"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete"

Instead of protesting and demanding changes from our errant parents, we must initiate these changes ourselves. It is time for us to grow up. In doing so we step out from under those parents - the system that currently defines our relations for us -  and take control ourselves.

We all have skills to offer each other. We may, at the moment, only do this in the form of a professional relationship. In other words, we offer our skills and get paid for them. The professional relationship has its virtues, but also its limitations - limitations that are critical at this point in time.

A friendship-based contract (contact) is one that is free from these limitations. Instead of offering our services for a fee, we offer them for free.

Friendship-based relations could be a crucial way for us to transition away from the current system and towards something more healthy. Professional relationships have a certain tendency to them -  they take us in certain directions.  

They are infused with the logic of the current - dysfunctional - system, and so keep us within the old story.

The friendship-relationship is a space in which we are free to do what we want, in which we can redefine our relations and write a new story.

In concrete terms, we must find ways to offer our skills to each other for free. This will mean making sacrifices, something our generation must accept. These sacrifices may mean accepting a simpler lifestyle, a life without as many 'things' in it. It may mean foregoing certain luxuries, or novelties. Those generations that went before us were unwilling to make the sacrifices that were required of them, and so the baton is passed to us. Will we have the strength to do what they could not, or will we, once again, pass the burden downwards?

There is no way that we can transition to a more sustainable and healthy world without making sacrifices. Yet through sacrifice we grow as people... 

1. Get a skill. Choose something and specialise.

2. Establish yourself

3. Examine your lifestyle. Think about what your core necessities are and what can be sacrificed for the greater good.

4. Begin to offer your services for free. Devote a certain percentage of your professional time to community service. Offer your services on a non-professional friendship-oriented basis. Convert professional to non-professional: distance to friendship. Both parties are made aware of the arrangement.

5. Keep assessing your lifestyle. Continue to weigh up what you can sacrifice in order to convert more professional time to non-professional time.

6. Aim to pare things down to the minimum you need in order to sustain an acceptable lifestyle. As you make more changes to your lifestyle your idea of what is 'acceptable' will also change. Draw what you need from the system in order to support your lifestyle but otherwise aim to devote as much time and energy as possible to using your skills in a friendship-based gift-giving way.

The more each of us do this the more we - collectively - will move away from the system that separates us and the closer we will draw towards each other. In this way ties are reestablished, communities rebuilt.

Trust will resurface as a result of our non-professional relationships. From within the walls of professionalism, we can emerge into a new story.


Related posts:-
A Circle of Gifts 
Guiding Fiction
Lost Tribe
Community Service
Carry Each Other
Know your place 
Life Support 
Set it Free 
Open Source Approaches
Sell Out 

Concentrate / Decentrate

Concentrate                     -                      Decentrate
Hyper-                             -                      Hypo-
Life                                  -                      Death
Multiply                          -                      Divide
Limited                            -                      Unlimited
Real                                  -                      Ideal
Flawed                              -                      Perfect
Creation                            -                      Destruction

Within every living thing there is a tug of war, consisting of the the pull towards life, and the pull towards death. The life urge is conservative, the death urge expansive.

Life is defined by the process of limitation; a thing is only a thing because of all the things it is not; from a sea of infinite possibility certain characteristics are chosen, at the expense of others. Infinity is bounded.

Death is the return to infinity; the unbinding of what has been bound. If life is synonymous with 'limited', then death is synonymous with 'unlimited.'

As humans we have an urge towards expansiveness - the need to constantly explore new territory - that must be balanced by the imposition of limits. A lack of boundaries allows us to adventure to far flung places, full of mystery and novelty - but whenever we travel to extremes we also dance with death.

Concentrative thinking is centripetal. It focuses to a point. It borns gravity. It “charges” by multiplying low potential into high and cold into heat.

Decentrative thinking is centrifugal. It expands into space. It borns radiation. It “discharges” by dividing high potential into low and heat into cold.

The journey toward gravity simulates life and the opposite journey simulates death in the forever repeating cycles which, together in their continuity, simulate eternal life.

[Walter Russell]
A New Concept of the Universe, p. 14-16

One of the characteristic patterns of capitalism is of things getting concentrated into ever smaller spaces. Of things becoming more tightly packed. Of extremes.

Some examples:

- money and power is concentrated into fewer hands, producing extreme wealth/poverty.

- people are concentrated into smaller spaces, producing areas of extreme density (cities) and extreme sparsity (countryside).

- pixels are concentrated into smaller spaces producing extreme definition (HD).

Unchecked concentration leads to extremes.

For instance, the more you gather separate things together into one entity, and the tighter you pack them, the more mass you create; the more you concentrate flavours, the more exaggerated is the affect on the tastebuds; the more you focus talent into one area, the greater are the potential products of that talent; and by focusing wealth and power in fewer hands, the more extreme things can be done with this wealth and power.

Its akin to taking a long-slow wave - with shallow troughs and peaks - and packing it into a very small space. Its highs and lows are exaggerated - higher highs and lower lows - but its duration, its lifespan, is significantly shortened.

Imagine an athlete who trains so hard that they surpass all previous achievements in their field. They push their body to its limits, but in doing so wear it out in a very short space of time. They burn brightly - brighter than anything thus far - but their flame is extinguished unusually soon.

