to halt operation because we now buy locally. We will still produce much of the same crap, and use up much of the same resources (by and large) that we do now. After all manufacturing is a core component of the problem. As well, we will still be enslaved to all those devices peddled to us by a culture which cannot stop itself from innovating and churning out more toys to occupy the minds and time of the masses, the consumer culture.

      Am I missing something in your remarks?

  5. Hobbes says:

    I must admit I simply love reading the various lamentations and complaints from some of the more thoughtful and honest readers. However, progressives can be so sincere it actually makes for laugh-out-loud moments.

    Here’s a word of advice from someone who’s actually had some real-world experience: Kunstler is absolutely correct in his overall assessment of the situation, but completely wrong regarding motivations and intent.

    Obama doesn’t believe a word he’s saying; Yergin doesn’t believe a word he’s producing. In fact, anyone who’s telling you anything is doing so simply as a diversionary tactic in order to (a) buy more time; in order to (b) profit from the trading/investment opportunities.

    This shit is going down, and certain parties are going to be properly positioned to not only survive but thrive from the disintegrating social situation. The biggest (power) play is always political, which results in characters like Caesar, Khan, Lenin, Hitler et al playing for the ages.

    Do you want to be fodder, or do you want to correctly assess the situation and be part of the “winning team”?

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hobbes – since you put it that way.. sure, I want to be on the winning team. But, how do we determine who wins in this deal. I mean, if it is coming down, as you say, than those who have the skills to make due will be the winners, no? And the fat cats with the money will lose. Because money will not have value, correct? I can’t see how the political power elite will come out of this on top. If energy sources are depleted, there is nothing to buy… you have to become self-reliant.

      But, I don’t know that I read Kunstler as saying Obama or Yergin believe what they say either. I think many of these jokers say what they want to just to survive and, as you say, make a play before the curtain falls. JHK even says, that these puppets say what the public wants to hear; I take that to mean tha they know better, but ain’t talking. What do you think? Or am I reading it wrong?

      • Hobbes says:

        See Jerry’s post right below. The winners will be those who either specialize in violence (“labor”), those who have the means ie gold, in which to pay for such services (“capital”), or those who can organize (“politicians”) such activities.

        Regardless of specific situations, specialization of labor tends to continually organize along these primary lines. Pre & post collapse, I would expect nothing different. It seems Jerry is ‘targeting’ the labor component; as for myself, I’m tending towards organization.

  6. Jerry says:

    Great Website! Very Deep.

    Just came here from Kuntsler’s site.

    As a military intelligence officer and Peak Oiler since 2002, and after reading Tainter and Heinberg, I went full-circle, focusing on nothing but my “Specialist in Violence” (Tainter) skills, along with self-reliance, economic preparedness (no debt or bills). Or as I tell friends, “Sarah Conner mode.” Tainter made it clear that as civilizations crumble, your specialists in violence are the ones who call the shots.

    I used to run a website called http://www.suburban-self-reliance. It had a really good world-wide following, was very popular, and I was privledged to get the readership from places like Russia, Iraq, Eastern Europe, etc.

    However, for OPSEC (operational security), due to the rate of events locally and globally, I’ve killed the site, permanently. Jim Rawles at Survivalblog can maintain a blog, being hidden in the middle of nowhere, but I’m trying to hide in plain sight, in the middle of Suburbia. Besides, it cuts down on the potential bodies that may have to fall around the perimeter of my property, some day.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Jerry – you sound like a pretty serious guy yourself. Glad you could join us. I love listening to Heinberg, and Tainter is certainly right about social complexity; representing both the uniqueness and the destructiveness of modern society… specialization. But, you are correct, the guys who not afraid to use violence will probably do well in a collapse, at least in the short run.

      So, it sounds to me like you are ready for the hordes to come looking for your goodies, right up to the front porch, before you have to pinch them to survive. Do I have that right?

      • Jerry says:

        Hi Kulturecritic,

        Yeah, I’m pretty serious at this point. I really like the intellectual discussion at this site on the subject of societal collapse.

        I’m more of a “Doc Holiday” as a prior-enlisted US Army All Source Intelligence Officer (CPT, Army Reserve – currently inactive, but still on the books,: Active ID Card, TS security clearance, etc.).

        Even in my mid-40’s, I tend to out run and out shoot my contemporaries, as I have my own standards as a Survivalist.

        I’ve been performing my own version of “fusion” between the progressive media, foreign media, my own observations within the military, occaisionally at local gun shows, etc.

