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Rulers, ‘Foolers,’ and Shooters: They’re Closing the Cage in Plain Sight

Rulers, ‘Foolers,’ and Shooters: They’re Closing the Cage in Plain Sight

A picture that has been around awhile depicts Homo sapiens society at its finest…as it truly is. There are four “tiers,” so to speak, with the politicians, royalty, and rulers occupying the uppermost level, followed by the clergymen and religious swamis on tier two, and then the gendarmes/police/soldiers on tier three. The bottom tier is occupied by the people, supporting the other three tiers upon their back. The caption is “We rule you [Leaders], we fool you [Religious Heads], we shoot you [the “Enforcer” class].

These “tiers” are to be found in every nation, among every people and tongue. It is not a new concept: these three levels of nabobs have existed ever since man formed social communities that encompassed more than the nuclear family.

The difference between the past and now: for the first time, these tiers will soon be interconnected regardless of location and mutually supportive of one another to obtain global totalitarian rule.

They already have so much in place, as outlined in previous articles: cell phones for most of the populations that transmit user location along with biometrics (in the latest models), interconnected CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) cameras that coordinate and fix your position with the phones, and a record of all that you buy or sell at a POS (Point of Sale) in the happy big-box stores. They have laws to make you pay taxes on income, property, and they will come to seize your property and/or you if you don’t pay it…with force.

The laws are increasing in number, tightening the corral around you in your daily life…controlling where you can live, what type of home you can build, how you can communicate on the Internet, how you conduct business. Every business has a corresponding government inspector or regulator.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Recognize When Your Society Is Suffering A Dramatic Decline

How To Recognize When Your Society Is Suffering A Dramatic Decline

When historians and analysts look at the factors surrounding the collapse of a society, they often focus on the larger events and indicators — the moments of infamy. However, I think it’s important to consider the reality that large scale societal decline is built upon a mixture of elements, prominent as well as small. Collapse is a process, not a singular event. It happens over time, not overnight. It is a spectrum of moments and terrible choices, set in motion in most cases by people in positions of power, but helped along by useful idiots among the masses. The decline of a nation or civilization requires the complicity of a host of saboteurs.

So, instead of focusing on the top down approach, which is rather common, let’s start from the foundations of our culture to better understand why there is clear and definable destabilization.

Declining Moral Compass

There is always a conflict between personal gain and personal conscience — this is the nature of being human. But in a stable society, these two things tend to balance out. Not so during societal decline, as personal gain (and even personal comfort and gratification) tends to greatly outweigh the checks and balances of moral principles.

People often mistake the term “morality” to be a religious creation, but this is not what I am necessarily referring to. The concepts of “good” and “evil” are archetypal — that is to say they are psychologically inherent in most human beings from the moment of birth. This is not a matter of faith, but a matter of fact, observed by those in the field of psychology and anthropology over the course of a century of study.  How we relate to these concepts can be affected by our environment and upbringing, but for the most part, our moral compass is psychologically ingrained. It is up to us to either follow it or not follow it.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Core


Jerome Liebling May Day Union Square Park New York City 1948
Dr. D. peels the American political onion to get down to what it’s all about. I’m impressed. He explains America better than just about anyone. Turns out, there ain’t much left. So yeah, what happened?

Dr. D: The news cycle runs so frenetically it’s easy to lose track of the bigger tide. Let’s go back a week and look at something the Automatic Earth has been talking about since the beginning.

This weekend at a speech in Mumbai, Hillary Clinton said:

“If you look at the map of the United States, there’s all that red in the middle where Trump won. …I win the coast….I won the places that represent two-thirds of America’s gross domestic product. So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward. And his whole campaign, ‘Make America Great Again,’ was looking backwards.”

There are many ways to look at this: for one thing, by number, over 90% of the counties are Red. Yet over 50% of the population is concentrated in the cities and Blue counties. Clinton officially won the popular vote. Yet the United States has always had a geographical Electoral College system. A compromise of representation between small, weak states and strong, large states, and the rules of the 2016 campaign were no mystery or surprise. Yet that’s only the middle-sized picture.

