SOCIAL CHANGES FOR SURVIVAL from Murph
The seemingly helplessness of individuals in our society to affect changes is endemic, or let’s put this another way; changes that have to do with sustainability and survival. Voices that make warnings of social chaos in some future are for the most part ignored, especially at the policy level of government, local and national. It is obvious to me that radical change in how the lives of the citizens are conducted of this country, and for most of the world for that matter, is simply going to have to take place. If we do not have the leadership or citizen involvement, the changes that are going to be forced on us will be chaotic at best.
The intellectual agreement that peak oil is upon us, or soon will be, has not really entered into the national consciousness, nor is the complete ramifications of this treated but for a very few authors and activists. Instead, when the subject is brought up in polite company, the subject is shut down by a collective denial that it can and will happen. This refusal to acknowledge that the era of cheap energy is about over and how it will change our lives simply will not be admitted to by either leadership or citizenry. The cult of “our way of life is non negotiable” is the predominate thinking. After all, what is the use of worrying about a few hundred caribou and our need to drill for 6 months of oil in
We are already seeing the first results of expensive energy sources; at the gas station and at the grocery stores. Any expectation that this trend of increasing cost for eating and driving is going to reverse is denial in its extreme, and seems to be based on the idea that there is a never ending source of the energy needed to maintain how things are and have been for 3 generations.
Since the industrial revolution, there has been a constant shift from people involved in food production to urban living, to the point that we now have only 1% of the population involved in food production as compared to nearly 40% in 1900. This 1% is composed of nearly all commercial industrial production with its monoculture techniques. This has led to land degradation, monopolization of seed production, inhumane animal husbandry and excessive use of water to name just four of the consequences. For anyone looking at this it should be obvious that our method of producing food for the maintenance of a society is simply not sustainable.
If we look at a historical precedent, during WWII, when Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden on the white house lawn, (this forced the agriculture department to reverse its policies) and it ended up that nearly 40% of the food production in the nation was put out by these victory gardens. But it took an example by leadership to get it going since the agricultural department at that time was adamantly opposed to it. I’m not sure whether that is a condemnation of the thinking of the general population and foresight of leadership or not, but it was effective in a critical period. Despite any other weaknesses involved, Jimmy Carter made some warnings back in the day about eventual resource depletion and put up solar panels on the white house. Reagan promptly tore them out, right at the time when we should have been making serious policy decision for the eventuality that we would not have the cheap energy sources available any longer. But, what else can you expect from senile leadership? The fact that the man is eulogized today is a sickness and a joke.
I suspect that in the near future we are going to see an increase of historical fact finding, revisionist conclusions and more energy spent in suppression and marginalizing of these findings.
I have been coming across articles and books that take a look at what has happened in the last 200 years, especially dealing with European and American history, particularly how slavery has changed. Instead of a wealthy person owning a human and having to pay for the support while that slave contributed to your wealth, it was determined in the mid 1800’s that is was cheaper to pay a subsistence wage and have a company store where the wage earner had to buy all the stuff needed for survival, at a profit of course. Since choices were severely limited to non existent, the slave was now responsible for his own upkeep. When the big Irish migration took place during the potato blight in
Even the middle class are not exempt. The middle class was a phenomenon of the industrial revolution and the fleeting opening up of economic ascension and ambitions to be something other than slaves. But in reality, they were slaves but with more toys, better living conditions and privileges. Sort of like the plantation owner with the household staff with more privileges and better living conditions for being more subservient.
As the title suggests, there are going to have to be some changes in social structure and general attitudes if we as a species are to survive, since how we are organizing society and economics can’t be sustained. It appears to me that the change does not have to be the picture of survival by hunting and gathering, although that is a very real possibility if we continue on this path for much longer. In any event, we are going to have to reduce population to a more earth friendly level. What population we end up with will have to be non centralized, the cities have to go. Cities by their very nature are not sustainable, and instead depend on the exploitation of the surrounding area; in our present case, exploitation of the entire rest of the world.
People’s attitudes about ownership will have to change. Ownership of land will also have to go, for ownership of land demands to be exclusive by imperative, not inclusive. Instead, there will have to be a group effort to preserve at sustainable levels the environment that we depend on to live. We will need to adopt more of the attitude of the North American Indian view that land cannot be owned, any more than water and air, and is treated with reverence rather than exploitation. Clear cutting of vast forest areas, damming of rivers, polluting of the air and water will have to cease. Paving over vast areas of prime growing land will have to cease and the areas now covered by concrete and paving has to be tore up and returned to natural habitat. Local communities will have to become self sufficient, out side of any control by a centralized patriarchal hierarchy. I suspect we will see a far more un-uniform social organization than what we experience now. You will have far more choices on how you wish to live. Those organizations that become self sustaining with no exploitive behavior will have the best chance of continuance. What you will give up is the slavery to wealth, to exploitation and forced labor to continue your life. Oh, and by the way, your free time will go up dramatically. Wouldn’t that be nice?