META-NOMAD

Nothing New Under the Dying Sun: Greta Thunberg and Repetition.

We’ve all heard of Greta Thunberg, at least those of us who are paying even the most minor bit of attention to the news have. She’s the latest environmental activist who’s acquired the main-stage of the media to promote sustainability and environmentally friendly choices and ideas. Ok, great, what’s new?

Before I get into the meat of this short piece I’d like to say something, there’s been a strange focus on Thunberg from both the left and right which is downright cringe. Think back to your own political views at 15 and see if you don’t wince. If you don’t, you’re either lying to yourself or have your head buried so far in the sand you’ve attained a level of ignorance I thought unachievable. Now, that said, it doesn’t make her ideas void of criticism. But that doesn’t mean people should prey or use her autism as some kind of sticking point or area of aggression. Besides, by the end of this you’ll probably be thinking ‘Eh, she’ll be gone soon anyway, another young activist to be dragged out on occasion like the media’s finest china.’

This leads me to my first point. Everyone seems to exist in some kind of present-tense dump, where memory and knowledge cease to exist. People are acting as if both Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion are the first of their kind, people aren’t thinking back even a few years, they’re acting on emotional impulse and believing that now is forever.

Remember Earth Day?

Greenpeace?

Earth First?

The Limits to Growth?

Only One Earth?

A Sand County Almanac?

Silent Spring?

WWF?

Club of Rome?

The Green Revolution?

A Blueprint for Survival?

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society?

Rainforest Action Network?

Earth Summit?

Endangered Species Act?

UNEP, EEA, NAFTA, IPCC?

…remember Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, because you wont very soon.

Let me explain to you why you’ll forget all about ER and Thunberg very soon. You don’t care. “Oh my God! How dare you, I care about the Earth, I love nature, I love the environment!” No you don’t. If you’re like the average person in the Western world – and there’s a reason averages exist – then you pretend to give a shit just to look good. I imagine you have the latest smartphone or latest electronic gadget, you drive a car miles to work everyday, you purchased some clothing recently from a cheap retailer, you took a holiday in the last 6 months via airplane or did one of the tens of thousands of things one does which increases one’s carbon footprint, many, if not most, of which can actually be avoided. I’ve written about how you can do this elsewhere, so I wont bother with that here, but I will briefly comment on why you wont…

Once again, you don’t care. In the same way people fake emotional distress when they see those ‘Save Africa’ adverts on TV, or how people spout banal platitudes regarding animals, nature and love and yet they still live in an entirely selfish manner. I’ve met people that genuinely care about this or that cause, and guess where they are? Where that cause is, not in some cushy office job within a Western city thinking about which material desire to fulfill next. You might state that you recycle, try not to use plastic, walk most places, buy ‘green’ products or donate to the National Trust, but the truth is, unless you were told to do those things by popular opinion, you never would have done them. Mainstream discussion around climate change and activism has resulted in little more than political bickering and games of one-upmanship. It just so happens that – thus far – the entire spectrum of contemporary popular ‘lifestyle changes’ which can ‘help the environment’ are convenient, easy and accessible, coincidence, I think not. It’s just more virtue signalling wrapped up in that which you can’t criticize, care for the Earth.

Those who grow frustrated at my constant jabs at the average Joe will more than likely wonder what they can do. Well, I imagine they already know what they can do, but they’ve just found excuses for why they aren’t. You care about the Earth? Ok then, don’t buy a new phone ever again, you know full well this one will last the rest of your life. Find a job within walking distance and live within your means. Don’t buy any new clothes, the ones you have now serve a purpose, so why buy more? Visit the local markets and buy local produce and meat from sustainable farms. Use hand-me-downs and secondhand items where possible. Use the library. Ah fuck, these things are all…awkward and not…nice, oh no. But what about your status, your popularity, your possessions…your identity! And there’s Extinction Rebellion and all the protestors, driving to and fro from protests, producing banners, buying tents, producing merchandise, felling trees for manifestos, photographing everything with their new smartphones, uploading it onto their individual laptops and generally serving themselves. See, what these people want is the convenience and reality of techno-capitalism without the Earth-destroying industry which allows it to be. These people quite literally want to eat their cake and have it too. They want everything to change without any personal sacrifice.

You don’t care about the Earth, you only wish for others to know you care for the Earth. It isn’t the virtue in itself which matters, you couldn’t give a shit if the rainforest burns or not, what matters is the opportunity to signal that you cared when it was still there, and that you cared when it was gone. If the rainforest burns down and no one’s there for you to signal that you care to, did it burn down?

 

Dropping Out: Why and How?

The intro can be read by all, but is largely for long time readers of the blog. Click here to go to the main section: Dropping Out: Why & How?

I remember when this all started, the blog, the Twitter account etc. Couple of years ago now. At the time there was a Twitter user who went by the handle ‘Nishiki Prestige’, here is my review of his album XOXO. Anyway, Nishiki was, for lack of a better description, a ‘free spirit’. Now, I’m not entirely sure what that means anymore, but he certainly had it out for civilization at large, wasn’t keen on society and was extremely open in explaining why all this was pretty annoying, bad and generally frustrating, and he was even more helpful and lobbing resources one’s way to help with the exit process. One of the first things ol’ Nishiki sent me was Ran Prieur’s How to Drop Outwhich is deserving of a full read for any up-and-coming fringe societal member, or anyone in general who is finding it difficult to find what they want within the surroundings they’ve been given. As such I want to make it very clear how much of an inspiration Prieur’s post was on this one. These things often need tweaking and updates, I mean isn’t that the point of ‘dropping out’, to truly think for yourself, and as such, I think that the drastic changes between ’04 and 19 have been enough to warrant my own musings on dropping out as a whole.

