I'm portuguese, born in 1966. This is an account of some books and DVDs about the state of the world and its emergent multidimensional collapse (updated 2017/Feb/17).
First of all, I feel the aching of the world. Somehow, I'm connected to the earth, its land and its dwellers. And I can't just cut this connection. For me, the needed healing started as a study. How do others feel the aching of the world? The unavoidable 'guilt of the Left' took its toll when I read Mastering the Machine Revisited.
Contrary to popular european belief, poor people (about 80% of all people) is becoming poorer, more indign and more miserable. This fact is both corroborated by other sources and justified by the dire state of everything that doesn't carry a price tag, that is, everything that directly supports the life of those who can't pay. This "everything" is, mostly, the environment and the environment is in bad shape. Take a look at the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment:
- Biological diversity is a necessary condition for the delivery of all ecosystem services. In most cases, greater biodiversity is associated with a larger or more dependable supply of ecosystem services. Diversity of genes and populations is currently declining in most places in the world, along with the area of near-natural ecosystems.
- Declining trends in the capacity of ecosystems to render pollutants harmless, keep nutrient levels in balance, give protection from natural disasters, and control the outbreaks of pests, diseases, and invasive organisms are apparent in many places.
This is pretty bad but it gets worse. It turns out that we, the people, require a very fundamental resource to solve any problem we may face: energy. And energy, nowadays, comes mostly from oil. And, hélas, we''ve spent half of all oil on earth, we are at the peak of oil extraction. There is no other way but to Powerdown.
Now, don't laugh. This is serious. Deadly serious. This whole problem has a lot to do with corporate culture.
"150 years ago, the business corporation was a relatively insignificant institution.
Today, it is all-pervasive.
Like the Church, the Monarchy, and the Communist Party in other times and places, the corporation is today’s dominant institution."
Being the europeans and north-americans so affluent for so long, why haven't they contributed to the development of the rest of the world? Hah! That's not good-for-business. In fact, the affluents have contributed mainly to poverty. They have been Kicking Away The Ladder.
Diverse global organizations have worked systematically to maintain the majority of people under the constraints of poverty.
Some say that global organizations like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund or the Bank for
Reconstruction and Development are controlled by small, but very powerfull, mafias like the Bilderberg Club.
I find the story of Black Gold particularly interesting.
"Since the International Coffee Agreement—which regulated the supply of coffee on the world market—collapsed in 1989, the price paid to coffee farmers has fallen to a 30-year low. But in the same time period, retail sales from coffee have increased from $30 billion to $80 billion a year. Today, four multinational corporations dominate the global coffee market: Kraft, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble and Sara Lee."
The story of Mondovino is not that different.
"Although Nossiter set out merely to find the characters behind the wine industry, he ended up with a poignant look at some important issues, including deforestation, the corporation versus the independent company and even communism. The result is an inside examination of a world very few people see."
Just as we are here, let me tell you about a classic movie, last Humphrey Bogart's movie, The Harder They Fall.
This movie shows how big money, together with the media, either corrupts or destroys the people it touches.
Do you see the trend? The market is a force that moves a greedy few very high up, that drags a selected cast of servants below and that keeps the vast majority just on the survival threshold.
The Internet has further widened the gaps between the many social levels, mostly between the employed and the job-less. That's The Future of Success.
Perhaps we should call it, The Economic Horror.
You can see the workings of the this trend bluntly exposed in Darwin's Nightmare.
The "free" market produces a few rich and an overwhelming array of misery. And it does that globally.
One of the global effects of corporate culture is Climate Change.
The curious thing about Climate Change is that it reveals a great case of market failure as it is not possible to have both Climate Change and business-as-usual. Nevertheless, corporations are not concerned. Corporations can take advantage of anything that comes their way, even Climate Change, because corporations are sophisticated externalizing machines. Their benefits are always decoupled from damages on "public goods". Even The Stern Review is contaminated with corporate culture: "Changes in energy technologies and the structure of economies have created opportunities to decouple growth from greenhouse gas emissions."
In fact, corporations have been perfecting the tactics to take advantage of catastrophic events. It's The Shock Doctrine.
The dominant institution of this world, the corporation, is not at all concerned with the people in general, so, why is the people not fighting corporations? Hah! There are many reasons. They run deep, they run high, they've been running for long and they run together.
Some, few voices raised against the system in the late sixties and early seventies. The Club of Rome was one of those voices. Its report Limits to Growth was released in 1972. Action was called for but no action was taken. An updated version entitled Beyond the Limits, Global Collapse or a Sustainable Future was released in 1992.
