Friday, November 23, 2012

From my deleted archives

With thanks to the cached archives of degringoglade.

This is what I thought 3+ years ago anyway...

Well, my main referrer has de-listed me (understandable, I was on hiatus) and my only other readers make me nervous (try not to log in from a military server sis, I don't want my door kicked in!). So, to all 5 of you, here's my worldview (with apologies and thanks to JMG, Cnulan, and many others)


Our standard of living is defined by energy use per capita. The more energy inputs that go into the things we consume, the richer we are, both individually and collectively.

The 'crisis' most people seem to fear, be it financial, social, or political, is basically the same complaint: someone wants to take away the energy you consume.


American political conservatives seem to be of the opinion that the energy they currently enjoy, in the form of material goods and money, are theirs fair and square. Others are trying to take this energy away, for redistribution. They object to this redistribution of wealth either on fairness grounds ("I earned it,") or efficiency grounds ("the government can only fuck it up.")
American liberals rarely address the topic of their own energy consumption, regardless of their own personal wealth. Instead, they focus on the inequality of energy distribution, or rather, they demand more inputs to bring others up to their level of energy use, while lowering the rate of extraction of energy to preserve it for the future.

Politically, both sides operate from a position of insanity. Conservatives have done nothing to 'earn' their wealth, except in the classic sense that they brutally exploit other people at home and abroad to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I would define this view as deluded accounting; pretending your outputs of energy somehow balance your inputs.

Liberals seem to think that the proper solution to inequality is to bring everyone in the world up to their (self-servingly appropriate) level of consumption, while also entering an energy stasis, only using what we consume. This basically means they expect currently unknown energy reserves to pop up and world population to decline voluntarily. I would define this view as happy-face wishful thinking.

Same story, different game. The US dollar is the worlds reserve currency. Money is not manufactured by the government, but by the request for debt by the consumer (HT). Fiat currency is indeed, a Ponzi scheme, but one that functions well for longer than a human lifetime if you do it properly, thereby ensuring that it won't upset too many people in too short a time.

So the rich guys on Wall Street made fat coin, and now your 401K in a 201K. The majority seems to believe that those who took larger share of the spoils are somehow the bad guys, and that they are in cahoots with the government.
I think Wall Street is in cahoots with the government too, but being mad at Wall Street for plundering the rest of the world and only giving you a penny on the dollar seems silly to me. You're a penny ahead, and I bet privately the Kings of the Universe feel the same way: they orchestrated the plunder of the world, and were kind enough to give you some for your assistance and looking the other way. Now you want a bigger piece of the pie. Fuck you.


The common opinion on the sites I read is that wealth disparity has gone out of control and lead to the collapse of our economy--the only way to restore prosperity is a more egalitarian society.

Um, no. Excluding brief periods over the last 100 years, the world has never been so equal for the haves and the have-nots. While all of us are much wealthier today energy-wise than the nobles of the past several millenia, the difference between the haves and have-nots is less than you'll find in the past.

We're riding high on tons of unlocked, nonrenewable energy: coal, gas & oil. As peak oil adherents say, were on the downslope for the AAA rated energy source of the three, oil.

What's the solution? If you read The Archdruid, or at least his book, you know he doesn't think it's a problem, he thinks it's a predicament. Problems have solutions, predicaments are shit that you deal with, cope with, die from--you don't solve them.

I see four things coming, either exclusively or all together.

1) Population reduction-either through war, pandemic, starvation, nuclear plant explosion, etc.
2) Explicit Empire and Fascism- before we give up our stuff voluntarily, we'll give up our notions of fairness, morality, and equality. Expect nationalism, stifling of dissent, and acceptance of plunder as a necessity. These may take the forms of racism, sexism, cultural genocide, social classes becoming social castes, or probably a big soup of all of them.

3) Nuclear power and environmental degradation- You will not accept quietly your 'energy neutral future. Even at 25% of current population, stasis energy use is basically the life of a medieval serf. Not super fun. Expect environmental laws to disappear, nuclear reactors to spring up everywhere its feasible, and much more provincialism

4) Loss of morality- Our modern morality is based on wealth, not inherent characteristics. Genetic survival is the fundamental truth IMHO, and inherent individual liberty and rights are a pretty new concept. Expect your rights to go away, expect that what you can get away with will be what's right (take one step down Maslow's hierarchy from where you are now), and expect your value as an individual to diminish as your value as a group member to grow, either as a gang member, citizen of the nation, or member of a social class.


Get over yourself. Prepare to lead/join an organized group, hoard energy and accumulate power to the largest social structure you can at any given time. Your access to energy and COMPLEX material goods will decline going forward. Select the largest social group you can effectively organize and be (secretly) ready to drop down a level to the next largest group when that one goes away.

In my lifetime? Probably best from a survival standpoint to be a fervent nationalist who also protects the interest of your social class above all others. Probably best from a moral standpoint to organize a dirt farmer collective and teach sustainable practices while building community that's resistant to external exploitation.

Are you John Michael Greer or John Wesley Rawles? For myself, I'm a little bit of both, going forward, only time will tell--maybe it's better to be Daniel Plainview.


  1. Why does no one think in terms of the Fremen vocational calling?

    Mainstreaming this calling, along with greatly enhanced focus on molecular biology and nano materials technology is the way out of the predicament for a minimal regret population.

    1. Well, these religious and social orders will definitely be increasingly ascendant; an American Taliban, more concerned with joules than jews, if you will. Even if we develop the teleological and theological system to make this socially desirable, you still need to control the vast war and spying apparatus, so you'll have either a corrupt elite not part of the value system (likely), or an undercaste to do all work requiring more than the proscribed religious amount of energy (interesting and very sci fi).

  2. Logistics is the way of the future. Even if you go full digital/bio-nano, feedstocks will need to be replenished, which means extraction/refinement/transport problems. I think it time we all recognized we don't anything. We rent to own, and treat our consumption stream accordingly. I am of the opinion that, as we seem incapable of rising beyond the behavior of the fire ant, and since there's still plenty of real estate to scrape past bedrock down to yeasty magma, the cornucopia is nowhere near depleted (if you gots the excess energies). As such, the crash is still at least a century off, and the further you push it back, the bigger the drop. Actually using our frontal lobes for adult type behaviors of self-restraint is the only oping mechanism for this predicament. Unfortunately, I suspect a Hobbsian political solution will be required, just to keep the piggies away from the trough. Expect increasing tyranny to insure mass survival.