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Author Topic: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins  (Read 80823 times)

wili

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Two titans of the sustainability movement (for lack of a better word) have gone head to head over how to proceed from here (or at least about how to think about the process). Holmgren is the top permaculture guru and Hopkins the father of the Transition Towns movement.

One really has to read through each position to understand where they are coming from, but briefly:

Holmgren sees the only hope of having anything like a livable planet left after industrialization is to intentionally crash the planetary financial economy. He thinks the global financial system is now fragile enough that a relatively small part of the middle class could bring about it collapse by basically opting out--disengaging from most of the financial economy.

The latter is a good thing to do for all sorts of reasons anyway, and it is these positive reasons that Hopkins would like to emphasize rather than promoting local resilience and permaculture (which now have mostly positive associations, to the extent they have even been heard of in the larger culture) as a means of collapse. Hopkins thinks there are still positive things to get out of the system, and the goal should be to extend the influence of the nascent local organizations up into the city and state levels, in hopes that these in turn can put pressure on national and international levels of governance to do the right thing. He also emphasizes the importance of employing the Buddhist dictum of "skillful means."

The whole discussion brings up many issues battered about around here and on other fora, but here we have major leaders of these alternative movements expressing them openly.

The link to the original Holmgren piece, "Crash on Demand," is here: http://simplicityinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/CrashOnDemandSimplicityInstitute13c.pdf

Hopkins response "...be careful what you wish for" is here: https://www.transitionnetwork.org/blogs/rob-hopkins/2014-01/holmgren-s-crash-demand-be-careful-what-you-wish

Nicole Foss has also chimed in here: http://www.theautomaticearth.com/crash-demand-response-david-holmgren-3/

And I see there is another piece now at the Resilience blog that seems to be related (though I haven't read it yet) called "Economic descent, hopefully with skillful means" here: http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-01-14/economic-descent-hopefully-with-skillful-means

Lots to chew on and discuss. Enjoy.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Laurent

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2014, 06:28:23 PM »
You could set up a poll ! That would be very interesting !
A famous football player, you may know him "Eric Cantona", asked some time ago to put our money out of the bank a special day, there was no effect, few people did it !

It will crash there is no doubt about it, the question of when would be very interesting (especially if your assets have to escape from the mess), but the better question still not answered is by what do we change it !?

We have to change the European Constitution (and the French when we are at it), we can't let the elites choose the rules. We must choose a system where people are drawn lots from the citizen (At all the stages, town...Europe...world(?))...urgently...
(Of course there would be some limits, some controls, let's talk about this idea if you please)

Laurent

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2014, 07:23:22 PM »
I'm not sure what we would be polling. But if you want to set up a poll of some sort, do be my guest.

Others have been making the point that we don't have to do anything to crash the system, since it looks to be about to implode on its own. But many (including the linked N. Foss) have been prophesying an imminent total collapse for a long time, over and over. But the 'Brown Economy' Holmgren talks of just keeps chugging along at ever dirtier rates.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Laurent

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2014, 08:49:41 PM »
I can't create a poll in this thread, can you ?
Question : Are you for :
                         1) David Holmgren, helping the system to crash.
                         2) Robb Hopkins, better a transition within this system than a crash

Well, I do not really care about the result  ! What I do care about is the answer of how will we sort this problem ! The transition movement doesn't seem to help much, it is mainly the people from the city that are involved and very few ! Not enough global vision, we won't solve  the problem quickly by little foot steps (thought it does help moving the minds), the system has to change completely but by undermining the fundamentals not  by a crash (Property, governance)!

SATire

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2014, 08:51:00 PM »
We have to change the European Constitution
Sorry, we do not have such a thing like a european constitution - did you forget the votings in Netherland and France? Only nations and countries have constitutions and only their governments are elected by poeple. Europe is still only a contract between nations...

And in Europe we try to do a "slow collapse" or a "de-growth strategy" - so we reduce the impact of nations by reducing their power. That power is usually transfered to poeple/companies with money. Therefore, in future we only have to switch off money (e.g. by just avoiding to pay back the loans and interest) and the problem of power or collapse is "solved" easily. But right now majority of poeple would not like to do that - just because they have much more property than loans. But in the mean time "Green-BAU" and "economy with sense" could be reasonable ways around that brutal short-cut into the post collapse world.

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2014, 09:23:44 PM »
Thanks L and SAT for your perspectives. I think we have to start screaming, cajoling, insisting, persuading...at all levels that individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses, cities...have to reduce their consumption by at least 10% right away, and then make realistic plans to cut even more next year, and more the next.

We have to get a consistent, urgent message across that this a planetary emergency that cannot wait. That beyond-bad things are rapidly coming our way very quickly if we don't immediately reverse direction (and probably even then at some point we will have some pretty bad stuff coming). 

This is the year to start spreading the reality of this crisis, both because it is actually upon us, and because it is looking like a major El Nino event is coming, and if we get ahead of it, the extremes that it will bring can be a wake-up call--but only if people have had us shouting in their ears that just exactly this type of bad sh!t is what we can expect from not changing our ways.

If a largish groups of people, institutions, municipalities...do start radically reducing their consumption and their energy use, there may or may not be economic effects. It's hard to know. Almost none of the millions of trained economists/mbas/econ. majors... in the world saw the last global recession coming even days before it hit. So I don't think they or anyone else can really know for sure what the impact of a sudden reduction in energy use like this would bring.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2014, 01:02:00 AM »
If a largish groups of people, institutions, municipalities...do start radically reducing their consumption and their energy use, there may or may not be economic effects. It's hard to know. Almost none of the millions of trained economists/mbas/econ. majors... in the world saw the last global recession coming even days before it hit. So I don't think they or anyone else can really know for sure what the impact of a sudden reduction in energy use like this would bring.

If you could cut consumption significantly (which I agree is needed in an ideal world where people can cooperate, but think is highly unlikely to happen), it would inevitably cause massive economic damage. What about all the jobs predicated upon mindless consumption? The manufacture of disposable items, pointless widgets, gadgets that don't need to be replaced, etc?

Without the demand those jobs disappear. Those wages stop being cycled through the economy. Unsustainable consumption is the foundation stone upon which all the developed nations of today are built - take it away - and crash, down they come tumbling.

From a socioeconomic point of view poverty is a key factor that drives unrest - particularly coupled with high food prices (and high is relative to your purchasing power and norms).

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2014, 01:43:42 AM »
Unemployment is totally a construct of structures of the economy that we tend to assume are unchangeable, though they are anything but.

Make all (or nearly all) work weeks 30 hours max, and suddenly you have 25% more jobs (or so) than you did the day before you passed that law. This was done in some places during the First Great Depression and it was so wildly popular that some companies continued those shorter work weeks long afterwords. Or have the government create jobs. There are lots of buildings that need to be insulated and degraded areas that need to be restored--lack of jobs is totally artificial.

But, yeah, that of course requires someone at some level of government to 1) Give a good Gd Damn; 2) Have a smidgen of creativity and imagination (or minimal knowledge of fairly recent history); and 3) Be willing and able to go against the powerful interests that will shriek and holler and moan and gnash..."SOCIALISM!" and worse.

But really, unemployment is almost entirely artificial. It serves the master classes to have people desperate to work so they won't complain to much about shitty conditions.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2014, 05:12:28 AM »
 Wili, another very interesting topic.

I just finished reading all of your links.  Whew!

Considering the weight of the participants; I am not familiar with Poyourow, but have read all of the others at times; I must admit that I am a little stunned at the conversation.  My opinion of the quality of the depth of the thought processes of Holmgren and Hopkins certainly went down.  I attribute this to their being so fully committed to their respective niches in the spectrum of ideas that they are incapable of seeing the forest that they live in.  Which is actually the same forest curiously enough.  And their trees are within sight of each other too.

To start with Holmgren does not seem to have a good grasp of where he sits in the panoply of possible solutions with the Permaculture account.  Permaculture has never been and never will be a possible solution to human survival pre dramatic population reductions.  He, of all people, should be aware that the value of permaculture practices and having as large of a number of practitioners trained as possible is to provide seed knowledge for the lucky folks picking up the pieces following the big population drawdown.  Providing this knowledge and training is a hugely valuable service to humanity as it raises the probability of human success following our coming disaster.  And he puts it all at risk.

I am not sure if he really realizes the possible damage he has done to his ability to provide this service he has devoted his life to by writing this post.  He will certainly lose credibility with many folks who were in basic agreement with him and many people will end up not going his way because of the blowback effects if is likely to generate over time.  He will always and forever be tainted by this article and it will be used against him and against permaculture.