Now before I begin this piece I want to comment on a comment I’ve received. It was on my How To Live Like an Emperor for Very Little piece. Now admittedly the title of that piece was a little annoying, but the reason I wrote it was because I’d had one of those days where you get truly nauseous at the attitudes of the average, whinging, moaning, pathetic man – those who just cannot make their own choices, those for whom everyone else is to blame, and there is always someone else to blame. Now the comment states:

“If the post didn’t have that arrogant “I just got my life sorted out why haven’t you?” tone I probably wouldn’t even have noticed how much of the advice was nonsense,”

Take of leave the advice on my post, I don’t care. But in my reply to the comment I state: As for the ‘I just got my life sorted out why haven’t you?’ remark, I don’t mind it. But the whole point of my use of language in other posts – becoming & overcoming specifically – is that ‘sorting yourself out’ isn’t a conclusion, it’s a journey, as soon as you think you’re complete and have sorted it all out, you’re stuck and ignorant. It’s all about the journey. This post was a sort of cantankerous reaction to much of the ironic and moany behavior I see from a lot of people aged 20-40 nowadays. Everything is fucked and it’s someone else’s fault. I say no, take action, you have choices and possibilities.

There’s a question here to be stated: When is the correct time to offer advice? Of course if there’s a *clear* goal in mind such as money etc. then those who have money can offer advice and those who are failures in increasing money cannot. However, when it comes to happiness, fulfillment and contentment, alongside means to exit modernity who can truly give advice. A large amount of the boomers can’t because their goals are empty – that’s not saying many are content etc. – I’m simply giving advice which I have found has made my life more fulfilling and meaningful. I’d like to think my readership is intelligent enough to not simply take everything at face value. And I’d like to make is even clearer that I by no means have my life ‘sorted out’, not even close, but I have found many things in the past few years that have made me happier and my life more meaningful, and I see no harm in explaining them to you so you may give them a try.

And with that, I trust you too dear reader, will not take everything I state at face value and will think for yourself as to whether or not the path I promote is truly one you wish to venture down.

 

DROPPING OUT: WHY AND HOW?

 

WHY?

 

‘Why drop out?’ isn’t a something I imagine many of my readers will really question too much, so I guess this extrapolation is for those who’ve stumbled across this post and are wondering what all this ‘dropping out’ stuff is about, hence, the ‘why’ at large. See, as much as I love Ran Prieur’s original How To Drop Out post, it does gloss over the ‘why’ very quickly, which in terms of motivation, discipline and rationale should be assimilated into one’s thought as thoroughly as possible, for when the path gets tough – as it inevitably will do – when dropping out, one can always return to the overarching why of ‘why to drop out’.

Of course, we will need one of those horrid things called ‘definitions’, the cause of much frustration to all involved really. Then again, the definition of ‘dropping out’ isn’t really going to be argued over by those who already have, they’re already living. Dropping Out implies that there is not only something to ‘drop out’ from, but assumes that the ‘thing’ one is dropping out from is bad, and is something that one would want to drop out from. In my post The Virulent Magic of Modernity I generally define this ‘thing’ as ‘modernity’. I guess you could call it Western civilization if you wanted (though that has historical connotations), you might even call it society, but that too would have social connotations, and what we’re really talking about here is personal choice, will and action, we’re talking about an individual (me or you) making a choice to exit, or drop out. Dropping Out then, is the critical mental journey one undertakes as they begin to enter society at an atomized worker.

It begins with the excessive moments of mind-numbing boredom found in the average workplace, it’s found on the journeys to and from said workplace wherein one is tired, empty and wondering why they’re doing this in the first place. It is found in the heart-wrenching lunch-breaks one wishes they could be spending with their children, it is found on the sofa, night after night, watching empty drivel on TV as you consume food sourced from 10 different countries and packaged in oil-based wrapping, it is largely found in the moments where it seems all direct connection to anything has been lost.

In short then ‘Dropping Out’ is simply the – critical – process of ‘leaving’ the normalcy imposed upon you by society. It is to say ‘I would rather not.’, ‘I do not do that.’ or ‘No.’ in the face of assumed choices. It is the beginning of freedom. It is shouting at the top of one’s lungs “This is not fucking normal!”. I know you’ve felt this, you look around and see droves of people who are so disconnected from their own realities it amazes. By that I mean that the large majority of people exist in such a way that they are disconnected from anything that is primarily to do with their actual existence or survival. Now, I don’t want to get too Darwinian, but it is inescapable. People who haven’t cooked a meal (fed themselves) in weeks, people who rely on third party tools, groups and processes to allow them to even be, and people continue to strive in this direction too. Or as Ted Kaczynski states in paragraph 38 of his manifesto:

When people do not have to exert themselves to satisfy their physical needs they often set up artificial goals for themselves. In many cases they then pursue these goals with the same energy and emotional involvement that they otherwise would have put into the search for physical necessities.

People are disconnect, alienated and walking around in a daze because their lives no longer consist, nor do they need to consist of that which actually keeps them alive. We are a species bereft of all primary responsibility (I am talking predominantly of the West here of course). One of the best commentators on contemporary Western life is John Michael Greer, who articulates the struggle of the system as such:

For most people in today’s America, in other words, the closest approach to the glorious consumer’s paradise of the future they can ever hope to see is eight hours a day, five days a week of mindless, monotonous work under the constant pressure of management efficiency experts, if they’re lucky enough to get a job at all. On top of that, they get to spend a couple of additional hours commuting and work any off-book hours the employer happens to choose to demand, in order to get a paycheck that buys a little less each month – inflation is under control, the government insists, but it’s funny how prices somehow keep going up – of products that are more shoddily made, more frequently defective, and more likely to pose a serious threat to health and well-being of their users with every passing year. Then they can go home and numb their nervous systems with those little colored pictures on the screen, showing them bland little snippets of experiences they will never have, wedged in there between the advertising. That’s the world progress has made.” – John Michael Greer, The Retro Future.

