Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXI. A Self-Sufficient Community — Better Than Precious Metals or Fiat/Digital Currencies.

Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)
9 min readNov 6, 2023
Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

A Self-Sufficient Community — Better Than Precious Metals or Fiat/Digital Currencies

Today I’m sharing a conversation with others via the Comments section for a post on the website Zerohedge — as well as a preamble to the conversation to set the context for my part in the conversation. The article is focused upon the future of fiat currency but comes via the website Schiffgold that for all intents and purposes markets precious metals, warning of the perils of fiat currency.

For anyone who follows such sites, you will be cognizant of the ongoing debates regarding precious metals and fiat/electronic currencies. Essentially, the disagreements are founded upon differences of opinion regarding the best avenue for storing one’s ‘wealth’, particularly surplus wealth, to help avoid the inevitable collapse of current fiat currencies.

I have written a bit about such topics, particularly as they pertain to growth and collapse, in these posts:
Feeding the Growth Monster: Fiat Currency and Technology Blog Medium
Fiat Currency: Debasement and Infinite Growth Blog Medium
Fiat Currency, Infinite Growth, Finite Resources: A Recipe For Collapse Blog Medium
Greenwashing, Fiat Currency, Narrative Management: More On Climate Change and Elite Confabs Medium
Ruling Caste Responses To Societal Breakdown/Collapse Medium

When I first fell down the rabbit’s hole that is Peak Oil and began to explore all the issues related to this most fundamental of predicaments for our societal complexities, storing surplus wealth was a concern for me[1]. My wife and I were still both working full-time in relatively secure and well-paying careers (we’re both since retired), our house was paid off, and our two children were still in high school. We had always been relatively frugal in our consumption and were privileged enough to be in a situation where our income almost always exceeded our expenditures — early in our marriage, when we were both still students, was the exception. But, once we paid off our mortgage (which we did as expediently as possible after our student loans were paid off, that carried 14+% interest on them when we graduated) we were spending far less than we were earning.

As I dug deeper into the complexities of energy and its implications for our globe, I worried more and more about the future and how to best insulate my family from what may come. I was drawn towards precious metals given my educational background in archaeology and the presence of it as a means of exchange throughout recorded history. But as I delved deeper and deeper into the cyclical recurrence of societal ‘collapse’ it became clear that without local self-sufficiency/-resiliency having a hoard of precious metals (many of which have been found by archaeologists, and thus unused/abandoned) or an electronic wallet holding digital currency was probably moot and not a secure means of ‘preserving wealth’.

I have come to understand/believe that community resiliency and a focus on our fundamental needs may be the most appropriate response to the coming storm that is a loss of surplus energy and the consequential breakdown of energy-averaging systems (i.e., long-distance trade). This is why I now suggest that relocalising food production, potable water procurement, and regional shelter needs may be one’s best approach to help insulate one’s community and thus family.

I have spent the better part of a decade exploring and practising how to produce as much food as possible on our relatively small, suburban piece of land north of Toronto and initiated a food gardening guild in my community. These are by no means a ‘solution’ to our predicaments and I could currently feed our household of five adults for about two weeks on our garden harvest — if we’re lucky. I take solace, however, in the fact that each year the gardens produce a bit more and my ongoing experiments meet with success more often than failure (from which I try to learn from).

My fledgling attempts are far, far behind others I communicate with or read about online, but I am far, far ahead of almost my entire social circle. Apart from my blood siblings, none are pursuing any form of self-sufficiency but are hip-deep in ignorance, denial, and bargaining — carrying on with their ‘modern’, relatively affluent lifestyles.

My much younger sister (who has put her career as a gynaecological oncologist on hold as she is home with three young children) has been experimenting with food production and chicken raising the past couple of years. And my younger brother — who is months away from retiring as a fire station captain — has recently purchased a remote property (relative to the densely populated southern Ontario where he and I reside) in northern Ontario where I spent a week this summer helping him get some neglected raised beds cleaned up — there were surprisingly a plethora of well-established perennial food plants present.

Anyways, without further ado, here is the conversation that reflects some different perspectives…

Me: While precious metals or crypto may be a store of wealth as argued by many, I think I’d sooner ‘invest’ what little surplus I have in physical tools/supplies to help my family/community become more self-sufficient and resilient. As the saying goes, you can’t eat gold. Physical materials that will help in food production, procurement of potable water, and regional shelter needs may be a much better focus for folks than either fiat, electronic wallets, or metals at this point in the fourth turning…oh, and a means to protect what you have may be wise as well — from community cohesiveness to armaments of some kind.

Weirdly: Saving money is for excess value. You have it right. Tools, businesses, friends, community until you are limited, then save in bitcoin.

Me: I think I’d sooner save excess in silver/gold than bitcoin. Chances are high that grid-down scenarios are likely to increase in frequency and size as the center loses control making electronic-based ‘wealth’ about as useful as our politicians…but as price inflation is quickly eating away any excess for me, this may be a moot point.

