Crisis Narrative

You know something strange is happening, when you have to check each day to find out how many wars, declared and undeclared Barack actually has going on. Apparently if you call it a peace action or a humanitarian intervention, dropping cluster bombs on civilians is okay. The funny thing is, he seems to have figured out, that if you don’t call it a war, then the markets don’t freak out as much. They do still freak out, but they don’t go into a tailspin of fear about losing access to oil and gas or something.

This is a good example of how I see the current world situation: I used to think that we were engaged in some inexorable slide into the abyss, and that a renewal would come from those who cannibalized the old order to build a new one. The prevailing narrative was apocalyptic and grandiose and seemingly oblivious to the rot in the floorboards.

Now in some ways, it’s worse. There is no longer any forward looking narrative, apocalyptic or otherwise. NASA is about to be shut down, budget cuts will gut every progressive project before it can get off the ground, there is no serious talk about how to grow the economy, harness new resources, or even repair the collapsing infrastructure. There is increasingly no sense of a future, no sense of ‘going’ anywhere, no sense of meaningful change of any kind. Lots of translation, tons of translation, but no transformation. We have entered a period where the only thing that happens is navigating an ongoing crisis, and our only preoccupation is not losing any more than we have already.  Governments get elected and re-elected on the basis that they won’t make things much worse. People increasingly make decisions about how to stay in the same place most effectively.

This is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a civilization in the accelerating stages of entropic breakdown. If we are indeed on the backside of the peak oil curve, as I think we are, this mentality can only dominate mainstream thought more and more. We don’t have leaders, because there doesn’t appear to be anywhere for them to lead us to. All we can do is position ourselves in the crisis narrative the best possible way, as termites eat the less-vital parts of the house. It’s an ongoing and essentially permanent condition of triage.

In some ways this is worse than a fast collapse, because a catastrophic dissolution of some systems would at least get the trauma over with and allow people to focus on building something new in the cleared space. But if the overwhelming concern is simply avoiding the trauma, period,  a lot of people with positive ideas will be banging on the door fruitlessly, because they aren’t playing along with the idea of a permanent crisis where the only growth is from looting other parts of the system on your way into the black hole, where you will inevitably be looted yourself. You could lose a whole generation of creative people that way, or pour their energies into half-ass repair jobs that were only meant to last until the next election, or the next shift in the crisis narrative.

The main characteristic of a permanent crisis narrative is that nobody knows exactly what anyone else is doing, and frequently don’t even know what they themselves are doing. There is no ability to think beyond the needs of the moment. This is why Barack appears to have no coherent policy about anything, ever. He would probably like to, but is constantly getting pulled in opposite directions, to net effect zero. Lots happening, no progress.

This is why we kill terrorists and insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, but try to install the exact same people as the government of Libya, even though Ghadaffi provides the highest standard of living in Africa, and Afghanistan is a corrupt hellhole littered with IUD’s where you can’t even get electricity most of the time. Hate to break it to anyone, but you don’t get a crowd of a million people in the streets firing AK-47’s into the air, unless you have popular support. Especially if you’re the one GIVING them the AK-47’s.

This bullshit with debt/default in the states is a great example: how many times do the tea party lunatics get to use the encroaching debt ceiling to shake down the white house for genocidal spending cuts? They’re not going to fix the spending problem and they’re not going to default. It’s just going to be a way for the rich to loot the poor for as long as that story holds together, then they’ll go back to raising the ceiling quietly, just like they always did, because the alternative would be catastrophic. Barack is likely to go down as a tragically gifted politician who just couldn’t find the courage to challenge the logic he was embedded in.

My house is a great example too. The land lady is apparently so in fear of her finances, she can’t do anything but the most critical repairs to the place. The basement floods, the deck is falling apart, the staircase is peeling away, there are five layers of shingles on the roof, and she hires the cheapest, dodgiest people to patch it all together when need be. We could take her to the authorities for having an unsafe house, but that would only bankrupt her with repairs she can’t afford and force us to find somewhere else to live that we might not be able to afford either.