In short, the answer to the ‘why’ of ‘why drop out’ is most succinctly found in the following quote by Bukowski:

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?

Why do you want to drop out of all this? Because you know, deep down, there’s more to all this, there literally has to be. I promise you, there is. Life is found in the most unexpected, simple and mundane places, complexity breeds complacency. The best way to get your life back is drop out and live simply. Quite simply:

“Why drop out?”

“I’m not happy, content or fulfilled and my life is bereft of meaning.”

 

HOW?

 

It seems insurmountable doesn’t it? From here, from all that I’ve previously written surely such a behemoth of complexity and confusion is nigh impossible to exit or drop out of. I will be honest with you, it’s difficult, not as difficult as one might think, but certainly more difficult that romantics would like you to know. The primary difficulty in dropping out is that one’s entire frame of reference has to change for them to be able to continually survive in their newfound life.

If it hasn’t been made clear already the primary component of society/modernity which makes man miserable is money. Money, production, consumption etc. The idea that one has to be doing or using of these three things for their life to have any meaning is a deep-seated belief for almost all inhabitants of the West. If one is to re-read the Bukowski quote above they realize that all aspects of the ‘loop of modernity’: Work > Home > Eat > Purchase > Work, are reliant on a certain attitude towards money. The attitude that money in and of itself is a meaningful end, whether or not that money has been converted into items or luxuries etc. either way, one’s purpose was to acquire money. Now, I’m not silly, I know we all need money to survive, that’s obvious. It’s just that most people know that it’s actually their choice how they use it, and not the choice of the 1001 forces acting upon them to part with their money on a daily, hourly…second…ly basis.

Prieur makes it very clear that dropping out as seen as simply quitting your job and getting a train to god-knows-where is a dumb idea. If you want to make dropping out work then that’s something you’ll have to do. Such an assertion once again makes it clear that dropping out isn’t primarily a material choice, but a shift in one’s understanding of their life. If you shift your perception in such a way that you literally don’t need as much money, then guess what, you will no longer need as much money…magical, isn’t it.

In my discussion with John Michael Greer we spoke about the animatronic Santa Claus robots you see at Christmas. You know the ones, you press a little button and they do a little dance and song. See, they’re great at articulating how one needs to change their perception towards consumption if they wish to be able to drop out. The point Greer makes is that if one was to think about said purchase for more than say, a nanosecond, you most certainly wouldn’t purchase it. Even a few quick questions to oneself – ‘Do  I need this?’, ‘Did I ever want this?’, ‘Will this add anything to my life?’ and you realize that not only did you never need/want this item, but you were in fact subconsciously affected into even considering it, it’s an item that if it didn’t exist, you never would have thought of – people are selling you things that you both never wanted and never even thought of, don’t fall for their tricks, think! And so the first practical ‘how’. Before you purchase anything (at least for the first few weeks) think to yourself ‘Do I actually need this?’, ‘Will buying this improve my life?’ – or at least improve your life in such a way that working a few hours was worth it. Measure your purchases not in monetary value, but in how many hours you had to work to acquire whatever it is you wish to buy.

As for jobs this is a leap I’ve made myself. I worked this very cushy (sit on your arse and do basically nothing) marketing job until very recently. See, even though I did very little I was miserable because the work itself had no tangible effect on reality, I was helping no one and there was no benefit from the work I was doing, except in absurd statistical terms. And so I quit and joined a local woodworking company. The days go fast, the work is satisfying and most importantly there’s no bullshit. I don’t take the work home with me (mentally), there’s no bureaucratic crap and I can see the results of my work (someone now has a working door or window).

So this ties in with a brilliant point that Prieur makes, you can drop out ‘a short distance’. By that I mean that just because one is dropping out, it doesn’t mean they have to start dumpster diving and growing their own food straight away. You can start by asking yourself this important question:

“Is the stress/bullshit/aggravation I take home from my current job worth the money I receive?”

If the answer is no, which it most likely is, then you have to start looking at what you can do about that. Is there a less stressful job nearby that you could happily do? See, once you alter your perception regarding consumption the fundamental (supposed) point of jobs changes. I mean, why do people want really ‘good’ jobs? What do we really mean when we say a ‘good job’? We’re not on about perks, job content or anything else are we, we’re on about money. A good job is one that pays more than the average. And so the large majority strive to get a good job so that they can also get a good (larger) house and a good (newer) car and good (branded) clothes and…you get the picture. Well, once you’re get yourself outside of these assumptions it all changes doesn’t it:

You don’t need branded clothes because you’re life isn’t that vacant and empty that you care about having a little tag on your clothes.

You don’t need a newer/fancy car because the purpose of a car is to get you from A-to-B, if it works, it’s a good car.

You don’t need a larger house because ultimately the only reason you’d ever need a larger house is to fit a load of shit in that you no longer need.

You no longer need a good/well-paying job because you don’t need the money to buy all the shit you don’t need.

Once this happens what does a job become? Well it becomes something you do only because it allows you money to do that which you enjoy doing, or because you simply need some money to pay for rent/shelter, food, hobbies and needed extras.

It’s amazing that such a different in temperament can change your life drastically. Imagine 2 separate people, both working the same job. Person 1 strives for all the unneeded creature comforts of modernity, the big TV, the fancy car, the big house, the trinkets and luxuries etc. To be able to achieve such a lifestyle they work all the extra hours they can and stress about their work performance, they take out loans to be able to afford these things etc. Their life revolves around nothing but the acquisition of items of status and proof that one is normal. Person 2 has dropped out. They work the job and don’t take home any stress because their wage not only covers all their expenses, but leaves them a little extra, simply because they understand things differently. Their life doesn’t revolve around consumption.

