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« if (length(day) == length(night)) HappyEquinox(); | Main | Jon Stewart said it best »

September 29, 2012

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Tom

Great post George and good incite into the whole sham election.

Mankind went down the self-serving, unsustainabale, procreate-til-we-overrun-the-place road, and the end of that road is fast approaching.

The debate now seems to be about how quickly or slowly the collapse will be, and whether or not it will be total.

Our politics are as bankrupt as our banks, municipalities and worldviews at this point.

Climate change will last for thousands of years and get to the point where any life on the planet will be miraculous (maybe the little creatures that live off the sulfur vents at the bottom of the sea will wonder what all the fuss was about).

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us George. You're a beacon of much needed light in a dark world. Shine on!

porge

From the previous post:

Also I found an apt title for the shadow rulers:

"Despotic Oligarchy"
So from now on when you feel the urge to write the word "elite" referring to the greedy psychopaths that run the show just substitute my new title or you can use plutocracy just as well in place of oligarchy.

The reason the people aren't being informed about the end coming is to prevent panic as long as possible and control the culling as they see fit.
Here is my comment from the last entry but it applies just as well to this post.

George,
First I hate the term "elite" because it implies a superiority by virtue which is definitely not the case. I prefer a group of despots (I wish I could find a plural form)
As to Panem et circeses no argument there.
It has been a game of give the masses what they clamor for and now it is running out.
The despots didn't "intuit" anything. This is all by design to impoverish as many as fast as possible and make them totally dependent on the "system".
That makes it very easy to control and prevent any violent blow back and also to cull as needed. They can simply stop the supply chains food, water.
They are evil and mentally ill and unfortunately our system is structured such that the bad guy always wins. So over time the most ruthless psychopaths will concentrate at the top of the hierarchy. All that concerns them is playing games against each other at the highest levels of society and the "people" are merely livestock... pawns on the chessboard.
Sorry to rant and sound like Alex Jones but the more I watch this mess the more I think that most of what I wrote above is correct.

Reverse Engineer

"In fact I can easily imagine that by the end of a Romney administration's first term there will be massive revolts and mayhem from people fed up with any form of government. He would be either voted out or find himself in a worst case scenario having to declare martial law."-GM

Martial Law is an inevitability whether it's Robama or Obamney that wins. Once the Oil supply lines fall below the leel necessary to keep standard JIT running on the economic model, the Military will have to take this over.

Obama-sama recently signed another Executive Order that allows him to commandeer private Logistics such as the Walmart Distribution apparatus and trucking firms like JB Hunt and Schneider National.

The quetion remains one of timing, and another 4 year term of BAU seems like an outside maximum for this here in the FSoA. A lot depends on how fast the Euro Collapses. More on that in the "For Whom the Bell Tolls" article on the Doomstead Diner.

http://www.doomsteaddiner.org/blog/2012/09/21/for-whom-the-bell-tolls/

RE

porge

"Obama-sama recently signed another Executive Order that allows him to commandeer private Logistics such as the Walmart Distribution apparatus and trucking firms like JB Hunt and Schneider National." Reverse Engineer.

Reverse Engineer,
Read my above comment about stopping supply chains to decide who gets to live and who gets to die.
I think you are spot on (but of course I would because your analysis jives with mine);)

Yes, there is a master plan in place and the puppet politicians are nothing but front men putting on a show for the average dumb American.
The media is the creator of the memes and false narratives that comprise what joe and jane average think is reality....even if it is willful ignorance It is still false and in the end this is going to turn ugly....very ugly.

Reverse Engineer

George's article is crossposted on the Doomstead Diner titled "Obamney vs. Robama"

http://www.doomsteaddiner.org/blog/2012/10/01/obamney-vs-robama/

RE

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Clear as a bell George, as always. Thanks for describing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so succinctly.

The coming crunch will of course most affect (financially and emotionally) those who managed to enjoy our species' brief flirtation with 'democracy', 'freedom' and 'opportunity'. For a brief moment in the human timeline, and most notably in the US, a relatively large number of people were able to live very well off cheaply acquired energy resources sucked in from elsewhere in the world. The standard of living in the US was such that millions could drive cars with ridiculously low mileages per gallon, keep lights burning and air-conditioning/central heating chugging away around the clock, buy and consume but also throw away mountains of perfectly edible foods, and live in relative palaces stocked with endless labour-saving as well as frivolous gadgets. The mantra was: Yes we can (have everything we vaguely desire).

