Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Post-Peak Rapture

Photo of a "Hoverville" from Utah Rent to Own Blog

It deserves a brief mention that May 21, 2011 came as expected and went the same way, without any massive earthquakes rapidly spreading around regions of the world as the Sun cast its light on their shores. The reason it deserves a mention at all is because it highlights the difference between the true doomsayers and the realistically "pessimistic" among us. The two groups are frequently confused, especially by those casually belonging to the dedicated tribe of "hopefully apathetic consumers".

These people thrive on mindless entertainment, so it is no wonder that they make a sport out of ridiculing anyone who dares to utter the word "conspiracy" or "collapse". They have a slightly easier time suppressing their condescension when the topic of discussion is "peak this" or "peak that", but still lose interest in such topics very quickly; in fact, almost immediately. Many of them, however, are not ashamed of conversing with their family and friends about the banality of "debt". While debt is obviously a very important issue in today's world, it is chronically misunderstood by mainstream society.

Perhaps that is because it is constantly bandied about in the mainstream network media and in political press conferences like any other old issue (see abortion, gay marriage, tax policy, etc.). People have too much debt... there is way too much debt in this country... people are so irresponsible with debt... the government's debt levels are too high.. I would never think about taking on so much debt... there's no way these people are going to pay back all that debt... stop leaving so much debt for my grandchildren!

It seems that everyone is now a certified expert on the evils of sub-prime borrowing and structured finance, and they won't think twice about arguing with someone who tells them to avoid debt like the plague. It isn't very difficult to see that taking on debt is usually a destructive endeavor, especially when you have no job, customer or taxpayer security. So that's a start, but shouldn't these people also understand why the advice to avoid debt is solid, instead of simply swallowing it down like a bitter pill?

It's easy for them to ramble on about debt, but not so easy for them to see where all of that useless debt truly leads. If you start making connections between debt deflation and the Egyptian revolution, European protests or the war in Libya, you can literally start to see the hidden skepticism betrayed by their physical expressions and mannerisms. They would hesitate to actually say there is no relation, because that would be plainly foolish, so instead they avoid the issue and discuss other potential reasons why such dreadful things occur in this world.

The Egyptian people finally got tired of Mubarak's ruthless politics and corruption and revolted. I know this to be true, because I saw an interview with some of those disgruntled Egyptians on YouTube! And it was only a matter of time before Libyan rebels came out into the streets to fight for freedom and democracy... seriously, what have those people been waiting for? Oh, and EU member states have been spending money, raising wages and cutting retirement ages for years now... they are finally getting their just desserts for embracing the titillating sirens of Socialism.

There is certainly no shortage of short-sighted theories to explain all of these "isolated" problems, but heaven forbid that they are all connected to each other by some "higher force", because that starts to sound like someone is preaching the End of Days. A rational analysis of financial deterioration and collapse suddenly becomes a premonition of the occult; the nihilistic musings of people who just love to wallow in their own misery. You may as well pick up an "Eat the Bankers" sign, wear it around your neck and tell people what day and time to meet you at the Bank of England.

Obtained from No Sweat Wesbite (flyer for G20 march)

If you are brazen enough to throw the imminent issues of peak oil and climate change into the discussion , then you may as well go ahead and pencil in a date on your calendar for the Rapture to begin, so that the whole world can look and laugh. Immediately, people will begin conjuring up Hollywood images of fire and brimstone; death and destruction; utter confusion and chaos; digitally grafting those simple crowd-pleasers onto the remnants of your once complex and rational argument.

Welcome to our global society of "all or nothing", where either the world burns to the ground in a few weeks, at most, or things just muddle along in an entirely plain and mundane fashion for at least a few decades. What this binary logic fails to understand is that financial, industrial and environmental collapse will be a combined process of gradual deterioration, stabilization, slight "improvement" and rapid disintegration, coming to the surface of our consciousness in fits and starts. It will not necessarily follow that order, and will be extremely non-linear and short-term unpredictable.

The scale and practical implications of collapse will be very dependent on the specific time and place in which you exist when its effects build up, peak and decline. For the people of Egypt, economic and political collapse has been an ongoing reality that is punctuated by days where people gather in forceful uprisings, and other days where people sit in their homes or on the street and suffer in silence. They will see both signs of hope and billboards of despair during their travels down the trail of collapse.

Libyans will be mired in bloodshed and poverty for an extended period of time, but their experience will only be slightly closer to the wrath of a Doomsday Event than it has been in the past. Europeans and Americans will watch their standards of living plummet over the next 20 years, as their over-indebted and class-divided populations figure out how little "equity" they actually possess in life, within all possible meanings of that word. Many of them will find others to blame for their plight, while some may maintain their faith in human nature for much longer.

Sadly, many will also die in the process of societal collapse, but death can and will occur just as easily in the dead of a cold winter night as it can in the midst of loud explosions and gunfire. On the other hand, many others will be fortunate and/or scrappy enough to keep living through the collapse, emerging on the other side of a brave new world that is wholly unrecognizable in some parts, not much different in others and whispers of familiarity all over. They will re-form some of the economic, social and political bonds that were broken, and leave others how they were found.

Obtained from Hummingbirder Blog ("Red Cardinals")

The Post-Peak Rapture will not be emblematic of little children staring into the raging fires of Armageddon, but will be more like a bright red cardinal perched quietly on a twig, gazing out at the grayish landscape that surrounds him. There will be other animals shuffling around and the cardinal will perhaps even observe a few humans buzzing by his line of sight every now and again. The air will be just a bit more crisp and the water a bit more clean than it was pre-Rapture, as industrial activity and transportation networks would have significantly slowed down.

He will also be surrounded by human experiences of systemic violence, starvation and sadness. Many people will be forced to live in an environment entirely unfit for their material resources or temperament; one in which helping hands are hard to come by, and survival is much more pressing than satisfaction. Some of them will surely wish they had experienced the Second Coming and that the world had ended the day before. Their wishes won't come true, however, and the Sun will continue to rise in the East and set in the West for generations to come. It will remind us that there is a process of birth, growth, death and renewal that stops for neither men nor Gods of men.

Swift Creek Reservoir in Midlothian, VA

(Credit to VK for this article's title and inspiration)

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