Some other skills which will allow you to drop out:

Learn how to fix your car and drive it until that thing is on the verge of imploding. Don’t buy into the ‘Needing the latest car’ thing (or the ‘needing the latest anything…thing’ for that matter), there’s literally no reason – aside from empty status and narcissism – that you need that a new, or updated car. If it works fine, ask yourself, why am I replacing it? On top of this, if you do decide to move jobs try move to on which is within walking/biking distance of your work – commuting is for idiots, you cannot get time back. And time spent with friends and family is more important that a 2 hour commute for some extra money. A side note on this, try calculate the amount you spend on fuel, maintenance and additional car extras due to the commute – definitely isn’t worth it.

Get your clothes from charity shops. Or, if you’re like most people, you’ve already bought at least 3-4 pairs of trousers, 5-10 shirts, 2 dress shirts, socks and boxers. You don’t need more, buying new clothes is boredom. You’re bored. Alongside this the idea of ‘boredom’ is a strange one. There isn’t really such a thing as boredom as far as I’m concerned, I can quite happily sit and do nothing and not be bored. Boredom is the feeling that you’re missing out on doing something, be it TV, video games, entertainment in general, it’s the idea that you’re not fine unless you’re doing something…it always turns out those ‘things’ cost quite a bit, what a strange coincidence. Learn to be OK with solitude and nothingness, it is quite beautiful once you settle in.

Learn how to cook, I cannot believe I even have to explain this. You’re a human being, one of your primary needs is food, nutritious food. If you routinely eat from packets then you’ve sold your survival to the lowest bidder. When someone says to me they cannot cook I take that as the greatest statement of immaturity, imagine letting consumer society get such a tight grip on you that you never even learnt how to feed yourself.

There is of course more I could add here, a lot more in fact, but the main thing that people should take away from this is that dropping out is possible and that it doesn’t have to be some drastic change where you end up homeless or squatting. One can drop out mentally first, and then attend to material matters.

There’s beauty out there, and it’s hidden. Hidden behind layers of societal pressures and cultural presuppositions, remove everyone else’s expectations of you and you’ll find yourself.

Resources:

Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin

Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush – John Michael Greer

Voluntary Simplicity – Duane Elgin

Early Retirement Extreme

 

 

How to Live Like an Emperor For Very Little

Don’t smoke cigarettes.

Learn how to fix your car and drive it until that thing is on the verge of imploding. Don’t buy into the ‘Needing the latest car’ thing (or the ‘needing the latest anything…thing’ for that matter), there’s literally no reason – aside from empty status and narcissism – that you need that a new, or updated car. If it works fine, ask yourself, why am I replacing it?

If you can, walk or ride a bicycle to work. (Learn to fix a bike)

If your work is not within walking or cycling distance (or is over 10 miles away) relocate. The only thing you can’t get back is time. And time spent with friends and family is more important that a 2 hour commute for some extra money. A side note on this, try calculate the amount you spend on fuel, maintenance and additional car extras due to the commute – definitely isn’t worth it.

Most people pushing a frugal/hyper-environment-friendly way of living will tell you not to have kids, or to foster. I say fuck that. Having kids doesn’t mean you have to introduce them/bring them up in the same carbon-loaded way everyone else does. People assume your kids are also going to want a loads of toys, gadgets and junk, bring them up well and they wont.

Get your clothes from charity shops. Or, if you’re like most people, you’ve already bought at least 3-4 pairs of trousers, 5-10 shirts, 2 dress shirts, socks and boxers. You don’t need more, buying new clothes is boredom. You’re bored.

Learn how to repair stuff…sure, but more importantly, look after your shit. The amount of people that wouldn’t need to buy stuff if they just looked after their goddamn stuff, it’s not difficult.

Most of you who follow me will know by now that I’ve just started work as a joiner, so guess what, No.8: Learn a trade. Ha! Look at me on my high horse. But for real, I sat behind that marketing desk, I’ve been to university…you can’t bullshit a bullshitter, I know 90% of jobs are bullshit and so do you. Does what you’re doing have a direct effect on the world? On things people use routinely? No, well, you’re part of the ’embroidery upon the fabric of society’.

Question hedonistic western culture in general. Booze, weed, cigarettes, caffeine…why did you ever need this stuff? I doubt there’s a reason outside of boredom. Are you merely a culmination of your vices, habits and customs?

Helping people, or, cooperating is admittedly a tough one these days. I live in the country where there’s still an ethic of neighborly-ness, if you live in the city, well, I just don’t know. Move, leave, get the fuck out.

Much akin to repairing things, you ever try making something? Shit, can you remember the last time you actually made something? I don’t mean from a set, or blueprint, or some Amazon kit purchase, when you actually planned and made something that had a purpose and worked? Even if that purpose was to brighten someone’s day. Make stuff.

Look after your health. Take the basic supplements: D3 (4000UI Daily), Omega 3 (1000mg Daily), B-Complex and a Multivitamin. Find an agreeable diet – I recommend Carnivore, Ketogenic, Paleo and (shock horror) legitimate Vegan (as in, not just eating vegan alternative junk), also, work out, you weren’t supposed to sit on your fucking arse 14 hours a day, no wonder you feel anxious, depressed, isolated and like a rat in a cage, because you make yourself into one. Also, wear safety equipment if needed, like seatbelts etc. Don’t be a moron.

Find a job that gives you at least some feeling of fulfillment. Even a 30%+ pay-cut is worth it, why you ask? When you do what you – at least somewhat – enjoy each day, you no longer feel the need to buy mindless escapes, overpriced junk, alcohol etc. It works out.

