This post was published earlier. But Thanksgiving (in the US) seemed like a good time to think about the ideas again.
When I sat down to research this post, I thought I would write a post about barter, since it seemed like if our current financial system failed, barter would be one possible form of back-up. But when I started to research barter, the first thing I came across was this statement:
Contrary to popular conception, there is no evidence of a society or economy that relied primarily on barter. Instead, non-monetary societies operated largely along the principles of gift economics. When barter did in fact occur, it was usually between either complete strangers or would-be enemies.
So I decided to step back a bit, and look into gift economies.
If I was a billionaire, I wouldn’t believe what I’m about to write. Firstly, because my training, and especially my experience of getting richer in a growth based economy would have taught me that these ‘perfect storms’ when resource/financial bottlenecks supposedly loomed, historically worked out to be opportunities that spiked my digital wealth and incremental social power. Secondly, if I were a billionaire I wouldn’t believe what Im about to write because all my peers, advisors and friends would tell me that it's caca. And lastly I wouldn’t believe what Im about to write as the implications would be too threatening, at least on the surface, to comprehend let alone integrate into my world view. All the same, if I were a billionaire, based on my understanding of our particular juncture of history, likely on the verge of transitioning away from marker claims back to real capital, here is what I would do....
A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save it – A Review of Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed’s Latest Book
Anyone who has spent much time discussing peak oil, the collapse of civilizations, climate change or modern security issues eventually confronts the issue of historical antecedents. The [Insert choice of vanished civilization here] collapsed because of X, and that’s the same thing that is happening now . . . . For those who have delved more deeply into such lines of argument, one thing becomes abundantly clear: historical civilizations did not collapse for a single reason. Rather, their troubles, descent and eventual demise or transition were the result of a system of crises. Fast-forward to present, and there is no shortage of commentary forecasting crisis or collapse of our modern civilization. Perhaps for purposes of marketing, simplicity, or simple ignorance, we are awash in commentary on how climate change will spell disaster, or how peak oil will spell disaster, or famine or disease, etc. But these analysts have failed to advance a comprehensive systems-theory approach to our civilization’s troubles. Enter Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.
How economic progress comes from the accumulation of privately owned tools of production; demonstrates the need for tools by showing a young couple with their infant child in a wilderness with nothing but natural resources and their hands.
A Campfire post with an actual campfire!In the spirit of Rod Serling, the following is submitted for your approval (and discussion):
This is a guest post by Cameron Leckie, known on The Oil Drum as leckos. Cameron is an officer in the Australian army. He is a member of ASPO Australia and lives in Brisbane with his wife and two young children.
The other day, whilst visiting the in-laws, I was involved in a conversation that in my view opened a window to the future of technology. My mother in law, who works in a small retail outlet was packing her lunch. My wife asked why she was putting an ice block in with her lunch box. The answer was that the owner of the shop had removed the staff refrigerator (and turned off the hot water system) to save a couple of hundred dollars a year. As someone who strongly believes that the most likely outcome for a debt based economic system approaching a world of declining net energy supplies is economic contraction and lower standards of living (at least materially), this started me thinking about the process by which industrial civilisation may abandon some of the technologies that we currently take for granted.
There are many reasons why we humans adopt new technologies, but in my view the root cause is that the benefit provided by a new technology outweighs its cost. Importantly costs and benefits can be measured both in financial terms and by other less tangible factors, something that will be important when considering which technologies are abandoned. One reason that we may abandon a technology is the flip side of the reason for its adoption - that the costs outweigh the benefits obtained. Thus the fridge has been abandoned because the cost of maintaining it outweighs the benefit of keeping lunch cold. Other reasons might be that the technology is no longer supportable (for example, If you cannot access fuel, your car is not going anywhere) or another technology appears/reappears to replace it.
In this post, I would like to propose a theory by which some, or potentially many, modern technologies could be abandoned. This is an important issue because of its implications for government policy, business investment and of course society as a whole. I will briefly examine the relationship between technology and complexity, detail a theory to explain how technologies might be abandoned and finally propose some questions for discussion.
If a young person is just starting out, and is wondering what career choice to make, what would you suggest?
How would this advice differ, for a person who has been laid off from their current work, and wants to make a career change?
The continued expansion of the internet has brought with it a surge in information, analysis, opinion and insight. At the same time the vast mental and social freedom in cyberspace has manifested an exponentially growing forum for self-expression – which ends up serving as virtual playgrounds for the human ego. This complex cyber landscape exists concurrently with accelerating real crises in energy, the economy, and the environment. Thus at the same time that the overall fabric of our social arrangement is shifting, the internet has become an odd melting pot for scientists and preachers, altruists and hucksters, knights and clowns alike. Perhaps I've been slow to notice it, but it seems to me that as time passes, on the discussion topics that really matter, the clowns are starting to dominate. Of course, as the goings on in our country more and more resemble a circus, it is no wonder that clowns are rising to the top of many discussions. This short campfire looks at what this might mean.
We all have things that we like to do, or are important to us. We also have things we want to do that might be helpful for the long term.
Not all of these things will be as easy to do if oil becomes less available, or even if the economy turns for the worse.
My question is:
What things should we be thinking about doing now, and not put off?