A high peak is always followed by a swift and steep descent. The brighter you burn, you shorter you shine: this is the eternal balance.

Through concentrating things we have made certain advances that would not have been possible otherwise. We have reached extremes that would have been unattainable if things were more evenly spread. These are the victories of capitalism.

Capitalism is, amongst other things, a pattern of runaway growth. It is unchecked linear progress, an infinite line moving into infinite space. In disregarding limits, it ends up going to extremes.

The longer it continues, the more tightly things will be packed, and the more extreme these things will become. It is turning a beach full of sand into a few boulders of sandstone.

If you want to make sandstone then it is 'good'. If you want a beach full of sand then it is 'bad'. Each have their downsides and upsides.  

As ever, the critical factor - the thing that determines 'bad' and 'good' - is context.

In light of the current problems that face us as a species, we cannot afford to keep wanting a few boulders of sandstone. We must begin to think in terms of sand, and beaches.

A supernormal stimulus or superstimulus is an exaggerated version of a stimulus to which there is an existing response tendency, or any stimulus that elicits a response more strongly than the stimulus for which it evolved.

For example, when it comes to eggs, a bird can be made to prefer the artificial versions to their own, and humans can be similarly exploited by junk food. The idea is that the elicited behaviours evolved for the "normal" stimuli of the ancestor's natural environment, but the behaviours are now hijacked by the supernormal stimulus.

'Supernormal stimulus'

In semiotics and postmodernism, hyperreality is an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality, especially in technologically advanced postmodern societies.

Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. It allows the co-mingling of physical reality with virtual reality (VR) and human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI).

Individuals may find themselves, for different reasons, more in tune or involved with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world.


Concentration leads to hyper-stimulation leads to addiction:

- Food                                        - extreme tastes
- Pornography                           - extreme bodies
- Drugs                                      - extreme highs
- Social media                           - extreme connectivity
- Films & video games                - extreme sights & sounds
- Music                                      - extreme sound

The point that nearly everyone in the debate is trying to evade is that the collection of extravagant energy-wasting habits that pass for a normal middle class lifestyle these days is, in James Howard Kunstler’s useful phrase, an arrangement without a future.

Those habits only became possible in the first place because our species broke into the planet’s supply of stored carbon and burnt through half a billion years of fossil sunlight in a wild three-century-long joyride. 

Now the needle on the gas gauge is moving inexorably toward that threatening letter E, and the joyride is over. It really is as simple as that.

[John Michael Greer]
'Renewables: The Next Fracking?' 

An enclosed social circle can quickly evolve political views, and the concentration of Britain's intelligentsia within small networks predominantly in west and north London helped to radically shift accepted ideas and prevent dissenting voices emerging.

As Cass Sunstein noted in Going to Extremes: 'Social networks can operate as polarisation machines because they help to confirm and thus amplify people's antecendent views.'

Interactivity between a group with political leanings of a certain bent acts as an echo chamber, progressively radicalising them even more.

[Ed West]
The Diversity Illusion, p. 62-3

I think that status is a hyper-normal stimuli […] what porn is to sex, sugar and salt and fat concentrated in a Frappuccino, or a McDonalds is to food - void of the actual nutrition […]

In an evolutionary environment we couldn’t necessarily have more than 150 people pay attention to us - now we can have a huge number of people pay attention to us and have it metricised with likes.

I think it is like sugar, a hyper-normal stimulus that is [unlikely] not to be bad for us, and we have to have a very mature relationship to it. Addiction of any kind - any hyper-normal stimulus that decreases normal stimulus - is going to end up being net bad for us.

I think one of the metrics for how healthy a society is, is inverse relationship to addictive dynamics. 

Addiction will give me a spike and then a crash, and then because of the crash I’m craving something that will spike me because I feel really shitty. But then I get in an erosion of baseline over time from the effects of that.

A healthier, more effective relationship to pleasure is anti-addictive. A healthy environment conditions people who are not prone to addiction, which means having more authenticity of choice. Addiction or compulsion writ large is less authenticity of choice.

If there is a healthy status relationship - in a tribal environment, where I can’t really lie and people are watching me, and know me - if I’m thought well of it’s because I’m actually doing well by everybody and I have authentic healthy relationships, as as opposed to [being able to] signal things that aren’t true, get more status though negative signalling about other people, and so on - that is the same kind of thing as the fast food, or the porn.

So I think we have a hypo-normal environment of the healthy stimulus which actually creates a baseline well being. Most people, when they go camping with their friends and they’re in nature in real authentic human relationships, they’re checking their phone for dopamine hits from email or Facebook less - because they’re actually having an authentic, meaningful, engaging interaction.

But in a world where there is a lot of isolation, [little] connection to nature and meaningfulness, that hypo-normal environment creates increased susceptibility to hyper-normal stimuli. 

Hyper-normal stimuli happen to be good for markets, because on the supply side addiction is good for the lifetime value of a customer, but is bad for society as a whole.

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Portal (with host Eric Weinstein), Ep. #027 - On Avoiding Apocalypses' (3:11:40)

[…] globalisation creates interlocking fragility, while reducing volatility and giving the appearance of stability. In other words it creates devastating Black Swans. 