Junkies, addicts, rebels, whiners, drama-queens, boozers, grey-vampires, downers, energy-drainers, moaners and overt campy pessimists all need to be cut out of your life. Fuck them. Let them go drool to death in their own shit.

The only things you should ever get on credit (if you’re family oriented) is a house and a car. If you have anything else on credit you’re an idiot.

Preventable expenses – things which were either avoidable, never-worth-it or a replacement for a personality: Tattoos, Streaming services, STDs, speeding tickets, gaming subscriptions, lootboxes, film-passes, dating-apps – just Western detritus in general.

Stop acting rich. It’s OK to sit in and read, no one cares that you’re not there, or here, or over there, that you don’t have that thing etc. No one cares. Everyone thinks about themselves as much as you think about yourself, therefore no one has time to think about you.

Did you just buy bottled water?

Prepare your lunches in advance. If you don’t know how to cook for yourself, please find your nearest suicide booth.

Get a budget.

It’s fine to just be.

It’s OK to be bored.

This list was based – admittedly pretty directly – off Thor Harris’ How to Live like A King For Very Little. Though I have some disagreements with it, I think it could have done with a minor update, a few tweaks and little more explanation regarding the current state of things. A lot’s happened since its original publication in 2014.

Peak (Cheap) Oil – Neck On The Line

Lots of back and forth (with good friends) on Twitter around the ‘Peak Oil’ thing, so I’m going to quickly tap out a post here clarifying my position – excuse errors, this has been a quick exercise in articulating my stand and also a means to put my neck on the line.

So from the off I need to reiterate something about ‘Peak Oil’, it doesn’t – to me and many other ‘Peak Oil’ theorists (including JMG) – mean the literal end of oil, no. It means a peak unto which the extraction, production and use rates of oil as a primary means of energy within our society. It is clear that oil is our primary means of energy at current – if one can find a paper that states otherwise please send it to me. Now, my point was that the right hand side of Hubbert’s Curve – post the 2000-peak – is wherein oil prices will begin to rise and rise disproportionately in relation to wages. It has been stated that there has already been a rise or multiplication of oil prices 2-3x, yes sure, but 2x 0.5 is far different to 2x 1.3 over only a 40-70 year time span, that is, this isn’t enough time for inflation to really merit the rate of change – or, the limit to oil is taking effect.

Now, from this people will – as many on Twitter, and myself in my previous post stated – begin to realize or even accept this new oil-less reality and alter their lifestyles accordingly. No longer will driving more than 5 miles to work be possible, or dare I say if driving to work will even be economically viable. People will reuse their plastics etc. and consume less oil based products due to their high prices. Now, mentioned here is always the idea of alternatives. Yes of course there are alternative sources of energy, solar, wind, hemp etc etc. But, these sources of energy supply no where near the same amount of energy-input to energy-output ratio as oil did in its initial find, that is, we had to put hardly any energy into getting a shit-ton of oil, whereas we need to put a ridiculous amount of energy into a solar panel, often taking years to meet a 1-1 energy ratio with regard to its output.

Here’s the kicker, people begin to make alterations to their lifestyle, but the means to cater to their presupposed standard of living simply isn’t there because we don’t have the energy reserves to even begin creating an energy infrastructure that can meets the demands previously made by oil. Unless such an infrastructure is made now whilst we still have a fair amount of cheap oil to do so, there will be a distinct inability to make it. You can’t make solar panels with the energy supplied by the solar panels you’ve yet to make. Once oil begins to run dry – in terms of profitability of extraction – you really think someone is going to extract oil at an energy loss so that the public can have solar panels, no they’re not. Hence the problem. At current oil usage should be being directed at an alternative energy future, but it isn’t and once peak-cheap-oil hits to the extent where people start uprooting their lives there wont be a safety net there for people to fall onto, you can’t just suddenly switch to a means of energy that isn’t there.

Here’s what will be stated as arguments against my case here –

“Well, once the oil starts to have low energy-output rates (It already is) we’ll begin using better methods of extraction.”

If such methods existed why aren’t we already using them, you’re hoping on something that doesn’t even exist, you are putting your faith in technological progress.

“We’ll move to alternative sources of energy.”

I’ve outlined why this wont be the case, unless of course we suddenly begin creating such an infrastructure.

“You’re on par with a fear-mongering collapse-ist!”

I can’t massively refute this, but ultimately this time-span will be – and here’s me sticking my neck on the line – within the next 10-30 years. I think that’s tight enough to merit some risk on my part, I think clear mass alterations to western/civilized lifestyles will begin around 2030. By this I mean a massive decrease in people driving to work, eating packaged foods, the usage of nationwide distribution, holidays etc. etc.

Have at it.

Peak (Cheap) Oil

So I decided not to title these posts under any heading, they will more than likely digress very quickly anyway, consider it ‘Meta’s Z/Acc Series’ if you have to, they will all be loosely held together under the themes of collapse, decline, decay and you-seriously-thought-this-was-going-to-last.

I’m starting with Peak Oil, mainly because it’s a post I sort of want to get out of the way. Not that I don’t enjoy reading about Peak Oil, but it’s been done to death and basically people are in one of 3 camps: Don’t know about it (Normies), know about it and ignore/refuse it (sunk cost) or know about it and accept it. As you can imagine, I’m in camp 3, but there’s a few things to note about Peak Oil which aren’t often brought to the fore by collapse-centric thinkers, so I’ll try come at this from at least a slightly unique angle.