        The best piece I’ve seen recently was done by Le Monde, tying PO and climate change to events in Egypt:


        As an analyst, I try to operate in “Wayne Gretzky” mode: Seeing where the puck is going, rather than where it is.

        PS: Good news! I just got my garden in of Yukon Gold and Red Potatoes, garlic and onions. Also trying to get my sprouted tomato starts from saved seed going: Near 100% germination!

    • kulturcritic says:

      So Jerry – Tell me what do you think of the US Military involvement in Libya. Do you see it as more imperialist action to take control of NA/ME and the oil resources? Or a humanitarian mission?

  7. kulturcritic says:

    So Hobbes – what you are saying is that, this deal will just lead us back into another set of hierarchies… there is no escape!! Is that right? Given where we have come, there is no chance of breaking the mold of social stratification and control. Those who have the means will continue to lord it over those who do not. I think you’re right. That is the sad reality of our trajectory. But, it could be that the shake up is so bad, so destructive that it forces those who remain to find a different way to survive. But, you say, what I said… the anarchy that results will be like (your name sake) Hobbes’ War of all against all!

    • Straycat says:

      Hobbes notion that we are trapped in a series of hierarchical social matrices may be correct, and is how the story of humans has unfolded in the past. However, the claims of the power brokers and land barons were that they and only they could provide food, social cohesion and a modicum of economic security. In the past, divisions of labor were required by the very small limit on the available energy, and the large energy expenditures necessary for everything from wheat production to house building.
      I think that the ratios of energy to product, especially in relation to food production and clothing and shelter are far less today than then. Materials science, ecoagriculture and other knowledge based practices have allowed people to produce far more of the essentials from far less energy and division of labor elements than in the past. Though oil will be scarce, there are substitutes as far as material uses are concerned, and it remains to be seen if humans need that vast amount of energy we now use to make plastic gegaws and to beam “dancing with the sluts” over the world’s airways and cable pathways.
      The critical point of friction and juncture where Mad Max might overpower more sensible and creative paths, is a large number of the American public gets swept up in a combination religious and nationalistic craze, which will allow them to be organized into a troop of black shirts. If this can be avoided, then there is a possibility of larger social groups forming around the idea of contribution of material and labor on a non-conscription basis. Organizations like the Oath Keepers pose a problem in that they seem to seek to be a skeletal structure in waiting, as do some dominationist christian groups, who already seek to co-opt and take over counties in South Carolina through local elections.
      It will take a large degree of coherence and patience to enable the thoughtful to encourage many to refrain from acts driven by fear of the “other” and from adopting the usual scapegoats in time of perceived crisis.
      Success may require having in place groups of people with secure, productive secular institution already in place. If Hobbes’ expectation come to fruition, it indeed will be war of all against all. The sad part is, that such a condition never existed in the past as described by the original Hobbes. To have such occur in the future would be horrific.

      • kulturcritic says:


        You are absolutely correct; if the Hobbesian vision of a war of all against all comes to pass, it will be chaos. And, I also believe you are right that it was not the condition of our species before the establishment of civil society (i.e., civilization). I believe the real reason for the establishment of the social contract to which Hobbes and Locke refer is due to the agglomeration of unrelated strangers from different tribal and clan groupings within the newly erected city walls of the earliest urban settings, e.g., ancient Sumer. Although I might disagree with you on the division of labor. I don’t know that it was an issue of energy (in fact I think we expend more energy today on feeding and clothing ourselves (per capita) then did our HG forebearers. It think specialization (DoL) was more a function of the establishment of hierarchy, and the diminishment of egalitarian relations among members of a common group (i.e., citizens of the State).

        • Straycat says:

          I wonder whether the differentiation of tasks and roles in the pre city-state period of the bronze age left the hunters equal to the gatherers, and whether the shamans didn’t have more power and prestige than the childcarers. The differences in strength between men and women, together with the access to weapons by the men, and the limits on mobility and economic independence resulting from childbirth and nursing may very well have been hard wired into cultural norms many generations before the rise of the Egyptian, Sumerian and Indian empires of Afro asia. The hierarchical mindset exists in all other primates, chickens, cats and dogs. It may be that the differences in treatment and power allocation is unavoidable. However, the allocation based on the nonsense that exists today, and has toward the end of every empire however large or small is a real problem.

