Edge Living

Living at the edge.

That is where I have been for the last few years now, by choice.  ‘At the edge’ is where things happen.  It is where all change begins.  It is the place where the most activity abounds as you will know if you have studied permaculture.  It is the boundary region between states (I mean ‘old state || new state’, not VIC/NSW).  It is the place where you can not only see ‘what is’ but also ‘what will be’ through observing the change going on around you.

Consider living ‘at the edge’.  It is much more satisfying, and ultimately safer, than living ‘at the centre’.

My main reason for this post is to promote the article from Transition Voice linked at the end of the piece.  So please read that even if you don’t get around to looking at all my gubbins in between.

Living at the centre.

People who are happy living ‘at the centre’ of things only see ‘what is’, because the centre tends to try to maintain stability, to hold onto what it has got.  Often at any cost.  The centre projects the thinking that ‘this is how things are, how they will always be, and we like it that way’.   It neglects to consider that ‘things have not always been that way’.  But that means that the centre can be swept away by change with little warning.  I am reminded of the line from the Yeats verse which goes ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’ and goes on to talk about Anarchy let loose on the world.

We are in a time of great change.  We need to start living at the edge.

Try Edge Living

I am not talking about living ‘on the edge’.  That is a dangerous place to be.  Living ‘at the edge’ is not necessarily comfortable and may be quite challenging.  Ask any New Jerseyite about that.  But it does have its rewards, the view is great and you will be among the first to see it.

By the way, edge living does not necessarily mean the same thing as fringe dweller. Though the two are not incompatible. An edge dweller could also be living in a high rise in a city centre and hold down a mainstream job, though I suggest they would not be doing so with any great degree of feeling comfortable about the situation for very long.

So, what is ‘the edge’?  Well its, …er, …er, …how do I describe it?  It is definitely not a place, or an organisation or any other sort of ‘group thing’.  More of a point of view; a clarity of vision; a willingness to see beyond the norm; to be seen as different in order to achieve veracity; to be true to oneself no matter what others do or think; to accept that everything changes, that there are cycles to life; to have a grip on what is real and an acknowledgement of what is make-believe; a willingness to let go of the past and grasp the future as it becomes the present; to embrace the change that they see coming and work to prepare for it as best they can.

I am not sure if I have made a very good fist of this description, or whether I have done it justice, but I will leave it there and let it sit.  I may come back to this after some more thought.

Here’s More

If you want to know more about edge living then the following article, apparently the first of a series, talks more about living ‘at the edge’.  The first one is good.  As an edge dweller I would like to see where it goes from here.

With thanks to Transition Voice for posting the article:   Confessions of an Edge Dweller by

2014, The Year Everything Changes

“It’s The System, Stupid!” – US Ex-President, Bill Clinton

It is the system.  The system is corrupt and bears us (you and me) no good will.  The system must go.

Democracy is dead.  Overpowered, overcome and taken over by Corporate lobbyists, Corporate greed and Corporate money.

Well, actually, democracy is not quite dead but has been zombyfied by corporate interests.  They actually need it to retain at least a semblance of life in order to keep the people (you know the people I mean, it’s the same ones as in ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’, aka you and me) guessing at what is going on but never quite sure whether they need to be worried or get restless somehow.  So democracy keeps staggering along, looking more dead than alive, arms dragging, face a grotesque mask and grunting incoherently about nothing that matters. Oh yes, and (just to complete the picture) eating its own brains (metaphorically) whenever it can.

This can not be allowed to continue and 2014 is shaping up to be the year that ‘we, the people’ bring it to a head.

I wrote the above on 7 January having been fired up by reading the latest piece called Crash on Demand: Welcome to the Brown Tech Future, from David Holmgren, co-founder of the permaculture phenomenon and someone whose work I greatly respect.

2014, The Year Everything Changes

…Well, it would have been, but the angst has diminished.

It is now 17 January and I have calmed down somewhat, in the intervening week or so.

I don’t know if it was the intention of the author to bring out the same sort of reaction I had, at least initially, in the mind of the concerned reader, but it worked.  I expect it will get more readers fired up one way or another.  But sufficiently motivated to do something radical?