We have never lived before under the threat of a global collapse. Financial institutions have been merging into a smaller number of very large banks. Almost all banks are now interrelated. So the financial ecology is swelling into gigantic, incestuous, bureaucratic banks […] when one falls, they all fall. The increased concentration among banks seems to have the effect of making financial crises less likely, but when they happen they are more global in scale and hit us very hard.

We have moved from a diversified ecology of small banks, with varied lending policies, to a more homogenous framework of firms that all resemble on another. True, we now have fewer failures, but when they occur… I shiver at the thought. I rephrase here: we will have fewer but more severe crises.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 225-6

[Nathan] Myhrvold enlightened me about an additional way to interpret and prove how globalisation takes us into Extremistan: the notion of species density. 

[…] out of the sixty thousand main words in English, only a few hundred constitute the bulk of what is used in writings, and even fewer appear regularly in conversation. Likewise, the more people aggregate in a particular city, the more likely a stranger will be to pick that city as his destination. The big get bigger and the small stay small, or get relatively smaller.

Simply, larger environments are more scalable than smaller ones - allowing the biggest to get even bigger, at the expense of the smallest, through the mechanism of preferential attachment […]

We have evidence that small islands have many more species per square meter than larger ones, and, of course, than continents. As we travel more on this planet, epidemics will be more acute - we will have a germ population dominated by a few numbers, and the successful killer will spread vastly more effectively. Cultural life will be dominated by fewer persons: we have fewer books per reader in English than in Italian […] Companies will be more uneven in size. And fads will be more acute. So will runs on the banks, of course.

[…] I am not saying that we need to stop globalisation and prevent travel. We just need to be aware of the side effects, the trade-offs - and few people are. I see the risks of a very strange acute virus spreading throughout the planet.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 219, 317

But you may say: "Yes, but we have lived that way for a million years." Consciousness and purpose have been characteristic of man for at least a million years, and may have been with us a great deal longer than that. I am not prepared to say that dogs and cats are not conscious, still less that porpoises are not conscious.

So you may say: "Why worry about that?”

But what worries me is the addition of modern technology to the old system. Today the purposes of consciousness are implemented by more and more effective machinery, transportation systems, airplanes, weaponry, medicine, pesticides, and so forth. Conscious purpose is now empowered to upset the balances of the body, of society, and of the biological world around us. A pathology - a loss of balance - is threatened.

[Gregory Bateson]
Steps to an Ecology of Mind ('Conscious Purpose versus Nature'), p.440

With an unending stream of technological innovations, modern life was subject to an unprecedentedly disorienting rapidity of change. 

Gigantism and turmoil, excessive noise, speed, and complexity dominated the human environment. The world in which man lived was becoming as impersonal as the cosmos of his science. With the pervasive anonymity, hollowness, and materialism of modern life, man's capacity to retain his humanity in an environment determined by technology seemed increasingly in doubt. 

For many, the question of human freedom, of mankind's ability to maintain mastery over its own creation, had become acute.

[Richard Tarnas]
The Passion of the Western Mind, p. 362-3

[…] one does not have to be a believer in total equality, whatever that may mean, to be able to see that the existence of inordinately rich people in any society today is a very great evil. Some inequalities of wealth and income are no doubt ‘natural' and functionally justifiable, and there are few people who do not spontaneously recognise this. 

But here again, as in all human affairs, it is a matter of scale. 

Excessive wealth, like power, tends to corrupt. Even if the rich are not ‘idle rich', even when they work harder than anyone else, they work differently, apply different standards, and are set apart from common humanity. They corrupt themselves by practising greed, and they corrupt the rest of society by provoking envy. 

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 234

World-city and province - the two basic ideas of every civilization - bring up a wholly new form-problem of History, the very problem that we are living through to-day with hardly the remotest conception of its immensity. 

In place of a world, there is a city, a point, in which the whole life of broad regions is collecting while the rest dries up. 

In place of a type-true people, born of and grown on the soil, there is a new sort of nomad, cohering unstably in fluid masses, the parasitical city dweller, traditionless, utterly matter-of-fact, religionless, clever, unfruitful, deeply contemptuous of the countryman and especially that highest form of countryman, the country gentleman. 

[...] the stone city in which is housed a quite artificial living, that has become divorced from Mother Earth and is completely anti-natural - the city of footless thought, that draws the streams of life from the land and uses them up within itself. 

This is a very great stride towards the inorganic, towards the end - what does it signify? 

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 32 and Man and Technics, p. 62

The Pintupi data show that, as Peterson (1972) argues more generally for Aboriginal Australia, the emotional identification of persons with particular places leads older men to reside near their own primary sacred sites.

This pattern ensures that people will return to marginal areas, to exploit the entire region, and makes for increased efficiency in a regional system, potentially supporting a larger population.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.155

[…] the emergence of the new left […] would once again attempt to combine socialism with localism and “community” - with no more success, in the end, than the guild socialists had enjoyed in their own day.

Repeated failures of this sort indicate that it is the basic premise of progressive thought - the assumption that economic abundance comes before everything else, which leads unavoidably to an acceptance of centralised production and administration as the only way to achieve it - that needs to be rejected.

