Monthly Archive for August, 2011

Of Our Elaborate Plans, The End

Our very near future.

It’s over. The End. Everything you’ve read about, all those pundits and futurists who told you that global economic collapse is inevitable – they were all correct. We’re fucked.

Let’s just take it for granted that in a few short years the global recession will devolve into a severe global economic depression. Let’s also assume that Peak Oil will begin its inevitable decline, causing speculators to price oil at $1000/bbl. Let’s furthermore admit that global warming will indeed melt the ice and plunge low-lying areas into watery hazards.

Now what?

Hey, everybody! Let's get together and work this out as a team!

You’re fucked, that’s what.

Even the Great Depression in the 1930’s was mitigated by the boon of cheap oil. Without all that abundant cheap oil, our economic disaster will be truly…disastrous. We’re talking Lord of the Flies here. As bad as things can possibly get.

Now, you’d think we Americans would be ready for this. After all, we’re the bootstrappy, can-do culture, right? WRONG. We have never known anything like this. Ever. Even at the height of our Civil War most civilians ate food, traded merchandise and played parlor games. We’ve never known true Collapse.

But some people do know true Collapse. Germany, Japan, Austria, Russia, Vietnam, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Ukraine and Belarus know true Collapse. There is no greater Collapse than that of all-out war, particularly when it is waged upon the civilian infrastructure. Want to know how to survive the worst of the worst? Ask an 85-year-old Ukrainian. They’ll tell you how they survived Stalin’s purges and forced famines, followed quickly by Germany’s murderous invasion. And after all that, the Red Army swept through like locusts, devouring everything in sight on their angry rush to Berlin.

Ukraine in 1943 made America in 1933 look like heaven. We Americans have no idea what real Collapse is like.

Kiev, 1942. Note the lack of business activity and limited food resources.

So, what to do?

To start, if you live in a big city, good-bye. We’re not even going to address your concerns because you are so fucked, your fuckedness is beneath our contempt.

Next up: the suburbs. If you live in the suburbs, you are just as fucked as the city folk. Your pathetic stick-and-vinyl neighborhood and its postage stamp lawns are utterly worthless and rely solely on automobiles for everything. You can’t grow food and your infrastructure is so energy-intensive it isn’t even funny. You’re fucked.

Finally: rural folk. These folks have a chance. But only if they can behave and cooperate. When the corporate farms cannot be run (tractors get about 13 mpg and if gas is $50/gal…), it will be up to those with the know-how and the resources to till, fertilize, seed, grow and reap. These intrepid souls will become the most powerful and jealously regarded people in America.

Yo, I take what I need, muthafucka!

Millions of city folk and suburbanites will want all this rural stuff. They will beg and plead and kill. But if you think being a gun owner will help you get your way after the collapse, you are dead wrong.

Sure, you might come upon a small farm and decide to kill the people there and take what you want. But your crime won’t go unnoticed. And you’re going to have to sleep some time. And the moment those with the means find you unawares, you WILL be torn apart limb from limb and left to hang from a phone pole. Unlike what is portrayed in the movies, being a murderous gang in the post-Collapse world is an incredibly short career move. And you’ll really hate the retirement plan.

No, guns will only be of service to those working the land. They will need them for defensive security, not offensive chicanery.

And since guns aren’t going to help you, all you’ll be able to offer the world is your sweat and your loyalty. That’s it. If you happen to be an asshole, now would be a good time to start training yourself to be civil, articulate and respectful. Even then, the vast majority of Americans won’t serve any purpose. A quiet suicide is probably for the best.

Wait…that’s so sad. Why am I so fucked?

This is why.

In America, we have traded in a sustainable landscape for the glory of automobile-crazy suburbia. Just look at it! If you can look at this photo, then walk around and carefully size up your own suburban neighborhood, then sit back down and not realize how fucked you are, I cannot help you.

Suburbia offers nothing that is fundamentally useful. OK, the roofing material and the tools found in garages are fundamentally useful. But that’s it. The rest of it – all of it – should be abandoned. When Collapse comes, the cities will be desperate but the suburbs will be pathetic. If we are lucky, Collapse will occur with a concomitant nuclear nightmare or pandemic panic. Anything to cull the herd and avoid several months of abject human misery…

Are we alone?

This is Moldova, the poorest country in Europe.

Pretty much, yeah.

In most of the rest of the world, especially in China and eastern Europe, there is still a sizable infrastructure of effective, sustainable subsistence farming. In America, we threw this all away in the 1950’s. It’s gone. Completely. We now have giant corporate farmlands that must somehow be broken up and maintained as smaller cooperatives who live far from the fields. That’s gonna be doable, but tough.

Check out this very typical photo of a village in Moldova. Each of those village houses has a backyard farm abut the size of a football field. And each farm abuts the neighbor across the way. There’s even a couple of houses who cooperatively grew some fruit trees. Yummy!

Notice also the wide dirt roads that form a simple grid. Just like an integrated circuit, it’s more efficient to send ‘buses’ in a grid around processing areas. Also: notice how most house fronts meet in the street and go right up to the curb. This is because seeing your neighbors builds trust. In the backyard farms, each family sees their backyard neighbors up close and personal every day. See any fences in that photo?

Visual closeness builds extremely tight bonds in hunter/gatherer societies (where crime is almost nonexistent) and visual closeness builds tight bonds in village neighborhoods, too. How about American suburbs where houses are set back far from the street behind a big stupid lawn? No visual closeness. “Fuck the neighbors! Who cares about them?”

Tell me that’s a healthy way for people to live and for communities to thrive.

Look at Moldovan civil design, America, and weep. Villagers work cooperatively and decide what crops to rotate in and out. As neighbors and kinsmen, they share burdens and make agreements. They work together.

Glamorous? No. But they eat here.

They feed themselves and sell what they can for other luxuries. Sometimes winters are lean. Sometimes folks argue. Sometimes people are bored and want something bigger out of life, like maybe a trip to Vegas. But in the end, they will endure as long as no army murders them.

The poorest country in Europe is far more ready to survive Collapse than the richest nation on Earth.

How does that make you feel? Mad? Stupid? It should.

Dirty hippies to the rescue!

In America, co-op farms are a start. They really won’t feed your neighborhood, though. They are far too small. But you will learn the necessary skills you need to live like a Moldovan villager. Eventually, you may find a piece of property that looks a lot like a Moldovan village lot. BUY IT.

That investment is worth way more than the “gold futures” being hawked by doomsayers and it’s worth more than an armory full of guns. As an American village farmer, you will be the most sought-after person after the Collapse. You’ll be such a big celebrity that George Clooney and Cameron Diaz will be fighting to see who gets the chance to suck you off. Seriously.

So…

As you sadly sort through all the killjoy Chicken Little news stories about dwindling Saudi oil reserves, new waves of bank failures and drowning polar bears, take a deep breath and say to yourself:

What would a Moldovan villager do?

That’s the ticket!