Panarchy & The One to The Many-The Final Countdown

Off the keyboard of RE

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

Although Seccesionary Movements still appear to be a bit far off into the future here in the FSofA, this aspect of the Collapse has already hit over in Eurotrashland, most notably right now in Spain where the Catalans are making a lot of noise about splitting off from the Castillian control of Spain to form their own “new” country. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the UK Telegraph has been covering the talk of Catalonia Secession in quite some detail lately:

It is the latest move in a fast-escalating clash between Catalan nationalists and Spanish nationalists, the latter backed by King Juan Carlos and the Spanish military.

Jose-Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the foreign minister, threw down the gauntlet, calling Catalan secession “illegal and lethal”. He warned that Spain would use its veto to stop the region of Catalonia becoming an EU member “indefinitely”.

The constitutional crisis has eclipsed the parallel drama of a Spanish bail-out request from the European Stability Mechanism. It is no longer clear whether premier Mariano Rajoy can deliver on any austerity deal with Brussels.

Catalan leader Artur Mas held high-stakes talks with Mr Rajoy in Madrid on Thursday, armed with a mandate from the Catalan parliament and with charged emotions left from an unprecedented protest by 1.5m people in Barcelona 10 days ago.

He demanded an independent treasury for the rich Catalan region, with control over its own tax base akin to the model already enjoyed by Basques. The 9m Catalans have an economy the size of Austria’s.

This isn’t the only place in Europe where talk of a breakup of a country into component parts is being discussed though. There is now talk of Secession in Scotland, one of the main constituents of the “United Kingdom”, which includes Great Britain, Wales and Ireland as well as Scotland. From Bill Jamieson on The Scotsman:

Many big questions remain unanswered ahead of the signing of an accord on the referendum, writes Bill Jamieson


What is the objective of independence? As David Cameron and Alex Salmond are set to sign an accord on the referendum at St Andrew’s House next week – a formal signing ceremony that the First Minister wishes to take place in front of the world’s press and television cameras – it may be useful for the SNP annual conference next week to clarify the benefits it believes will flow from a Scottish secession from the Union.

In few other countries has the aspiration for independence been so closely focused on the economic pros and cons of self-government. Many supporters may feel this is second-order detail. But there is a sizeable proportion of Scottish voters who are not yet decided and for whom economic considerations will be critical to their decision.

Argument has already been engaged on projections of North Sea oil revenues, public spending, borrowing and tax. Important as these are now set to become, debate here is in danger of missing a key pillar of the SNP case. This is that independence cannot be judged on the basis of linear statistical projections of income and expenditure alone. For independence will, of itself, help release our entrepreneurial energies: it will bring about a cultural change, releasing our animal spirits. It will, in short, be transformative of our economic performance.

Besides these internal Secessions in the making of course is the big one we all have been hearing about for quite ome time, the breakup of the Eurozone itself, administered out of the European Parliament in Brussels. It reamins unclear who will be the first to leave the EZ, Greece or one of the other PIIGS countries who are failing miserably under the “Euro Straight Jacket” as Nigel Farage refers to it, or the more “successful” Northern European countries like Germany and Finland who are getting a bit tired of Bailing Out their impoverished cousins to the South.

What does seem certain of course is that the European Union is well into Collapse phase now, and is unlikely to survive in current form much more than another year or two, if that.

Preceeding both of these breakups by quite a bit also, we have the collapse of the Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall into its many component Nation-States like Russia, Ukraine, Belarus etc.

Essentially, this represents a One-to-the-Many fracturing of Goobermint Structures which have been consolidating since Agriculture began around 10,000 years ago. it is an absolute REVERSAL of a trend that has been in place for a very long time, though it accelerated tremendously with the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century.

What does this new trend MEAN for the nature of our societies as we move forward here further into a low energy footprint society?

Going back to my earliest writings on the Peak Oil Forum, one of the first epiphanies I had after witnessing the Collapse of Bear Stearns was that the Banking System which functions as the “Glue” holding this society together was on the road to a One-to-Many fracture. Not only Banks would be affected, but the Nation-States themselves, which really are just Big Banks themselves. At one time they were Bigger Banks than the TBTF Banks currently running Global Economic systems, but in the years since the Industrial Revolution these large Banking Houses have become Supra-National entities, larger than the Nation-States.

Since the collapse appears to progress upward from the smallest and weakest Financial Entities to the Largest ones, it seems likely that the progress here will see collapse of the various Nation-States before the TBTF banks, but they then also will fracture in One-to-the-Many devolution.

Where this really comes into play is in the Future Picture many people hold as true, a Brave New World/1984 picture of One World Goobermint, with a Fascist Boot Stamping on the Face of Humanity FOREVER.

