Post(s) tagged with "collapse"

pvtp:

Jared Diamond - Why Societies collapse

The collapse of the Soviet system was a pretty extraordinary event, and we are currently experiencing something similar in the developed world, without fully realizing what’s happening.

- George Soros (via azspot)

Source: thedailybeast.com

cultureofresistance:

Decisive Ecological Warfare
At this point in history, there are no good short-term outcomes for global human society. Some are better and some are worse, and in the long term some are very good, but in the short term we’re in a bind. I’m not going to lie to you—the hour is too late for cheermongering. The only way to find the best outcome is to confront our dire situation head on, and not to be diverted by false hopes.
Human society—because of civilization, specifically—has painted itself into a corner. As a species we’re dependent on the draw down of finite supplies of oil, soil, and water. Industrial agriculture (and annual grain agriculture before that) has put us into a vicious pattern of population growth and overshoot. We long ago exceeded carrying capacity, and the workings of civilization are destroying that carrying capacity by the second. This is largely the fault of those in power, the wealthiest, the states and corporations. But the consequences—and the responsibility for dealing with it—fall to the rest of us, including nonhumans.
Physically, it’s not too late for a crash program to limit births to reduce the population, cut fossil fuel consumption to nil, replace agricultural monocrops with perennial polycultures, end overfishing, and cease industrial encroachment on (or destruction of) remaining wild areas. There’s no physical reason we couldn’t start all of these things tomorrow, stop global warming in its tracks, reverse overshoot, reverse erosion, reverse aquifer drawdown, and bring back all the species and biomes currently on the brink. There’s no physical reason we couldn’t get together and act like adults and fix these problems, in the sense that it isn’t against the laws of physics.
But socially and politically, we know this is a pipe dream. There are material systems of power that make this impossible as long as those systems are still intact. Those in power get too much money and privilege from destroying the planet. We aren’t going to save the planet—or our own future as a species—without a fight.
What’s realistic? What options are actually available to us, and what are the consequences? What follows are three broad and illustrative scenarios: one in which there is no substantive or decisive resistance, one in which there is limited resistance and a relatively prolonged collapse, and one in which all-out resistance leads to the immediate collapse of civilization and global industrial infrastructure.

cultureofresistance:

Decisive Ecological Warfare

At this point in history, there are no good short-term outcomes for global human society. Some are better and some are worse, and in the long term some are very good, but in the short term we’re in a bind. I’m not going to lie to you—the hour is too late for cheermongering. The only way to find the best outcome is to confront our dire situation head on, and not to be diverted by false hopes.

Human society—because of civilization, specifically—has painted itself into a corner. As a species we’re dependent on the draw down of finite supplies of oil, soil, and water. Industrial agriculture (and annual grain agriculture before that) has put us into a vicious pattern of population growth and overshoot. We long ago exceeded carrying capacity, and the workings of civilization are destroying that carrying capacity by the second. This is largely the fault of those in power, the wealthiest, the states and corporations. But the consequences—and the responsibility for dealing with it—fall to the rest of us, including nonhumans.

Physically, it’s not too late for a crash program to limit births to reduce the population, cut fossil fuel consumption to nil, replace agricultural monocrops with perennial polycultures, end overfishing, and cease industrial encroachment on (or destruction of) remaining wild areas. There’s no physical reason we couldn’t start all of these things tomorrow, stop global warming in its tracks, reverse overshoot, reverse erosion, reverse aquifer drawdown, and bring back all the species and biomes currently on the brink. There’s no physical reason we couldn’t get together and act like adults and fix these problems, in the sense that it isn’t against the laws of physics.

But socially and politically, we know this is a pipe dream. There are material systems of power that make this impossible as long as those systems are still intact. Those in power get too much money and privilege from destroying the planet. We aren’t going to save the planet—or our own future as a species—without a fight.

What’s realistic? What options are actually available to us, and what are the consequences? What follows are three broad and illustrative scenarios: one in which there is no substantive or decisive resistance, one in which there is limited resistance and a relatively prolonged collapse, and one in which all-out resistance leads to the immediate collapse of civilization and global industrial infrastructure.