In truth, The American Dream was actually Most of the Rest of the World's Nightmare, just as was the case with every imperial adventure in human history. In most locations worldwide, most of the inhabitants have since time immemorial lived in the absolute poverty that is now rather rapidly returning to the majority of Americans. The fall from grace that is now accelerating in the Western World was already planted among the seeds of the rise of US-style winner-takes-all capitalism. In that sense, what we are witnessing is a self-correcting mechanism. However, the return to "normal" poverty is extremely painful to the previously well-off. So there is growing hysteria among spectators finally learning about the bottleneck scenario that is being coolly discussed among the sapient.

Because of the laws of thermodynamics, knowledge of which as you say has accidentally or deliberately eluded the ruling class, it is very possible that the US Empire will be the last of any scale. However, tell that to a peasant farmer in the Chinese hinterland scratching barely enough food for his family, or a Congolese villager wondering if she will survive a tenth pregnancy, or a destitute Sri Lankan crammed on a sinking boat somewhere off Australia. We so-called humans have a long experience of harsh reality – excluding the pampered ones profiting for a few decades from the Western model of greed is godly.

Talking about growth, the only growth market I see is in education – classes for Westerners in how to go back to living on meagre provisions, including hypnotic counselling for the terminally avaricious. There are plenty of teachers and role models out there in the rest of the world.

Best wishes, Oliver

Steven Newbury

Oliver, while I find myself sharing your general view, I disagree with your assertion: "In most locations worldwide, most of the inhabitants have since time immemorial lived in the absolute poverty that is now rather rapidly returning to the majority of Americans."

This simply isn't the case for the vast majority of human existence. Generally people have subsisted quite comfortably, while interspersed with periods of famine, this has been true whether the culture was predominantly agricultural or hunter gatherer. The modern poverty experienced in the slums of the mega-cities of the last few centuries is an anomaly (and an interesting topic in itself); which while it won't be sustained, offers a small foretaste of what is likely coming to us all.

Our overall situation is far worse than that of our ancestors, our world no longer has the ability to provide the abundant surplus that once enabled us to declare our supremacy over nature; our cultural memory and experiences of the past, along with modern analogues leads us to believe in a world that can no longer be. There is no longer the carrying capacity for even a fraction of our current population to live as our ancestors once did, there really is no going back.

Robin Datta

Does it even matter whether or not there is an election?

Sam

So George, in recognizing that we have a political system comprised of people who wantonly ignore the long-term, inevitable outcomes associated with economic growth, I am wondering if you could posit a bit of a proactive agenda here.

If we assume that Obama will win and adopt further Keynesian policies, are there projects he could be funding that would make the transition to a low-energy society more graceful? Are there projects that you think could actually be funded in Congress given the pro-growth mentality that seems to be the predominant ideology of those in power? I don't know how much overlap there is between the interests of the sapient and those leading the charge for growth, but perhaps projects that are billed as improving the economic capability of local communities could at least be a starting point for doing some of the work that needs to be done in order to make the transition to a low-energy society. Community-based agriculture (or permaculture--one can dream!) or restoration projects that clean up degraded lands and soils to make them more suitable for growing food and for living might be activities that fit a pro-growth mentality and a sapient one. Are there other kinds of activities you might add?

Even though I agree with your pessimism about the future, we do have some control now over how bad the transition could be. There is no inherent reason why the government has to be a hindrance to these efforts, and could be helpful in getting projects started if funds are used judiciously.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Steven N - interesting comments, thank you. I'm far too polite to contradict you in return, but I obviously have a different take on the definition of poverty.

To me, poverty isn't a recent creation of urban slum-dwelling - an anomaly as you describe it. In my reasoning, ever since our species got organised in large groups (i.e. over recorded history), life has been based on a pecking order dictated by physical strength (the Alpha Males get the spoils). I therefore wouldn't describe the vast majority as subsisting comfortably. Comfort is always the fiefdom of the few who possess the surplus. The rest are kept in yokes to create the surplus, in return for meagre rations. This is poverty, in my book.

As for the idea of the Noble Savage, we can choose to believe that hunter gatherers and early farmers had a comfortable life, but this is pure speculation, not evidence based.