Until it is, “community” will remain an empty slogan.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.328

Congress passed the most important financial legislation since the Great Depression in 1999 - the Financial Services Act. This law paves the way for banks, insurance companies, and investment firms to merge into colossal megacorporations.

The act repeals the 1933 Glass-Steagall law that was designed to protect bank depositors and insurance buyers from high-risk manipulation of their funds by banks and insurance companies. Glass-Steagall prevented the various types of financial institutions from intermingling funds and services.

But after years of interelite squabbles between banks, insurance companies, and investment firms, and after tens of millions of dollars spent on congressional lobbying, Congress opened the door to the creation of all-purpose giant financial mega-firms.

Overall, the U.S. economy has performed very well in recent years under the policies initiated by the global elite. But the benefits of that performance have been very unevenly distributed.

The global economy has produced growth and profit for America's largest corporations, and it has raised the aggregate income of the nation. But at the same time, it has contributed to a decline in average earnings of American workers and an increase in inequality in America.

[Thomas R. Dye]
Top Down Policymaking, p.20, 25

Could it be the development of the very civilisation that brought about these technological advances has also been responsible for the introduction and spread of some of the world’s most terrible epidemics of disease?

My suggestion is that the West's desire for progress, growth, and increase has brought about the very diseases that have become its scourge. Take a simple example: Every farmer and market gardener knows that the more he or she attempts to increase yields per acre by farming intensively, the greater the chance is that a crop will be totally wiped out by disease or natural disaster.

In order to increase yields, monocultures are developed that can be planted ever closer together and cultivated and harvested in the most concentrated ways possible. This requires the use of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. The end result is a system in which variety and flexibility have been reduced to such an extent that when a disease strikes it can spread through the whole crop and destroy it.

Add to this the increasing ease of travel to and from distant parts by ship and caravan, and suddenly it becomes possible to transfer new diseases from across the world into a population with absolutely no resistance.

It could be argued that the history of the West is not so much that of kings, princes, and popes; of wars and treaties; of scientists, engineers, and philosophers; of arts and literature; but rather of the creation, rise, and triumph of infectious diseases like plague, typhoid, cholera, and tuberculosis.

In a very real sense, human beings create the conditions for their own illness, out of their dreams, beliefs, values, social structures, and thought.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.111-2, 115

Starting in the late 18th century, and increasingly in the 19th, Britain became the champion of free trade; but it was in its interests to do so. Indeed, by then, Britain had become the first shipping nation in the world, the leading industrial economy, the supreme naval power and the largest colonial country.

In effect, the advocacy of free trade by Britain was little more than a disguised request for free commercial access to the whole world, including, of course, its rivals' colonies. Some of the weaker colonial powers, such as Belgium, had no option but to accept the ‘opening’ of its colonies to free trade, but most resisted strenuously.

The fostering of economic dependence of the colony on the metropole meant principally the prevention of self-sufficiency. This could be achieved negatively by discouraging the development in the colonies of industries that would compete with home industries. In the 19th century, for example, Britain, despite her advocacy of free trade for other countries, was concerned with Indian competition for the British textile industry, trying everything to stifle it.

Positively, economic dependency of the colony was fostered through highly specialized development of a few products for export. In the aggregate, the colonial world produced a wide range of goods, but the monoculture of cash crops often prevailed in individual colonies: sugar and its by-products in the Caribbean, cocoa in the Gold Coast (now Ghana), groundnuts in Senegal, sisal in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and so on.

Monoculture meant extreme dependence since the crop in question was rarely a basic subsistence crop and was scarcely ever consumed locally in significant amounts. The French, for example, produced wine in Algeria, a Muslim country where religion forbids alcoholic beverages. After nearly a quarter century of ‘independence’, Ghana, the world’s leading producer of cocoa, still imports most of the little chocolate it consumes from Britain!

Not only were colonial cash crops not consumed locally, but they also took away much land from subsistence agriculture, thereby leading oftentimes to a decline in the native standard of living and a deterioration in the quality of the diet. High-yield, low-quality root crops such as manioc and yams, for instance, were substituted for more varied and protein-richer cereal and bean crops. In extreme cases, such as in the West Indies, food had to be massively imported because nearly all available arable land was in sugar cane.

Dependency thus generally meant impoverishment as well. Paradoxically, the more ‘developed’ a colony was in terms of export productivity, the worse the diet of its population. Black South Africans, for instance, have one of the highest incidences of kwashiokor - a nutritional disease caused by a starchy diet - even though their country is by far the most highly developed industrial power on the African continent, with one of the continent's highest per capita income.

An additional source of dependence of colonial economies was that the few commodities, whether mineral or agricultural, in which they specialized were highly susceptible to extraordinary price fluctuations on the world market or, alternatively, were produced under conditions where the colonial power artificially imposed by force a very low price.

[Pierre L. van den Berghe]
The Ethnic Phenomenon, p. 102

The British Empire was at its very best a civilising force and at its very worst a ruthlessly efficient exploitation engine, but at no point did it seek to fundamentally annihilate the cultures and traditions of the people it subjugated. The GAE does.

[…] The GAE […] confers absolutely no benefits to either coloniser or colonised. The rewards, instead, go the obscenely rich financiers such as Larry Fink, or else mascot avatars of GAE ideology such as the obscenely fat Lizzo.

