Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CXIX

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

Local Community Resiliency And Political Systems

The following Contemplation is a quick reflection and response to a comment posted on the essay I posted yesterday.

The comment:

The Important and most likely effective thing to do is to inform and convince the general populace of the issues and risks. In an effective democracy the politicians will be affected by the public’s point of view — look at where the Liberal Party is at now because they are too busy infighting to listen to the public.

My thoughts:

Yes and no.

Attempting to inform the public-at-large is perhaps an important undertaking but one that will very likely be less than successful for a variety of reasons, not least of which are: our predisposition, due to impactful psychological mechanisms, to deny anxiety-provoking reality; and, widespread and gargantuan narrative management/control by the ruling elite who benefit from status quo arrangements.

I would argue (and have) that one is likely to be much more successful in focusing one’s energies towards their local community and attempting to build resiliency and self-sufficiency there where it will likely matter the most as things go increasingly sideways.

Further, this focus on one’s local community is where one will likely have some true agency in a shift of behaviours and consequential actions to help prepare for the Long Emergency[1] brought about by our ecological overshoot predicament.

Despite widespread and ongoing beliefs, narratives, and marketing to the contrary, I continue to hold that the public’s point of view has little to no effect upon political decision-making — except perhaps on the margins to mollify the people and continue to hold out the carrot of ‘hope’ that they can influence their governing elite; and, perhaps, in very small, local communities where ‘leaders’ live and interact daily with their constituents.

As I have been arguing for some time the masses have little to no agency when it comes to swaying our governments away from a trajectory of growth and related policies that have led us into ecological overshoot and set the stage for a significant reversion to the mean.

While most citizens believe we have agency via the ballot box and can impact the decision-making that takes place municipally/provincially/state-wide/nationally/internationally, I would contend this is a self-deceiving belief — a myth propagated by our elite to help establish moral validity for their privileged positions atop a complex society’s power and wealth structures. And most people accept it as self-evident truth because it helps to alleviate significant cognitive dissonance by helping them to believe they ‘have a say’.

We are taught this belief in school, we are exposed to it constantly by the mass media, we hear it from our parents/families/friends, and we consequently accept it as a given with little critical thinking. But just as the story that prehistorical elite were descended from the gods, the notion of representative government is about creating a belief system that provides moral validity to the privileged few that occupy positions of power in our complex societies.

I continue to maintain that we need to do the ‘right thing’ without our ruling elite. All they are likely to do is leverage public concerns to meet their own self-interests, and mostly in preserving the systems and policies that sustain their power and wealth. This especially means keeping in place the policies that meet this primary goal. Be it continuing to chase the perpetual growth chalice, manipulating the monetary/financial/economic systems to help maintain their revenue streams, and/or engaging in dangerous geopolitical chess games, the elite will simply leverage any public demands towards their own ends.

I would argue pre/history demonstrates that the ruling caste will always market/twist their actions/policies as benevolent and/or beneficial to ‘the people’ while reaping the ‘rewards’ that come from their machinations. It is ‘the will of the gods’ or ‘it represents the will of the people’.

No, it doesn’t. It serves the elite, be it war with some evil other or the distribution of vast amounts of fiat currency via massive debt-creation. Certain benefits are highlighted while the negative consequences (that are always borne by the masses) are ignored/denied/rationalised away.

I believe it ultimately comes down to the realisation that we are rationalising animals, not rational ones. And, as story-telling apes, we create narratives to help us avoid anxiety-provoking thoughts/ideas by rationalising away evidence/facts that run contrary to our beliefs — like the notion that we have no agency in the world of sociopolitics within a large, complex society. We believe what we want to believe, and believing we have agency in our lives is one of those firmly held beliefs that are difficult if not impossible to let go of.

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 — 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). Encouraging others to read my work is also much appreciated.

[1] See this.

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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...