Posted 8 months ago on Aug. 24, 2013, 9:51 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Things to Know as Collapse Becomes Hip
Saturday, 24 August 2013 01:43 By Jan Lundberg, Truthout | Op-Ed
A consensus seems to be building toward anticipating collapse. So what's your flavor? Financial meltdown with chaos? Petrocollapse? Climate extinction? The contributing crises are seemingly diverse, including Fukushima's mounting radioactive releases into the Pacific, the growing plastic plague and creeping GMO contamination. If none of those are your thing, you can acknowledge accelerating bee colony collapse.
You may feel the days of "innocence" have receded in the rear-view mirror as we drive off the ecological cliff like motorized lemmings. Even so, maybe you see such resilience in the corporate state and its war machine that you anticipate dictatorship à la Children of Men, the ominous film set in 2027.
It appears that things must get worse before they get better. The United States has become especially absurd with its intensifying mess of debt and flailing leadership. If a major event in the Persian Gulf or China can trigger the toppling of the US House of Cards, increased consumer vulnerability must be the order of the day. It is surprising to some that total collapse has not yet happened, but news such as record new car sales in July suggests the entire system can keep on going indefinitely. Such news supplies happy-talk for the embattled corporate agenda.
A more disturbing and shocking statistic than car sales going in the wrong direction for Mother Earth:
"Four out of five US adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream." (Associated Press, July 28, 2013)
Is this a wake-up call or just part of the relentless barrage of disillusion? What about things the four-fifths can do now that they are not doing? Are they - we - helpless victims? We'll need to do more than wait for the next election, write to Congress or demonstrate in the streets against economic hardship and mismanagement. Yet many of the four-fifths still assume that they can rise above any temporary period of struggling and that money will solve their problems. Meanwhile, the holy grail of national Recovery beckons without arriving.
How many of the four-fifths are talking about bartering and seeing what else they can do for more self-sufficiency? Are they growing their own food? Creating compost for soil-building instead of land-filling the food-waste? Boycotting corporate products by eschewing car dependence, for example? Depaving and installing gardens? Sharing appliances and skills in their apartment buildings and neighborhoods?
Only a tiny minority of consumers lifts a finger in its own long-term interest. One factor is that progressive commentators concentrate on "the 1%" or the one-out-of-five not currently struggling as the source of economic security via redistribution of wealth. Redistribution is not going to happen while the financial system is intact. Even the triumph of a revolution over wealth redistribution and provision of social services could still fail to secure the survival of the species or prevent a thorough economic collapse.
The alternative press all too often limits its coverage of the sociological problem by not addressing the system itself, instead excelling in pointing out the dastardly attempts of the guardians of the status quo to exert control and feather their own nests. The result is reading material that simply riles us up without providing a solution. The message of the alternative press and social-justice activists almost never prioritizes radical lifestyle change and emancipating ourselves from the broken, dangerous system. A controversial or taboo topic is the concept of too many people for the ecosystem's carrying capacity - or certainly far too many fossil fuels-dependant people. This detail of our times was accomplished with dwindling petroleum that's harder and more toxic to extract, and lacks the high net-energy yield of yore.
When the unraveling intensifies, whether primarily from oil supply crisis, climate failure, or financial meltdown, then even the 1% will experience upheaval and perhaps deprivation. They won't be able to live as isolated jet-setting shoppers. Some will try it, but there's no future for living off the cream of global consumerism when growth finishes imploding. A big reason is that a shrunk-down version of the vertically integrated oil industry for the elite is very unlikely.