Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bye-Bye Miss American PI (Post-Industrialism)

Back around 2011, when I first began reading The Archdruid Report, John Michael Greer detailed his outlook for America in posts about "catabolic collapse." He throws that term out often and even describes it in macroeconomic terms, but all it means is collapse that feeds on itself, just as the opposite (anabolic growth) means compounding growth caused by self-reinforcing vitality. Though Greer frames his analysis around individual civilizations, he arrives at pretty much the same place I did by drawing from the World3 (Limits to Growth) and BEST models - America eventually becomes a herder/cultivator society. He sees America's collapse starting in 1974 when the rust belt started seriously rusting, and occurring thereafter in stages wherein America devolves into a contented third world country (or several countries) as early as 2030 and continuing to decline if we ...
Fast forward another few decades, and another round of crises arrives, followed by another respite, and another round of crises, until finally peasant farmers plow their fields in sight of the crumbling ruins of our cities.
Though this collapse takes decades, it is many times faster than the centuries-long rise from wilderness settlements to superpowerdom. Greer's description doesn't distinguish between a herder/cultivator and an agrarian society (I edited my own oversight two posts back), but according to  The BEST Model (pg. 1-9), one of the distinguishing differences is that agrarians have the advantage of farming with fossil fuels and metal tools. Agrarians can still form empires, but the best herder/cultivators can do is organize groups of villages.

Perhaps schools today should be training kids on how to get by on the terms they are likely to encounter in their adulthood, but for those reading this today, let us consider the near-term implications of  the world collapsing relatively quickly from an integrative post-industrial economy with international democratic organizations to industrial economies with nationalist democracies. This is the destination Trumpist isolationism appears to favor. Soon after we have re-industrialized, more collapse will likely thrust us further down the chain so that, come 2030 or so, we may find ourselves rediscovering agrarianism under autocratic governments (Russia today) and decades later, after fossil fuels are no longer available, back in the herder/cultivator stage under familial rule.
Photo by 1nelly

Seeing as how we should expect further collapse of our post-industrial system back to a straight industrial system in the next decade, factory jobs should be prized by jobseekers. At least Trump is aiming to bring those jobs back home. Small business manufacturing is a good way to go - for the environment, cultivation of long-term relationships, and adjustment to a more fragmented nation. Employment at a factory out in the countryside might offer a chance to segue into agriculture when the factory shuts down. Ideally, living among relatives engaged in small farming or other sustainable vocations would position one for the next level of collapse to hunter/cultivator villages. Ecoforestry is ideal for this latter stage. Since all of these changes could take place over just a few decades, it will be important to have a job with enough time off to allow one to acquire the tools and skills that will enable one to live in the future as it spirals down. We are 42 years into the catabolic collapse and only have a few decades left before America begins to look like it did before the Europeans arrived.

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