Source: ocelott

mothernaturenetwork:

7 places climate change could spark war

mothernaturenetwork:

7 places climate change could spark war

Source: mothernaturenetwork

discoverynews:

Euro Crisis Echoed in Renaissance History
As European leaders meet today in a desperate attempt to prevent a  colossal euro collapse, a look back at history shows that we have  learned little from the past.
Excessive debt accumulation, structural weakness and poor management  were responsible for economic crashes and collapses since the medieval  invention of banking by the Italians, who came up with the deposit  account, double entry bookkeeping and the line of credit.
“The word bank comes from the Italian, named after the ‘banco’ or  bench on which merchants traded. And bankrupt originates from the  practice of breaking the bench of an insolvent banker,” said art  historian Ludovica Sebregondi,   co-curator of “Money and Beauty,” a perfectly timed exhibition which runs in Florence until January 22.

discoverynews:

Euro Crisis Echoed in Renaissance History

As European leaders meet today in a desperate attempt to prevent a colossal euro collapse, a look back at history shows that we have learned little from the past.

Excessive debt accumulation, structural weakness and poor management were responsible for economic crashes and collapses since the medieval invention of banking by the Italians, who came up with the deposit account, double entry bookkeeping and the line of credit.

“The word bank comes from the Italian, named after the ‘banco’ or bench on which merchants traded. And bankrupt originates from the practice of breaking the bench of an insolvent banker,” said art historian Ludovica Sebregondi, co-curator of “Money and Beauty,” a perfectly timed exhibition which runs in Florence until January 22.

Source: news.discovery.com

What I believe will happen is as the oil economy collapses, those in power will attempt to maintain power by forced human labor to substitute for oil loss. We will see slave camps. What I want is thousands of different cultures living in different, unique ways in different places. You wouldn’t live the same way in the Olympic rainforest of Washington as you in the desert of Utah. I want different ways of being. 10,000 different cultures in different places. Asking what will come later, though, is like lying in bed with your spouse and you turn and say, “Excuse me, sweetheart, there is an axe murderer standing over the bed. How are we going to live tomorrow?” The emergency is now.

- Derrick Jensen (via cultureofresistance)

cultureofresistance:

Derrick Jensen - Endgame

The fundamentals if you’re to understand Deep Green Resistance.

Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.

Premise Two: Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.

Premise Three: Our way of living—industrial civilization—is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

Premise Five: The property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control—in everyday language, to make money—by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.

Premise Six: Civilization is not redeemable. This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The effects of this degradation will continue to harm humans and nonhumans for a very long time.

Premise Seven: The longer we wait for civilization to crash—or the longer we wait before we ourselves bring it down—the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

Premise Eight: The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of the economic system.

Another way to put premise Eight: Any economic or social system that does not benefit the natural communities on which it is based is unsustainable, immoral, and stupid. Sustainability, morality, and intelligence (as well as justice) requires the dismantling of any such economic or social system, or at the very least disallowing it from damaging your landbase.

Premise Nine: Although there will clearly some day be far fewer humans than there are at present, there are many ways this reduction in population could occur (or be achieved, depending on the passivity or activity with which we choose to approach this transformation). Some of these ways would be characterized by extreme violence and privation: nuclear armageddon, for example, would reduce both population and consumption, yet do so horrifically; the same would be true for a continuation of overshoot, followed by crash. Other ways could be characterized by less violence. Given the current levels of violence by this culture against both humans and the natural world, however, it’s not possible to speak of reductions in population and consumption that do not involve violence and privation, not because the reductions themselves would necessarily involve violence, but because violence and privation have become the default. Yet some ways of reducing population and consumption, while still violent, would consist of decreasing the current levels of violence required, and caused by, the (often forced) movement of resources from the poor to the rich, and would of course be marked by a reduction in current violence against the natural world. Personally and collectively we may be able to both reduce the amount and soften the character of violence that occurs during this ongoing and perhaps longterm shift. Or we may not. But this much is certain: if we do not approach it actively—if we do not talk about our predicament and what we are going to do about it—the violence will almost undoubtedly be far more severe, the privation more extreme.

Premise Ten: The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life. 

Premise Eleven: From the beginning, this culture—civilization—has been a culture of occupation.

Premise Twelve: There are no rich people in the world, and there are no poor people. There are just people. The rich may have lots of pieces of green paper that many pretend are worth something—or their presumed riches may be even more abstract: numbers on hard drives at banks—and the poor may not. These “rich” claim they own land, and the “poor” are often denied the right to make that same claim. A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper. Those without the green papers generally buy into these delusions almost as quickly and completely as those with. These delusions carry with them extreme consequences in the real world.