The Big Picture is Mrs. Clinton saying she’s representing the important people, the right people – even the working people – and that 2/3rds of those people live exclusively in Blue districts on both coasts. While this is arguably true, it wasn’t always true. NYC or San Francisco have always been important, but from their founding until now, places like Dayton, St. Paul, Pittsburgh, or New Orleans were considered vital, important places, places where their own specialty happened: tires or flour, steel or shipping, lumber or mining.

What Happened? In a way the election was a referendum on “What Happened?” What happened to my community, my country, my area, and all the vital work those long-abandoned areas used to do, what happened to the massive GDP those areas used to contribute, and the answer is simple:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Sarah Woods on imagination and “the crisis of what comes next”.

If it is true that we are living through a time in which our collective imagination is increasingly devalued and undernourished, what might be the role of story in that, and how might story be part of the remedy?  There are few better people to discuss this with than Sarah Woods.  Sarah is a writer across all media and her work has been produced by many companies including the RSC, Hampstead and the BBC.

Her opera ‘Wake’, composed by Giorgio Battistelli, opens in March, as does her play ‘Primary’, about the UK state education system. Alongside many other projects, she is currently writing the musical of the play she co-wrote with the late Heathcote Williams ‘The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency’, about squatting and DIY culture. Her play ‘Borderland’ just won the Tinniswood Award for best radio drama script of 2017.

Sarah is a Wales Green Hero, and her work is about, as she told me, “story wherever it’s most useful, across the board”.  I started by asking her the question I always ask in these interviews, but never as the first question.  If you had been elected as the Prime Minister at the next election and you had run on a programme of ‘Make Britain Imaginative Again’, what might be some of the things that you would announce in your first 100 days? 

“I would want for everybody to start looking at society and their lives as systems, which is about three things isn’t it?  Elements and interconnections and then the things that come out of that.  I suppose at the moment I feel that we’ve got a problem with the way that we’re relating to each other.  There’s a lot of division so that we’re in little boxes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Ruin is forever (revisited): Why your death isn’t as bad as that of all humankind 

Ruin is forever (revisited): Why your death isn’t as bad as that of all humankind

It should be obvious that the death of an individual human being isn’t as bad as the death of all humankind. But that’s only true if you accept the following premise laid out by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his upcoming book, Skin in the Game:

I have a finite shelf life; humanity should have an infinite duration. Or I am renewable, not humanity or the ecosystem.

The quotation actually comes from a draft version of one chapter available here. The book is not yet out.

But what does this mean in practical terms? The simple answer is that human societies should not engage in activities which risk destroying all of humanity. Nuclear war comes to mind. And, most, if not all, people recognize that a nuclear war would not only result in unthinkably large immediate casualties, but also might threaten all life on Earth with a years-long nuclear winter.

But are we humans risking annihilation through other activities? Climate change comes to mind. But so do our perturbations of the nitrogen cycle which we are now at the very beginnings of understanding. In addition, the introduction of novel genes into the plant kingdom with little testing through genetically engineered crops poses unknown risks not only to food production, but also to biological systems everywhere.

The thing that unites these examples is that they represent an introduction of novel elements (artificial gene combinations not seen in nature) or vast amounts of non-novel substances (carbon dioxide, nitrogen compounds and other greenhouse gases) into complex systems worldwide. Scale, it turns out, matters. A population of only 1 million humans on Earth living with our current technology would almost certainly not threaten climate stability or biodiversity.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Do we have the wrong model of human nature?

Do we have the wrong model of human nature?

Are we wrong to believe that competitiveness must and always will be the central animating principle of human action? Media studies scholar Michael Karlberg thinks so. In fact, he believes that another animating principle, mutualism, is both central to human interaction and necessary to aid human society in meeting the myriad challenges it faces regarding climate change, inequality, governance, education and many other issues.

I saw Karlberg speak recently at a private gathering in Washington, D.C. He is measured in his tone, clear in his delivery and compelling in his logic. He poses the following question: If nearly all of our institutions are premised on competition (commerce, politics, education, recreation and many others), is it any wonder that our competitive instincts are honed and expanded while our cooperative ones atrophy?