  8. Anthony Schiano says:

    You’ve nailed it, KK. If you’ve read Barton Biggs’ “Wealth, War and Wisdom — an analysis of both the predictive abilities of various stock markets during WWII, and (more relevant to this discussion) of how wealth was best preserved by the citizens of occupied countries during WWII — you know that his research revealed that those who did just as you described did best: productive farmland, far from the action, well-stocked with supplies and defenses, and any excessive personal wealth stored as gold or artwork and well-hidden.

    Best to get local and get prepared.

    Anthony Schiano
    aka President Malthus

  9. murph says:

    I just got turned on to your blog. Like your writing and reasoning. In this posting, you mention getting some type of community together as a loose sort of confederation to try and ride out the storm. My wife and I are retired now, and in 2002 could see that somewhere down the road the S—t would hit the fan. Now have a small doomstead in Oregon in a working class neighborhood in an area of very small relative population. Have been working for 6 years to get community sustainability and to encourage people to start doing for themselves, supplying as much of their own food as possible, engaging in and encouraging community cooperation. We find it difficult to break through the “it can’t happen here” attitude. But making progress. Local organizations like the Grange are a good start. Do a lot of research and know your shit cold when you talk. Leave the political ideology with the nut cases that can’t be convinced of anything outside of their ideology. You can’t teach a jackass to sing and it annoys the them all to hell.

    You are dead right that the fantasy of living a hunter/gatherer life is just no longer possible for any amount of humans any more, at least if you want to do better than a cockroach. If our civilization does fall apart, there will be so many trying it that there won’t be enough left for much of anything anyway, everything edible will get killed off pretty quick.

    Good post, going to go back and read you previous stuff.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Hey Murph!!

      Great to have you on board. Yes, I think you guys are doing the right thing there in Oregon. Keep north, and keep friendlies close-by. I am not certain of the trajectory of decline (how fast things will unravel) but, clearly, it has begun in some areas of social, political and economic life – globally. The US will be the last bastion of ‘elitist’ serenity; but, it too will fall as we lose access to cheap energy and food.

      I look forward to your continued input; keep us posted here. – sandy

  10. IndigoLight says:

    “His name is Zardanov”.
    I think you mean Mikhail Zadornov 😉
    Great guy. Love his sense of humor, always makes one look at things from a difference angle.

    • kulturcritic says:

      Absolutely right, IndigoLight. He has a wonderful sense of humor; and I appreciate the spelling correction, really! How do you know of him anyway? Have you spent time in the region?

  11. TheRealFury says:


    Thanks for your article, I believe you are very right that the current way we live will come to a forced end in short order but I personally have a different view on what we should do to overcome this. All this talk about ditching technology, going back to our ancestors way of lives just won’t cut it in this world, what we have done just can’t be undone and doing so will be the end of the human race I feel. What I think we should do is expand our influence beyond this air bubble floating through the vastness of space and truly explore the universe. There is more resources in some of the millions of asteroids floating about in our very close space than there is on the entire of the planet.

    We can’t just shrivel back away into nothing; I believe that the advancement of the human race is the only way to prosper. Yes I know the downsides, I know that we would just find another rock to live on and then do the same to that, but hopefully as we continue to advance then so would the knowledge and technology in the hope that we could find sustainable ways in the future so we don’t kill another planet as we will most certainly do to this one.

    People say, but if we act now then we will avoid the apocalypse, well that may be true but we will also wipe out hundreds of years of technological advancement, knowledge and will also drown the human sense of accomplishment.

    Ill state before I get flamed off, this is just my opinion and not something I’m forcing on anyone, but deep in my heart, I believe that going back to our past way of live is the wrong thing to do.

    • kulturcritic says:

      The RealFury – I think you answered your own question here. Let’s move forward, but we will probably make a mess of the rest of the universe doing it. But, I agree it is a catch 22; damned if we do and if we don’t – The Kleptocrats who run this country will decide, no doubt!!

      • Ool says:

        The Universe looks very messy already. So how can you make a mess out of something that’s already in chaos?

        The Sun wastes two billion times more energy out into space than it shines on Earth — every second, every day, every millennium. The Earth contains two million cubic meters of dead matter for every square meter of habitable surface area. Compared to how many resources nature wastes what we’re doing is nothing.

        There is so much potential for growth out there — space elevators, solar power collectors in space beaming microwave energy back to Earth, rendering the fossil fuel abundance of the 20th century a pittance in comparison, allowing for prosperity in even the remotest corners of the planet.

