Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Peak Oil Collapse Fetishists

I just read this piece called “Spirituality of Collapse”, which is yet another “What do we do after Peak Oil?” piece. In some ways, it could be a companion to “The Coming of Deindustrial Society: A Practical Response” by my old college buddy and former friend, John Michael Greer.

Both of these pieces are proponents to the possibilities of community and life in a post-collapse society. The Antropik Network are also proponents of discussing this viewpoint (or series of views).

I find them interesting to read because they do appeal to my heart in many ways. The world we live in now is a poison and it is a poison on so many levels. Our sanity and our souls are infected and turned (like the parasite in John Carpenter’s version of The Thing) until where we end and the parasite begins cannot be determined. Eventually, we are the parasite and we’ve become co-opted by a system that many of us, when younger and more idealistic, we despised.

Are you what you wanted to be when you grew up? I know people that can say “Yes” to this question and they are either lucky, shallow, or simply unreflective. Be glad if you are the first though I do believe we make our own luck. For the rest of us, as an aside, I will point out that it is within our power to change the situation. It is a question of whether we’re willing to pay the various costs to do so.

Anyway…back to my point…the vision espoused by these proponents of Peak Oil-philia (Ophelia?) is something that I can feel drawn to but I do feel a certain some of the millenarian in these. Sort of the same thing when people speak about the Singularity aka “The Rapture of the Nerds.” While these people will claim that they aren’t apocalyptic fetishists (and do say this), there is still a strong element of this to their thinking.

The one thing rarely discussed which I consider the most critical is the massive amount of death involved in any of these post-Peak Oil fantasies. They often acknowledge it but wave their hands and claim that there is nothing to be done and that the best anyone can do is prepare for the worst for yourself and your immediate friends and family.

I’m sorry but that is not enough. If a collapse is coming, we need to work as much as possible to alleviate the most dire aspects of it. Would you prefer a world wide depression or a world wide plague? Pick one. You shouldn’t just be stocking up on weenies and marshmellows to roast over the flames as civilization burns.

In all of these industrial collapse scenarios the horsemen return. Famine overtakes the world, including the U.S., as cities can no longer feed themselves by bringing in food and there is not enough land to grow it locally. War for resources breaks out and possibly conscripts the populace. Disease runs on an unstoppable path through any and all parts of the world. This is not something to sit back and get your eco-primitive woody over while consoling yourself that “They all had it coming and should have thought ahead.”

If the world population drops from six billion to 500 million, how do you think that works in practice? That’s a one in twelve survival rate. Look around at a group of roughly 100 people that you know… 8 of you will live in that kind of scenario. Is that a world to look forward to?

This is more of a minor rant than a call for a solution but I did want to give a hearty “Fuck you too” to everyone looking forward to the collapse of it all. It’s a cop out and an unoriginal one at that. Zealots have looked forward to civilizational collapse for thousands of years. It doesn’t mean that it might not very well happen this time (though I, personally, think a low-resource fascist military state is a more likely result) but to feel fondly for the horrible death of more than 85% of the world is a pretty disgusting thing.

I’m done for now.