“Let me explain something to you. The sun throws a certain amount of energy onto this planet, we turn it into food, clothing, shelter etc. It supports an amount of us and it took 30,000 years for that amount to become 1 billion. Then we found a way to use ancient sunlight, sunlight trapped in oil and coal, we started to live off that, what happened? In just 130 years our population doubled, the next billion took 30 years, the 4th billion has taken just 14. So here’s the question, what do you think is going to happen when that oil and coal runs out in say, 100 years? When there’s 10 billion living on a planet that can support only 1!”

I think we’re going to tear each other to shreds…”

At last, someone with an ounce of fucking brain. Malaria…the only disease that needs curing is us.” – Utopia

I’ll be honest, they hammed up Philip Carvel’s character just enough to make him seem maniacal and often untrustworthy, yet, his underlying premise holds true. And no, this isn’t a Malthusian ‘thing’, it’s an oil thing. I’m not massively concerned about ‘how many can be supported’, I’ve seen the average person (many times in fact), we most definitely don’t need more. The point here is that the fundamental fuel of our civilization is/are fossil fuels. Products which have accumulated over hundreds of thousand of years and are now being extracted and barrelled at a rate of 80,000,000 barrels per day (here). Nothing compares to this stuff, literally nothing, with regard to its combination of energy, versatility, transportability, energy output and ease of storage.

But Meta, I only use my car, surely I don’t use that much oil…it isn’t that fundamental, right?”

(Apologies for the table chart)

Solvents Diesel fuel Motor Oil Bearing Grease
Ink Floor Wax Ballpoint Pens Football Cleats
Upholstery Sweaters   (that explains the itchy sweater I have at home) Boats Insecticides
Bicycle Tires Sports Car Bodies Nail Polish Fishing lures
Dresses Tires Golf Bags Perfumes
Cassettes Dishwasher parts Tool Boxes Shoe Polish
Motorcycle Helmet Caulking Petroleum Jelly Transparent Tape
CD Player (do people still have these?) Faucet Washers Antiseptics Clothesline
Curtains Food Preservatives Basketballs Soap  (that explains why soap doesn’t clean oil off your hands)
Vitamin Capsules Antihistamines Purses Shoes
Dashboards Cortisone Deodorant Footballs
Putty Dyes Panty Hose Refrigerant
Percolators Life Jackets Rubbing Alcohol Linings
Skis TV Cabinets Shag Rugs Electrician’s Tape
Tool Racks Car Battery Cases Epoxy Paint
Mops Slacks Insect Repellent Oil Filters
Umbrellas Yarn Fertilizers Hair Coloring
Roofing Toilet Seats Fishing Rods Lipstick
Denture Adhesive Linoleum Ice Cube Trays Synthetic Rubber
Speakers Plastic Wood Electric Blankets Glycerin
Tennis Rackets Rubber Cement Fishing Boots Dice
Nylon Rope Candles Trash Bags House Paint
Water Pipes Hand Lotion Roller Skates Surf Boards
Shampoo Wheels Paint Rollers Shower Curtains
Guitar Strings Luggage Aspirin Safety Glasses
Antifreeze Football Helmets Awnings Eyeglasses (I thought they were made from glass)
Clothes Toothbrushes Ice Chests Footballs
Combs CD’s & DVD’s Paint Brushes Detergents
Vaporizers Balloons Sun Glasses Tents
Heart Valves Crayons Parachutes Telephones
Enamel Pillows Dishes Cameras
Anesthetics Artificial Turf Artificial limbs Bandages
Dentures Model Cars Folding Doors Hair Curlers
Cold cream Movie film Soft Contact lenses Drinking Cups
Fan Belts Car Enamel Shaving Cream Ammonia
Refrigerators Golf Balls Toothpaste (Yuck) Gasoline

 

“Fuck.”

According to the IEA current deposits are declining at a rate of 6.7% per annum. Therefore within 10 years existing deposits will give us only half their current energy output. Unless of course new deposits are found.

“Fuck.”

“if these predictions are correct – and numerous studies seem to corroborate them – between 2011 and 2016, we are going to lose the equivalent of 18 million barrels per day. Now, some recently discovered deposits give us, at the moment, a bonus of 7.6 million barrels per day. But that still leaves a gap of 10.4 million barrels per day. And this is only the case if the economy remains stationary – zero growth. If, one the other hand, we can expect 3 percent growth, that makes 13 million barrels per day that we shall lose. If growth is 4 percent, that makes 14 million barrels; if 5 percent, 15 million. And if we boost the economy in the Chinese fashion, reaching 10 percent, we shall be losing 20 million barrels per day.” – Survive – The Economic Collapse, Piero San Giorgio.

If we look at Hubbert’s Peak Theory we can see the general curve of oil discovery, through – roughly – to the present day drop in production, extraction and discovery.

The beauty of Hubbert’s Peak Theory is that, on a fairly rough timescale, you can equate one side of the curve to its respective reflection in time. That is, if you look at the peak and see that around the year 2000 the peak was at its absolute highest point. Thus, 30 years prior and 30 years after the year 2000 will roughly be the same, or (and you’d best already be clutching your pearls for this); the amount of oil we’ll be producing in 2030 will be the same as 1970. Anyone here who studied math or economics at a high school level is now most likely sweating. We’ll be producing the amount of oil needed in 1970 for the amount of people there will be in 2030. The declining phase is much longer that the time passed between the start of production and its peak. I theorize this is because of high prices, rationing or simply inability to acquire any from elites etc.

As shown by the graph above discoveries are at an – almost – all time low – why? Because once the oil boom was well underway we of course targeted the easiest sources of oil first, where the oil – quite literally – shoots out of the ground. Whereas currently the cost to extract a barrel of oil – in relation its inherent energy output – is –

“Back in the 1920’s, oil was paying off at 100-to-1,” said Zencey. “It took one barrel of oil to extract, process, refine, ship and deliver 100 barrels of oil. That’s a phenomenal rate of return. If you work out the percentage, that’s a 10,000 percent rate of return.” But that’s not the rate of return today. Now, conventional oil production worldwide pays off at about a 20-to-1 ratio. And in Canada, where the oil comes from tar sands, it’s closer to 5-to-1. ” – (Link) (This is now on average, 3-to-1)

“Since 1980, we have been consuming four barrels of oil for every new one we have discovered.” – Survive The Economic Collapse.