        Eventually taking the planets apart and creating real estate around the Sun for trillions or quadrillions of sentient entities is within our power. Compared to that what you’re describing is a return to the Dark Ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire. Now that is what I call a waste…

  12. april says:

    what do you think about venus project

    and mass empowerment by meditation/mental discipline. i dont think its too late. new kids are born every day. anyway, im starting with canada

    btw- good article but dont think that way – or that is what will be

    • kulturcritic says:

      April – I am extremely cynical about any technological answers to the collapse. I personally think Zeitgeist and the Venus Project are pipe dreams leading to more troubles… as if things could get any worse! IMHO

  13. april says:

    i bet that everyone in time thought that they were living in really exciting/important times… but our time is so great because we have science now. you know, we have a bank of good solid information to base our decisions on. and yet we stand around labeling ourselves “cynical” and other words. that is what happens when you start to gain some age and life experience. we get confused and disappointed by peoples actions around us, up to and incl our parents. but most humans dont have mental discipline so dont mimic them. (for example our friends at coca-cola must be totally out of their fing minds – changing precious water to coke FOR ONE thing!). its like, these confused people think that they are going to take their money to the grave with them. its been like this for a long time, egypt and even before. a few people have the wealth and decide how life is going to be for everyone. but now we have science and tech.. where you dont believe tech will be the answer – i think it is the only answer. lets talk about one aspect of venus project… if every country would grow their food hydroponically, it wouldnt take acres and acres, there would be no pesticide/herbicide and most important everyone would have an unlimited supply of all types of food. not to mention we wouldnt be shipping produce all over the place like a bunch of fools. i mean, what say you to that idea? dont you think that would be a good start around here?
    all the best
    ps – i propose we capture the minds of everyone under 30 and explain to them that there is nothing to fear

    • kulturcritic says:

      April – Your reply is kind of rambling, so it is tough for me to get my hands around. Science has been around for a long time, millennia even. But still these are exciting times. People have looked to science and technology for answers over many centuries. And we have done some pretty amazing things with it — like invent Coca Cola!!! But, seriously, biomedical technology is really amazing: now we can cure the diseases that our sciences created (many of the cancers and chronic ailments today are a direct result of our monkeying with the environment. But, in brief, I think you try anything you can at this juncture.

      • Ool says:

        Wrong. We get cancer because we weren’t built to last. Science isn’t responsible for the fact that we age. That’s the result of unplanned obsolescence by unintelligent evolution. But science is responsible for our surviving so many common diseases into adulthood and beyond that it is only the unusual malfunctions that do us in these days.

        In the olden days you would have been more likely to die of pneumonia at age 1½ and even if you had been one of the very few lucky enough to die of cancer it wouldn’t have been diagnosed as such at the time…

  14. april says:

    yes, thanks for your time and response

  15. kulturcritic says:

    Ool –

    Enjoy your imagined future. But, in the meantime, while you are waiting, read Health and The Rise Of Civilization by Mark Nathan Cohen.

    • Ool says:

      Well, of course it could all go south before we take the next step in energy sustainability and we really do sink into another Dark Age as a result of our technological civilization turning in on itself when faced with serious power shortages. After all, it happened before, when the Roman Empire collapsed and we lost a thousand years of potential technological progress.

      Ultimately there is so much power passing the planet by that we would have clean energy coming out of our ears if we started tapping into it. We could get all our clean water from desalination if we wanted to. We could pump it wherever we need it in the world. Bye-bye, deserts! We would be independent from natural precipitation for the first time in human history. And it would last for billions of years — as long as the Sun itself.

      But just like the Romans weren’t imaginative enough to plan ahead for a time when the timber ran out and the slaves became uppity we aren’t doing much in the direction of solar energy from space yet. So if a major upheaval feeds momentum to a religious, anti-intellectual movement we could, indeed, have to wait another thousand years for the next technological leap, while civilization slides back into a second Middle Age.

      That’s what you are envisioning. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just saying it’s not particularly desirable and it isn’t inevitable, either. There are alternatives. Compared to the solar power our sun blasts into deep space every second all the burned fossil fuels on the planet combined are an infinitesimal drop in the ocean.

      As for civilization causing diseases, yes, a sedentary life and a choice of false nutrition can kill you prematurely. But the wealth of our society also gives many the option of being physically active and eating healthy if only they choose to. Even assuming you would have lived longer in the Bronze Age, you were also more likely to be bored out of your skull back then if you weren’t running for your life. So if you measure quality time I think we come out way ahead of ancient man on that front.

