I prefer to be optimistic and think that there is a way we can work ourselves through the various crises that face us. The Transition idea seems to be the most palatable of plans to make it through a future with less. However, there are many people who aren’t so optimistic, who believe we face a future of rage and riot as the result of severe economic disruption. History provides a strong basis for their predictions of civil unrest. Part of their thesis is based on human nature. As Canadian economic blogger Ilargi points out :
“Most people are far too complacent when it comes to the consequences of a shrinking economic system. Many claim that we can easily downsize to smaller homes and smaller lives, since there’s so much we don’t really need anyway, that we will move in together and return to “good” conversations, growing our own tomatoes and all that. But that’s just not going to happen voluntarily, not on a large and wide scale. The human mind has no reverse. It doesn’t even have a steering wheel. We are built for one of two things: go forward or crash. It looks like there’s no forward left before a major crash happens first. It also looks like there’s not a whole lot of people who realize this.”
Every Monday morning I start the day by reading the weekly essay by James Howard Kunstler who has a pretty dark view of the future.
Kunstler believes we are a country of dolts who have totally lost our way. He uses architecture and the way we have constructed our cities and suburbs as evidence that we are a society in rapid decline. In this week’s essay he uses Cleveland as symbol for a country that doesn’t know where it’s going:
“This disintegrating nation is woefully distracted by Web 2.0, iPads, Avatar movies, Facebook, and the idiot celebrity spectacles of TV, not to mention the disasters of job loss, foreclosure, medical extortion, bankruptcy, corporate loot-ocracy, and the squandered moments of politics. We know we have to go somewhere. We know that something like history is leaving us behind. We have no idea how to get to a new place. And we’re spending most of our mental energy gaping into the rear-view mirror, which is the last place to look for your destination.
The confusion is apt to get a lot worse before it gets better. I’m not saying this to be ornery but because I believe it is true, and it will benefit us to know the odds we’re up against. The confusion is going to generate a lot of ideas that are inconsistent with reality — especially involving the seductive nostrums of technocracy. Our redemption will be found closer to the ground in the things we do by hand. But we don’t know that yet, and we’re going to try everything except looking there before we find out.”
Another contrarian, Gerald Celente, has a pretty good track record with his predictions. His view of the future is quite dark but worth hearing if you want a well-rounded view of the world. Celente is always entertaining, often a bit rambunctious, but is quite under control in this worthwhile 11 minute video:
Reading Ilargi, Kunstler and Celente on a regular basis makes one want to run to the gun store to stock up on shotgun shells (and many of us have). Seeds or guns seems to be the question in many circles. But I liked the quote I saw recently (but can no longer locate for attribution) which said, “I’d rather have thirty friends than thirty guns.”
The doom and gloom is very real and we don’t know what will happen or how we will react when the shit hits the fan. It seems most likely that the way to make it through will be with well-developed friendships and strong community networks (and a garden, of course).