Let me take a very quick outline from ol’ John Michael Greer (JMG) to succinctly cover ‘peak oil’:

  • The world’s oil reserves are finite
  • We’ve already used close to half the total recoverable oil on the planet
  • We’ve pumped more oil than we’ve discovered every year since 1964
  • Production at most currently producing oil fields is declining
  • New fields and alternative sources such as tar sands are barely filling the gap
  • The situation is more likely to get worse than better in coming decades

JMG, Conspiracy Theories

Is this the ‘end of oil’? No. It’s the end of cheap oil. Oil isn’t simply going to go away, those last few remaining dregs wont actually be dregs at all…there will be a lot of oil left under the Earth. But, the means and energy cost to extract it – bar some amazing new invention (‘They’ll think of something’ fallacy) – will be far greater than the energy of the oil, hence, no company is going to bother extracting the stuff. So what will this mean? Well, I imagine that in very rational terms oil prices will just keep increasing until eventually many people either A. Make sacrifices elsewhere and continue their oil-based lifestyles, B. Re-model their lives around the expense of driving everywhere, or C. Collapse now and avoid the rush, let me expand on this.

Want to get ahead of peak oil? Stop going on your shitty holidays. No one gives a shit that you went to some tourist-trap sweat-pit in the Mediterranean and ate some shrimp, no one cares about your fancy 3L BMW, or your dumb excursions around the country every other weekend, nor do they care about your idiotic plastic trinkets that you amass in place of a personality, drop all this shit and live how the large majority of humanity used to…within your means. Walk or bike to work. Only replace things that are literally broken beyond repair. On that note, learn to fix things. For now, drive an old, reliable, economic car. Get your clothes from charity shops, or…and hey isn’t this novel, look after your stuff! Look after your health. Help people, it’s what we used to do, it’s called cooperation.

“To accept that and act on the knowledge, though, is to hear the words the statue of Apollo said to Rainier Maria Rilke: Du muss dein leben andern, “You must change your life.”” – JMG, Blame it on Gilgamesh

Some of you might be thinking “But Meta, isn’t the act of having children one of the clearest ways to increase your carbon footprint by 8x?” Why yes, yes it is. And? What sort of weird argument is that? Don’t continue humanity because things are going to get tough, it doesn’t sit right with me. Also, if your first thought when thinking about having children is their ‘carbon-footprint’ well I think you’ve got your priorities wrong. Also, and this is the big also, you can bring your children up in a non-Western middle class way. You don’t have to drive them to school in an SUV, feed them processed shit and give them toys every week.

Oh, you feel bitter because your parents – and potentially grandparents – got all that nice stuff and you didn’t? Well here’s the skinny on that. It was a fucking anomaly. The average Western binman lives, quite literally, the life of the average Empire of antiquity (bar the power). Also, stop attempting to mirror your lives to the previous generation’s, there’s never been a correct or ‘good’ generation, by and large none of them were ‘great’, there’s a few outliers in terms of average etiquette and temperament, but other than that it’s all romantic conservatism. Also, have you seen their lives? They suck. All they focus on is things. Ok, this is getting close to Chris McCandless’ nostalgia for authenticity etc. but hey, it’s true. New car, new clothes, games consoles, holidays, jobs, qualifications etc. A massive ensemble of practically useless shit, entirely void of substance. There’s a reason boomers harped on about CVs so fucking much, it makes it easier for them to see if you’re worth having as a friend.

A note on the insane amount of oil that is used in America:

“If the average American used only as much energy per year as the average European, America would be exporting oil, not importing it.” – JMG, Managing Decline

Imagine though, seriously, by 2030 the entire system of Western urbanized transport – inclusive of distribution chains – is going to be brought to its knees, why? Because we didn’t check to see how much fuel we had, we didn’t think ahead. Because here’s the real effect that super cheap oil had on our society for the past 100 years:

“for the first (and probably only) time in history, it was cheaper to build a machine to do almost everything than to have a human being do it.” – JMG, After the Prosthetic Society

We just wont have that possibility anymore, good ol’ humans will be back to get things going again. Except this time it will be a mass of humans thrown into quite the predicament, the large majority of Western men – nor their fathers – no longer have the skills needed to do almost anything practical. Shit, I know of at least 10 ‘fully grown, over 30 years of age adults who can’t cook…grown people who cannot feed themselves. Imagine ever thinking, just for a second, that such a situation was in anyway normal.

 

 

Zero Is Unforgiving

This would be the ‘zero’ of my Z/Acc primer. Social disarray, chaos, eschatology, the slow process of Hobbesian madness.

This will be a short post, but perhaps a poignant and important one for the history of this blog.

I am – largely – ‘done’ with Accelerationism, whatever that means. It takes a lot, and gives little back, even in its most rigorous forms it has little to show for its tendrillic efforts. This is not to say it does not still interest me. But it only interests me as studying an ideology/idealism interests me, at arms length in relation to that which would act as its primary competitor. If business dynamics – and a whole host of other things – are of paramount importance to Acceleration then that which could destroy, halt or end them should be a priority of perspective.