The GAE is a uniquely evil force in history totally unlike previous colonial empires. The GAE seeks total transformation of a culture in its own image using mass psychological warfare – as it did in Germany after World War II – on its subject populations and even on its own. It is a sick anti-civilisation cancer, a kind of all-consuming, all-destroying vortex that will not stop until everyone in the world has lost their history.

We face a totally evil enemy. The GAE has no redeeming features. It cannot be defended from the point of view of anyone who cares about humanity. It is anti-humanity and will destroy all you love.

[Academic Agent]
What is the Global American Empire (GAE)?, The Forbidden Texts, Substack


The GAE asset strips the whole world for the benefit of a small minority. Total extraction.

The industrial processes that turned government into this sprawling bureaucratised mess, have also done something very strange to our elites.

Mass society, human mobility and technology have untethered them from the local environments that used to give them meaning. We now have a class of globalising, extra-national super-elites, who identify primarily with each other, and who have lost contact with their native populations.

They have furthermore developed a peculiar agenda, one which reflects their own anxieties and aspirations. In implementing this agenda, they have the same problems as everyone else: They have to manipulate the bureaucratic monolith in all of its heavy, bewildering complexity.

In fact, elite withdrawal from specific national contexts and commitment to a bland, unpalatable universalising agenda means their task is even harder.

‘Stupid and Evil in Equal Measure: II - Mass containment as conspiracy and as emergent phenomenon’, eugyppius: a plague chronicle


The problem is less that we have elites, than that we have particularly bad ones, who have turned on the populations that sustain them.

This is not without historical precedent. Some elite factions during the rise of European feudalism, for example, developed a similar hostility and rapaciousness towards their peoples.

But, this is very far from the normal way of things. In healthy human societies, elites share a basic cultural outlook and an ethnic identity with their societies. Like everyone else, elites will strive to enrich themselves and further their own advantage, but ideally they and the people beneath them will share mutual interests sufficiently, to keep their rapaciousness in check and to ensure some degree of mutual regard.

‘Liberalism, Progressivism, Leftism’, eugyppius: a plague chronicle

Overshoot means you've exceeded your carrying capacity.

Any farmer who has a bunch of cattle knows that if you put too many cows out in the pasture, they'll eat the grass until there's nothing but mud and then they die. Now, if you import a lot of grass from other farmers, you can keep your cattle going. That's what humans have been doing.

We talk about urban ecology - that's nonsense. The city is not a complete ecosystem. The city is the human equivalent of a livestock feed lot because you have all of these consumer organisms jammed into one area. Geographers and urban economists often say, "Well, cities are no problem, and are only 2-3% of the surface area of the Earth." But that's from their narrow, reductionist, simplistic perspective.

If we look at human beings from an ecological point of view, then each city occupies on Earth an area anywhere between a 100 and a 1,000 times more land than is within the political or built-up area of the city. So the human urban ecosystem now is larger than the entire planet because cities have become parasitic on their environments because of globalization.

I did an early study of Tokyo. Tokyo is 38 million people, the whole population of Canada […] Tokyo uses more bio-capacity than the entire nation of Japan, about twice as much as a matter of fact. So the ecological footprint of Tokyo is larger than the entire country of Japan, and it's only something like a quarter or a third of the Japanese population. So Japan has exceeded its carrying capacity because of globalization, the capacity to bring in the resources needed to sustain its overpopulation.

And because we can do that, we become blinded to the reality of our overshoot.

As long as you can import from elsewhere, you are blind to the fact that you've exceeded your local carrying capacity. But what you're doing in the meantime is drawing down the available productive capacity in other places. And every country in Europe is in that circumstance.

Japan is in that circumstance where they're living on imported carrying capacity or the assimilative capacity of the rest of the planet to absorb their carbon and other waste. We don't actually measure the other waste.

[William Rees]
‘William E. Rees: "The Fundamental Issue - Overshoot" | The Great Simplification #53’, Nate Hagens, YouTube

Another consequence of the short period of cheap and plentiful oil, of course, is the monster cities of today. We say to ourselves, Well, man needs a city; culture cannot arise out of subsistence farming; there has to be a sort of critical density of people to make mutual fertilization possible and produce the flowering of the human spirit.

Cities have existed for five or six thousand years; but they could never grow beyond a very modest size. Why not? Because a big city doesn't live on itself, it lives on the land, it lives off the land.

An inland city lives off the circle of land around it to be provisioned; and in the past that circle couldn't be very large, because the only transport energy was animal and man. Of course, a city situated by the sea could use one other transport energy, namely wind power, and therefore the biggest cities grew up on the seashore, where they could be provisioned by ships. And so we know of no city, until about a hundred years ago, that grew beyond something like two hundred or three hundred thousand people.

Then this bottleneck of how to provision a city was broken by man exploiting fossil fuels, first coal, then oil, and developing a transport technology to use them, so that big cities could be provisioned from all over the world: the hinterland, as it were, of the city became the world.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 17

In sum, specialization of economic activities, by breaking up the economic process, had made it possible for people to concentrate on one portion of the process and, by maximizing that portion, to jeopardize the rest.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘Western Civilisation to 1914,’ p.29

Since such economic independence could, according to the theory, be obtained only by the Great Powers, the lesser states were to be deprived of sovereignty in its fullest sense and be reduced to a kind of vassal or client condition in respect to the Great Powers.

