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Collapse You Say, Part 10/Time for Change, Part 1: Money

Collapse You Say, Part 10/Time for Change, Part 1: Money

Waves, rocks and ice on the Lake Huron shore

Earlier in this series (Parts 5 and 6) I looked at overpopulation and overconsumption and concluded that while both are serious problems, overpopulation is going to take decades to solve, while overconsumption could be addressed quite quickly. By reducing our level of consumption, we would reduce our impact on the planet and give ourselves time to reduce our population.

In my last post I looked at some of the unintended and negative consequences of the industrialization we’ve experienced over the last few centuries. I concluded that most of the blame for overconsumption can be laid squarely at the feet of capitalism, with its insatiable hunger to accumulate wealth, its inescapable need for endless growth, and its inability to tackle any problem that can’t be solved by making a profit. These days some people are calling capitalism a “death cult”, based on those characteristics and the fact that we live on a finite planet. I think they are quite right to do so.

Clearly, the blame for overconsumption should not fall on the supposed innate greed and materialism of individual, ordinary people. The upper classes (mainly capitalists) are superlative consumers and do a great deal of harm themselves. And their marketing efforts have turned the rest of us into pretty good consumers, too. Turn off their incessantly blaring marketing machine and things would be quite different—reducing consumption would look at lot more doable. We’d have a real chance of solving both of our major problems (overpopulation and overconsumption), getting ourselves out of overshoot and avoiding at least part of the die-off that is currently looming ahead of us.

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Collapse, you say?

Collapse, you say?

New Bamboo
2020

Most of the writing I have done for this blog assumes that my readers are at the very least open to thinking about the collapse of our civilization, and more likely that they have already accepted it as probable and are interested in discussing the details of how it might happen and how to cope with it. But it is pretty clear to me that the general public, even in the midst of a global pandemic, are not ready to entertain the idea that civilization could collapse. If I bring up the idea, the response is most likely to be, “Collapse, you say? Surely not.”

There are a number of reasons for that attitude, the simplest being a cognitive bias against change—the feeling that tomorrow is likely to be pretty much like today. This is aided and abetted by a lot of propaganda about how great BAU (Business as Usual) really is and the progress it promises for the future. Indeed, we are told that there simply isn’t any better way of running the world than neo-liberal capitalism, no real alternatives at all. We’ve been told this for so long (at least the 30 years or so since the USSR fell) and so forcefully that most of the world’s population is experiencing an almost complete failure of imagination. And that is both a failure to imagine any better way of running things, and a failure to conceive what the consequences might be if we continue as we are.

Along with this, when the subject of collapse does come up, it is almost always discussed in terms of a hard and fast collapse—more of an apocalypse, really—which understandably stirs up such feelings of fear that people retreat into denial…

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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