I went into school to get away from the front lines of social decay and the toll it was taking on me. I consented to huge debts, hard study, and frequent stress and boredom, with no promise of anything on the other end. I benefit from greater understanding, but from a resource point of view, I’m just navigating the crisis too. Sooner or later I will need to pay those debts, make some money, and invest in future security. The problem is, there may not be money to be made, or security to be had, at least not in the normal terms.

There has to be a change in our view. We need to stop clinging to a way of life, and a view of the world and ourselves, that is bankrupt in every sense of the word. Economically, morally, intellectually. We have to stop thinking like victims or bystanders. We have to stop patching things together as they fall apart and start really building again. We have to admit we are really better than this, that we can really do better than this, that we have a right to expect leadership from leaders, that there is more to living than not dying.

The Alchemical Initiative ver 3.0

Apologies for my long absence. Lot of working, lot of thinking. lot of things I want to talk about, but first of all, lets show you my current summer project:

Part  1

Part 2:

yes, that is me. might be a little strange for those of you accustomed to only hearing my voice. you can also follow this project on facebook if you use that. I appreciate any support, linkage or exposure you can give me. I  do have to keep my thoughts extremely concise there, but I plan for the blog to be more of the theory behind it, on any number of levels, plus some only tangentially related stuff. Two years of school and the ongoing deterioration of global events have upgraded my thinking in a number of ways.

onward and upward.

Going Mainstream

greetings, friends and neighbors. I hope you didn’t feel too neglected while I was busy being edumicated.  Not that I have finished, mind you, just getting a break for christmas before my next round of stress induced nervous breakdowns.

For anyone who’s curious, I’m in a two year degree program for general sciences at the local college. two years doesn’t amount to shit, but it’s time enough to figure out what I’d like to specialize in, without jumping right into university sections with 500 people in them. This first semester, I took calculus, chemistry, an english requirement, and a history elective just to round it out a bit. I ended up simply auditing the calculus because my background is still a little weak. I could have passed it no worries, but it would have brought down my overall grades big time. I feel somewhat vindicated, becuase I pocketed A+’s in everything else. Live and learn. I’ll take another run at the heavy maths next year, or perhaps over the summer.

Which is neither here nor there. You come for the elliptical ranting, apocalyptic proclamations, obscure mental disciplines, and occasional tourettes-laced denunciations of innocent questions, yes?

I have to say, I’m feeling somewhere between vindicated and obsolete. I used to be  the weird and paranoid one in my house, but now everyone is talking about growing food, financial collapse, or fleeing to south america, while I remain as bemused as ever by the unraveling chain of calamities.

Most of the technical points of meditation, alchemy, or sorcery are handled better and more exhaustively by the likes of the baptists, who are working diligently to make satanism respectable. If a couple of diamond geezers and fully realized arahats can’t do it, then nobody can. My site is kind of a rag-bag of raw data in comparison, really. I’m glad someone out there is picking up the ball. And of course we have the various manifestations of the dharma overground or brilliant trasmissions  like those of shizen young.

Some of you might recall my fevered ravings about anthropocentric climate change some times ago, and sure enough, ‘climate gate’ has more or less done exactly what I was trying to, only better. That is, reopen the debate and shut down these plague rats of the mind who think that they can silence rational inquiry with fear and demagougery.

And while I do not think I ever cited him to any great extent, I cannot help but point out that michael ruppert is now a movie star, and the likes of roger ebert are now hardcore doomers. If memory serves, I was looking up cia drug running ages ago and found ruppert, and through him matt savinar, and through matt, the whole thing crystalized for me. Eight years later and it’s just another thing. I’ll settle for being eight years ahead of the curve. You can land on any side of the public debate over peak oil and collapse you like, but the point is that there is now a public debate. Nobody needs me to tell them the world is coming to end. Gnostic demiurges coming to feed on the souls of mankind? maybe. peak oil cannibals? not so much. that shit is going to the oscars, dude. Or didn’t you catch ‘the road’ in the theaters?

So obviously, the landscape has changed. It only makes sense to look around and find out how to get ahead of the game again.