His statement, that the bottom up creation of household and community economies can create and sustain different ways of well being which can compensate for the contraction in fossil based economies which is coming, is absurd.  And he should know it so well that by his writing the above down it calls into question much else he has written.  We cannot collapse the economy and switch to permaculture and feed the world.  That is simply insane talk.  Is he not aware of how far we are beyond the carrying capacity of the earth. Poyourow points out the carrying capacity problem he has, but she uses the old number of we are only at usage rates of 1.5 earths, which is just not supportable.  We are more likely running at at least 3 and heading towards 5 earths of usage.  And climate change is reducing the carrying capacity a little more each day and it is going to get much worse.  In the meantime we are adding to total population at the rate of 70-80 million a year and also growing the middle class rapidly thus causing an additional increase in consumption and further abuse of the carrying capacity problem. The Red Queen scenario.

Another huge gap in his apparent understanding of the world is his assumption that he could convince 5% of the middle class to deliberately crash the economy.  Does he not realize that they are rightly going to perceive that as an act of suicide?  There is zero chance that he could get them to do this deliberately.  It flies in the face of human nature at a level not often seen.  Advocating this from his level, and as a person who has passionate followers, automatically puts him on the security lists of someone advocating revolution and a threat.  This is not an exaggeration and he seems to be aware of it by some of what he says in the article.  One of the other articles points out that he must have reached the stage of panic internally.  He is basically reaching the point that he is starting to advocate going all in.  This position will draw unwelcome attention to permaculture and he is drawing his permaculture adherents into the maelstrom of being enemies of the status quo state.  In the future we are heading into that is not a place to be except by deliberate choice and intent.  He is committing his followers to it without their permission.

As one of the other articles points out this opting out is already being done on a small scale by the folks trying to implement the Transition Town concept and just the vast number of non-affiliated people who are self starters and are picking up and learning old craft and trade skills on their own.  But this is such a small drop in the bucket it has no meaningful effect on the economy and it won't.  But what it does is add more diversity of knowledge and capabilities back into the population (just like permaculture) that will hopefully seed the future.  Nothing can fix the problem of dealing with the vast population other than continuing to burn the fossil fuel candle at both ends.  Thus both Holmgren's concept of deliberate collapse and Hopkins holding dear to the Transition movement thinking it will evolve into a sustainable society are doomed to fail.  Neither seem to understand what is valuable about their concepts and where it fits in the puzzle.  Or which tree it is in the forest.

Holmgren in particular really strikes me as being astonishingly naive and innocent in the ways of the world.  But none of the 4 writers touches on the core of the problem.  Population prevents any solution proposed so far from being viable.  Any reduced consumption or a stopping of growth in the industrialized countries is quickly going to be picked up and ran with by the developing countries.  This very issue comes up in the climate talks and managed development discussions when the 3rd world is talking to the 1st.  Give us our share so we can live like you do.  The problem is that even if all of us divided up everything equally we would still be the same distance beyond the carrying capacity point and we would still be cooking the climate at the same rate.  If we all lived like west Africans (which we won't do) we would still be cooking the system.  Minus fossil fuels the world used to support about 1 billion.  But that was not the damaged world we live in today and those 1 billion in the old days were destroying a good hunk of the earth even then.  There is no level of per capita emissions acceptable if the capita is derives from a number like 7-9 billion.

Deliberately crashing the system is certainly a possible strategy and we have brought that up on a number of occasions.  It has the potential to leave extra resources available to the folks trying to pick up the pieces post collapse and thus has merit.  But one needs to be frank in that this option leads directly and quickly to collapse.  Collapse primarily means a rapidly shrinking population with all the attendant pain, horror and suffering which occurs in those circumstances.  A necessary evil?  Or and unacceptable one?  One chosen deliberately for rational reasons or the same one chosen just by passive acceptance of the various forms of BAU that happens at a later date.  We have so many choices it is hard to make up our minds.

 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2014, 06:52:40 AM »
Jim, I'm honored and humbled that you found it worthwhile to track down my lengthy links.

I share many of your reactions, but I also have others (I always seem to be of at least two minds on most subjects).

"We cannot collapse the economy and switch to permaculture and feed the world." I didn't see any place where Holmgren said he expected permaculture to 'feed the world,' but I might have missed it.

Your last paragraph is perhaps most apropos--I think Holmgren is exactly advocating crashing the global (financial) economy with all the horror that would imply. The horror is coming no matter what, of course. And I think he is being quite frank about it. One thing that was refreshing to me about the piece was its frankness and honesty. Foss's and Hopkin's main critiques seemed to echo yours...essentially, "Shut TF Up, dude--your gonna bring the Man down on all of us."

But I think we can no longer cower in fear. We have to clearly and loudly state what the real horrific situation actually is...as Holmgren has done, as Kevin Anderson has done, as more and more are doing. Choosing between fear and honesty, I would like to think I would pick honesty, especially when the stakes are this high.

« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 06:57:59 AM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

johnm33

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2014, 11:54:35 AM »
Wili "Almost none of the millions of trained economists/mbas/econ. majors... in the world saw the last global recession coming even days before it hit. "
Actually a few economists saw the crash coming http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2009/07/15/no-one-saw-this-coming-balderdash/ all excluded from the mainstream. This tells to me that they're the ones to listen to.
As to a deliberate collapse, that'd be like getting fully informed turkeys to vote for xmas

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2014, 12:33:10 PM »
Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level…

Again, I see the Forum carrying an intriguing topic with a philosophical touch. I can’t resist…
I’ll reflect more on this, try to read the links given, but let me shed some, although premature, thoughts.
The choices to make are individual. Within the realm of provenance it is the individual, specific part that shapes the World as perceived. I’ve had the privilige to learn some things through gifted artists and teachers. These Gifts are mostly about compassion and beauty, the values that make up the sole lasting rewards in (my) life.

On that ground, it is not justified to contribute to a planned collapse. At least, for me.

So that leaves me a contibution to local-level mobilisation of survival skills and resilience.
Such a contribution will not have much relevance in the light of general provenance. With the limited knowledge and naïve artistic intuition I’ve received, I see not much chance for a World population of 7 billion people conditioned by limited resources. I have no illusion that there are strategies to secure my individual existence, nor that of my local community or even an orderly society on the scale of a European nation as we know it.
Even so, I will try to do what’s in my personal competence, while trying not to fight or hate those who seem to trash our Planet willingly.

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2014, 04:45:39 PM »
Wili

I was extrapolating that he thought that, as so did Hopkins seem to be doing, but no it is not precisely stated.  His statement about bottom up communities clearly implies that between permaculture and the Transition Town concept that is sufficient.  This is what I objected too.

To clarify on his advocating deliberately causing a quick collapse.  I don't object to someone or many ones doing that.  I object to him doing it.  Everyone has a place in the system and that place puts limits on what you should consider viable options for action.  He is advocating revolution in  a way that would precipitate a long chain of extreme violence.  But that is not an option he should consider open to him personally because he has already filled a key niche that can be wiped out if he turns toward violence.  We are served a greater good with him continuing to promote permaculture as it has real potential value post collapse.  An additional objection is that, because of his prominent position, he inadvertently drags his permaculture followers into that maelstrom with him.  And it is wrong to do that unless they make that choice themselves.

Many people fantasize about picking up the gun and charging off to change the world (a bit metaphorically speaking, but many would need to do just that).  Most know, however, it is just a  fantasy and that they would never have the courage to do it, the ability to execute, the willingness to die for a cause, the passion to believe that strongly, or the vigorousness of youth it requires.  The folks who do this kind of thing are out there thinking about how to accomplish this already. The kind of folks who populate organizations like Earth First, ELF, Deep Green Resistance.  The really smart ones do not join organizations or discuss what they are doing or advocating on the internet (NSA is listening you know - for real).  They think, plan and act. And the system will kill them when it catches them in the future.  Holmgren does not fit into this world.

I agree with you that it is time for prominent people to start to articulate very strongly that the time for passivity is past and that time has run out.  That extreme action is called for right now.  But those kinds of people have to leave out the call for violence from their rhetoric. Leave that to the revolutionaries (They are out there and they will act).

Having spent a large part of my life amongst the security people who will be looking for these revolutionaries/terrorists and the operators who will be dealing them violence I cannot emphasize enough how serious deliberately precipitating collapse will be taken.  Think what it means if it happens.  What will the PTB do to stop people trying to do this?   Or anyone associated with them.  What will the general populace do to them if they think they know who they are and what they are trying to do?  The question will not be "What would Jesus do?"  it will be "What would Stalin do?".

werther

Quote
I’ve had the privilige to learn some things through gifted artists and teachers. These Gifts are mostly about compassion and beauty, the values that make up the sole lasting rewards in (my) life.
 
On that ground, it is not justified to contribute to a planned collapse. At least, for me.

So that leaves me a contibution to local-level mobilisation of survival skills and resilience.

I understand this sentiment and it is expressed by many who share our great concern about the future.  Many of those same people express strong emotions about earlier generations who share most of the responsibility (mostly unconscious responsibility) for the situation we are in and also articulate the concepts of compassion, fairness, equity and so on. 