The theory was that each Great Power, in order to enjoy full sovereignty, must adopt a policy of autarky. Since no power, however great, could be self-sufficient within its own national boundaries, it must extend this sphere of autarky to include its weaker neighbors, and this sphere would have political as well as economic implications, since it was unthinkable that any Great Power should permit its lesser neighbors to endanger it by suddenly cutting off its supplies or markets.

The theory thus led to the conception of “continental blocs” consisting of aggregates of lesser states about the few Great Powers. This theory was entirely in accord with the political development of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. This development had seen an increasing disparity in the powers of states with a decreasing number of Great Powers.

This decline in the number of Great Powers occurred because of the advance of technology, which had progressed to a point where only a few states could follow. The theory of continental blocs was also in accord with the growth of communications, transportation, weapons, and administrative techniques.

These made it almost inevitable that the world would be integrated into increasingly large political units.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, p.230

This inevitably brings together the capital owned by a large number of persons to create an enterprise controlled by a small number of persons.

The financiers did all they could to make the former number as large as possible and the latter number as small as possible. The former was achieved by stock splitting, issuing securities of low par value, and by high-pressure security salesmanship. The latter was achieved by plural-voting stock, nonvoting stock, pyramiding of holding companies, election of directors by cooptation, and similar techniques.

The result of this was that larger and larger aggregates of wealth fell into the control of smaller and smaller groups of men.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, ‘Finance, Commercial Policy, & Business Activity,’ p.213

‘We are talking about something like $200 billion that used to go to the worst-off three-fifths of the population, and now goes to the best-off fifth …’

The stagnant incomes of the majority in America’s ‘winner-take-all’ capitalism are not the inevitable by-product of technological innovation. Comparisons with no less technologically developed economies suggest strongly that they are the result of public policies. According to well-researched estimates, in 1990 American CEOs earned roughly 150 times the average worker’s salary, while in Japan the figure was 16 and in Germany 21.

‘What is occurring is a huge transfer of wealth from lower skilled, middle class American workers to the owners of capital assets and to a new technological aristocracy with a large element of compensation tied to new stock values.’

[…] the Japanese social contract guaranteeing full employment has prevented the growth of a proletariat and, in more recent times, of an underclass. By comparison with most western countries, Japan is an egalitarian society in which nearly everyone is middle class.

[John Gray]
False Dawn, p.115-16, 173

Related posts:-

Short term / Long term

Short term       -       Long term

One of the most exciting things about adolescent boys and girls can be said to be their idealism. They have not yet settled down into disillusionment, and the corollary of this is that they are free to formulate ideal plans.

It is not for the adolescent to take a long-term view, which may come more naturally to those who have lived through many decades and begun to grow old.

[D.W. Winnicott]
Home Is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst, p. 165

"Let's save the planet for future generations, for our children, and their children."
These appeals are all but useless in the current cultural climate.

The more we swing toward a short-term pragmatist/materialist mentality the less we value long-term considerations. Thus, the voice that urges us to think in the long term - that warns of future dangers - is a weak one. 'The future' is little more than an abstraction; we do not care about 'the future' because it does not exist here, now.

We can see this on an individual level. Many of us may have an addiction that we know is harming us in the long term, and that may have catastrophic effects on us in the future. Yet, because we can continue to indulge in the present without any immediate ill effects - because judgement day has not yet arrived - concern for our future has little affect on our present actions. The short-term outweighs the long-term. This kind of thinking is encouraged and reinforced by the wider culture. It urges us to indulge. 'Fuck it'.

If we do not care about our own future as individuals, then what hope have we of caring about our future as a species?

Who is going to be willing to fight the enormous battle against their addictions - a battle waged in the palpable here-and-now - for an abstract concept like 'future generations'?

Appeals that attempt to make us change our immediate actions by gesturing towards future danger - "the icecaps will melt", "your liver will give up" - are more or less redundant. Calamity must strike - we must hit rock bottom - before we are willing to change anything. Faced with such calamity, many would choose to continue along their dysfunctional path (keep their addiction) rather than change. They would, in some cases, choose annihilation.

Such is the power of the short-term in these times.

Sometimes in order to fight something we must take an indirect - and often counter-intuitive - route. Perhaps, then, to prevent the icecaps from melting, we must promote a long-term mentality. The pendulum must begin to swing in the opposite direction.  

The most critical battlefield in this regard may be culture.

We must stop transmitting messages that urge us to think short-term. We need people of influence (celebrities) who endorse long-term thinking. The voice of wisdom - the voice of the elder - must return to guide us, rather than the voice of the reckless youth.

Not only is there respect for the aged, but authority is vested in the old people. This arrangement naturally lends itself to control of life by the aged.

Preservation of the religious ideals and mores is thereby ensured, and the younger people who are inclined to introduce change can be held in check.

A strong consciousness of kinship is peculiarly favourable to gerontocracy, or social control by the older members of society. This control is informal rather than formal, but is, nevertheless, "closer ti us than breathing, nearer than hands or feet."

The part that old people have "in drawing forth and molding the character and life-policy of every younger person in the kinship group makes the necessity for direct control much less frequent in an isolated culture than in more accessible communities."