"We discovered, as we began to talk to colleagues about the world being beyond the limits, that they did not question that conclusion. [...] The human world is beyond its limits. The present way of doing things is unsustainable. The future, to be viable at all, must be one of drawing back,easing down, healing. Poverty cannot be ended by indefinite material growth; it will have to be addressed while the material human economy contracts. Like everyone else, we didn't really want to come to these conclusions"
In 1999, Alan AtKisson publishes Believing Cassandra.
It was clear that the world plundering continued and that most people was unaware of it. Perhaps this was due to a conceptual difficulty. What is the meaning of sustainability?
In 2005, Limits to Growth, the 30-year Update was published.
Now in the fortieth-anniversary, there is already physical evidence of collapse...
Other voices were also raised inside the United Nations. In 1987, the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future, started a series of Global Environment Outlooks. For instance, the one published in 2007 is the GEO-4
Like other reports or books, the GEO-4 proposes four future scenarios. The GEO-4 scenarios are named: Markets First; Policy First; Security First; and Sustainability First. The analysis of these scenarios produced the following message, among others: "Despite a possible slowing down of global environmental change, the peak rate and end point of change differs strongly among scenarios. The higher the rate of change, the greater the risk that thresholds in the Earth system will be exceeded in the coming decades, resulting in sudden, abrupt or accelerating changes, which could be irreversible."
The GEO-5 states:
"The scale, spread and rate of change of global
drivers are without precedent. Burgeoning
populations and growing economies are pushing
environmental systems to destabilizing limits."
So, we're in a truly global and truly risky bad situation. Think of a chain of increasingly sized dominoes. If one piece is tipped, all the bigger pieces also tip. It is a chain of tipping points like The Next Catastrophe.
Complete absence of political action cannot be explained neither by conceptual difficulties nor by lack of physical evidence alone. There are psychological explanations as in The Logic of Failure.
There are sociological explanations as in The Collapse of Complex Societies.
And there are, say, structural explanations as in Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail.
But the real explanations come from way back, from the last ice age. After the Ice covered large areas of land, people had to organize or perish.
Most of our fundamental rituals and social habits were consolidated at that time. The ice age ended, people spread over the world, the younger dryas came and agriculture was invented by the First Farmers.
Agriculture implied strong hierarchical organizations, and resulted in religions, wars, empires, civilizations and rituals decoupled from overall community interests. Agriculture also started Climate Change but its worst off-spring was, undoubtedly, The God Delusion.
What is it that people puts above everything else? God? Money? Neither. Most of the time (measured in thousands of years), most places, most people puts earth above everything else. That's right. Take a look at some indigenous-people's writings:
Besides, hierarchical organizations, like the church, have lots of internal miseries.
The leadership of hierarchical organizations was perfectly theorized by Maquiavel.
European hierarchical organizations became able to wipe-out indigenous-peoples as a result of a long process explained by Jared Diamond.
The relative power of different hierarchical organizations (nations) was analyzed by David Landes.
The pace of destruction took a step forward with the invention of the steam engine in the XVIIIth Century. The industrial revolution began (well, some say it began with the invention of the pendulum clock). But greed and corporate culture had already made its way into law with the creation of the Bank of England under the Tonnage Act, 1694. This Act allowed the existence of paper money without matching commodity funds and propelled the expansion of the united kingdom. This banking system made its way into the united states (and most of world) effectively transferring decision power from the governments to the banks. In 1868, the 14th amendment to the united states Constitution gave to corporations the right to be treated "as a person" (which cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law). The thing is that a corporation is neither accountable nor responsible as a person. Corporations are designed by law to be concerned only with the interests of their stockholders, not their stakeholders.
The law has many other subtleties to enforce the power of corporations. For instance, The Great Tax Clawback Scam.
Or The Mistery of Capital.
So, banks were already controlling governments, in particular, the Federal Reserve System was already controlling the united states government, but they still needed to control the people globally. The tool to accomplish control of the people was, and continues to be, Propaganda.
Expansion of control onto the whole Earth went on with many glitches, including the great depression, world war II, the sixties, the Hubbert peak of the united states oil production in 1970 and the cancellation of the Bretton Woods system by Richard Nixon in 1971. Greenpeace was founded in that same year but it was already too late.
We are approaching The Great Turning (from an optimistic point of view).
Or, maybe, Collapse (from a pessimistic point of view).
It's unavoidable. The global economy cannot continue to grow, so it will contract. The environment is in a pretty bad shape, as we''ve seen, the climate is warming, arable land is degrading,
the most renewable of all resources, the only resource that falls from the sky, fresh water, is disappearing from the ground,
everybody is stressed by The Grip of Death,
Trust is low,
the running concept of civilization is too flawed
The scenario is, indeed, awful but why not look at it from a positive point of view?
We can solve though problems,
we can prepare for the unexpected,
we can develop holistic strategies,
and make a new way of life
but, please, do not let yourself be misled neither by hope