      Or maybe that’s just me and most others toil their lives away in jobs they hate…

      • kulturcritic says:

        Ool – Listen. Enjoy your dreams about our technological future. I am sure Guttenberg, Edison, Ford, and on ad infinitum felt the same way about the prospects for their inventions at the time. But, please do not make stupid remarks like “being bored out of your skull.” How do you know if people were bored in the Bronze Age? Besides, I never suggested that going back to some primal (or ancient) past is an answer. I am just commenting on what appears to me to be happening, and what one can do about it in the event things go that way all the way. And, please do not discuss ‘quality time’ with me. How many hours do you work a week? Or are you independently wealthy? And don’t tell me “I love my job” – yeah we all do. But don’t tell me what I already know at 58 years old. I have the feeling you need a bit more exposure to the world to see things more clearly… but perhaps I am mistaken. Finally, I am not talking about the demise of an empire alone, but the collapse of civilization as we have recorded its history for the past 6,000 years; and the planet has been raped and pillaged by our wonderful ideas and industry.

      • Disaffected says:

        That’s what you are envisioning. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just saying it’s not particularly desirable and it isn’t inevitable, either. There are alternatives. Compared to the solar power our sun blasts into deep space every second all the burned fossil fuels on the planet combined are an infinitesimal drop in the ocean.


        Google “Energy Concentration John Michael Greer” and read the article at the top of the search. The universe is FULL of energy. Now energy that’s USEFUL for something without requiring even more energy than it provides to harness it – now THAT’S SOMETHING.

        Still stuck at “bargaining,” huh? Of course you know what comes next?

        • april says:

          what comes next is virtue.

          someone else wrote this (in describing the compassion);

          ” who, though he be cursed by the world, yet cherishes no ill-will towards it ”

          yes it has been said that you have to fight war with war, but who cares whats been said. im a soldier by profession and there is no romance.

          there is one way out of this and we are going to have to be brave

        • Disaffected says:


          I’m a retired soldier as well. While I imagine a certain bravery will be required in meeting our collective fates in the coming years, I prefer to look at it more in terms of resignation. As in, the honest recognition of the path we collectively chose to get here, and the clear and honest recognition that the rather tumultuous times ahead are the inevitable outcome of the choices we have made and continue to make everyday. Self aggrandizement, cultural superiority, and an almost childlike belief in the wonders of technology are simply too deeply ingrained in western culture to be repudiated at this point. In fact, I predict that our reliance on technology will increase exponentially during the coming meltdown, long after the point that any rational, sentient being not caught up in the death throws of its own civilization would have seen the folly in clinging to such beliefs. As we’re seeing all around us right now, denial is a powerful force in human affairs.

          Global warming, resource depletion, and the wars and mass extinctions that are already underway are – no matter how horrible to us individually – merely natural processes that are at this point virtually locked in due to our current state of conscious development. We’re ALL going to die someday regardless of what happens in the world around us, and for many of us much sooner than we think. Claiming some sort of dignity in the process may be the only thing many of us have to cling to, and really, dignity in one’s life and eventual death regardless of one’s external circumstances is indeed the point of it all anyway, is it not?

  16. kulturcritic says:

    Straycat – I do believe there has been increasing levels of hierarchy with the transition from Bronze Age to today. And I believe our use of language is tied up in that affair, as well as the classifications and categorizations we make semantically and narratively (see my comments to your reply on Language and Crisis). And certainly the religious vocation, along with the legislative, technical and military, all contributed to the further segregation of classes and the deliberate disempowering of those without title (the citizen masses), and the emptying out of meaning in words (increased technical jargon, leading to mathematics.)

    • StrayCat says:

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. there has been increasingly stronger stratification, accelerated by the testing and categorization of people by supposed intelligence and skills during and after WWII. Tracking in public schools, which deprived many of educations or limited them to watered down, inaccurate texts and exercises. The entire notion of syntactical testing, which is what SATs and such really are, has fostered a school situation that is structured to produce “good Germans” and service workers while devaluing any real learning and thought. It is interesting how the “big money” goes to the stock brokers, doctors, security personnel and other mandarins of the New Aristocracy, while those that grow real food, make or create useful things or live their lives to their own beat and time signature are discarded and paid almost nothing. Wages of productive labor and artisans continue their downward trend, while baseball players and actors “earn” millions. They are not paid for their work, or their products, but for the creation of a playground where the rich and infamous borrow their cachet by proximity in high visibility “Access Hollywood” events in order to don the patina of the athlete and the movie star (now named as artists).
      There was a time in early America when intelligence and thoughtfulness was widely distributed among all social places, farmers, printers, plumbers, builders. After WWII, the syntactical testing pushed those who were good at such tests into the mandarin class, and pushed the equally intelligent into the servant class. The ordination of the papered (degreed) as a separate class of lower nobility, much like the robed class of the late feudal period has hastened the destruction of our democratic society, and has allowed our elected “representatives” to claim that they don’t want more voters, but smarter voters, to quote a Florida state elected fool. We, in fact, no longer have a citizenry, but a tripartite feudal system of the High and lesser nobility, the mandarin class of semi productive enablers and fan swishers, and that ultimate goal of the Mussolinis of the world, a passive, overly entertained under educated proles. The proles get to adopt and root for their favorite spots teams, join their chosen hobby clubs and attend their favorite “Cheers” place to joke away their keenly felt but fundamentally misunderstood desperation.
      Of course, all this is at a cost of interest payments on increasing debt as the proles frantically cling to their ever narrowing step in the hierarchical structure of Late Empire West.