But all positions are forms of choice.  Tearing down civilization is a choice which violates many of the concepts above by choosing to suffer sooner for the greater good later.  Following BAU and Green-BAU solutions is choosing comfort now and passing on suffering to others for a lessor good.  The later choice also defers personal suffering and passes it to innocents (an evil).  Many of the most passionate about the concepts of fairness, compassion and equity choose the Green-BAU approaches which defer the suffering to the innocents of the future.  What does that say about them?  Holmgren, and the like, occupy one of the unique positions in that they are preparing the knowledge/skill base for whomever makes it through the bottleneck (it really doesn't matter who makes it as some get wrapped up in) so they serve a good purpose.  You can join them or not.  But every approach to this issue is a choice and every approach carries a responsibility.  Best make sure what that responsibility is, and do you want to carry it, do you have the courage to carry it.   
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2014, 05:23:07 PM »
Jim, wow, I didn't see Holmgren say anything about violence, and I certainly didn't see anything about advocating it.

First--the system IS violence. Crashing it is probably the fastest way to end that violence.

Second--many people blamed MLK at the time for fomenting violence, since he knew that his non-violent civil disobedience would likely prompt violent reactions from authorities and from southern bigots. Would you agree with that assessment? I wouldn't for reasons we could get into. But it sure sounds like your argument is about the same as those who blamed MLK for the violence of southerners against him and his followers. (for more on this topic: http://www.uscrossier.org/pullias/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/king.pdf)

I do think it is a good point that most permaculturalists didn't sign up for this. But as a leader he also has a responsibility to continue to analyze the situation and do and say what he thinks is necessary by his own best lights. 'Followers' at any time can distance themselves from him and any part of his 'movement' they wish to. I really doubt that swat teams are about to descend en mass on a bunch of carrot growers because someone in Australia hypothesized about what the effect of various percentages of the populations opting out of the financial system would have on that system.

Again, MLK came out against the Vietnam War even though that was not what most/many in the Civil Rights Movement saw as a central part of their mission. Towards the end, he was more and more seeing the movement as a poor peoples movement, about class more than race--again, quite different from the initial vision of the movement.

We often criticize our leaders (rightly, I think) for not actually being leaders--not making an independent analysis of the situation as it evolves, coming up with a position, and articulating that vision. It seems to me that Holmgren is doing just that here.

In your response to werner's thoughtful comments, you mention "Tearing down civilization." Again, this is not an explicitly stated goal of Holmgren. (I do think that Holmgren could have been clearer about the exact goal, though.) Of course, industrial society does like to identify itself with 'civilization,' as if nothing remotely 'civilized' happened before it or outside of it. But I would hope we wouldn't buy into such delusions here.

As I've said elsewhere, I don't think Holmgren should even say that he is for crashing or collapsing the 'economy,' only the (already entirely corrupt and nearly completely out of control) 'financial economy.' And he is far from alone in wanting to withdraw support from that festering carbuncle defiling the planet--there are movements through churches and other organizations to divest all funds from the major banks, for example. Do you see them as fomenting violence, and bringing down down militarized attacks on their congregations? I see Holmgren's objectives in much the same light, though he does have a broader view than most (isn't that exactly why thoughtful people have been drawn to him)?

Again, thanks one and all for comments. Probably if Jim had come out strongly in favor of Holmgren's recent statements, I would be countering with something pretty close to Jim's reservations and objections. It is a worthwhile discussion to have, imvho, if for no other reason than to clarify our thoughts and positions on these vital matters.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 05:40:55 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2014, 05:50:44 PM »
Jim, wow, I didn't see Holmgren say anything about violence, and I certainly didn't see anything about advocating it.

First--the system IS violence. Crashing it is probably the fastest way to end that violence.

Come on now.  Advocating deliberate collapse IS advocating violence.  Let us be real here.  Collapse will result in billions dying.  That is undoubtedly violence.  So we do not have to parse his phrases that tightly and we can assume he is smart enough to understand the implications of what he is advocating even if he does not state all the effects explicitly.  And yes, the system is violence already.  ALL paths lead to violence so what we are choosing is the best path.

Quote
Second--many people blamed MLK at the time for fomenting violence, since he knew that his non-violent civil disobedience would likely prompt violent reactions from authorities and from southern bigots. Would you agree with that assessment? I wouldn't for reasons we could get into. But it sure sounds like your argument is about the same as those who blamed MLK for the violence of southerners against him and his followers.

Well we cannot avoid some discussion here because we have a real disagreement about what MLK was doing and also someone like Ghandi.  Absolutely they knew they were instigating violence.  Neither one of them was non-violent in any true sense of the phrase.  They just strategically understood the way to victory was to ensure that the violence that their resistance was going to precipitate fell on their supporters.  Their analysis was that in the political climate of the time this was the path to success.  These were highly intelligent sophisticated men who had a deep understanding of the world and what would work at the time.  Their rhetoric was designed to control their supporters (a situation where they drifted back and forth between passive resistance and violence would not do) and also to control public perceptions and debate.  Victory would come when the public could no longer stomach the one sided violence.  I admire them tremendously, but they were not saints but rather hard headed realists. 

Quote
I do think it is a good point that most permaculturalists didn't sign up for this. But as a leader he also has a responsibility to continue to analyze the situation and do and say what he thinks is necessary by his own best lights. 'Followers' at any time can distance themselves from him and any part of his 'movement' they wish to. I really doubt that swat teams are about to descend en mass on a bunch of carrot growers because someone in Australia hypothesized about what the effect of various percentages of the populations opting out of the financial system would have on that system.

I think you need to examine this a bit more.  We are talking here about a level of systemic stress far beyond anything previously experienced in recorded history.  Those trying to maintain control and their vast numbers of supporters (and there will be a lot of them) are not going to characterize those resisting them as 'a bunch of carrot growers' if they are associated with the resistance.  Think about the history of insurgencies during your lifetime and remember how frequently those who even 'might' be associated or sympathetic to those actively resisting are just swept up into the violence.  It happens all the time.  And we are talking here about a "time" like no other.  It is a guarantee that they will be having visitors.  The phrases "If you afre not with us you are against us." and "Kill them all and let God sort them out." come to mind here.  This is not a game when it starts.

Quote
Again, MLK came out against the Vietnam War even though that was not what most/many in the Civil Rights Movement saw as a central part of their mission. Towards the end, he was more and more seeing the movement as a poor peoples movement, about class more than race--again, quite different from the initial vision of the movement.

We often criticize our leaders (rightly, I think) for not actually being leaders--not making an independent analysis of the situation as it evolves, coming up with a position, and articulating that vision. It seems to me that Holmgren is doing just that here.

Again, thanks one and all for comments. Probably if Jim had come out strongly in favor of Holmgren's recent statements, I would be countering with something pretty close to Jim's reservations and objections. It is a worthwhile discussion to have, imvho, if for no other reason than to clarify our thoughts and positions on these vital matters.

Probably you would be.   :P  Lastly, my advice to Holmgren would not be that he is wrong on what he is articulating, but that he is not the right person to be making the point. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2014, 06:01:49 PM »
"they were not saints"

I never said they were saints. But are you really putting the primary responsibility on them for the violence perpetrated on themselves and their (in this case willing) followers? Do you similarly blame someone who wears nice clothes for being mugged? Where does that line of thought stop?

I don't think there is no risk to his followers. There is probably risk also some risk to congregations choosing consciously and openly to withdraw their moneys form major banks. I still doubt these types of folks would be the highest priority targets, unless they started taking to the streets (which they also should probably do). But, as your know and have said in so many words, there are no risk-free options at this point.

And of course none of us can say for sure how things will unfold under collapse (or contraction, or whatever). I agree that the most likely case will be great suffering (versus, as you say, even greater suffering later). And of course there is much suffering now. The collapse of the Roman Empire seems to have brought about actual improvements in physical well being of many, iirc, especially in the colonies and among the most oppressed under the old system. We could hope for something similar, but of course the conditions are in most ways radically different today.

Just to be clear, I would prefer a (still rapid, but) planned, humane contraction of the type hinted at by Joanne Poyourow. Areas going through water shortages regularly restrict watering lawns, yet, in spite of some grumbling, few call it the end of capitalism or of civilization--even when those restrictions extend to washing cars, or even household use. If people understand the vital need to conserve a precious asset, they generally go along with organized, (mostly) fair, across the board restrictions. We just have to spread those to other things now like fuel, meat, dairy...But I see essentially no chance of gov doing anything like that...essentially ever.

I honestly don't know enough about Holmgren to judge whether he was the best person to be articulating these positions. But few others seem to be stepping forward.

Is there someone you had in mind that would be better?

ETA: I guess I have to get back to the use of the word 'violence' here and who would be held responsible for fomenting it. I have to fall back on a comparison, here--it seems to me that Holmgren is seeing the system as already terminal and that we need to withdraw 'life support' to the system and let it die. We recently had to make a similar decision for my wife's brother.

Was pulling his feeding tube out an act of violence? Or would leaving it in be the greater act of violence? Certainly, the death rattle he went through and the organs shutting down seemed violent, and the removal of the tube could be seen as directly causing that.

But I think most people would not define the removal of that tube as a direct act of violence in that situation (though doubtless some would).

