“The only way out of the trap, as I’ve argued here rather more than once, is to accept a steep cut in your standard of living before it becomes necessary, as a deliberate choice, and to use the resources freed up by that choice to get rid of any debts you have, get settled in a location that has a fair chance of keeping a viable degree of community life going, and get the tools and learn the skills that you will need to manage a decent life in an age of spiraling decline. To those who cling to the idea that they can maintain their present lifestyles, admittedly, it’s hard to think of any advice less welcome, but the universe is in no way obligated to give us the future we want—even if what we want is a sudden blow that will spare us the harder experience of the Long Descent.”
From the blog of John Michael Greer Archdruid USA. On the continuing post peak oil decline. It’s good advice! Please take it!
Readers of this blog will know that I quote often and extensively from the Archdruid’s blog. That’s because, like George Monbiot, he is a truth teller to power and a rigorous fact checker and referencer-two attributes often missing from the current state of the world debate.
However I do think that both John and George are a tad pessimistic. It is no doubt true that a slow spiralling decline in the global fossil-fuelled economy will continue for the foreseeable future. It’s also true that, in the West, food prices will start to rise significantly and the social impact of the decline among the most vulnerable will start to spread to the swollen middle (great phrase!) I also agree that we will see the much publicised exit of certain countries from the Euro though whether the currency will survive, I think the jury is out. I for one am not so sure the return of the Deutschmark and the Franc might not be a good thing. And perhaps we actually might rethink the European Community as more community and less market.
To date the ‘crisis’, if that is what it is, has forced the hands of the banking/military/big pharma/agri business industrial sector to reveal its true power more clearly than ever before. We have seen entire countries political leaders removed and replaced with accounting technocrats without a vote (Greece), and entire political policies delivered wholesale by the International Monetary Fund. (Spain, Ireland, Greece, Italy.) Then thrust upon the working people and the most vulnerable while it’s business as usual with the banks and the fat cats. And all without serious comment and analysis in the mass media.
One inevitable effect of all this sound and noise is going to be the return to a peasant type existence, what I am choosing to call Forced Simplicity. This will be a return to ‘back to basics’ and for a lot of people lost in the dream of capitalism and endless growth in a finite world, it will come as some kind of disaster-a waking nightmare, a slow drift back to barbarism and ignorance.
However Forced Simplicity can be a major life enhancing process of our lives and I suspect that where capitalism turns us into passive and uncritical consumers, obsessed with trivia, Forced Simplicity will turn us towards deeper meaning, poetry, song, community, slow food, slow travel, wood rather than plastic, the fire rather than the radiator, our own musical instruments rather than a CD, tools rather than tradesmen, community members rather than social workers and policemen, the wisdom of elders rather than career politicians. It will give us a sense of how utterly precious is this world and all that is in it. And it will force us by intractable events to re-evaluate our lives and its meaning and our relationship to the Earth and each other.
As we watch the great fossilised western democracies unravel it’s just possible that the post-industrial, post tv, post motorised, localised, slowed down, small community, permacultured, straw-baled, forest gardening and horse driven future, may be the best thing that’s ever happened to us.