I spent the last few Daily Rants examining the Past and what occurred during the Great Depression, and for now at least I think that subject has been exhaustively covered, at least with the data we have available to work with. So with this Daily Rant, I’m going to move out of the past and into the present and likely future.
In this area, the argument divides again into two fundamental camps, those who believe that Technology will come in to save the day and those who believe that the end of the Fossil fuel era will require humanity to REVERSE ENGINEER back to a lower energy footprint utilizing more sustainable technologies from the past. As with most of the critical debates we have, I hold up the less popular side of the debate, which is the power down side. For this post, rather than focus on whether or not we can replace the Oil with Nukes or Renewables or even Cold Fusion, I am going to argue the position that we shouldn’t even bother trying. Why? Because high technology while it has in some senses made some people’s lives easier, for the most part its negative consequences destroy the spiritual side of our lives and destroy our liberties. In a Cost-Benefit analysis, it is a loser.
I put up in the Daily Video spot the 1984 Super Bowl Commercial for the Macintosh Computer, aired only that one time on Network Television. It was such a fabulously POWERFUL commercial though that everyone who saw it remembers it. At the time, I still watched Super Bowls, so I did see it. It was probably the greatest TV Commercial ever produced. In 1 minute of time, it said about everything about the Zeitgeist of the time.
The commercial airs a powerful Image of George Orwell’s “1984”, with Male Drones glued to a Big Screen TV being Mind-Controlled by the Talking Head of Big Brother, all in Black & White. As the Commercial comes to a close though, an Athletic Olympian Female Athlete toting a Hammer comes running into the auditorium, herself in Technicolor. She is pursued by SWAT/Robocop style Police, but before being caught swings the Hammer in full Olympic Spinning style into the Big Screen TV. It blows the living shit out of the TV, metaphorically FREEING the drones from the Mind Control.
The idea being conveyed here was that the Personal Computer was going to FREE the minds of people from the medium of Television, which had reached its Zenith in 1984. The Technicolor of the Female Olympian was just like the Technicolor in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy moved from her drab life in Black & White Kansas of the Great Depression Era to the Free and Full Color life in the Land of Oz. But of course, in both Oz and in our own post-techno revolution computer age, that Freedom wasn’t real at all, and in fact TRAPPED Dorothy even more than the trap she was in back in the Black & White land of Kansas.
Have computers and the worldwide net REALLY freed us? Well, there is certainly a whole lot more information out there we can now access, and of course we are all free here now to Napalm the Living Shit out of each other on the pages of TBP as well. This is more or less a positive thing, but the DARK SIDE of this technology is much more powerful.
As a whole, all the technologically connected people of the world become ever more dependent on this technology, and their lives are ever more consumed by it. Everything you do or say through the medium is recorded, and everything recorded can and is filed in databases to identify who you are and how you think. Not just what you DO, but how you THINK. People create Facebook pages, which link them to all their friends, so when that Joe McCarthy style Purge comes, consider how easy it is now for Da Goobermint to not only nail you, but then by extension nail everyone you are connected to.
Every Transaction you make with a Credit Card or Debit Card is recorded. Your food preferences, your recreational choices, everything. As we move forward here if a technological society could continue, those cell phones you carry would be your transaction card, and they also carry with them a GPS chip which records your every move, so as long as you have it switched on, every place you go can be mapped out, along with the route you took to get there and how fast you were driving. And of course everyone ALWAYS has their cell phone ON, because you just MUST be connected! A friend might send you a TXT message, cannot miss that. They do not even need to implant Chips into people, the people will WILLINGLY carry their Tracking Units all the time to be connected to the Network. Because without that, they are not part of this type of community.
At the same time you have become part of this Global Interconnected Web Community though, you have given up your personal connections to people in your local community. I mean really, I KNOW people I work with who will walk around Texting friends totally GLUED to their Iphones. They are too busy doing that to talk to the person they are in the same room with.