If I may bluntly precis and paraphrase David’s paper in my own words, what it boils down to is this:

There is a problem with the way we, the world’s people and our societal organisations, are handling the operational conduct of our civilisation. 

The problem concerns the fact that we are impinging on the wellbeing of the planetary systems on which we rely for our existence, in ways that are going to blow up in our faces before too long.

There is a growing, though as yet low-level, awareness to those facts among the populace and its leaders but the concern is that this will never amount to a drive with sufficient impact to halt or change the current way of things.  At least in time to prevent what could be a particularly unpleasant outcome for all concerned. 

Perhaps we should take steps to avert such calamity by attempting to bring about an early end to the current system (which is going to crash all by itself anyway sooner or later) in order to minimise the damage that might be caused by letting things take the course of natural progression. 

Such an effect could be achieved by sufficient numbers of participants from the most advanced areas of society withdrawing their support from the system, thus starving it of funding to maintain credit supply and causing it to crash.  David provides what he thinks would be appropriate numbers to make that happen.

This proposal, or maybe it is just a line of thought intended to provoke discussion, has so far drawn attention from two other prominent names from the resilience arena in a three cornered kind of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ scenario.  With no attempt or wish to  attach any of those labels to any of these participants (they can’t be referred to as ‘combatants’ as they are all more or less friends), they are the very well credentialed Nicole Foss (aka Stoneleigh, of The Automatic Earth blogspot), Rob Hopkins, founder of The Transition Movement, and of course David Holmgren.

With David having metaphorically fired the first bullet, not generally aimed at anyone specifically, it didn’t take long for Nicole to reply with the first answering shot in her TAE article Crash on Demand? A Response to David Holmgren followed soon after by a blast from Rob delivered in his article Holmgren’s ‘Crash on Demand’: be careful what you wish for.

Now, this is not a battle royal, and I didn’t intend to make it sound like that.  It is just a (mostly) friendly discussion between folk who are pretty much on the same side and who share many thoughts and points of view.  Yet there are distinct differences between them in certain areas and each argues their position lucidly and politely.  It is all worth reading.

The Transitioner View

Without intending to be over-critical, I think Rob Hopkins position, which basically hinges around the idea that we need the current system to continue as long as possible in order to reach a general state of readiness that would be considered adequate to meet the future with some assurance of success (a not unworthy goal), is the least defensible but then his organisation The Transition Movement perhaps has the most to lose in this regard being fairly closely (as I see it, and this is purely a personal view) tied in to that same system (working from within).  Transitioners may well disagree with that.

The main thrust of Rob’s argument against ‘Crash on Demand’ lies in his view that what he envisages as a Post Growth Economy, David sees as an Economic Crash.  Admittedly the two concepts are quite incompatible.  Which is the most likely to be what we actually experience?  Well, for me the idea of any sort of economy that looks in any way similar to the current one, except that it operates on some clean, green, renewable energy supply but at the same time enables much the same sort of activity and social complexity as we have now, is totally out of the question.

As I see it, there is no substitute, none at all, for the fossil fuel based energy that has powered our civilisation and its technology for the last century or so, and there is no way that we will be able to support such a system.  There is no way also that a population anywhere near the current level will be supportable in the long term.  To raise expectations of such an existence is in my view reprehensible.  That is not to say that we could not have achieved at least the rudiments of such a society at some earlier stage, but we chose not to do so.  The time for that solution to our situation has long passed.

The Financial Economist View

On the whole, and having gotten over my initial flush of rebellious revolutionary arousal, I tend to stand more in the corner of this triangle (before it becomes even more polygonal), occupied by Nicole.

Nicole comes from a position of concern that alignment or even perceived alignment with a move to bring down the system pro-actively, could react negatively on the good name of permaculture and all permaculturists by association.  She suggests that such reaction would not assist permaculture to be the beneficial force that it could be in forming resilient post collapse communities.