Premise Thirteen: Those in power rule by force, and the sooner we break ourselves of illusions to the contrary, the sooner we can at least begin to make reasonable decisions about whether, when, and how we are going to resist.

Premise Fourteen: From birth on—and probably from conception, but I’m not sure how I’d make the case—we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world, hate the wild, hate wild animals, hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate the world, we could not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. If we did not hate ourselves, we could not allow our homes—and our bodies—to be poisoned.

Premise Fifteen: Love does not imply pacifism.

Premise Sixteen: The material world is primary. This does not mean that the spirit does not exist, nor that the material world is all there is. It means that spirit mixes with flesh. It means also that real world actions have real world consequences. It means we cannot rely on Jesus, Santa Claus, the Great Mother, or even the Easter Bunny to get us out of this mess. It means this mess really is a mess, and not just the movement of God’s eyebrows. It means we have to face this mess ourselves. It means that for the time we are here on Earth—whether or not we end up somewhere else after we die, and whether we are condemned or privileged to live here—the Earth is the point. It is primary. It is our home. It is everything. It is silly to think or act or be as though this world is not real and primary. It is silly and pathetic to not live our lives as though our lives are real.

Premise Seventeen: It is a mistake (or more likely, denial) to base our decisions on whether actions arising from these will or won’t frighten fence-sitters, or the mass of Americans.

Premise Eighteen:
 Our current sense of self is no more sustainable than our current use of energy or technology.

Premise Nineteen: The culture’s problem lies above all in the belief that controlling and abusing the natural world is justifiable.

Premise Twenty: Within this culture, economics—not community well-being, not morals, not ethics, not justice, not life itself—drives social decisions.

Modification of Premise Twenty: Social decisions are determined primarily (and often exclusively) on the basis of whether these decisions will increase the monetary fortunes of the decision-makers and those they serve.

Re-modification of Premise Twenty:
 Social decisions are determined primarily (and often exclusively) on the basis of whether these decisions will increase the power of the decision-makers and those they serve.

Re-modification of Premise Twenty: Social decisions are founded primarily (and often exclusively) on the almost entirely unexamined belief that the decision-makers and those they serve are entitled to magnify their power and/or financial fortunes at the expense of those below.

Re-modification of Premise Twenty: If you dig to the heart of it—if there were any heart left—you would find that social decisions are determined primarily on the basis of how well these decisions serve the ends of controlling or destroying wild nature.

Source: socialuprooting

cultureofresistance:

Billionaire investor George Soros says that the global financial system is on the brink of collapse.
Developed countries are falling into a “deflationary debt trap,” in which consumer spending falls, products become more expensive, tax revenues drop, and sovereign debt grows, Soros said last week, according to the Wall Street Journal. As a result, he said, the global financial system is in a “self-reinforcing process of disintegration.”
“The consequences could be quite disastrous,”Soros, who was born in Hungary, said at the tenth anniversary of the International Senior Lawyers Project.
Concern is mounting that the eurozone may break up because of market pressure on European sovereign debt, which could plunge Europe into a depression and the world into a recession. Observers are already worried that Europe could suffer a recession and subsequent slow growth for several years even if it averts a eurozone breakup, since products would remain expensive on the euro, making consumers more hesitant to buy them and forcing governments to curtail budgets even more as consumer spending falls.
The markets have forced pressure on the eurozone because of these fears. Borrowing costs forItaly and Spain recently hit record highs, which economists say are unsustainable over the long term. Either of these countries would be forced to default on their debt if not enough investors are willing to buy their new sovereign debt at bond auctions.
If Italy or Spain defaults on their sovereign debt and leaves the eurozone, it would probably break up. Depositors likely would pull their investments from banks, large European banks would fail, borrowing costs for other countries would become unsustainable, and other countries would leave the euro. Such an outcome would depress lending and consumer spending and plunge Europe into a deep recession.
European leaders will meet for a summit on Thursday and Friday to try to reach an agreementto stave off a breakup of the eurozone — a deal they haven’t been able to come to for two years.
—
I told you so. 

cultureofresistance:

Billionaire investor George Soros says that the global financial system is on the brink of collapse.

Developed countries are falling into a “deflationary debt trap,” in which consumer spending falls, products become more expensive, tax revenues drop, and sovereign debt grows, Soros said last week, according to the Wall Street Journal. As a result, he said, the global financial system is in a “self-reinforcing process of disintegration.”