For right now, there remains a certain amount of choice still, you can turn off your cell phone, you still can make transactions in Cash, you can still save some of it in the Bank of Sealy or bury it with a few ounces of Gold Dust and Diamond Rings in Denali National Park in a hermetically sealed PVC Pipe at a location only YOU have the Latitude and Longitude coordinates to and can find even without a GPS if necessary using just a Magnetic Compass, Watch and Sextant. If the Magnetic North Pole keeps migrating at 40 Miles/year, I’ll just have to rely on the Sextant and Watch and some dead reckoning on Geological features that don’t change too rapidly. Fortunately, the Stars don’t seem to be changing their positions too rapidly, so hopefully I can find the damn pipe with ¼ of my Savings when I need to. LOL. I have a good self-winding mechanical watch in case my digital ones get taken out by an EMP. My sextant is a nice Brass Reproduction of an 18th Century one made in India, reasonably accurate. Should be accurate enough to get me within a mile or so of the area, after which I can find my Buried Treasure by the local terrain features. I haven’t tried that yet though, but I’ll test it this summer when the weather improves. Wandering around Denali National Park in mid-winter is not a good idea unless you are a fucking good Jeremiah Johnson type, which I am not. It is a fucking HUGE place and you can quite easily get seriously LOST or trapped by bad weather. In the summer though, it is very pleasant. The rest of my Savings is distributed out ¼ in Digimoney in a Local Credit Union, ¼ in Anonymous Debit Cards/Pay Pal Accounts and ¼ in easily accessed cash in local storage spots. All the electronic money is immediately accessible as long as the network is up and running, and worth having available if for some reason cash goes no good. I am trying to cover both bases here 50-50, half cash, half electronic digibit money. The digimoney is half directly attributable to me, half anonymous in accounts only I have the password for but cannot be tied to me otherwise. This way, hopefully I do not get a 100% Wipeout of my savings regardless of how the crash proceeds before I can spend it into Hard Goods.
However, regardless of my eccentric Banking methods, in the industrialized countries, if the system was to be maintained after the collapse of the Dollar and all the rest of the Fiat currencies, it is almost certain that any new currency system centrally created would be 100% Digital, no Cash at ALL available to sequester in the Bank of Sealy. For this reason ALONE, I cannot support maintaining the technological grid of the Internet, but when you conjoin that with the fact that every last thing you write gets recorded and every last friend you have is recorded you can see where by accepting this system you accept Big Brother, WILLINGLY. You give up your autonomy by becoming a part of this vast interconnected electronic Web, and you become COMPLETELY dependent on it. The minute the Internet goes down for good, even under the quasi-choice system we have now; the minute you will have simply gobs of people completely LOST, like a Borg who has been cut off from the Collective. If/when it became effectively MANDATORY to be connected in this way, then when such connections are lost the people would really be in dire straights. They will have become so completely disconnected from the simpler means of living they simply will be unable to return to it. Like Dinosaurs faced with a radically changed environment, they will just helplessly die off.
There are people here I have chatted with, Plubius and Flash particularly who think that this is the road we are destined for. “1984” on Steroids where there is NO ESCAPE from the power of the Illuminati. I don’t agree with that viewpoint, because I do not in fact believe that these systems can be maintained in the post-Peak Oil world of the future. However, if it were true that we could in fact build enough Nukes or harness Cold Fusion to maintain this kind of structure, then I would have to agree with them that this would be our destiny. Technology is not liberating, it is ENSLAVING. Every last technology you accept and come to depend on enslaves you a little bit more. When you accept the Automobile as your transportation means, you become enslaved to the provider of the fuel for that automobile. When you accept the Light Bulb as your Light Source at night, you become enslaved to the Electricity Provider.
Who are the ONLY really FREE people left? They are the very few people still walking the earth who depend on NO technology other than their ability to make the few tools they need out of available materials they can pick up and who have knowledge enough to be able to fish for subsistence with the tools they make or find wild edible plants to eat in remote places that somebody else has not claimed the land they forage from as their own. The only way to be truly free is to be able to independently subsist in this way, and virtually no one can do this anymore. I know a few people who might be able to do it, but I am not one of them.
I do not advocate for that kind of freedom anyhow, I think people do need each other and can depend on each other in small groups of interdependence. The kind of Freedom I would like to see evolve here with the Failure of the Technological Conduits is one of small Communities and Tribes, not large Nation States. I believe that will come to pass with the collapse of the Age of Oil, and I would not hope for it to be replaced by Nuke Plants which would just perpetuate the central control paradigm and the loss of Freedom. THAT is why I am against Nuke Power, not because I am a big Tree Hugger, though of course I AM a Tree Hugger who values the natural ecosystems more than man made power sources. Big Nuke Power Plants give the POWER and Control over the society and the people in it to the few people who CONTROL the power plants. Once you come to depend on this, you are forever under their control. Only if you can GIVE IT UP can you be truly FREE.