The relatively integrated community is asscoaited with effective rules imposed by the aged, be they parents or church leaders. Thus deference to age pervades not only familial realtionships but also the religious leadership of the group.

Furthermore, the counsel of the older bishop or minister carries more authority than that of younger ones.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 16-8

In economics, hyperbolic discounting is a time-inconsistent model of delay discounting.

The standard experiment used to reveal a test subject's hyperbolic discounting curve is to compare short-term preferences with long-term preferences. For instance: "Would you prefer a dollar today or three dollars tomorrow?" or "Would you prefer a dollar in one year or three dollars in one year and one day?"

It has been claimed that a significant fraction of subjects will take the lesser amount today, but will gladly wait one extra day in a year in order to receive the higher amount instead. Individuals with such preferences are described as "present-biased".

The most important consequence of hyperbolic discounting is that it creates temporary preferences for small rewards that occur sooner over larger, later ones. 

Individuals using hyperbolic discounting reveal a strong tendency to make choices that are inconsistent over time – they make choices today that their future self would prefer not to have made, despite knowing the same information. This dynamic inconsistency happens because hyperbolas distort the relative value of options with a fixed difference in delays in proportion to how far the choice-maker is from those options.

Hyperbolic discounting has also been found to relate to real-world examples of self-control. Indeed, a variety of studies have used measures of hyperbolic discounting to find that drug-dependent individuals discount delayed consequences more than matched nondependent controls, suggesting that extreme delay discounting is a fundamental behavioral process in drug dependence. Some evidence suggests pathological gamblers also discount delayed outcomes at higher rates than matched controls.

Whether high rates of hyperbolic discounting precede addictions or vice versa is currently unknown, although some studies have reported that high-rate discounters are more likely to consume alcohol and cocaine than lower-rate discounters. Likewise, some have suggested that high-rate hyperbolic discounting makes unpredictable (gambling) outcomes more satisfying.

'Hyperbolic discounting'

Wal-Mart's lengthy struggle to open in New York City has hit fresh problems -- a controversial report that said America's biggest discounter does not just sell cheap, it makes neighborhoods poorer.

"The overwhelming weight of the independent research on the impact of Wal-Mart stores ... shows that Wal-Mart depresses area wages and labor benefits ... pushes out more retail jobs than it creates, and results in more retail vacancies," [...]

New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls a possible Wal-Mart store in New York "a Trojan horse."

"It looks appealing to a lot of families who are hurting but it turns into a big problem in the long term because of the net elimination of jobs," de Blasio said.

"Wal-Mart draws ire even in poor parts of Brooklyn"

If both positive and negative consequences of an action fell on its author, our learning would be fast.

But often an action’s positive consequences benefit only its author, since they are visible, while the negative consequences, being invisible, apply to others, with net cost to society.

Consider job-protection measures: you notice those whose jobs are made safe and ascribe social benefits to such protections. You do not notice the effect on those who cannot find a job as a result, since the measure will reduce job openings. In some cases […] the positive consequences of an action will immediately benefit the politicians and phony humanitarians, while the negative ones take a long time to appear - they may never become noticeable.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 129

[…] iatrogenics, being a cost-benefit situation, usually results from the treacherous condition in which the benefits are small, and visible - and the costs very large, delayed, and hidden.

And of course, the potential costs are much worse than the cumulative gains.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 340

The future is an unknown country, and those who live in a present arrayed in hostility to the past must acquire indifference toward, and a simple faith in, a better if unknowable future.

Those whose view of time is guided by such belief implicitly understand that their "achievements” are destined for the dustbin of history, given that the future will regard us as backward and necessarily superseded.

Every generation must live for itself. 

Liberalism makes humanity into mayflies, and unsurprisingly, its culmination has led each generation to accumulate scandalous levels of debt to be left for its children, while rapacious exploitation of resources continues in the progressive belief that future generations will devise a way to deal with the depletions.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.74

Sorel believed that the bourgeoisie, having derived its moral ideas from eighteenth-century absolutism and from the decadent aristocracy fostered by absolutism, was now attempting to instill this ethic of irresponsibility into the workers, seducing them with the promise of endless leisure and abundance.

He argued, in effect, that the aristocracy of the old regime, with its cultivation of the "art of living,” had anticipated the modern cult of consumption. Aristocrats had traded their power for the brilliant, feverish delights of the Sun King's court. Without civic functions, they determined at least “to enjoy their wealth with relish"; they "no longer wanted to hear of the prudence long imposed on their fathers." The assumption that improvement had become automatic and irresistible relieved them of the need to provide for times to come. “Why worry about the fate of new generations, which are destined to have a fate that is automatically superior to ours?”

Aristocrats tried to avoid their obligations not only to the future but to the poor; this escape from responsibility, according to Sorel, was the dominant theme in eighteenth-century aristocratic culture. 

“At the dawn of modern times, anyone who held any authority aspired to liberate himself from the responsibilities that archaic conventions, customs, and Christian morality had, until then, imposed on the masters for the benefit of the weak.”

The idea of progress furnished the theoretical justification for the abrogation of reciprocal obligations, the foundation of aristocratic morality in its heroic phase, before enlightened aristocrats were corrupted by easy living.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.307

I believe that human beings and our cognitive capacities have become obsolete in the world in which we live.