…and on a lighter note, it just blows my mind to think I was a kid once, reading Iron Man comic books, when nobody else even knew who he was, and making my own action figures out of wire and plasticine, because you couldn’t get a decent IM action figure back in the day.

and from that, to this:

strange days, indeed.

Merry Christmas, and I’ll see you when I see you.

Producing the Means for Seizure

part two: life on the edge of the power curve 2012-2050

Okay, so let’s change our approach a little bit. I’m assuming you can and have read this… so what might that look like, in a little more detail?

  Let’s start with the basics: chances are, within a few years, you will have been more or less priced out of the market for oil and gas. You might be able to snag a bit for emergency use, or critical transport, but most everyone has to carpool, bike or bus it. If you’re fortunate enough to have trains where you live, then that’s great. This trend gets worse as time goes on. Expect something similar to cuba, where traffic cops routinely stop and stuff cars with extra seats, or huge flatbed trucks take on the function of busses.

  The good news is, the cottage industry for ethanol is ramping up. And no, I don’t mean this corn ethanol bullshit. I mean decomposing waste matter into alcohol on a radically decentralised basis. Eventually this becomes an integrated part of all farming operations, as the technology for alcohol distillation is refined and the design of organisms that digest sugar ( and eventually cellulose)  efficiently become more common.  There will almost certainly never be enough of this to replace all the gas we used to use, but it will be able to take over the critical stuff. The need will create the results. This is not new technology mind you. The first diesel engines were made to work on alcohol, after all, and it’s only a historical curveball that hooked us into ‘rock oil’. Most people will eventually have something the size of a rainbarrel that breaks down kitchen waste and dead plant matter into usable fuel. You will occasionally have to deal with the nuisance of these mutant bugs eating holes in your clothes, or some minor structural damage to wood objects… but hey, shit happens.

  Something similar starts to happen with food. A combination of price inflation,  wage deflation and contraction of economic activity makes imports of food pretty dodgy, and expensive. Wall mart, Safeway, all the globalised chains…these all go away. Food in general gets more expensive, and most people take up gardening on their balcony, backyard or community park. 

  This is all well and good until people start actually starving. You’d yank a couple tomatoes if you were starving, right? Eventually a combination of food riots, influxes of starving refugees, and general anxiety lead to most communities, or even neighborhoods, to form up into gangs/militias for self protection, and preservation of resources. You will probably have to deal with the sad spectacle of families going door to door begging for food, or offering to work for it.

  One starts to spend a lot of time pulling up pavement to expose useful soil, composting waste and capturing rainwater. There’s a pretty good chance you don’t have a job anyway. If you do, you probably work from home. It’s cheaper for everyone that way.

 Which brings us to the low end of the technology situation. I mean, we have iphones now, and wireless broadband is becoming ubiquitous. Eventually technology will be cheaper than food. You can already talk to anyone on earth with a device in your pocket, and carry around every piece of music you own. Eventually it’ll be all the music, all the video, all the pictures and all the books. In your pocket. You can put on a headset and carry on a conversation as if you were in the same room with anyone, or any number of anyones, from anywhere. Why even leave the house? Except to harvest the garlic, that is. The ability to make and hyperdistribute your own cultural material worldwide only accelerates the breakdown of centralised forms of media.

  A small blip occurs when the rolling blackouts start. Or depending on where you live, they started a long time ago, and become permanent. Most of the essential widgets are run by efficient integrated solar panels, and everything else gets run by ethanol generators. Once again, not enough electricity to run your air conditioning, or baseboard heaters; but enough for the lights, the cooking and to recharge your widgets.

 Now all of this so far presumes that you’re really lucky and you live in a (reasonably) sane part of the world. Either that, or you’re smart enough to see the writing on the wall and get the fuck out of dodge when things get bad. A lot of places will be subject to the no-go zone effect. The government loses the ability to project force, and provide services to a region, and said region is simply dispensed with. No cops, no soldiers, no utilities, and no trucks bringing anything. It is entirely possible to fill in all those parts of the equation, as I’ve said above, but the story of any particular place comes in how well that happens, or doesn’t.