Anyway, I guess I'd say, even if you identify the tube-removal as a kind of violence, on the scale of types of violence, I would say it is way down toward the 'minimal' side, versus someone randomly walking up to someone else and shooting them in the head (or even compared to the things that my brother in law was doing to his body before his death that lead him to that state).

Thanks again for the chance to hash through these sometimes difficult thoughts. I really do have to go and get some over-due work done now.

 Best, wili
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 06:29:42 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2014, 07:21:17 PM »
Satire

Quote
Sorry, we do not have such a thing like a European constitution - did you forget the votings in Netherland and France? Only nations and countries have constitutions and only their governments are elected by people. Europe is still only a contract between nations...

You are wrong on that, it is not a contract !!! A contract can be argued before the justice, that's not the case of this constitution. No jurisdiction is above !

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution
“A treaty which establishes an international organization is also its constitution, in that it would define how that organization is constituted”

The precise word is treaty ! Which is the same thing as a constitution !

A constitution binds you, it does set the rules, Giscard d'Estaing is an old right wing president, he is part of the elite. Letting this type of persons writing the constitution is totally insane !!!
The only fairly way to create a constitution would be to draw lots the people !

We French did vote in majority against the treaty but our beloved politicians didn't want to ask us if we were against or not again ! Don't know why !?
Democracy...not likely...we should stop using words that have not reality, olygarchy is more appropriate.


Quote
And in Europe we try to do a "slow collapse" or a "de-growth strategy" - so we reduce the impact of nations by reducing their power. That power is usually transfered to people/companies with money. Therefore, in future we only have to switch off money (e.g. by just avoiding to pay back the loans and interest) and the problem of power or collapse is "solved" easily. But right now majority of people would not like to do that - just because they have much more property than loans. But in the mean time "Green-BAU" and "economy with sense" could be reasonable ways around that brutal short-cut into the post collapse world.

Nothing like that !!! In Europe and in France the governement is looking for growth only growth !
You can't stop paying your loan...just try... !!!
In spain some people did it...guess what...they have been expelled from their home and still must pay for the loan !!! Something similar in USA !
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 08:23:34 PM by Laurent »

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2014, 09:05:02 PM »
Wili

Quote
I never said they were saints. But are you really putting the primary responsibility on them for the violence perpetrated on themselves and their (in this case willing) followers? Do you similarly blame someone who wears nice clothes for being mugged? Where does that line of thought stop?

I can see I am giving you palpitations!

I do not see these types of events in history in a binary sense.  Everything to me seems complicated and a host of factors drive decisions, and causes and responsibilities are not always easy to assess. 

MLK certainly knew what he was doing. 

MLK knew that the resistance he was choosing to step in front of and lead (he did not start the resistance) would lead to violence.

MLK chose, from a deep understanding of the strategic situation, that the proper tactic was to make sure all of the violence which was going to occur happened to his side.  It was a deliberate choice as he believed that that approach would lead to victory.  He was basically correct.

Was the resistance justified.  Of course.  A million times over.  The violence and abuse which had been suffered was epic.  What did it matter in the long run if the chosen path of resistance led to more suffering on his side (it was a drop in a full bucket by then) if it could lead to the change being fought for.  It was a suicide mission for some.  Perfectly justified and one has to admire the courage of those who followed that path as many of them knew perfectly well that they might not survive. 

The "Primary" responsibility for the violence during MLK's time was of course initiated long before MLK was even born.  They had a right to resist in any fashion they chose.  They chose to accept the violence on their side as a winning tactic.  I am not sure why you think saying the above is making some sort of accusation derogatory of MLK or absolving others of blame. 

I don't think your example of someone wearing nice clothes and getting mugged is valid or relevant in relation to a discussion of such a significant historical event.  They are not related to each other in any meaningful way.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2014, 09:25:26 PM »
The occasional palpitation is about the only way I know I'm still alive these days! ;D

I like how you put the rest. Binary thinking, partly from our binary language, is much of the problem. There's a new response to the Holmgren piece, really more of an analysis of where very major voices in the sustainability movement are on various scales. Binary thinking is much in evidence there, again around the word 'violence.' The guy lumps about half of all thinkers on the subject on the 'violent' side of his spectrum even though as far as I know none of them has ever used a gun or thrown a punch or advocated that anyone else do so. (Quelle suprise that he sets himself on the least violent extreme of the chart).

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-01-15/charting-collapseniks
 
"Charting Collapseniks" by Albert Bates
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2014, 10:38:56 PM »
Small musical intermezzo, Binary Existence by genius comedian Reggie Watts:

Il faut comparer, comparer, comparer, et cultiver notre jardin

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2014, 06:44:47 PM »
Wili

I am finding that last link very interesting. 

I would love to see his chart rewritten with each of the people he charted placing themselves where they think they lie.  I would bet 10 bucks it would look a lot different.

A note.  My farm was not far from Joel Salatin's that he refers to.  I do not consider Salatin's farming methods as permaculture as this author states and I doubt a lot of permaculture proponents would either.  Unless we are in the redefinition mode with the goal of broadening our base or something like that.  What Joel does is essentially a more planned and sophisticated version of what used to be the standard way of operating a mid-sized mixed animal farming operation pre industrial chemicals.  He does not grow vegetables for sale and he uses machinery.  Not that what Joel is doing is not very interesting as it is.  Joel is another one of those working on methods and techniques which seeds knowledge and skills which will hopefully survive the bottleneck and prove very useful.  But, just like many of these other techniques we have discussed you could not switch to his methods now and feed the world.

I am finding the comments in the article enlightening as well.  However, the more I read of this stuff the more I realize that almost no one writing about these subjects has any idea what the other side thinks of them and how they are liable to behave in the future.  And most seem completely blind to their own innocence and naivete.

An example I have provided before is relevant here.  Some years ago a person I know infiltrated one of the most prestigious right wing think tanks in the US.  One that daily fetes members of Congress and officials of the Executive branch.  In a meeting this person attended the heads of this organization openly discussed that the time was coming when it would be necessary to start the process of eliminating prominent environmentalists.

I spent my entire working career in a branch of the govt which executes its intelligence and security policies related to national security.  I know first hand how that apparatus works and what it is capable of and willing to do because my job was to execute its wishes.  It is brain dead stupid to think that if you make enough trouble that you even appear to be on the verge of seriously disrupting the system that it will not provoke violence.  It doesn't matter what little lies you tell yourself about your motivations and your adherence to humanistic principals, all that matters is what their perception is of what kind of threat you appear to be.  And the non-official people like those in that think tank I mentioned have already long ago made up their minds and fully intend to act when the time is right.  You can bet your life on this and some already have.

Your comment there

Quote
People on the other side will be all too eager to brand anyone who isn't just going along with the system as being 'violent.' Let's not give them support for such absurdities.

It is too late for that.  The branding happened a long time ago.  If they thought the way you do you would have a point.  But they think the way I have been trying to describe and their opponents are automatically perceived of as threats and trying to overthrow the system is defined as violence and terrorism.  It is two different cultures (or mindsets) imposing their own perceptions on their opponents.  Both are in error.  But when actions come it is easy to see what will happen.  There is no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.

And I like your pointing out to Bates that he is all binary when this is at the very least a 3 dimensional cloud of thought processes and positions. 

It has been years since I read any of Jensen's stuff, maybe I need to spend some more time to see if he is realistic about what he is doing. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Laurent

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2014, 08:20:36 PM »
Depends of what kind of right wing we are talking !
Even the right wings (the french ones) will soon realize that there is a problem...oh yes there is one...what will they do ? keep the system as it is ? don't think so !

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2014, 11:17:33 PM »
"I would bet 10 bucks it would look a lot different." Good bet. Except it does sound as though he consulted JHK before putting him in the dead center.

But there is no way that Jim Hansen, a Republican most of his life iirc, would even now self-identify as an anarchist advocating violent revolution and in the same quadrant as the Uni-Bomber (that's at the site where this crap was originally published).

Thanks for your insight on the intelligence and security stuff. I've been mostly on the other side of that coin, going back to the '70's and '80's--hey, maybe you surveiled me?? ;D
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Shared Humanity

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2014, 02:58:35 AM »
Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level…

On that ground, it is not justified to contribute to a planned collapse. At least, for me.


Holgrem is absolutely correct in his view.

We are racing towards an unplanned collapse. BAU and all the minor tinkerings around  the margins of what we do will have absolutely no impact on the timing of this unplanned collapse. We discuss on these threads the need for an immediate rapid reduction in CO2 output to bring levels back to 350ppm. Critics object, saying this will result in an economic collapse. Well, duuuuhhhhh!

We have one choice and only one choice. We can simply wait for the inevitable unplanned collapse with all of its attendant horrors washing over human civilization. Alternatively we can engineer a planned  collapse which will have its own horrors but, if we implement the planned collapse tomorrow,  we can reduce the environmental damage and be better prepared to address the horrors as a  result of our planning.