Karlberg is not naive enough to believe that all this can be changed overnight. But he does make a convincing case that competitiveness is as much a problem emanating from social institutions that inculcate and incentivize competition as it is a problem of human nature.

The way forward, he asserts, is to build new institutions that emphasize cooperation; it’s a sizable task, but one which has already begun as he explains at the end of a TEDx talk which he gave in 2012. However utopian this goal may seem, Karlberg reminds us that the current “culture of contest,” as he styles it, has given us the existential threat of climate change spawn by endless economic growth and consumption. In fact, the “culture of contest” is creating a series of social and ecological challenges so profound that unless we change that culture we may drive ourselves toward extinction.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Catalan Independence: Why The Collective Hates It When People Walk Away

Catalan Independence: Why The Collective Hates It When People Walk Away

I have written many times in the past about the singular conflict at the core of most human crises and disasters, a conflict that sabotages human endeavor and retards critical thought. This conflict not only stems from social interaction, it also exists within the psyche of the average individual. It is an inherent contradiction of the human experience that at times can fuel great accomplishment, but usually leads to great tragedy. I am of course talking about the conflict between our inborn need for self determination versus our inborn desire to hand over responsibility to a community through group effort — sovereignty versus collectivism.

In my view, the source of the problem is that most people wrongly assume that “collectivism” is somehow the same as community. This is entirely false, and those who make this claim are poorly educated on what collectivism actually means. It is important to make a distinction here; the grouping of people is not necessarily or automatically collectivism unless that group seeks to subjugate the individuality of its participants. Collectivism cannot exist where individual freedom is valued. People can still group together voluntarily for mutual benefit and retain respect for the independence of members (i.e. community, rather than collectivism).

This distinction matters because there is a contingent of political and financial elites that would like us to believe that there is no middle ground between the pursuits of society and the liberties of individuals. That is to say, we are supposed to assume that all our productive energies and our safety and security belong to society. Either that, or we are extremely selfish and self serving “individualists” that are incapable of “seeing the bigger picture.” The mainstream discussion almost always revolves around these two extremes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Revolutionary Civilizational Paradigm Eco Villages

THE REVOLUTIONARY CIVILIZATIONAL PARADIGM ECO VILLAGES

The vast majority of people in the world no longer live in any sort of human settlement that could be considered a village. Rather, the increased urbanization of our species and the displacement of rural communities has led to a collection of isolated individuals who have very little relationship to the geographical place where they live and the people they share that place with. During the last two decades, however, thousands of people have begun to challenge this paradigm through the creation of Eco villages.

THE LOSS OF BOTH ECOLOGY AND VILLAGES IN MODERN SOCIETY

When you fly into any major city, one of the most common sights is the neat rows of houses in suburban neighborhoods. The cul-de-sacs and streets seem to be designed with an almost super human exactness and neatness. The similar homes all with their green lawns and neat driveways are in many ways the exemplification of the American Dream.

Behind this neat appearance, however, there are serious problems surrounding the suburban neighborhood. Their reliance on huge amounts of fossil fuel energy, the need to use a car to get to work and for pretty much any other need, the lack of any true sense of community or neighborliness, and their disconnection from the natural world all make suburban communities uniquely unsustainable.

One of the defining moments of the history of human civilization was when people came together to live in communities or villages. These spaces allowed for people to work together to provide for their livelihoods while also maintaining the surrounding landscape in ecological health.

Today´s suburban neighborhood has very little relationship to any sort of village. Rather, it is simply a connection of individual homes in a certain area. Most people never know their neighbors nor share any sort of connection with them.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beware of the “dark side” of humanity during any collapse

Image: Beware of the “dark side” of humanity during any collapse
While there have been countless books, movies and television shows about life after some type of apocalyptic event, chances are none of us will ever actually be forced to experience what its like trying to rebuild society from the ground up. More than likely, the majority of us will never be so hungry that we’re forced to get food from somewhere other than the local supermarket, craft our own tools and weapons just to make it through the day, or make decisions that are a matter of life or death. All that being said, there is still a burning question that millions of Americans across the country find themselves asking every now and then: what if?