  All of this really means a radical redefinition of the power dynamics in society and in the world. What happens when you have the ability to provide your own security, your own services, your own food, energy, culture? Whether by your choice or not, this is what is going to happen. Embracing it will make it easier. The whole idea of  ‘top down’ is going to fall by the wayside. Technology, the proliferation of ideas and institutional de-evolution will level the power curve for everyone to large degree.

   No, you won’t have cruise missiles, tanks and stealth bombers, but within a short time those things will be mostly irrelevant, just as they are mostly irrelevant in iraq or afghanistan. You don’t subdue a wireless, super-empowered, self-sufficient open source retribalised 21st century hyperculture with tanks and bombs. It’s impossible.

  But there are bound to be those stupid enough to try, and this is where it gets a bit scary. You see, it’s already possible right now, for someone of modest education and skills to manufacture a deadly infectious pathogen and it’s only going to get easier. The kind of people who do this are mostly dysfunctional reactionaries, but when you place the whole world in a hyper-connected echo chamber of threatening ideas, there will be no shortage of people with intelligence, equipment, and substandard coping skills.

  The biotech revolution is following an accelerating curve even faster than the one for computing. Eventually, you will know at least a few people who are running a gene sequencer in the basement. Which is good for when some fuckstick lets loose a hemorrhagic fever in your vicinity, and you need a vaccine, but not so good when the backlash comes from what remains of the ‘powers that be’, and a platoon of special forces drops out of a helicopter to machine gun you and burn down your neighborhood. 

 I mean, yeah we expect government to protect us from psychotic people with bioweapons, that’s a good thing. But they won’t discriminate. The crackdown against biotech will threaten to take away the radical life extension, disease elimination, stem-cell regeneration and every kind of weird gene alteration imaginable being cooked up in an environment like this.

  The instructive analogy is filesharing. Every so often, the big boys smash a central hub of filesharing with lawsuits, raids and jail time. And then what? They can’t arrest everyone, they can’t even find everyone, so all that happens is darwinism. The survivors get smarter, sneakier, harder to track and develop more and better ways to keep filesharing.

   But what if that file is a complete genome? And if people these days can crack iphones, they will sure as hell be able to make biotech equipment, when the time comes.

  The sort of chaos you see in the world of intellectual property, will soon be the chaos of our own genetics. And all of this taking place in the social and political chaos of what was the world we once knew. And this is chaos in the mathematical sense, which opens the doorway to a hidden order…


It’s (still) only the end of the world again: 2008

Part 1: the curbstomping at the end of history

Who’d have thought the future would get here so soon?

  I’d been thinking for awhile of formally checking in on my future predictions series, to see how far along we’ve come ( not so much the later series which is really more about my method of discerning future trends). And perhaps adjust my thinking a bit.

 What  I found alarming was that, not only are my predictions for the next five years on track, but things I thought were at least ten, maybe even twenty years out, are starting to happen now. Also my long term, conceptual view has gained a few wrinkles, which I’ll clarify shortly.

  I would obviously suggest you read the original three articles ( and indeed most of the stuff in my futurism category, to get a feeling for where I’m coming from ), but if you can’t be bothered here’s the capsule summary for the first bit. The next two parts to follow…

 the next five years(written in 2006, so that covers up till mid 2011, I guess):

–  past peak of oil and gas extraction

– economic meltdown due to loss of confidence in the dollar, among other things.

– political implosion of the neocon regime and the republican party in general, with a possible realignment of US politics in general, most likely towards some kind of reactionary neo-fascism.

-general war in the middle east and africa, which is really more of an open source guerrilla style bloodbath, and metastasizing into other locations.

  Now, none of these are rocket science, at least not in my book. The writing has been on the wall for some years before I even wrote that old piece.

 If I remember correctly, oil was at around 60$ a barrel in 2006, and now it’s hovering around a 100$. All promises to open up the taps from saudi arabia and whatnot have been proven just hot air. The noise about alternative energy just gets louder and louder, and the price of oil and gas just keeps going up.