If you think about the evolution of humans, we grew up in relatively simple circumstances. We were in small groups living in home ranges that weren't all that extensive, and lived and died within a few dozens of kilometers of each other. So there was no real pressures on the human mind to think beyond simple cause effect relationships.

The bottom line is that our cognitive capacities tend to be limited in most people to rather simplistic reductionist perspectives on reality.

Climate change is a perfect illustration, because there are hundreds of things happening but we fixate on climate change. The focus gets shifted a little bit when something like a pandemic comes along. But then, it's all about the pandemic we forget about climate change. Then there's the war in Ukraine, and we talk about that for a while, and now we're back to climate change.

And nobody bothers to connect all of those dots because human beings are not inherently intrinsically capable of thinking systemically. When's the last time you had a dinner conversation about lags and thresholds, chaotic behavior, collapse syndrome, systems theory and so on. It just doesn't happen.

Climate change is our fixation because there are obvious symptoms that many people can relate to, but it's only one. We could spend the whole day talking about plunging biodiversity, ocean acidification, soil and land erosion, on and on and on. Every single so-called environmental problem is a symptom of the same issue, which is overshoot. Overshoot is the fundamental issue and is the cause of all of these other problems.

Overshoot means that human beings are using resources, the products of ecosystems, much faster than they can regenerate. And we're dumping wastes far in excess of the natural assimilative capacity of ecosystems of the ecosphere. We're drawing down all of our natural capital - fish stocks are collapsing, soils are eroding at 10 to 40 times the rate of restoration - and we're polluting far beyond the capacity of the systems to assimilate.

[William Rees]
‘William E. Rees: "The Fundamental Issue - Overshoot" | The Great Simplification #53’, Nate Hagens, YouTube

Related posts:-

Dependency Culture


Child                           -                     Parent


Increasingly we [live in a] 'dependency culture.'

We depend on the consumer machine to provide for us - to give us what we want, when we want it. This is our 'right.' The Thing has dehumanised us, and we are all incresingly dependent on it for succour. We expect. We demand. We are like children. Everything must be instant and, if it isn't, somebody must pay.

[Paul Kingsnorth]
Real England, p. 272


In order to transition to a new paradigm we must be prepared to lessen our reliance on the current culture and the things that it gives us to consume: films, sport, art, music, television. Inasmuch as  these things - in both a direct and indirect way -  prop up the current state of affairs, we must be prepared to move away from them.

One of the overriding affects of current popular culture is to reinforce the world as it is.

It allows us to go on thinking everything is okay, because culture is okay. 

And yet, in many ways, culture - this world that we lose ourselves within -  serves to keep us distracted from other things that are happening, outside of its borders.

Inasmuch as we are addicted to our cultural consumables, we must wean ourselves off them. When the addict is intoxicated they disappear into their own world; turned off, tuned out. The outside world, with its problems and worries, disappears, if only momentarily.

One of the biggest imperatives of our time - in light of the challenges that currently face us as a species - is for us all to overcome our addictions.  

This includes our addiction to culture.


Related posts:-
Addiction: the Short and Long of it
A Circle of Gifts 
Do Not Disturb 
Status Quo
Masters of the Universe

Fear Visions


Negative                             -                      Positive
Deflation                            -                       Inflation
Earth                                   -                      Sky


Our culture is drowning us in negativity.

Take Eastenders (a.k.a. 'Arguments in London'). In showing us a near-constant stream of arguments and conflict it makes us more likely to interact with each other in this way. Whilst we may consciously recognise that these are only fictional characters - and extreme characters at that - we cannot control the unconscious affect that these characters are having upon us.

So whilst we may watch it in an ironic or detached way, we are not able to fully immunize ourselves from its effects. It is like ironically swallowing a glassful of poison. We can be as detached as we like from the action, but it will still have its way with us regardless. By watching we are putting ourselves into a toxic environment. The fact that we are aware of its toxicity does nothing to lessen its effects.

We often create things as 'critiques' so that we can examine the pathology (hold the wound up to the light), but it may be that in creating these visions we are actually - in an indirect way - breathing life into them.

It is entirely possible - and likely - that critiques and parodies - these things that serve up our fears in a palatable manner - are actually making the realisation of these fears more likely.

We will come to see that the ways in which we tell stories - through film, and TV - affect us in ways in which we currently do not recognise.

The visions that we create, create the reality that we live in. In this way, we mould our own reality. In constantly immersing ourselves in our fears, we lend power to them. They become self-fulfilling prophesies. What we focus on, we draw nearer to.

What do we want to focus on?


A living philosophy must be based upon unity - oneness - inseparability and interdependence. It must have love as its motive instead of fear. It must see the good in man and not look upon him as sinful and evil.

The world becomes what the world thinks. It thinks of man as sinful and evil and he has become what his own thoughts have made him. He has made a world of hate and fear, and where hate is love cannot be.

[Lao Russell]
God Will Work With You But Not For You, p. 213-14


Related posts:-
Guiding Fiction
Imagine something better 
Re-write It
Hell in a basket
Projecting a Shadow
Giving and Receiving
Negative Space
Positive Space