I choose planning. The sooner we get started, the better.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 03:12:08 AM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2014, 08:09:32 AM »
Thanks for the attention you gave my contribution, JimD, SH!
Seems I have to cope with my first emotions in this sort of reflections on a possible future. Jim, I don't see 'green-BAU'  as a course that can preserve our culture nor our numbers. I hope I have the courage to die elegantly when the time comes, investing in compassion and beauty as long as I can. SH, I'm with you in the intention to cut back GHG emissions and pollution hard. In that case, BAU and capitalist economy will come down as well. If that's a 'planned crash', I accept it. But I'm not going to support violence to do this.
About the chances for survival, I'm a doomer... I hope not to discourage anyone, because on a personal level merit in positive intention is infinitely worthwhile. But I think life on this planet is actually very fragile. There's just a small margin in the properties of the environment to support it. When the 'buffers' fail, it will not just be our economy that will crash, but the biosphere too. I think that actually is happening, right now.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2014, 05:05:52 PM »
Wili

Quote
Thanks for your insight on the intelligence and security stuff. I've been mostly on the other side of that coin, going back to the '70's and '80's--hey, maybe you surveiled me?? ;D

Not me, I was mostly chasing terrorists of various stripes around the world and the usual helping/hindering the overthrow of governments.  But I am sure the FBI has a file on you  ::)

Werther,

I too am in favor of us paying that terribler price now rather than later.  But I don't think it will happen that way as the system will not undergo a planned crash as the folks who have the power to do that just will not do it.  I don't actually think crashes like Holmgren is advocating can be brought about the way he thinks.  But more power to those who want to try.  I think the only way the quick crash happens is a Black Swan type of event where an individual acting alone and in  anonymity trips the system all by himself (thus my statement that the most likely trigger is a self designed bio-weapon by a PhD level virologist).  Or some equivalent low probability event like a giant volcanic eruption, or the Rapture.

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2014, 05:22:19 PM »
My view is pretty well known here that, baring a deliberate crash as advocated by Holmgren, the system will hit natural limits and agriculture will collapse circa 2050 and drag ev erything down with it.  Some of course think that collapse will come much earlier.

Here is an article by Gail Tverberg where she argues that collapse will come in 10-20 years due to a collapse of the financial system.  It is interesting reading.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/01/gail-tverberg-eia-iea-researchers-modeling-wrong-growth-limit.html

EDIT:

Oh btw Tverberg frequently argues that worries about co2 emissions are overblown as the consumption of fossil fuels will drop dramatically in the future due to the increasing problems in the financial system and its eventual collapse.  She has been arguing this line for at least 5 years that I am aware of.  Trends in fossil fuel consumption and co2 emissions are not following her projections..yet anyway.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 05:30:15 PM by JimD »
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2014, 05:43:41 PM »
Werther........

Why do I think a planned collapse is better?

Both unplanned and planned collapses will certainly have what might be described as horrors but an unplanned collapse will result in far more violence than an engineered one.

When I speak of collapse, I am not talking about the collapse of our biosphere. I am talking about the intentional collapse of the economic system that is at the root of our "growth" problem. As I have said before, the industrial revolution was the single most critical component that contributed to exponential growth and humanities dilemma. (See chart below which I have posted several times on this website.) Any planned collapse will need to take into account the impact of essentially unplugging capitalism, quickly and permanently.  This would involve understanding how to continue the effective workings of things crucial to humanity (food production and distribution, water use, housing, clothing and energy use in a drastically less consumer driven culture). Continuing these essential activities will need to take place in the complete absence of the profit motive.

When you look at it this way, it becomes clear that any nation like Sudan, Bolivia, Central  African Republic or any of the more than 100 other nations which are peripheral to the system of capitalism cannot possibly be the impetus behind the planned collapse. The collapse must originate at the very heart of capitalism, the U.S., Europe and, to a lesser extent, South America and emerging Asian economic powers. Why must it originate here? It is the demand of frivolous consumerism that is driving us to disaster.

So how do we engineer this collapse? First, let's be clear. There is absolutely no way that we can expect this collapse to originate from the very institutions whose existence is dependent on the system. Our institutions, political (the modern nation state), social, and economic (corporations) are absolutely committed to the continued existence of the system which is their "raison d'être". This is why corporations and politicians who depend on corporations cannot effectively address any of the environmental disasters that are occurring across the planet. Fracking, I am sorry to say, will not go away as long as the system is operational. Profit motives will always provide the incentive to supply what is being demanded by human beings. This realization can be disheartening to those of us (there are millions, hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions) who are frightened by the disaster looming in front of us.

There is, however, a simple and powerful way to trigger this collapse and it can only originate from fully developed, mature economies. While it cannot originate at the top, it absolutely can and must originate at the bottom. This bottom driven collapse is not dependent on any of our current institutions but resides in the hands of every person living in the developed world, underutilized and/or unrecognized and powerful beyond measure. The system of capitalism is, at its core, the manifestation of an unbelievably simple concept, supply and demand. Every institution in the western world is organized to deliver what people demand of it. Corporations are very rational institutions and this profit driven rationality drives their efforts to supply what is demanded.

Do you want to short circuit the rapidly approaching disaster? Change everything you do as a consumer. Everything! Consume only those things that are at the core of human existence (housing, food, water, clothing and, most importantly, socializing) and do these things in a manner that absolutely minimizes your environmental footprint. Sorry, no meat in your diet. Oh! Cars are a thing of the past. All "wants" must go away. Only needs are to be satisfied. We must eliminate anything purchased that is a "convenience". Our "throw away" society must be thrown away. Each of us can start doing this tomorrow.

Oh! But such a thing would tank the economy! Duhhhhhhhhhh! This is the whole damn point! But if I do this, my life will become very difficult. Riding mass transit, walking, biking, getting rid of all of the labor saving gadgets in my home will be absolutely and unbelievably inconvenient!

Well, then, let's just call it an.............

Inconvenient Truth
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 06:01:41 PM by Shared Humanity »

Shared Humanity

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2014, 06:32:17 PM »
wili.....

I would like to thank you for posting this topic.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2014, 08:30:55 PM »
Werther
Beautiful aspirations!


Terry

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2014, 10:27:11 PM »
SH, thanks back to you for all your great contributions here.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2014, 11:14:19 PM »
And for all of us who worry that a planned collapse would result in mass starvation and deaths, let's look at the history of China since the beginning of the 20th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, China's population was approximately 500 million, living in a country that is geographically the same size as the U.S. Perhaps 1/3 of China is largely uninhabitable. The industrial revolution had passed them by, yet they were able to feed and house their citizens. China's industrial revolution did not really begin until post WWII. In the 1960's, 60% of Chinese were still employed in agriculture. If you look at the attached chart, it should come as no surprise that China's population growth spiked at the exact same time they began to industrialize.

We need to reverse this by engineering a collapse. Capitalism needs to be killed. We can keep and benefit from all of the assets and technology the industrial revolution provided only if it can contribute to a post capitalistic society. Electronic communication would certainly be one, industrial agriculture to provide basic foodstuffs (wheat, rice, corn, soybeans)  would be another. Our ability to build big, wonderful things would come in handy. Medical advances etc. Urban areas  throughout the world would engage in the kind of transformation that occurred in Havana during Cuba's special period. Almost everything would become local as the only concerns would be for basic human needs, food, shelter, clothing etc. Global trade and travel would, for the most part, cease with the exception of the kind of trade needed to provide basic needs to all of humanity, primarily food.

This can be done but it will not happen until we kill the beast and it can only be killed from within. U.S. and  European consumers could bring down the entire system in a matter of a couple of years, driving businesses, entire industries into bankruptcy. Please keep in mind, bankruptcy does not damage the underlying assets. They still are available to provide our needs (far simpler than before the collapse). Bankruptcy will only serve to expose the system for the fraud that it is.

This sounds radical, even to me and represents an emerging understanding that this website has contributed to. I am a highly successful 58 YO businessman who has had a six figure income for the past 20 years. I have an Economics degree and MBA from the University of Chicago. I am not some wild eyed fanatic but I do have trouble sleeping at night when I think about my grandchildren.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 11:22:28 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2014, 12:12:34 AM »
Guys, a boring long piece… but thanks for letting me get rid of it….

Hi JimD, I’m following Gail Tverberg’s posts too. For what my personal competences are worth, in my opinion her strong analytic capabilities and specialization are not necessarily relevant for an opinion on the biological and ecological aspects of our world.

I have, through education and observation, just enough insight in the interactions of organic and anorganic processes in soils, related to plants and (small) animal life. Just enough to have an idea of the basic principles of ecological sequences. I’ve been watching nature closely in my own surroundings since I was a kid. With a strong artistic sense to focus my interest.
I suppose change has always been a defining part of succession in nature (since Darwin they name it evolution…). But what I’ve seen for myself in my almost six decennia shouts out “faster and faster”. From basic ecology, I refrain that ‘the more dynamical the environment becomes, the smaller the amount of adapted species’. And these survivors appear in large numbers, producing enormous offspring in the race to preserve their genes.

