Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh II

Monte Alban, Mexico (1988) Photo by author.

My response to an ongoing discussion regarding debt-/credit-based fiat currency and it’s impact on our pursuing the infinite growth chalice.

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Yes, credit-/debt-based fiat is certainly one of the most significant causes of our pursuing the infinite growth chalice. Not the only one, but one of the main ones, certainly. And having ‘sound’ money that was not created and distributed by private interests may help, but there are no guarantees especially if it were in the hands of the political class who, much as they do now, would very likely use such ‘power’ to ‘buy’ votes, ‘pay off’ supporters, and fund boondoggles. I honestly don’t know if there is any ‘solution’ to this monetary conundrum. In the words of Men Without Hats in their song ‘Unsatisfaction’: I’m never satisfied when the answers could be real. I may not know what’s right but I know this can’t be it.

Regardless of what change occurs with our monetary system, I’ve reached the conclusion that if we don’t begin pursuing degrowth strategies as of, like yesterday, we are destined to experience the collapse that always accompanies overshoot. We are well into the diminishing returns fiasco that archaeologist Joseph Tainter outlines in his monograph Collapse of Complex Societies, and sets the stage for sociopolitical (and economic) collapse; and it is likely no amount of ‘tinkering’ in our business-as-usual trajectory is going to prevent collapse/decline at this point.

All of our debates are probably quite academic and moot at this point. Making one’s local community/neighbourhood/family as self-sufficient/-reliant as possible may be the only way to ensure some of us make it through the other side of the inevitable transition since our society’s collapse will be unlike every other one in pre/history as virtually none of us have the skills/knowledge to survive without modern society’s energy-intensive technology and long-distance supply chains. This is one of the main motivations for me to transition our yard towards food production rather than monoculture grass and begun helping family and neighbours do the same.

We have painted ourselves into a corner from which there is unlikely any escape route and we are beginning, quite vociferously and violently in some cases, to fight over a shrinking economic pie. Arguments over how to ‘fix’ things abound (the ruling class has latched onto infinite money printing to ‘paper’ over things, much like the Romans did when they began clipping coins during their decline) but most of these are not ‘fixes’ to our unsustainable trajectory but part and parcel of our attempts to reduce the cognitive dissonance that arises from realising we cannot continue business as usual but the path we need to follow is ‘unthinkable’ for it would mean sacrificing almost everything we hold dear in ‘modern’ society.

Most of us want to believe that technology and human ingenuity will ‘save’ us (thus arguments from academics/educators about focusing more resources into education, not realising that there isn’t the time nor agreement over ‘solutions’ for education to play a role) but it is most likely that our efforts at greater and greater technological ‘solutions’ are just expediting our journey over the cliff since technology speeds the exploitation of finite resources, much as money printing does, and creates a host of negative consequences we conveniently ignore.

If people believe the world is in chaos now, just wait a few years…

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