  We’re probably in the plateau phase, where all the spare capacity gets used up, as supply starts to shrink and demand grows at the usual steady rate. I have no problem putting off a serious demand crunch for another few years, as there is a lot of slack in the system and waste to be stripped out, before we really start hitting a wall here. People in other parts of the world are already fucked, mind you, but that is, unfortunately, not much new.

Don’t worry, we’re fucked too, just not right away. When that crunch hits and there is an estimated 3% growth in demand every year, matched with a 3% decline in supply, then you’re looking at super spikes in price and what they call ‘demand destruction’, Where whole supply chains start to collapse because they’ve been priced out of the market.

 Keep in mind that 3% is being cautious. The third biggest field in the world is looking at a fifty percent decline over three years. That’s not a decline. That’s a cliff.

 The skeptics in the area are welcome to their opinions, but in every case, they always think in terms of ( usually falsified) proven reserves and static numbers, rather than flow rates, which is what it’s really about. So buckle up.

 Moving on, anyone who thinks we aren’t in major economic meltdown isn’t paying attention. I scarcely need to comment on this, do I?

 This is a bit dated now, but do lets watch Jim Cramer have a nervous breakdown on television, and you can judge the level of feeling in the financial community.

…and bear in mind, things have gotten a lot worse since then. They will have to invent new words for the combination of inflationary and deflationary effects that we will be experiencing in short order.

 Moving on to politics, it looks at this point like the republican choice is going to be the lunatic john mccain. Not only is his support in the world of reactionary partisan politics somewhat shaky, ( he appears to have some actual principles) not to mention his weak appeal to backwards ‘christians’, but he’s also prone to fits of rage and bizarre outbursts. Probably down to his advanced age, and the time he spent in a Vietnamese POW camp.

If anyone thought that the christopher walken character in the deer hunter would make a good president…well there he is.

  The republican chances of winning the presidency again just went from slim to none. The reactionary southern strategy that propelled the republicans from nixon on up has run it’s course and it’s ideology in general has arguably been a spent force since Reagan, so you can be sure when they lose this time around, they will be looking to fuck each other with knives. Good riddance.

 Not that Obama or Mrs. Clinton is really gonna help much either. I will concede that electing a white woman or a black man to the presidency is a huge step for the united states, in principle, but I seriously doubt either one of them is really equipped to deal with what’s happening. They would have to demonstrate some understanding of it first, but that hasn’t happened, and probably never will. So four years from now, look for the democrats to implode too.

And finally, we have what we will eventually know as world war III, but won’t recognise till long after the fact. Everyone is expecting that we have to have nuclear tipped ICBMs flying around to have world war, but what we’re going to get is general breakdown of the nation state and regression to primary loyalties ( that’s another word for ‘tribalism’). It’s not going to be about issues large enough to launch nuclear weapons over, or between bodies large enough to command them. Iraq, Iran, the Sudan, Pakistan, Columbia, Chechnya… same shit, different languages. When war is happening everywhere, that’s called a world war.

 I reffer you to the brilliant and insightful John Robb of global guerrillas who examines this trend in minute detail and echoes my own thinking in many ways.

 long story short: the war of all against all, with semtex and ak-47’s. And that’s if we’re lucky. Because once we kick over into 2012 or so, you’re gonna be nostalgic for the days of car bombs and drive by shootings.

next: 2012-2050?

C’mon, c’mon, listen to the money talk…

 A French maid, foreign chef,
A big house, with kingsize beds.
You had enough, you ship ’em out,
The dollar’s up, down, you better buy the pound.
The claim is on you, the sights are on me,
So what do you do ? That’s guaranteed
Hey little girl, you break the laws,
You hustle, you deal, you steal from us allCome on, come on, lovin’ for the money,
Come on , come on, listen to the money talk
Come on, come on, lovin’ for the money,
Come on , come on, listen to the money talk

Just thought those of you interested in like, the economy and stuff might  enjoy this perspective on the ongoing ‘market’ upheavals, from a parapolitical, platonic idealist perspective.

Shit’s  going down, ya’ll.