Regards, Oliver

William J McKibbin

The battle between big government Democrats and military-industrial Republicans over scarce sovereign borrowing rights to fund their mutually exclusive "guns or butter" approach to Federalism is at the root of everything evil about America and her empire -- what we need instead are fresh ideas that only Libertarians can deliver at this point -- additionally, the continuing practice of holding Main Street (construction) hostage to big government and military-industrial spending initiatives championed by Democrats and Republicans respectively assures that Main Street will remain mired in economic depression, as evidenced by the long-term declines in real working wages, home values, and the employment-to-population ratio -- the big government Democrats and military-industrial Republicans are on the ropes, despite their best efforts to form a fascist empire in the American heartland -- the future of America will be Libertarian -- more at: http://www.lp.org

Steven Newbury

Oliver, thanks for the reply. I certainly didn't intend to invoke the fallacy of the "Noble Savage", but I can see how what I wrote could be interpreted that way though. Please don't worry about contradicting me, I'm quite used to it, and it's quite likely any contradiction arises through deficiencies in my argument! :)

Let me try to clarify a few points:

Without having an shared definition of poverty it is virtually impossible to reach any sort of agreement on whether it's something that's been (largely) escaped by the surplus enabled through (industrial?) civilisation, or created by the distribution of wealth within it. If poverty is living at the bottom of the pecking order within a large group under a hierarchical patriarchal authority, then it is necessarily a creation of "civilization" or at least organised society, yet I never intended to limit the scope in that way.

For the sake of argument, I would like to posit that human "poverty" is best described though the limits in availability of scarce resources, without the recourse of migration to areas of surplus; that's to say at its extreme, it's trap on the margin of subsistence.

By this definition, there have certainly been many periods through both recorded history and pre-history where conditions of large proportions of a population could be described as being impoverished, yet migration was an near universally available release valve. Perhaps history is best described through this dynamic of impoverishment; resource availability is depleted and the migration in search of resource surplus results, along with intra-society "class-struggle" and and inter-society conflicts as groups vie for supremacy over the "spoils".

By this definition large scale poverty isn't a stable or sustainable state. When living on the margin of subsistence, it's only a matter of time until either "Liebig's Law of the Minimum" downsizes the population, the local resource conditions return to surplus, or there is sufficient migration to bring the population back within the local carrying capacity.

Where things get more complex, we humans have attempted to take control of, and manipulate this this process. Creating artificial scarcity to re-enforce class divisions, and maintain privilege of the "elite" and abstracting the distribution and allocation of resources though Economics.


We appear to have run out of surplus available resources, particularly available energy, we no longer have any virgin or marginally unexploited land of surplus to migrate to, and further we've reached the limits of our ability to impose control to maintain our societal structure.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Thanks Steven - excellent clarification and I can only agree with your well-made points.

On this topic, especially regarding our current precarious predicament at the End of Surplus, I have been through all the stages of grief - and have now arrived at calm acceptance. I no longer waste venom on the robber barons and banksters (psychopathic phenotypes) who control the real levers of power, because there is no reason or sport in trying to dissuade the blind from acting blindly. Clearly, there is certainly no need to trouble ourselves over the presidential election, which is a puppeteer's sideshow.

I am in acceptance but what still causes heartache is human suffering, hence my pitch on the subject of poverty. Death is a far better option than living in continuous oppressive destitution, to say nothing of the daily brutality visited on the 'weak' by the 'strong' in every country in this peculiar world. For all our so-called progress these few hundred years, little has changed in this formula, apparently a necessary function of the survival-of-the-fittest component of evolution.

I do help others when I can, but it always comes back to the King Canute analogy...

So what remains for me personally is a watching brief on the downward slope, and having the odd interesting debate on sites such as these, the last bastion of sapience.

Thanks again for your thoughtful contributions.

Regards, Oliver

porge

" survival-of-the-fittest component of evolution." Anywhere but here is better

It is suppose to be reproduction of the best adapted.

Agriculture ended natural selection a long time ago.......

George Mobus

All. Thanks for the comments.

--------------------------------------
Sam,

Your question re: projects we could do...
Sometime back I wrote a proposal to restart the CCC accepting both men and women who would be working to restore our soils to permaculture standards. They would simultaneously be going to night classes to learn the principles of permaculture so as to eventually engage in local food production.
Could we solve two problems at once?