“The consequences could be quite disastrous,”Soros, who was born in Hungary, said at the tenth anniversary of the International Senior Lawyers Project.

Concern is mounting that the eurozone may break up because of market pressure on European sovereign debt, which could plunge Europe into a depression and the world into a recession. Observers are already worried that Europe could suffer a recession and subsequent slow growth for several years even if it averts a eurozone breakup, since products would remain expensive on the euro, making consumers more hesitant to buy them and forcing governments to curtail budgets even more as consumer spending falls.

The markets have forced pressure on the eurozone because of these fears. Borrowing costs forItaly and Spain recently hit record highs, which economists say are unsustainable over the long term. Either of these countries would be forced to default on their debt if not enough investors are willing to buy their new sovereign debt at bond auctions.

If Italy or Spain defaults on their sovereign debt and leaves the eurozone, it would probably break up. Depositors likely would pull their investments from banks, large European banks would fail, borrowing costs for other countries would become unsustainable, and other countries would leave the euro. Such an outcome would depress lending and consumer spending and plunge Europe into a deep recession.

European leaders will meet for a summit on Thursday and Friday to try to reach an agreement
to stave off a breakup of the eurozone — a deal they haven’t been able to come to for two years.

I told you so. 

Source: The Huffington Post

cuntymint:

Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.
Premise Six: Civilization is not redeemable. This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The effects of this degradation will continue to harm humans and nonhumans for a very long time.
Premise Seven: The longer we wait for civilization to crash—or the longer we wait before we ourselves bring it down—the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

cuntymint:

Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.

Premise Six: Civilization is not redeemable. This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The effects of this degradation will continue to harm humans and nonhumans for a very long time.

Premise Seven: The longer we wait for civilization to crash—or the longer we wait before we ourselves bring it down—the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.

Source: cuntymint

vortexanomaly:

Don’t call me a “declinist.” I really don’t believe the United States—or Western civilization, more generally—is in some kind of gradual, inexorable decline.
But that’s not because I am one of those incorrigible optimists who agree with Winston Churchill that the United States will always do the right thing, albeit when all other possibilities have been exhausted.
In my view, civilizations don’t rise, fall, and then gently decline, as inevitably and predictably as the four seasons or the seven ages of man. History isn’t one smooth, parabolic curve after another. Its shape is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite suddenly drops off like a cliff.
If you don’t know what I mean, pay a visit to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. In 1530 the Incas were the masters of all they surveyed from the heights of the Peruvian Andes. Within less than a decade, foreign invaders with horses, gunpowder, and lethal diseases had smashed their empire to smithereens. Today tourists gawp at the ruins that remain.
The notion that civilizations don’t decline but collapse inspired the anthropologist Jared Diamond’s 2005 book, Collapse. But Diamond focused, fashionably, on man-made environmental disasters as the causes of collapse. As a historian, I take a broader view. My point is that when you look back on the history of past civilizations, a striking feature is the speed with which most of them collapsed, regardless of the cause.
The Roman Empire didn’t decline and fall sedately, as historians used to claim. It collapsed within a few decades in the early fifth century, tipped over the edge of chaos by barbarian invaders and internal divisions. In the space of a generation, the vast imperial metropolis of Rome fell into disrepair, the aqueducts broken, the splendid marketplaces deserted.
The Ming dynasty’s rule in China also fell apart with extraordinary speed in the mid–17th century, succumbing to internal strife and external invasion. Again, the transition from equipoise to anarchy took little more than a decade.
A more recent and familiar example of precipitous decline is, of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union. And, if you still doubt that collapse comes suddenly, just think of how the postcolonial dictatorships of North Africa and the Middle East imploded this year. Twelve months ago, Messrs. Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi seemed secure in their gaudy palaces. Here yesterday, gone today.
What all these collapsed powers have in common is that the complex social systems that underpinned them suddenly ceased to function. One minute rulers had legitimacy in the eyes of their people; the next they didn’t.
This process is a familiar one to students of financial markets. Even as I write, it is far from clear that the European Monetary Union can be salvaged from the dramatic collapse of confidence in the fiscal policies of its peripheral member states. In the realm of power, as in the domain of the bond vigilantes, you’re fine until you’re not fine—and when you’re not fine, you’re suddenly in a terrifying death spiral.
http://www.thedailybeast.com

vortexanomaly:

Don’t call me a “declinist.” I really don’t believe the United States—or Western civilization, more generally—is in some kind of gradual, inexorable decline.