The picture Rod Serling paints in Obsolete is one we are ALREADY immersed in, it is not a projected FUTURE anymore. However, just as we have now Past Peak Oil, in all likelihood we are reaching the Peak of Globalism and the massive and overarching Nation States and Transnational Corporations that have turned the world into a simalcrum (thank you Charles Hugh Smith 🙂 ) of the Brave New World/1984 paradigm.

The One World Order isn’t becoming MORE likely now, it is rapidly becoming LESS likely as an ultimate outcome here. All evidence points to an ONGOING and ACCELLERATING collapse of the main Conduits used for Global Control, centered around the collapsing Energy Supply used to power these things and the collapsing Monetary System used to organize it all up.

This is not simply borne out by the observation of the system decay, there is plenty of good THEORY as well from the world of Biological and Ecological systems to refer to as well, pioneered mainly by C.S “Buzz” Holling & Lance Gunderson in their work identifying 4 Phases in the Collapse and Reconstruction of Ecosystems.

  • a four-phase adaptive cycle. Holling and Gunderson (2002:32) suggest that most, although not all, such systems follow a four-phase cycle of (1) “exploitation” (r); (2) “conservation” (K); (3) “release” (Ω) or “creative destruction,” a term derived from Schumpeter (1943); and (4) “reorganization” (α). The first two stem from standard ecological theory, in which an ecosystem’s r phase is dominated by colonizing species tolerant of environmental variation and the K phase, by species adapted to modulate such variation. However, Holling and Gunderson (2002) say that “ …two additional functions are needed.” The corresponding phases, especially Ω, are typically much briefer: in a forest, Ω might be a fire or insect outbreak that frees nutrients from biomass, whereas the α phase involves soil processes limiting nutrient loss. The adaptive cycle involves changes in three main variables: resilience; potential in the form of accumulated resources in biomass or in physical, human, and social capital; and connectedness, meaning the tightness of coupling among the controlling variables that determine the system’s ability to modulate external variability. In the r phase, potential and connectedness are low but resilience is high; in K, resilience decreases while the other values increase. Eventually, some internal or external event triggers the Ω phase, in which potential crashes; finally, in α, resilience and potential grow, connectedness falls, unpredictability peaks, and new system entrants can establish themselves. Holling and Gunderson (2002) stress that the adaptive cycle is a metaphor that can be used to generate specific hypotheses; exact interpretations of resilience, potential, and connectedness are system dependent.

The beauty of the Holling-Gunderson model of Panarchy is that it applies across the board to just about all ecosystems, from Trees and Forests to Insects to Mammalian life forms. It also has direct applications in Economics as well. Much of the work done on this stuff was done back in the 1970s, but some of it goes back as far as the 1940s.

In a direct parallel to this work, you have the “4th Turning” Generational theory of Strauss & Howe, which identifies 4 major Eras that modern Homo Sapiens passes through on roughly and 80 year cycle. Each of these eras has a direct parallel in the cycles desribed by Holling & Gunderson.

What is fundamentally different between these models is the Timeline issue, the Holling/Gunderson model is a time independent model which can work on many different timescales, where as the Strauss & Howe model is fixated on the 80 year timeline of modern history.

If all you beleive is at work here is the Fourth Turning concepts, then given 10-20 years or so we should work through the collapse phase and begin the rebuilding for another Generation Cycle.

What really seems to be at work though is a much longer cycle for Homo Sapiens, that goes back roughly 10,000 years to the beginnings of Agriculture. We worked through the Exploitation and Conservation phases of this, with one final Blowout Free for All exploitaiton of Fossil fuels to drive Industrialization in the final era of this. We no longer have sufficient resources to exploit for a rebuild phase, and the vast expansion of Human Biomass that it enabled has also depleted the Ag resource base we used to get to the point we could exploit the fossil fuels resources.

As it appears to me, we are not just on the cusp of a Fourth Turning, but a Release Phase in the Holling/Gunderson model that will undermine all the structures built to organize Civilization since the beginnings of Agriculture.

In the near term, the most obvious collapse is coming inside the Monetary System, which developed in tandem with Agriculture. I first became aware of this watching the collapse of Bear Stearns back in 2007, followed rather quickly by the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. It was at this time I realized that the Monetary System was undergoing a Cascade Failure event, and that in succession it would take down ever larger Banks and Financial Organizations, including of course Nation-States, which until just recently were the Biggest Banks of all. They have since been superceded in this role by a few Supra-National TBTF Banking institutions however.

So it was not a big jump for me in 2008 to predict that it would lead to the collapse of Nation States and a One-to-Many breakup, which we have been witnessing for a while in MENA, now also apparent in Spain and the United Kingdom. In fact this began quite a bit earlier with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but since the USSR was not in direct linkage to the Capitalist system run through the BIS, it’s collapse did not directly begin the Cascade Failure effect we see in evidence now.