‘Zero is immense’ as young Land stated. Assimilated onto a level of reality far from the one Accelerationists exist within, that quote stands as pure eschatological meltdown with regard to man. I could take Acceleration more seriously if their inherent need for the cryptic didn’t consistently trip them up in terms of actually accelerating, but it does and consistently will. My writing here will, very swiftly, and as thoroughly as possible begin to sketch out the process of collapse – the one which Greer Et al speak of. There will be mentions of Acceleration within it, and coming in August will actually be my longest post on Accelerationism to date. But as personal preference, Zero has taken hold and one should try as hard as they might to not avoid or ignore the unavoidable. The history of decay is intertwined into all. Decay is death without the swiftness, it uproots the rot and slings it onto the anthro-shitheap. This will all be very fun and as cynical as possible, and yet, I wish to avoid silly collapse-culture scaremongering or romanticism.

The reality of the future is often nicer in certain ways, say, there’ll be enough packets of ketchup left to season the rat meat, but usually worse too.

From here.

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is out inability to understand the exponential function.”

Accelerationists are not exempt from this, I was a little sick of pretending that they were. They fall into the same idiocy with regard to limit as many other political ideologies.

Limits come first.

This is going to be so fun.

Greer’s Future

 

 

Recently I finished up John Michael Greer’s Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush: The Best of the Archdruid Report & The Long Descent and I’m currently embarking on Dark Age America. I wonder why oh why I may be doing such specific research? Anyway, I need to get back to blogging and Greer’s notion of the future is as good place as any.

What’s specific – at least to me – about what Greer conceives of as ‘the future’ is that it locks itself within some very wise and pessimistic restraints that disallow a lot of ideological hope and wishful thinking. For instance, in terms of reading Greer one goes on a strange ride of downs and downs, just when you think Greer may finally allow a form of optimistic futurism, innovation or ‘progress’ to perhaps have merit he quickly and succinctly buries it under a heap of clear logic and historical statistics. Or, “Oh you think that would work do you? Well here’s why it wont’ ad infinitum.

However, there’s another very specific idea that invades Greer’s work consistently. Often directly, but more often it sits quietly at the sidelines, smirking at its own reality. And this is Greer’s almost a priori notion that civilizations collapse, end, stop-being etc. With Greer the possibility for anything to end is always possible. This seems quite obvious, right? Well, not so. People hate to think that even their most luxurious comforts – ones that have always been around – would cease to be. So why would they even start to believe in a world where the basics will become a struggle?

There is only one certainty of civilizations and that is their eventual demise. You may be lucky enough to be sat at the peak – or middle-temporal-ground – of a 500-1000 year civilization, sitting generationally pretty atop mountains of resources, cultural capital, economic security, international communication, political unity etc. This can and may even be certain for you. However, for those who witness even the most minor fluctuations nearing the beginning or end of a civilization they understand they all that is was once not, that stability and security is built for arduous labor, time and intelligence. What one could perhaps coin as the ‘Greerian reality’ is not that the possibility for the end of your civilization exists, but this reality is one wherein you understand and accept this reality as always being present. Beyond this of course is all the ‘stuff’ that’s currently at our doorstep – and yes, I am planning a large post on this – but for instance: Peak oil, weather catastrophes, inflation, oil price surges, increased illness, lack of basic medication, lack of sanitary measures, minor heat fluctuations and their knock on effects, steady movement of arming belts, lesser crop yield etc. I mean, this list can go on, and it amazes me that not one of these things has had any serious effect – at least where I live. Yet, it seems that the Greerian reality is waiting behind everything, it is the chaos-effect shooting out from the effect of simply one of these catastrophes taking place.

Also specific to the Greerian reality is the fact that semantically collapse is quite commonly mistaken for an instantaneous event. This is quite simply wrong, in fact, it’s so wrong it exists solely in the realms of escapism and quasi-romanticism. No wonder the amount of post-apocalyptic media has increased in recent years, I mean what other generation(s) yearn for a reset button more than those who’ve been promised so much and allowed so little. Media such as Fallout, Mad Max, The 100, The Walking Dead etc aren’t truly horror, not really, for the simply fact that humans are still around and not only are they doing fine, they’re actually doing quite well and in someways progressing in healthier directions that their previous societies. And so at heart all these programs, games etc. is – at the very least – optimism, but also a perception of time in relation to collapse which is simply wrong. We think of ‘collapse’ as the collapse of a table or chair, a quick successive tumble of parts, yet once that which is collapsing grows in complexity (a civilization for instance) then the process of collapse becomes far, far longer. Emphasis on process here, the process of collapse will see chunks of civilization fly of and attempt to be replaced or repaired in relation to their previous standard, slowly but surely everything sort of disintegrates at such a rate that those living within it only notice the stark difference in conditions years later.

Levinas said that “humanity is limitrophe of nothingness.” A quote I adore. One could say that civilization is limitrophe of collapse, and the more complex that civilization ‘progresses’ to be the closer it moves towards the edge of the abyss. As well as this the more complex a civilization becomes the more collapse-edges it nears, different cliff’s edges for it to frolic next to for the sake of material gains. Imagine existing in a civilization that squanders resources, risks health, security and safety all for the sake of a dancing Father Christmas toy. When you’re debating eating the gnawed carcass of a rat for breakfast, or squeezing out mulch for a cup of water, remember the little hip thrusts the toy Santa Claus used to make. 

For those that will – undoubtedly – state that I’m scare-mongering, you’re actually simply buying back into your own blind reality that’s un-accepting of the Greerian reality. So many climate change and ecologist enthusiasts are quick to deter ‘collapsists’ or those who believe in the end of civilization, there’s a distinct line from secular society to a complete denouncement of eschatology in its entire. Once you’re without God or Myth well what of importance can really come to an end, material and material perceptions of the world will be forever ongoing. Even the myth of progress is upheld via political means – if we’re not progressing economically, nationally or with respect to innovation, we just assimilate the idea of progression onto easily modifiable politics.