But that’s not because I am one of those incorrigible optimists who agree with Winston Churchill that the United States will always do the right thing, albeit when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

In my view, civilizations don’t rise, fall, and then gently decline, as inevitably and predictably as the four seasons or the seven ages of man. History isn’t one smooth, parabolic curve after another. Its shape is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite suddenly drops off like a cliff.

If you don’t know what I mean, pay a visit to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. In 1530 the Incas were the masters of all they surveyed from the heights of the Peruvian Andes. Within less than a decade, foreign invaders with horses, gunpowder, and lethal diseases had smashed their empire to smithereens. Today tourists gawp at the ruins that remain.

The notion that civilizations don’t decline but collapse inspired the anthropologist Jared Diamond’s 2005 book, Collapse. But Diamond focused, fashionably, on man-made environmental disasters as the causes of collapse. As a historian, I take a broader view. My point is that when you look back on the history of past civilizations, a striking feature is the speed with which most of them collapsed, regardless of the cause.

The Roman Empire didn’t decline and fall sedately, as historians used to claim. It collapsed within a few decades in the early fifth century, tipped over the edge of chaos by barbarian invaders and internal divisions. In the space of a generation, the vast imperial metropolis of Rome fell into disrepair, the aqueducts broken, the splendid marketplaces deserted.

The Ming dynasty’s rule in China also fell apart with extraordinary speed in the mid–17th century, succumbing to internal strife and external invasion. Again, the transition from equipoise to anarchy took little more than a decade.

A more recent and familiar example of precipitous decline is, of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union. And, if you still doubt that collapse comes suddenly, just think of how the postcolonial dictatorships of North Africa and the Middle East imploded this year. Twelve months ago, Messrs. Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi seemed secure in their gaudy palaces. Here yesterday, gone today.

What all these collapsed powers have in common is that the complex social systems that underpinned them suddenly ceased to function. One minute rulers had legitimacy in the eyes of their people; the next they didn’t.

This process is a familiar one to students of financial markets. Even as I write, it is far from clear that the European Monetary Union can be salvaged from the dramatic collapse of confidence in the fiscal policies of its peripheral member states. In the realm of power, as in the domain of the bond vigilantes, you’re fine until you’re not fine—and when you’re not fine, you’re suddenly in a terrifying death spiral.

http://www.thedailybeast.com

Deep Green Resistance Massachusetts: The crises facing the planet do not stem from human nature,' but from, as we previously discussed, the mode of social and political organization we call civilization. What do we need to know about civilization to defeat it? ⇢

honeyriot:

The crises facing the planet do not stem from human nature,’ but from, as we previously discussed, the mode of social and political organization we call civilization. What do we need to know about civilization to defeat it?

It is globalized. Civilization spans the globe and, despite superficial political boundaries, is integrated infrastructurally and economically. Any local resistance effort faces an opponent with global resources, so effective strategies must be enacted around the world. However, civilization approaches finite limits- 83 percent of the biosphere is already under direct human influence.’

It is mechanized. An industrial civilization requires machines for production. Mechanization has centralized political and economic power by moving the means of production beyond the scale at which human communities function equitably and democratically. It has created a dramatic population spike (through industrial agriculture) and global ecological devastation (through industrial fishing, logging, and so on)) Most humans are now dependent on industrial “production,” while the system itself is utterly dependent on finite minerals and energy-dense fossil fuels.

It is very young on cultural, ecological, and geological timescales, but seems old on a personal timescale. Civilized history spans a few thou­ sand years, human history several millions, and ecological history several billions. But since much traditional knowledge has been lost or destroyed by those in power in order to glorify civilization, normalize their oppression, and render alternative ways of living unthinkable, we have the impression that civilization is as old as time.

It is primarily an urban phenomenon. Civilizations emerge from and promote the growth of cities.6 Cities offer a pool of workers who, crowded together and severed from land, must labor to survive? Urban areas are densely surveilled and policed. Urban areas are epicenters of strife when civilizations fall; as Lewis Mumford wrote, “Each historic civilization … begins with a living urban core, the polis, and ends in a common graveyard of dust and bones, a Necropolis, or city of the dead: fire-scorched ruins, shattered buildings, empty workshops, heaps of meaningless refuse, the population massacred or driven into slavery.