The rapidly shifting circumstances create shortlived opportunities for sometimes quite exotic passengers. They present  contradictionary signals that lure us into a wrong sense of adaptive strength within the biosphere. But mainstream is a strong tendency to dominance of these few, adaptive species. Grasses, gulls, crows and so on, I’ve not much competence in insects, but I wouldn’t be surprised to suppose the same tendency in that domain.

Repeating myself, there’s a small band of circumstances that sustain the niches  for lots of species. In space, but, hélas, also in time. In time, there’s a varying rubber-band-, or buffering capacity.
With the successive speed I’ve noticed myself, I suppose scientists like Jim Hansen are dead right in suggesting that there’s far higher sensitivity within the biosphere than we idly want to attribute to “our world”. Of all destructive strain mankind has sown, not the least is our relentless emission of GHG’s through the burning of millions of years worth of fossil organic deposits. The intrinsic damage already done is, combined with all other forms of waste, enough to bring the biosphere down to a very basic set of pioneer species.

The reel down, given that further disturbance would stop right now, could take anything between a dozen of decennia and a few centuries. Even sooner, the stadium will be reached that there are few possibilities for larger animals like us to survive. Not to speak of our massively inflated numbers.

Some time ago (the time between IPCC AR3 and 4) there was speak of a time window of maybe two decades for effective action. But that window, being over optimistic for starts, has closed. In my opinion, the accelerating rise of CO2-content suggests the start of failing carbon sinks. 

While I respect Gail Tverberg’s musings, I think she leans on conservative political assumptions suggesting todays amount of total emission and suggested emission reductions could result in warming equilibrium under 2dC on average. I don’t think I have to tell you what I’m expecting…

Sort of the same for economist Dr. Paul Krugman. While I like his op’s, I’m amazed that extremely well trained and intelligent people like him never even seem to think about what is really driving economic processes. His suggestion to “Keynes” our economy out of slump is only interesting to me because such stimulus could provide a one-shot investment in leaving fossil fuels and consumerism behind us for a Holmgren/Hopkins scheme of sustainable, non-profit and egalitarian survival-society.

Of course, that one shot would crash us into collapse of BAU. It would happen in weeks if all nations would do this ensemble and rigorous. But it could be diluted a bit, say over five years, amortizing debt that now captures so many in the BAU trap, training communities for resilience and preparing the strong regulatory force necessary to hold some order and tame the profit corporations.

Since it is hard to imagine this could happen, there’s only local initiative possible to ‘step out’. For who’s in debt, that will mean poverty. And it will be bloody awful suffering while it is clear there won’t be a general providence into survival as we seem to know it….

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2014, 12:37:43 AM »
Saw your post, SH.
Last remark before some sleep and a Saturday's worth of local campaigning for the Green Party.
I sympathize with your opinions. That was in part why I joined that Party a year ago. I hope my bank will collapse before suing me into rags, because I'm one of the suckers carrying a nice debt (see there's a big difference between practice and ideal...). Well, there are two nice houses supporting your vision that the assets will still be there and convenient enough.... I suppose the one I created myself will serve a cause, doesn't matter if it's not for me.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2014, 05:55:56 AM »
Thanks again, SH and Werther. Your posts move me.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2014, 08:15:02 PM »
Here is a link to an analysis of the energy/GDP issue that has a different opinion of the Gail Tevrberg's link from yesterday.  It comes to a very different conclusion in the respect that it argues that the cost of energy is decoupling from GDP growth.  Interesting how the two come to different conclusions.  A fair amount of data is presented with this article.

Quote
..Energy consumption grows less rapidly than the global economy, with GDP growth averaging 3.5% p.a. 2012-35. As a result energy intensity, the amount of energy required per unit of GDP, declines by 36% (1.9% p.a.) between 2012 and 2035. The decline in energy intensity accelerates; the expected rate of decline post 2020 is more than double the decline rate achieved 2000-2010....

A very interesting and significant similarity between the two analysis is that they agree that we are on a track in energy terms that will lead to less impact due to increasing carbon emissions.  I find this very problematic and to not think that there can be agreement on this from these two different viewpoints.

I find the analysis by Kaminska with the FT to be more convincing but I think his work leads to the opposite conclusion on carbon emissions.  If the cost of energy decouples to a great extent from GDP growth as his numbers indicate is happening then it would seem to follow that this will hold down the cost of fossil fuels and virtually guarantee that a much larger set of consumers ill not be priced out of the market.  Thus holding gross consumption at whatever level of production the industry is capable of delivering. 

Note that Tverberg thinks that actual consumption will decline significantly and Kaminska might be saying that the rate of increase in consumption will be much lower than previously expected and not be implying that actual consumption will decline.   I don't think one can make a  good argument that consumption of fossil fuels will start declining as long as population growth is significant as the demand created by that growth will keep overcoming various financial blips.  That is until the climate effects of AGW overwhelm everything.

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/01/17/1745542/energy-is-gradually-decoupling-from-economic-growth/?
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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #36 on: January 18, 2014, 08:31:11 PM »
I am posting this as an argument in support of crashing the system from within in the U.S. and Europe. The reasons in support of this argument are both ethical and practical.

While I am certain this is not new information for anyone who visits this blog, here is a map of  the world which shows which nations are the biggest contributors to AGW. I would also argue that the biggest contributors to AGW are also the biggest contributors to a host of other environmental tragedies that are playing out across the planet.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129523.100-the-seven-deadly-sinners-driving-global-warming.html?cmpid=RSS#.UtrMvabna00

It should come as no surprise that the biggest contributors to AGW are also the nations with the largest GDP.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/GDP.pdf

Put simply, it is the lavish lifestyles of certain nations that is the cause of humanity's and the biosphere's approaching calamity. Many of the threads here discuss various ways that we, the developed countries, can maintain our lavish lifestyles while, simultaneously, solving the problem of AGW. While there certainly are technologies that could help us reduce the impact on our lifestyles, the fact is we cannot maintain them and save ourselves from our fate. If the developed nations do nothing, we may be able to avoid AGW's worst effects early while the rest of the world suffers the horrors of famine, disease and bloodshed but global warming will continue apace since the behavior of the developed world will continue.

The developed nations have an ethical and moral responsibility to save the planet and it is our greed that prevents us from taking action, pure and simple.

From a more practical point of view, seven nations are responsible for 60% of the emissions that are causing AGW. There is nothing that the undeveloped world can do to save us from our shared fate. If we are serious about avoiding the approaching calamity, this can only be accomplished by altering the behavior of the developed world.

I am not sure what the political climate is in the rest of the developed world but, in the U.S., our political leaders and the major corporate players are controlling the national dialogue. The conversation that dominates this nation is the absolute primacy of economic vitality. We need to grow GDP and generate jobs. Nothing else matters.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 08:41:28 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #37 on: January 18, 2014, 08:34:11 PM »
Another little idea that might tweek some comments.

And it fits right in with the post by SH that came in while I was doing this one up.

Wealth/income inequality.  The issue of fairness and one of the great problems with capitalism resulting in a concentration of wealth.  This is a big problem in the US and OECD countries but also a big issue in relation to how the rich countries live off the resources we get from the third world and leave them impoverished.  Versions of this issue come up all the time.  Most of the commenters who focus on this issue are of the more liberal/socialist viewpoint and also those most likely to be in sync with the causes of AGW.

In light of this discussion on triggering collapse or at least being amenable to it.  Should we actually work in concert with the rabid capitalists and those who run the system in such a draconian fashion because this method of concentrating wealth is much more likely to crash the system into collapse than an equitable sharing of wealth would?  The idea seems to warrant some thought.

Quote
The large and growing income gap between rich and poor is the biggest risk to the global community in the next decade, the World Economic Forum said on Thursday as politicians, business leaders and academics prepared to gather in Davos.

Reflecting mounting concern about the risk to societies from inequality, the WEF said the need to tackle disparities in income and wealth had to be addressed at WEF's annual gathering in the Swiss ski resort of Davos next week.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/16/income-gap-biggest-risk-global-community-world-economic-forum
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #38 on: January 18, 2014, 08:39:41 PM »
Here is a link to an analysis of the energy/GDP issue that has a different opinion of the Gail Tevrberg's link from yesterday.  It comes to a very different conclusion in the respect that it argues that the cost of energy is decoupling from GDP growth.  Interesting how the two come to different conclusions.  A fair amount of data is presented with this article.

Quote
..Energy consumption grows less rapidly than the global economy, with GDP growth averaging 3.5% p.a. 2012-35. As a result energy intensity, the amount of energy required per unit of GDP, declines by 36% (1.9% p.a.) between 2012 and 2035. The decline in energy intensity accelerates; the expected rate of decline post 2020 is more than double the decline rate achieved 2000-2010....

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/01/17/1745542/energy-is-gradually-decoupling-from-economic-growth/?