      • kulturcritic says:

        SC – this is a STUNNING analysis!!! You have nailed the actual terms under which Americans now live and die for their “freedom.” Your articulation of the classes and the issue of proximity ‘”where the rich and infamous borrow their cachet by proximity in high visibility “Access Hollywood” events is brilliant. Great thoughts, Straycat!!

  17. april says:

    you have my full attention and respect

    but resignation with dignity? i say; do not go gentle. and who can even have dignity under these circumstances?

    it could change on a dime. and im going to say it will

    • Disaffected says:

      Dignity is self-contained. It is said that the self-actualized make their own “weather,” choosing not to be buffeted by the storms of external strife. Of course, few of us ever realize our self-actualized state for more than a fraction of our lives, but still, it remains the ever elusive goal. I saw the movie “The Razor’s Edge” on TV last night. A very poignant reminder.

      I also think that most westerners are in deep need of some death consciousness raising. Accepting, and indeed, embracing! the inevitability of one’s own death is probably the number one shortcoming in what passes for “religion” in the western tradition. Getting that little bit of existential terror out of the way early on would probably do more to liberate our children to face the challenges in life than anything else we could do.

      Here’s an instant consciousness raiser and conversation stopper: Look around you right now. Everyone you see – EVERYONE – will be dead in 100 years more or less. And most will be long forgotten to everyone then living, even their immediate descendants. Most people will say that’s depressing and morose. I say it’s truly liberating. But that’s me.

      Indeed, in my view, “techno-triumphalism” is, at its heart, little more than an attempted repudiation of our own mortality. But I’ll admit, that’s probably just me feeling a little grandiose. Anyway, keep up the good fight!

      • Disaffected says:

        Proof of point.

        None of us knows the exact point in time nor the reason for our own demise…

        Therein lies the grand mystery. It is – by definition – beyond our mortal knowing.

        Should it be feared or proclaimed? You decide.

      • StrayCat says:

        I think you are exactly right, the medicine, the techno gadgets are at root a toss at immortality. It may actually become reality, but at what cost to life now.

  18. april says:

    Well now im going to watch The Razor’s Edge and i see its Bill Murray, one of my favorites! So thanks for mentioning it

    Thanks a lot!

    • Disaffected says:

      Cool! It got panned by the critics (of course), but it’s one of my all time favorites. I thought Theresa Russell as Sophie was positively mesmerizing in the meatiest role in the film. The backstory is that Murray made his appearance in Ghostbusters conditional on this movie being made first, so this really was a labor of love for Murray, who was unbelievably fit and trim all those years ago. I’m only a few years younger than Murray, but it was certainly a reminder of the ravages of time, as if any of us need any more of those these days.

    • Disaffected says:


      I’d like to add this little slightly off topic aside; I’m consumed by all things The Deadliest Catch.

      For those of you who have not seen it, it’s a reality based TV show on The Discovery Channel, just beginning it’s seventh season.

      Link here.

      It’s an ongoing “REAL” reality show documenting the lives of a select group of fishing boat crews during the Alaskan King Crab and C. opilio crab seasons.

      I’ll admit, I was a slow and reluctant convert at first in this day and age of reality spectacular everything, but I’ve slowly come around to seeing this one through new eyes. This is truly an amazing no-holds-barred look into the lives of those performing an incomprehensibly difficult and dangerous job for a pitifully small amount of compensation, all for the sake of what?

      For the sake of the satisfaction of performing a job few would even attempt well done! The human spirit survives!

      I ask you, is that not a cause to rejoice?

      In spite of that, is that not also an indictment of the western capitalist model, in that it demands such sacrifices and MUCH worse in order to “justify” itself?

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