It employs an extensive division of labor and high degree of social stratification. Specialization increases production, but a narrow focus prevents most people from making systemic criticisms of civilization; they are too worried about their immediate lives and problems to look at the big picture. Similarly, social stratification keeps power centralized and maintains an underclass to perform undesirable labor. Modern civilization, with its vast manufacturing capacity, has so far produced a large middle class in the rich nations, a historically unique circumstance. Though such people are unwilling to risk this privilege by challenging industrial society, prolonging collapse will ensure that they lose that privilege-and much more.

It is militarized. Civilizations, intrinsically expansionist and voracious, are intensely competitive. The military is prioritized in politics, industry, and science, and this sometimes rears its head as overt fascism. Control of citizens is implemented through police. As anthropologist Stanley Diamond wrote, “Civilization originates in con­quest abroad and repression at home.” Glorification of the military causes people to identify with the state and its spectacular violence, and advertises the consequences of fighting back.

Closely related, and in spite of feminist advances, civilization is patri­archal and exalts masculinity. Civilization systematically oppresses women and celebrates the masculine expression of power and violence.

It is based on large-scale agriculture. Hunting, gathering, and horticulture cannot support civilizations. Only intensive, large-scale agriculture can provide the “surplus” to support cities and specialized elites. Historical agriculture was heavily dependent on slavery, serfdom, and cruelties. Industrial agriculture depends upon petroleum, an arrangement that will not last.

From the beginning it has been predicated on perpetual growth. This growth is inseparable from agriculture and settlement; settlement requires agriculture, which results in population growth and militarized elites who control the resources, and begins to overburden and destroy the local landbase.

Societies, cultures, and businesses that expand in the short term do so at the expense of entities that grow more slowly (or not at all), regardless of long-term consequences. In other words, civilization is characterized by short-term thinking; the structure of civilization rewards those who think in the short term and those who take more than they give back. Because those in power take more than they give back, they often win in the short term. But because ultimately you cannot win by taking more from the land than it gives willingly, they must lose in the long term.

Because of its drive toward war, ecological destructiveness, and perpetual expansion in a finite world, the history of civilizations is defined by collapse. Throughout history, civilizations have either collapsed or been conquered, the conquerors going on to meet one or both of those fates. Collapse is the typical, not exceptional, outcome for a civilization. As Gibbon wrote of Rome: “The story of the ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman Empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it subsisted for so long.”

Civilization is hierarchical and centralized both politically and infra­structurally. This is self-perpetuating; those in power want more power, and they have the means to get it. Superficially, global power is held by a number of different national governments; in the modem day those governments are mostly in the thrall of a corporate capitalist elite. In social terms, civilization’s hierarchy is pervasive and standardized; most political and corporate leaders are interchangeable, replaceable components. The corollary of the centralization of power is the externalization of consequences (such as destroying the planet). Wherever possible, the poor and nonhumans are made to experience those consequences so the wealthy can remain comfortable.

Hierarchy and centralization result in increasing regulation of behavior and increasing regimentation. With the destruction of traditional kinship systems and methods of conflict resolution caused by the expansion of civilization and the rise of heavily populated urban centers, those in power have imposed their own laws and systems to enforce hierarchy and regulation.

As a means of enforcing hierarchy and regulation, civilization also makes major investments in monumental architecture and propaganda. Past civilizations had pyramids, coliseums, and vast military marches to impress or cow their populations. Although modem civilizations still have monumental architecture (especially in the form of superstores and megamalls), the wealthier human population is immersed in virtual architecture-a twenty-four-hour digital spectacle of noise and propaganda.

Civilization also requires large amounts of human labor, and is based on either compelling that labor directly or systematically removing feasible livelihood alternatives. We’re often told that civilization was a step forward which freed people from the “grind” of subsistence. If that were true, then the history of civilization would not be rife with slavery, conquest, and the spread of religious and political systems by the sword. Spending your life as a laborer for sociopaths is only appealing if equitable land-based communities-and the landbase itself-are destroyed. In other words, civilization perpetuates itself by producing deliberate conditions of scarcity and deprivation.

Civilization is capable of making Earth uninhabitable for humans and the majority of living species. Historical civilizations self-destructed before causing global damage, but global industrial civilization has been far more damaging than its predecessors. We no longer have the option of waiting it out. There is nowhere left to go. Civilization will collapse one way or another, and it’s our job to insure that something is left afterward. 

Source: socialuprooting

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