JudgeSmails984: Grid down scenarios? Are you high? I live in Northern California where they shut the power off when it’s windy and ask you not to charge your EVs in the summer when everybody is using their AC, and still, the power never goes out for more than a few hours, anywhere.

your “increasing frequency of grid down occurrences” statement is idiotic and not based on real world reliability data. Outside of natural disasters and yahoos shooting up transformers here and there, the electrical grid is a highly distributed architecture of critical infrastructure, and there are almost no significant outages, anywhere that matters in the US.

Also-almost all critical facilities like hospitals and law enforcement all have backup diesel generators-our electrical system is very robust and resilient.

how so many people plan their investments around something that never happens, has never happened but might happen, is beyond me. It’s like taking a parka into the desert at noon because it might snow while you are there…it could happen, the next ice age could begin today.

JudgeSmails984: I have a 3 month instability limit. You shut the lights off and leave the humans without food to fend for themselves, I have one bullet for myself in that unlikely scenario.

Given that my current GF is diabetic, she’d probably check out a month after the CVS stores ran outta insulin.

I have freeze dried food, some gold, silver, cash to get through a short period of disorder, but I have no interest in living rough, like indefinitely, for years without security, food, comfort etc. through a new, post apocalyptic dark age.

I’ve had 50 good years, rather go out with a bang than suffer slowly and watch those I love perish.

Good luck with your long term ambitions though. Hope nobody you love gets a tooth abscess or bacterial infection…once cured at the clinic on the corner, now likely fatal.

Me: Living ‘rough’ is completely subjective in nature and our species has done so for many, many millennia in the past; and by all accounts (despite the misconceptions of many due to a focus upon what befell the ruling elite upon previous societal collapses) lived fulfilling lives.

Yes, some of our complex conveniences will be absent but a lot of what befalls a complex society during its ‘collapse’ will actually be an improvement for many; that’s why and how collapses happen, it’s an economic/political choice by people who abandon the systems imposed by the ruling caste of a society for what they perceive as an improved situation — read archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies.

If your local community is self-sufficient and can get through the initial chaos of faltering/declining complexities, there’s no reason a ‘dark age’ cannot be avoided.

HardKnoxKid: Totally agree…… My yard is full of estate sale tools….. lots of hoes, shovels, metal rods, rolls of electrical wire….. great buys at some of these sales……. one day, all those nice electronics folks have will not do them poop….. watched a 30 year old black woman in my country meat market….. had 3 kids under 10…. she walked in right before me…. got out of an old Corolla, but clean….. kids very well mannered. She was looking at the meat, and telling the kids maybe they would have beef for dinner…. and picked up a couple packages of stew beef…… As I shopped, I saw her being very wise. After I paid for my small cart, I found her adding up her few items….. I gave her a $50……. told her to buy steak or whatever she wanted….. she was very reserved and cried lightly…… I could tell that “she” had a rough upbringing….. and if I could help her just for an evening, then that is my pleasure…… And yet, we send trillions over seas for all the crooks………Don’t have any vehicle or mortgage or credit card payments….. don’t give to big charities…… this is my way of giving…… It feels good.

Surreality: That’s good in the community. I think do both. We and our communities also need to preserve our wealth as well as have resources to be resilient.

If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website or the link below — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers).

Attempting a new payment system as I am contemplating shutting down my site in the future (given the ever-increasing costs to keep it running).

If you are interested in purchasing any of the 3 books individually or the trilogy, please try the link below indicating which book(s) you are purchasing.

Costs (Canadian dollars):
Book 1: $2.99
Book 2: $3.89
Book 3: $3.89
Trilogy: $9.99

Feel free to throw in a ‘tip’ on top of the base cost if you wish; perhaps by paying in U.S. dollars instead of Canadian. Every few cents/dollars helps…

https://paypal.me/olduvaitrilogy?country.x=CA&locale.x=en_US

If you do not hear from me within 48 hours or you are having trouble with the system, please email me: olduvaitrilogy@gmail.com.

You can also find a variety of resources, particularly my summary notes for a handful of texts, especially Catton’s Overshoot and Tainter’s Collapse: see here.

Recently released:

It Bears Repeating: Best Of…Volume 1

A compilation of writers focused on the nexus of limits to growth, energy, and ecological overshoot.

With a Foreword and Afterword by Michael Dowd, authors include: Max Wilbert; Tim Watkins; Mike Stasse; Dr. Bill Rees; Dr. Tim Morgan; Rob Mielcarski; Dr. Simon Michaux; Erik Michaels; Just Collapse’s Tristan Sykes & Dr. Kate Booth; Kevin Hester; Alice Friedemann; David Casey; and, Steve Bull.

The document is not a guided narrative towards a singular or overarching message; except, perhaps, that we are in a predicament of our own making with a far more chaotic future ahead of us than most imagine–and most certainly than what mainstream media/politics would have us believe.

Click here to access the document as a PDF file, free to download.

[1] I actually penned an article on this topic very early on that was published on a ‘survivalist’ website but is no longer available online. You can find it in its entirety via the ‘Publications’ link of my website, here.

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Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)

A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...