Nicole also argues that the best way to deal with climate change is to stop talking about it.  To me this initially appeared to be an astonishing statement but the more I thought about it, her reasons for making this claim made sense.  There is currently great concern about climate change, rising overall global temperatures, increasing natural disasters and climate related upheavals, and that level of concern is rightly and entirely justified.  In the short term.  But as I have said elsewhere, while we may be making conditions on this planet uncomfortable for ourselves and likely to be unlivable for most of us, perhaps all of us, for many centuries and even millennia, The Earth will never become another Venus.  Difficult as it is in times of stress, we need to look always at the big picture, the long term, and if we do that, we will see that climatic cycles always have and likely always will prevail despite local, temporal perturbences.  We will, or rather The Earth will (we may well not be around to see it), eventually enter another periodic ice age.  Like it or not, and past cycles do indicate that one is due shortly (in geological timescales).

Climate change, in Nicole’s view, and I have to mostly agree with her reasoning, is only one potential driver of possible societal collapse.  It is not considered the primary driver although if those forces attempting to keep the struggling global economy staggering along for as long as they can, succeed in any meaningful way, then climate change will eventually and inevitably force a collapse situation.  However, other factors are likely to intervene before that happens.  The prime suspect for being the triggering event of collapse of our unworkable global society, according to Nicole, is financial system collapse. She, both at her current blogsite, The Automatic Earth, and previously at The Oil Drum, has been saying the same thing for a number of years now.  Nothing I have read elsewhere has convinced me that she may be incorrect.  In fact Nicole’s position is that the journey to collapse already started with what we identify as being the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, which she claims is still ongoing and actually only in its early stages.  I find no reason to disagree with that.

Still, it is just a guessing game and there are a number of contenders for what the initial trigger for collapse might be.  Hopefully they won’t all arrive at the same time but that scenario cannot be lightly dismissed.

So, What Does 2014 Hold For Us?

What?  You think I am some sort of soothsayer?  I have no crystal ball, no time machine, no other-worldly, outer-worldly or inner worldly access to future events.

I can however, use my intuition, my knowledge of history, science, humanity, my big picture view of things and my accumulated experience of the way the world works throughout a reasonably long life so far, to be convinced that sometime soon, for each of us and for all of us, things are going to change such that life in the way we have come to accept and know it, will be turned upside down and we will be thrust into situations where we will at best have only our own wits, knowledge and resources to rely on in order to make a go of it.

We may be given ample opportunity to prepare for this, giving us reasonable expectations of weathering the storm so to speak.  We may only be given short notice, enough to make emergency preparations and therefore limited chances for a happy outcome.  We may also be taken completely by surprise and have little or no prospects of making it through.  One thing is for sure, we can expect little assistance from those directions to which many of us now look for help.  Government, emergency services, volunteer services.  Such help will be non-existent, having gone down in the ruins of collapse, disintegrated or dissipated as those who render such services look to their own safety.  Alternatively, such friendly or benign services as we look to now may prove to be anything but that in the new circumstance, instead becoming openly hostile to those in need.

Those of us who have been keeping a watchful eye on how events transpire, will have been preparing as best we can for some years now.  However, even we should admit to ourselves, if no-one else, that we may not be as prepared as we may think we are in the event that certain unforseen scenarios emerge.

Do I think 2014 will be the year this will become a reality?  I have said elsewhere that I can’t see the current system going beyond 2020 and we are already seeing evidence of collapse all around us in increasing unrest, hardship, poverty, homelessness, violence, suicide, genocide, loss of respect (self, others, authority), decaying infrastructure, inability to repair damaged infrastructure, widening gap between haves and have-nots, government corruption, erosion of liberties, growing police state, etc.   I can say with some certainty that we are on a downward track through troubled times and the journey is not going to be a smooth one.  There may be places where the time track ends abruptly in a hole or at a precipice before continuing on its path and some parts of the descent may be steeper than others.  At other points we may see some temporary hope by being directed upwards for a while.  We also cannot expect that the track will follow the identical path in every nation around the globe but we are sufficiently economically connected in this age to know that we will all end up at the same point which is both an end point for our current civilisation and hopefully a reasonably happy start point for what comes after.  If there is to be an after.

2014 will therefore unfold as it will.  But you will at the very least be able to recognise that the system is further crumbling around us.  If, that is, you are looking for it and not burying your head in the sand, hoping it is all a bad dream or the ravings of a madman.