What if society really did crumble like a house of cards? What if we really were forced to rebuild from the ground up? What would that look like? Would mankind be able to set aside our differences for the greater good, or would the ensuing chaos and fear bring out the worse in us?

All of these can be answered by addressing one more overarching question: are human beings good or evil by nature? It would appear that when reduced to their natural state as a species, humans possess the will and desire to work together with one another; if the opposite were true, then society would never have had the opportunity to be built in the first place. (Related: These are the top ten cities that would be rebuilt first after a societal collapse.) However, it would be inaccurate to say that human beings are entirely good in nature because, as demonstrated through people like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, our species clearly has a dark side.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Joseph Tainter: The Collapse Of Complex Societies

Joseph Tainter: The Collapse Of Complex Societies

What history predicts about our future prospects
By popular demand, we welcome Joseph Tainter, USU professor and author of The Collapse Of Complex Societies (free book download here).

Dr. Tainter sees many of the same unsustainable risks the PeakProsperity.com audience focuses on — an overleveraged economy, declining net energy per capita, and depleting key resources.

He argues that the sustainability or collapse of a society follows from the success or failure of its problem-solving institutions. His work shows that societies collapse when their investments in social complexity and their energy subsidies reach a point of diminishing marginal returns. From Tainter’s perspective, we are likely already past the tipping point towards collapse but just don’t know it yet:

Sustainability requires that people have the ability and the inclination to think broadly in terms of time and space. In other words, to think broadly in a geographical sense about the world around them, as well as the state of the world as a whole. And also, to think broadly in time in terms of the near and distant future and what resources will be available to our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.

One of the major problems in sustainability and in this whole question of resources and collapse is that we did not evolve as a species to have this ability to think broadly in time and space. Instead, our ancestors who lived as hunter-gatherers never confronted any challenges that required them to think beyond their locality and the near term(…)

We have developed the most complex society humanity has ever known. And we have maintained it up to this point. I have argued that technological innovation and other kinds of innovation evolve like any other aspect of complexity. The investments in research and development grow increasingly complex and reach diminishing returns.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Debt-Based Money Corrodes Society

Debt-Based Money Corrodes Society

We open today’s reckoning with a hypothesis:

The current monetary system debauches the culture.

Long-suffering readers are familiar with our… diminished regard for paper money.

Paper money — or digital money nowadays — is the great bogeyman of the boom/bust cycle. It inflates bubbles of every model and make.

Meanwhile, paper money fuels big government… as oxygen fuels fire.

But paper money’s effects on the culture?

“It has a very important impact on our culture,” writes economist Jorg Guido Hulsmann.

Under “natural money” like gold Hulsmann explains, prices tend to fall over time.

So natural money encourages the virtues of saving… thrift… deferred gratification. It sets the mind to the future:

In a free economy with a natural monetary system, there is a strong incentive to save money… Investments in savings accounts or other relatively safe investments also play a certain role, but cash hoarding is paramount.

Before the 20th century, explains Hulsmann, debt was a cultural taboo… a big scarlet “D.”

Credit for households was virtually unknown, he says. And only the poorest households resorted to debt-financed consumption.

Ah, but then the 20th century came along with its wars… its social movements… and its cranks…

Gold is a famously uncooperative agent of change.

It resists social uplift, in the same way an old man resists a new pair of shoes.

It turns away from the sound of trumpets.

“You go over there,” gold says. “I’m staying here.”

“The trouble with gold is that it turns its back on world improvers, empire builders and do-gooders,” wrote Bill Bonner and our leader Addison Wiggin in Empire of Debt.

“The nice thing about gold is that it is so unresponsive,” they continued. “It neither laughs nor applauds.”

And that’s why it couldn’t last…

Only a debt-backed system of paper money could finance the great wars, the social improvements and the fevered dreams of the 20th century.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Economic Ideas: Plato, Aristotle, and the Ancient Greeks, Part 1

The ancient Greeks left a wealth of knowledge through their surviving writings on a wide variety of themes, including science, logic, philosophy, literature, and the arts.