To me, true FREEDOM is more important than the creature comforts we get by accessing great sources of thermodynamic power, which ALWAYS are controlled by a very few people in the society. There were others like me also through history, who walked away and rejected the trappings of the technological society of their time. The Jeremiah Johnsons, the Mutineers of the Bounty on Pitcairn Island, the John Dunbars who “went Native”. I haven’t walked so far away as that, mainly because I cannot anymore, not because I would not do it if I could. For younger folks in better health than I am though, I most certainly would recommend rejecting as much technology as you possibly can and becoming as self-sufficient as you can to become as FREE as you can.
This process does not have to come all at once, I wouldn’t suggest to anybody to smash their laptops and cell phones or junk their cars while it is all still working, and while in fact to live in the society we have now in the FSofA you really must use these tools. I certainly haven’t done that, I’m just trying to distance myself from it and prepare myself psychologically for the day Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You all these toys just don’t WORK anymore. That is why I wake up at the crack of dawn on a cold Saturday Morning to go out onto a lake on the Last Great Frontier to cut a hole in the ice and see what I can fish up. Do I do this EVERY day? Hell no, I don’t have to, nor could I since I have to wake up at the crack of dawn to go to my REAL JOB, which thankfully I still have. Thankfully also I still have a working 1989 Mazda MPV 4 wheel drive which brings me quickly in comfort to my job. Thankfully also I can still buy gas for it at the local convenience store for $3.80/gal. I don’t have to subsist on a daily basis from what I can fish up, I can drive over to Walmart and buy just tons of food shipped in from all over the world! I’ll sure miss that when it is gone, but at the same time I would be foolish not to prepare myself for the day it IS gone, as long as it is within my power to do so.
As we observe the turmoil developing throughout the Oil producing countries of the M.E., it is a foregone conclusion now that the Oil which powered our society is NOT going to be available in perpetuity to continue doing that. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to figure that one out. Nor is it very likely that even if possible would we be able to transition to alternate power sources fast enough to stop this type of technological society from coming to a screeching HALT. It is going to crash, and you can observe the crash in slow motion occurring, starting at the most peripheral economies and working its way inward toward the center. By cutting off vast populations of the earth from the remaining Oil, our Oil consumptive society may perpetuate a few more years, but equally possible is we will get a sudden STOP before that as the monetary system fails and societies go to WAR over the remaining resource. A War that cannot be won by anyone of course, but that does not mean it won’t be undertaken. That War is the last gasp of a dying technological paradigm, the Death Convulsions of a sick society.
For those of us born in the right place at the right time, for a couple of generations we got to Party like its 1999. Some folks became quite wealthy hitching a ride on this waste based paradigm of Production and Consumption, but they did so always at the expense of others or at the expense of the resources of the earth. You cannot make something from nothing of course. In the Blame Game of who is responsible for the mess we find ourselves in, it is all those people who took profit in this, who became manufacturers and industrialists, who controlled Da Goobermints and bought the politicians to serve their interests, who controlled the Banking system and created out of thin air the Money we all needed to make our way through this type of world. These are the people who are responsible, not J6P Union man who always was just trying to get a decent wage to live in the society and raise his kids. The Capitalists and Banksters and the Profiteers are the responsible ones for this collapse, and they must shoulder the blame for it. They must and will be put on Trial for their Crimes Against Humanity and Rape of Mother Earth. Eternal Justice will not be denied. When the Capitalist Inquisition is finished, whoever is left will then be able to build a Better Tomorrow.
There will be no George Orwell 1984 in the long term, we are already LIVING in that world NOW, and it is coming apart at the seams. It is made possible only by control over the vast thermodynamic energy of fossil fuels and the Conduits of transportation, communication and energy they support. When that energy is no more to be found at a positive EROEI, these Conduits will all collapse, and with that collapse will come the end of the control of the Illuminati. It will usher in a new age of FREEDOM, albeit with a vastly reduced population. You can’t make an Omellette without Breaking a few Eggs of course. When this Matrix falls apart, it will not be pretty.