The monetary system we use developed in the Exploitaition phase of growth described by Holling & Gunderson, and through the Conservation phase has only been maintained through numerical legerdermain, which only works for a while. So though the general population and Civilization experienced near constant growth, only briefly plateauing during the Middle Ages, the associated monetary system has suffered repeated failures during this period, in fact on just about precisely the timeline of Strauss & Howe’s 4th Turnings. In fact I made the case to Jim Quinn (a big fan of Strauss & Howe’s theories) while I was blogging with him on the Burning Platform that the 4 Turnings were merely the outcome of the average lifespan of a monetary system with an average interest rate in the 2-3% range. Jim never bought that idea completely, but it was one of the few we didn’t completely go ballistic on each other on. LOL.

As we look at the outcomes already extant here of the progress of the Monetary System collapse, it is clear that it is working its way inward from Peripheral Economies to the Core Economies. Also clear is that some of the TBTF Banks are actually BIGGER than Nation-States now and may last longer than the N-S they are chartered in, though legally it is hard to imagine how that can occur.

If you consider that it has taken about 4 years from the collapse of Bear Stearns to make it to collapsing the Spanish N-S and presenting the real possibility of Catalan Secession, on a linear scale another 4 years before we have similar effects here in the FSofA is reasonable, though it could go a good deal faster than that since Cascades can turn into Avalanches at certain Tipping Points. Such a tipping point in the case of the Monetary System would be the complete collapse of a Major Currency, in this case the Euro. The Dollar is likely to get a BRIEF bounce from a Euro collapse, but the instability that would create would be so vast it is likely the Dollar itself collapses shortly thereafter.

Money as it exists today is an artifact of the Growth phase of Civilization, and cannot function without that growth. When you also consider that Money is the “Glue” that holds this Civilization together, it is difficult to conclude otherwise that when the Monetary system collapse, the Civilization we know goes with it. “Money Makes the World Go-Round” the saying goes, and so when the money STOPS working, the World as We Know It STOPS going round also. TEOTWAWKI.

Making prognostications about how we will proceed in the aftermath of such a collapse are exercises in extreme speculation, since such a collapse has never been recorded in Human History. The Collapse of the Tower of Babel in the Mesopotamian Era and the Collapse of the Roman Empire offer only a glimpse into what might occur here, and of course the outcome of those collapses was none too good either. If you take some passages in Revelation as being representative of how the collapse went down in Babylon, you get none too pretty a picture from that:

Revelation 18

King James Version (KJV)

18 And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.

2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.

3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.

6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.

8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,

10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:

12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,

13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.

14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.

15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,

16 And saying, Alas, alas that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!

17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,

18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!

19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.

20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;

23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

This of course does not bode well for the Gold & Silver Bugs out there, since apparently the PMs held no more value than any of the other Goods being traded in the marketplace of Babylon, along with the Souls of Men.

Despite that though, in the aftermath of this collapse, the type of Ag society it represented did re-emerge and grow again with the expansion of the Roman Empire until its collapse, and then in the aftermath of that re-emerged in a Feudal Society, eventually culminating in Capitalism and Industrialization, courtesy of the discoveries in Science and Mathematics made during the Enlightenment.

In neither the case of Babylon or Rome had the population of Homo Sapiens grown to 7 Billion Human Souls. In neither case had Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Power Plants with vast quantities of poisonous Spent Fuel ponds been created. In neither case was the Planet experiencing dramatic Climate and Geotectonic shifting altering the very environment we all live under in ways which cannot be absolutely predicted, but which certainly show trend lines that are none to good no matter how you measure them or what you believe the underlying causes to be. All of these factors conspire to make the impending collapse far WORSE than those experienced by Babylon and Rome.

When you observe all these factors in synergy, it becomes quite difficult to offer much HOPE for Humanity, or even for most living organisms above the level of the Tardigrades, and some like Guy McPherson make the case that this is an Extinction Level Event on the order of the Permian Extinction 252 Million Years Ago. This may be so, but even if true will not occur Overnight here.

The questions of how to deal with such a massive upheaval on the Indidvidual level are the questions we seek to deal with here in the Doomstead Diner. If it truly does turn into an ELE, in the end we all will go to the Great Beyond, but who wants to be the FIRST to DIE? if you value Life for yourself and your children, you seek to find a way to SURVIVE the great conflagrations to come. Are there ANY foolproof solutions to this problem? None yet have turned up at the Diner Tables, but some Solutions presented are better than others and becoming aware of issues that Transcend physical survival into the the world of Psychological and Spiritual preparation also serve as endless fodder for the Diners to chew on.

The Doomstead Diner is not an easy place to take a meal, ever, but on these pages you will find a level of Truth you can find nowhere else on the Net. At least no place to my knowledge anyhow. Join us here as we prepare ourselves for the Final Countdown.



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