It is actually not surprising that this is the case. As the price of fossil fuels rise, particularly oil, every business in the world will seek ways to continue to grow while reducing their dependence on these energy inputs. The aggregate effect would be to have GDP rise faster then the use of fossil fuels. This shift away from fossil fuels would serve to dampen price increases of these energy sources. I am not certain what effect this would have on the rate of use globally of fossil fuels.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #39 on: January 18, 2014, 08:46:11 PM »
Thanks to all for a great discussion so far. Much to chew on. I'm on my way out for a bit. Hope to get back with more in depth discussion a bit later.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #40 on: January 18, 2014, 08:57:56 PM »
Another little idea that might tweek some comments.

And it fits right in with the post by SH that came in while I was doing this one up.

Wealth/income inequality.  The issue of fairness and one of the great problems with capitalism resulting in a concentration of wealth.  This is a big problem in the US and OECD countries but also a big issue in relation to how the rich countries live off the resources we get from the third world and leave them impoverished.  Versions of this issue come up all the time.  Most of the commenters who focus on this issue are of the more liberal/socialist viewpoint and also those most likely to be in sync with the causes of AGW.

In light of this discussion on triggering collapse or at least being amenable to it.  Should we actually work in concert with the rabid capitalists and those who run the system in such a draconian fashion because this method of concentrating wealth is much more likely to crash the system into collapse than an equitable sharing of wealth would?  The idea seems to warrant some thought.

Quote
The large and growing income gap between rich and poor is the biggest risk to the global community in the next decade, the World Economic Forum said on Thursday as politicians, business leaders and academics prepared to gather in Davos.

Reflecting mounting concern about the risk to societies from inequality, the WEF said the need to tackle disparities in income and wealth had to be addressed at WEF's annual gathering in the Swiss ski resort of Davos next week.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/16/income-gap-biggest-risk-global-community-world-economic-forum

It is encouraging that this conversation is taking place at Davos. It certainly indicates that the true nature of our problem is understood. I hope it results in an agreement as to what we, the developed nations, need to do going forward. Given that the U.S. refused to ratify previous agreements regarding CO2 emissions, I hold little hope that any agreement will be accepted in the U.S.

Over the past 3 decades, we have made "greed" a virtue. It will be very hard for Americans to arrive at the realization that it is, in fact, one of the seven deadly sins. These seven are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. We are fairly well practiced in most of them.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #41 on: January 18, 2014, 09:12:45 PM »
Another little idea that might tweek some comments.

Wealth/income inequality.  The issue of fairness and one of the great problems with capitalism resulting in a concentration of wealth.  This is a big problem in the US and OECD countries but also a big issue in relation to how the rich countries live off the resources we get from the third world and leave them impoverished.  Versions of this issue come up all the time.  Most of the commenters who focus on this issue are of the more liberal/socialist viewpoint and also those most likely to be in sync with the causes of AGW.

In light of this discussion on triggering collapse or at least being amenable to it.  Should we actually work in concert with the rabid capitalists and those who run the system in such a draconian fashion because this method of concentrating wealth is much more likely to crash the system into collapse than an equitable sharing of wealth would?  The idea seems to warrant some thought.

Ahhhhhh! Just reread your post and this idea is very interesting. It would be a second way of exposing this system for the fraud it is. In the U.S., there is this myth that talent and hard work can vault you into the ranks of the wealthy. While there are examples of this, the truth is the average American has a better chance of winning the lottery.

The vast majority of Americans, fully 60%, have been experiencing a decades long slide towards poverty. Depending on what stats you draw on, about 20% are currently living in poverty. Meanwhile, the wealthy who are nearly in complete control of policy continue to get wealthier. Income inequality is at historic highs. While our political discourse is getting more contentious (Populist movements are growing on both ends of the ideological spectrum. The Tea Party on the right and Occupy Wall Street on the left both share a virulent contempt for Wall Street and the world of finance.) there is not yet enough political impetus to exact concessions from the wealthy. This should change as more and  more Americans face poverty.

Can this dynamic play out on the world scene? Can impoverished nations exact lasting concessions from the wealthy nations? I'm not sure.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2014, 09:17:57 PM by Shared Humanity »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #42 on: January 18, 2014, 09:25:24 PM »
In light of this discussion on triggering collapse or at least being amenable to it.  Should we actually work in concert with the rabid capitalists and those who run the system in such a draconian fashion because this method of concentrating wealth is much more likely to crash the system into collapse than an equitable sharing of wealth would?  The idea seems to warrant some thought.

Quote
The large and growing income gap between rich and poor is the biggest risk to the global community in the next decade, the World Economic Forum said on Thursday as politicians, business leaders and academics prepared to gather in Davos.

Reflecting mounting concern about the risk to societies from inequality, the WEF said the need to tackle disparities in income and wealth had to be addressed at WEF's annual gathering in the Swiss ski resort of Davos next week.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/16/income-gap-biggest-risk-global-community-world-economic-forum

I think this aspect of things would need included in a planned crash of the western world ideology (consumption and short term economic metrics as the gods worshipped).

That's the main reason it won't happen - the monkeys at the top of the socioeconomic pyramid want to retain their position and elevation. They want to cut everyone else back and are succeeding as seen by the widening gap between rich and poor and the concentration of wealth at the top even in times of economic crisis.

That's an explosive mixture and significantly accelerating the ongoing economic decline and failure is liable to set it off. To avoid the implied violence and unpleasantness of that it would be necessary to reinforce the safety nets - to take care of the people who would not only no longer be able to afford things they want but also things they need.

Otherwise they are thrown into survival mode and must respond accordingly. This is already starting to happen on the fringes of many affluent societies, but widely ignored and brushed under the carpet by the comfortable mainstream (even as they themselves start to feel the lightest pinching, about which they complain!).

All the policies speak to me of plans for brutal violence against the poor (even when they become the masses), rather than of attempting to maintain social cohesion through cooperation and respect for fellow people.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #43 on: January 18, 2014, 10:13:35 PM »
ccgwebmaster.....

"All the policies speak to me of plans for brutal violence against the poor (even when they become the masses), rather than of attempting to maintain social cohesion through cooperation and respect for fellow people."


A depressing  thought and it could play out this way globally (violence by wealthy nations) and domestically within wealthy nations as the oligarchy crush the poor.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #44 on: January 19, 2014, 02:14:19 AM »
A depressing  thought and it could play out this way globally (violence by wealthy nations) and domestically within wealthy nations as the oligarchy crush the poor.

Could? It is. The trouble is people who are comfortable and blind to the realities of their society only see it when it comes for them. Then they can't understand how they can be thrown under the bus even as they happily let those less fortunate be tossed there before them. Until that point they tend to gladly swallow the ideological spin fed to them by their higher up monkeys which tells them to believe those people deserved their problems/fate (for whatever reasons).

Of course crash on demand is a desirable thing to do in theory - but you wouldn't get my vote for it knowing how readily as a lower socioeconomic status person I would starve without turning to crime to survive (which potentially entails direct violent conflict with the system).

A lifetime of experiences teaches me how disposable I am to my society and the ideology it embraces. From my perspective pure chaos and massive violent unmanaged collapse is perhaps a better outcome personally, if taking a selfish view. At least in such chaos one is more equal - or even at a possible advantage in some cases if the environment becomes one where might matters more than money.

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #45 on: January 20, 2014, 03:38:49 PM »
Laurent,

we have no European constitution - french and dutch poeple killed it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_establishing_a_Constitution_for_Europe
So - the poeple still have all the power. And of course politicans talk about growth - also in France. But what they did was a lot of de-growth in Greece, Spain, Portugal - they efficiently reduced the exaggerate consumption there.

A reply to Holmgren and the links above: You need 50% of poeple for such a thing like a planned collapse. And of course you will not get them. For me that proposal is looking like a typical extremists perspective - whether right wing or left wing doesn't matter, since they look the same. At the edges the extremists meet, since it is a circle - e.g. we had our national socialists (=translation of Nazi) 70 years back. One extremist is heading to collapse by speeding up burning as much of the last fossils as soon as possible and the other one argues to do a planned/dictated collapse maybe including some force/virus/... Poeple will not like those things and they are right - of course.

Another reply to Holmgren: If 10% of poeple drop out of the system , that would not change the world. We have allready >10% of poeple out of the system here: On the one hand the hard trying avant-garde (living in zero energy houses, growing their own bio-food and walking on zero footprint) and on the other hand the lazy "drop-outs" of the society (not working, living from welfare and watching TV on a frugal flat screen). Both extremists (the hard trying and the not-at-all-trying) are out of the growth system and that is no problem for the growth system but helps a bit to reduce average footprint. It will stay like that until you have 50% of the poeple. We hope, that some vanguard ideas become mainstream - that happened often in recent history.