Since that time a number of writers, like Robert Reich, have called for a reorganization of the CCC but geared toward repairing and building infrastructure (roads and bridges) since they do not understand that this would represent a huge waste of capital and effort.

That was back in 2010 when I held hope that there would be some political will and some capital to invest. Since then we've learned just how bankrupt we are (resorting to quantitative easing to make it seem like we are not!) so there probably really isn't any capital to invest on a national scale. I am promoting permaculture locally (regionally or even state wide) still in hopes that it will be easier to grasp at a local level. But the dream of unbounded energy still haunts the conversations.

--------------------------------------
William,

I'm guessing you haven't read much of my work or you would realize that I have even greater dislike for libertarian ideology than for either of the main parties! The main themes in this blog have to do with physical reality not beliefs and definitely not political/economic beliefs based on erroneous interpretations of how the world works.

The future of America may well be anarchy but not libertarianism.

--------------------------------------
Porge,

My own preference for thinking about evolution of humans is that agriculture didn't exactly (and for all time) end natural selection, but it did change the direction of the pressures from the vagaries of the environment to broader social conditions (e.g. larger aggregations than 150 fellow tribesmen). In my mind evolution never ceases simply because genes and control net DNA never cease mutating. The environment never ceases exerting forces on creatures, even us. Culture (which itself evolves) just puts new kinds of forces into play.


George

Molly

Thanks. Insightful post, as per usual. Have to add that friends keep forwarding to my old man the right-wing emails of nonsence that appear in their in-boxes, and he amuses himself by....now get this....using research to find the facts that disprove these bizarre writings, which he then sends back, both to his friends AND to the original poster of the nonsense. SO many times he gets emails from the original poster telling him to NOT contact them any more with his "facts," i.e. don't confuse them with reality! It's really mind-boggling how many times he's been told to NOT confuse them with facts! Had I not been a high school teacher for 30 years, I would not have believed that such widespread, willful ignorance was possible. But, alas, to too many folks, science is only of use when a triple by-pass is needed....or a cure for cancer. And questioning the capitalist belief in infinite growth in a finite system is akin to the WORST kind of religious heresy! That homo so-called sapiens can harbor and CHERISH such profound ignorance is disheartening indeed. Yes, politicians should BOTH be aware of, and speak the truth about, objective reality, as nearly as we can discern it, but even should they do so, too many would reply that they simply do NOT wish to be confused by facts!

porge

George,
No doubt mutations have and will continue.
But, you need to explain to me how the "better adapted" gene suites that result in more effective phenotypes actually reproduce more than the less viable types.
Institutions of marrige and of course the social structure itself play a far greater role in limiting the reproductive abilities of"superior" traits.
The social station you are born into is the huge determining factor as to how complete your potential will be developed and deployed and no one outside of arab sheiks has 80 kids and I am certain they are not the "best adapted".
It is basically a social structure crap shoot and if you really look at who is reproducing at the greatest rates you could even say it is inverted. Might be getting into touchy territory with my last statement but I just don't see any clear direction as to "selection of best genotype".
Mutations yes.
Biggest determinant on which genes populate next generations pool is poverty( more prolific) if they survive and social mores Monogamy verse polygamy.
Otherwise I don't agree with you.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Molly - Nicely stated. You have found proof that Science (the pursuit of reality and truth) has almost completely been supplanted by Technology (the development of systems that make money for the research grant allocators).

This is why facts are not required by the blinkered. All they seek is technological superiority and control over their imagined enemies.

porge

What can the next President do?

Answer: NOTHING

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-10-08/guest-post-decline-decay-denial-delusion-and-despair

AmericaIsScrewed

If you look at what happened with the Bush tax cuts, Romney's policies won't make any difference. The already rich made billions more and then promptly invested this money in China and in India. They closed down perfectly good factories who were profitable, laid off all American workers and rehired all new foreign workers for pennies per hour. The 1% made trillions of dollars in profits. With their political powers they bought off the Supreme Court (Citizens United). With this they can use all of their ill gotten gains to influence elections from overseas. Now they want to move back this money to the US at reduced tax rates. No matter how this plays out, America is screwed once again. If Romney gets elected, and somehow gets the tax rates changed, it is not going to improve the situation. The 1% will simply do what they did before and move their money overseas.

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