In addition, the city-state of Athens is considered the birthplace of intellectual freedom and democracy – lasting legacies that helped to mold the ideas that have influenced the development of Western Civilization.

But, in comparison, their discussions on economics were often few and almost always relatively unsystematic.  A primary reason for this is due to the fact that for the ancient Greeks questions concerning “economics” were considered subservient to other themes considered far more crucial to human life and society.

For the Greek philosophers and social thinkers, the central themes were questions of “justice,” “virtue,” “the good,” and “the beautiful.” What today we call “economic” questions and problems were relegated to a narrow corner of evaluating how economic institutions and organization could be designed or modified to serve these “higher” ends or goals.

The Greek view of the society over the individual

An extension of this is an appreciation of the general view that the ancient Greeks had concerning the individual in society. Their conception was that the individual was dependent upon the society in which he was born for all that he could or did become as a person. That is, the community nurtured and molded the individual into a “civilized” human being.

The society took precedence, or priority, over the individual. The individual was born, lived, and died. The society and the State, however, they believed, lived on.

The more modern conception of man as free, autonomous agent who chooses his own ends, selects his own means to attain his desired ends, and in general lives for himself was an alien notion to the mind of the ancient Greeks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Will You Cope With A Lower Standard of Living?

How Will You Cope With A Lower Standard of Living?

The forces are mounting that will eventually overwhelm most Americans and send their standard of living to unknown depths. Americans that have only known the post WWII prosperity are ill equipped and educated to deal with depression level living. Easy credit and instant gratification have created a nation of whining, self absorbed, entitlement minded people with no moral or mental toughness.

Doug Casey believes we are headed for what he calls a super depression created by the ending of a debt super cycle. The bigger the debt cycle the bigger the depression that follows. That’s how reality works and most people are not prepared for reality.

When this depression, which has already started, gets momentum, it will overwhelm the plans of a society that is expecting to get things like social security, pensions and payouts from retirement plans they have paid into for many years. All of those things will disappear almost overnight and leave society gasping and stupefied over what to do. Their reactions will be to yell and scream and try to identify who to blame but the only person they should blame is the one in the mirror.

Many very smart people have raised the alarm and done their best to warn the sleeping public, but those slumbering masses have ignored the warnings and hit the snooze button one more time. The masses do not understand economics, do not want to understand economics and they will pay dearly for that ignorance in the coming days.

When the real unemployment rate becomes common knowledge as it increases substantially, people will be left to survive on what resources they have saved up outside the banking system that cannot be stolen by the politicians and bankers. That is a key point here. The assets you have outside the system that cannot be stolen from you with a few key strokes on some computer.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The climate emergency: time to switch to panic mode?

The climate emergency: time to switch to panic mode?

The latest temperature data have broken all records (image from “think progress“). At best, this is an especially large oscillation and the climate system will be soon back on track; following the predictions of the models – maybe to be retouched to take into account faster climbing temperatures. A worst, it is an indication that the system is going out of control and moving to a new climate state faster than anyone could have imagined. 

James Schlesinger once uttered one of those profound truths that explain a lot of what we see around us: it was: “people have only two modes of operation: complacency and panic.”

So far, we have been in the “complacency” mode of operation in regard to climate change: it doesn’t exist, if exist it is not a problem, if it is a problem, it is not our fault, and anyway doing something about it would be too expensive to be worth doing. But the latest temperature data are nothing but spine-chilling. What are we seeing? Is this just a sort of a rebound from the so-called “pause”? Or something much more worrisome? We may be seeing something that portends a major switch in the climate system; an unexpected acceleration of the rate of change. There are reasons to be worried, very worried: the CO2 emissions seem to have peaked, but that didn’t generate a slowdown of the rate of increase of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If nothing else, it is growing faster than ever. And then there is the ongoing methane spike and, as you know, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

What’s happening? Nobody can say for sure, but these are not good symptoms; not at all. And that may be a good reason to switch to panic mode.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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