To conclude: By no way you can get out of fossils without the fossil industry. You need them in your boat. You will need them for ~20 transition years and they need some reliable plan to work with (and to make some profit in the meantime without investing to much in vain of course...). And you need the poeple (>50%) or it will not work. But without a working plan you will not get the poeple for that plan. So - please forget the extremists plans and the collapses, since nobody wants to go that way (only a very few extremists would benefit from collapse like very rich poeple, very poor poeple, very strange poeple, some virus biologists, some nuke-lovers...). Just my 2c.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2014, 03:53:24 PM by SATire »

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #46 on: January 20, 2014, 09:03:01 PM »
So - please forget the extremists plans and the collapses, since nobody wants to go that way (only a very few extremists would benefit from collapse like very rich poeple, very poor poeple, very strange poeple, some virus biologists, some nuke-lovers...). Just my 2c.

I thought this was relevant to this discussion.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/20/oxfam-85-richest-people-half-of-the-world

If the 85 richest people own as much as the 3.5 billion poorest, this bears a little reflection. You say a few extremists ... very poor people ... - there is nothing few about the very poor. In any BAU future (or indeed a managed collapse, presumably managed by the wealthy and powerful who already have everything) - those very poor people have a virtually nil chance of making it. They are disposable. I think at some level they know it (and I could use those terms in the first person too, I am not singling them out as different from me).

On the other hand a chaotic and violent unmanaged collapse gives them a chance. Still a small chance - but nonetheless a much bigger chance than BAU or managed collapse would.

Although I've found this topic a fascinating discussion to follow (and wish I'd had the time to read through the links required to participate properly), I think the bottom line is that we are already attempting BAU. At some point those in power will attempt to manage collapse in the most ugly and distasteful way possible (from the perspective of everyone else) as they will be looking out only for themselves (as usual). Hopefully the process will rapidly become unmanaged (quite likely due to the massive numbers of poor people involved and the extent of the inequality building up) and the opportunity to survive will then be a bit more equitably distributed (I am sure it will still be far from equal).

Theoretically of course if they could manage those processes - human civilisation would continue (probably with a handful of absolute despots who own everything, pretty much the same as today, but more brutal and solidified). The question in my mind though is simple - do we really want such people, so willing to do such a thing, so ruthless and uncaring in how they operate - to be the foundation of the future of our species? Would that be likely to set us upon a sustainable pathway as a species? Or more likely to merely assure the future of the descendants of the few wealthy and powerful people who already did the most to cause all this?

To me - while I appreciate it spills into philosophy - the question is not merely one of survival, either for ourselves, our descendents or civilisation.

It is a question of who we are as humans - as a species - and who we want to be.

wili

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #47 on: January 22, 2014, 12:00:12 PM »
Thanks, ccg. That's quite a stat! It pretty much shows that, besides crashing the planet, the whole system is set up primarily to vacuum up value and deposit it in the bank accounts of the top few dozen wealthiest individuals in the world.

Meanwhile, here's another response to Holmgren/Hopkins...

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2014-01-21/agency-on-demand-holmgren-hopkins-and-the-historical-problem-of-agency

Agency on Demand?
Holmgren, Hopkins, and the Historical Problem of Agency


Here's part of one comment about this essay:

Quote
Wow, i started to read this with the mindset of 'not another comment' - but am completely blown away by the depth and grounding achieved. Thank you Erik for weighing in. You have added an important dimension to the discussion, bringing it to a much deeper philosophical level.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #48 on: January 22, 2014, 05:13:44 PM »
cg

Quote
Theoretically of course if they could manage those processes - human civilisation would continue (probably with a handful of absolute despots who own everything, pretty much the same as today, but more brutal and solidified). The question in my mind though is simple - do we really want such people, so willing to do such a thing, so ruthless and uncaring in how they operate - to be the foundation of the future of our species? Would that be likely to set us upon a sustainable pathway as a species? Or more likely to merely assure the future of the descendants of the few wealthy and powerful people who already did the most to cause all this?

To me - while I appreciate it spills into philosophy - the question is not merely one of survival, either for ourselves, our descendents or civilisation.

It is a question of who we are as humans - as a species - and who we want to be.

Besides the fact that the economic system is set up to make it likely that this would happen and likely that we will continue down that path until there is a large break, I think we have to consider the tendencies of human nature and how they relate to this situation.  We already are that species you don't want us to be.  You would prefer we evolve into something more moral and ethical.  It would be nice, but is it at all likely?

Rule by the strong has been a part of human culture for untold thousands of years.  It is fair to say that a large percentage of our population is very comfortable operating within a governmental structure which is authoritarian in nature.  It provides certainty where democracy or anarchism provides uncertainty.  We are pack animals and packs normally have Alpha's and democracy is unknown.  A great many people are content to find a place in such a hierarchy and proceed on with their lives.  I expect in the future that will be the dominant governmental choice.  In times of great stress, danger and competition for resources it is hard to imagine any other form of government being successful.  What happens, post collapse, when two communities from the opposite ends of this spectrum end up needing the same place and resources.  Who wins in that competition.  The one which has trained its most capable citizens to be professional soldiers who "protect" the interests of the rest (for suitable reward) and where the bulk of the citizens provide the rest of the functions of society and fill the ranks of the army when needed?   Feudalism, with a modern twist, seems likely to be the most dominant form of government post collapse.  And increasingly authoritarian ones heading towards that event.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: "Crash on Demand" or Mobilize at City/State Level? Holmgren vs Hopkins
« Reply #49 on: January 22, 2014, 07:26:47 PM »
Rule by the strong has been a part of human culture for untold thousands of years.  It is fair to say that a large percentage of our population is very comfortable operating within a governmental structure which is authoritarian in nature.  It provides certainty where democracy or anarchism provides uncertainty.  We are pack animals and packs normally have Alpha's and democracy is unknown.  A great many people are content to find a place in such a hierarchy and proceed on with their lives.  I expect in the future that will be the dominant governmental choice.  In times of great stress, danger and competition for resources it is hard to imagine any other form of government being successful.  What happens, post collapse, when two communities from the opposite ends of this spectrum end up needing the same place and resources.  Who wins in that competition.  The one which has trained its most capable citizens to be professional soldiers who "protect" the interests of the rest (for suitable reward) and where the bulk of the citizens provide the rest of the functions of society and fill the ranks of the army when needed?   Feudalism, with a modern twist, seems likely to be the most dominant form of government post collapse.  And increasingly authoritarian ones heading towards that event.

The issue is not necessarily rule by the strong - but rather the metric that we use to determine strength, and the ideologies and behaviours adopted by a society (and this is important - it is not just the very wealthiest and most powerful who have destroyed the future at this time - but most people doing their little bit).

One must work within the constraints of human nature, certainly. Does that mean a small group of people will be headed by the strongest? Yes - most likely. But even here the question of how that strength is assessed comes into play. Do we mean the physically strongest? The most intelligent? The most effective at socially networking and persuading people? The most suited in terms of knowledge and skills?

Today we mean the richest. By any measure of strength I would value, that is worthless. There is only limited correlation between that wealth and any of the other attributes (indeed much of the wealth of the richest was originally gained through criminal or immoral behaviour if seen through the eyes of the present day world they now dominate - eg drugs, slavery, war crimes, etc).

In my view the main outcome (and the mode of governance is almost irrelevant to this) is that a society or civilisation must live sustainably. Even that much goes against human nature - but yet it has been done before. Ancient civilisations have lasted thousands of years and some groups of people have lasted far longer and actually enshrined sustainable principles in their core ideology (I grant they were nomads and therefore not directly exemplar).

A secondary outcome however is to consider what sort of people can fit within such a system. Indeed - how can you keep such a system on the rails without a strong ideology that compels the society to adhere to it? How do you put checks and balances to stop those at the top from hijacking it all for their own short term gain?

The earliest "kings" may well have been the strongest in some sense, just as the alpha male in a pack of lions is the strongest. I wager it didn't take long for them to invent ideas to inject into the ideology such as "divine right of kingship inherited through birth", and soon - the strongest is now only the strongest in name. The illusion of them as strongest is perpetuated by the power structures assembled across generations at that point, but it is a lie. They are no longer the strongest (and sometimes you saw this demonstrated via violent upset).

Today strength comes mostly from money, as the common means by which to assure compliance and control people and obtain resources. Once you have enough such strength you no longer need to worry about the money as you can take it from other people (through taxation or products). It is however a rather nebulous measure of strength, assuring only that those with the power are good at using their money and power to reinforce itself. It is not a measure of strength that would mean a thing in terms of most ancient civilisations.

Therefore I'm arguing that while the general principle of rule by the strong is too much of human nature to do much about - there is nonetheless potentially a lot of latitude within that to work, to build an ideology that constrains everyone (just as the ideology of money even constrains the wealthiest and most powerful people today - and in some respects constrains them even more thoroughly than those with less), and that represents something more ethically noble than simple brute force.

At the foundation of civilisation, I suppose I see ideology, which is something we can do an awful lot about (at least in theory). It must fit human nature - but there is plenty of wriggle room in there if you look at the details and historic examples. Inasmuch as the sheep usually follow regardless, one is perhaps concentrating mostly upon the ideology that binds the strong?