Why Don’t People Understand?

Why Are People (Generally) Not Concerned By What Is Going On In The World?

This is the thing that perplexes me more than any other question (and I do have a lot of questions) that occupies my inquisitive mind.  I spend a lot of time thinking about, and writing about, matters that should be of deep concern to any right thinking or caring person, matters that are very obviously going to affect the lives of every single person living on this planet now and for generations to come.  Why doesn’t every other person alive at this time see these things the same way that I do?  Are they dumb?  Are they blind?  Are they uncaring?  Or is it something else?

I blog on this site from time to time, usually about the sort of things I am now speaking of.  Because it is easier, quicker, more convenient and because that is where my main news feeds go, I tend to write more on my Facebook page than here.  It used to be that when something appealed to me as being really important, I would come here to express my views on it but though my views have not changed much over time, in recent times I tend to do that less.

Just as an example of what I mean, here are a few recent Facebook posts of mine’

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Now, I am the first to admit that I don’t have much of an audience for my musings.  In fact I have more followers on this blog than I have friends on Facebook, even if some of those followers are most likely folk who follow every new blog in the hope that they may get a follower in return.  I apologise to those who are not in this category but are genuinely interested in the sort of information that I write about.

So, is there some sleeping sickness, a sort of dopium clouding the brains of the majority?  Have they been hypnotised by accident or by design of the powers that be, through television, advertising, food additives, stuff in the water supply or through more subtle means?  Or is it that they just don’t give a fuck and are happy with life just how it is and can’t see any way that it might change, except maybe for the better if they win the lotto or Saint Whoever smiles down on them, or Jesus, Mohammed, The Buddha or the Galactic Imperium shows up to set things straight?  Or anything else that you yourself may be thinking about right now might happen?  Don’t worry, be happy, we only live once and we’re all gonna die someday.  Is that it?  Is that all we have?  Is that all there is?  Then maybe we are all better off not caring or thinking about these things and what might happen in the future.  You’ve just got to work your way through it, whatever it is.

Well, sorry, I just can’t see it that way.  There is a purpose to all this.  We are here for a reason, and maybe we are destined to just keep coming back here until we get it right.  Think about that for a moment and see if that thought perhaps might alter the outlook a little.

My Divergent Views

When I say ‘there is a purpose’ I don’t mean ‘serving God’ or ‘helping humanity’ or ‘finding ourself’.  For me it is about experiencing life, which does not mean accumulating wealth, travelling, jet-skiing, partying, sun-bathing or any other pursuit of happiness that people currently indulge in or wish that they could enjoy doing.  Experiencing life for me is about breathing (taking into my physical body life giving energy and experiencing all that that entails and can achieve), seeing (not looking, watching or viewing, but really seeing) the beauty in all things (both the physical and those things that are hidden from the physical), growing (such that I am not the same person when I leave here as I was when I came).  If there is any truth in our returning here from time to time then these are the only things or the major things (I may of course have omitted something important) that are most likely to get us off the wheel of Samsara to progressing towards Nirvana or the something else that comes next whether that entails extinguishment, some higher form of individuation, or a return to that great cosmic pool of life from which we all originate.

Why are there no satisfactory antonyms for ‘individuation’?  ‘Association’ or ‘Connectedness’ just don’t seem to cut it somehow.  Perhaps that is something to find out only when we get to that place or maybe unlike the drop of water that may at some stage return to the ocean, once individuated we can never go back.  Or maybe individuation is an illusion and we never really or actually ever became separated from the cosmic wholeness even though we occupy unique containers of flesh and bone.  Something to think about.

Back To The Blog

So, anyway, that’s how I see things, that’s what keeps me getting up in the morning and that’s why (well, partly why) I will keep on jamming and putting across my thoughts here and on Facebook.

I have no delusions that what I do, or in fact what anybody else does, is going to affect the eventual outcome.

There are certain inevitabilities about life, physical life, natural life.  It goes in cycles.  Cycles of birth, growth, maturity, decay and death.  Once life (a life, all life) is on that path, there is no escape.  A few steps may be skipped, but never the first or the last.

Civilisations are the same, and generally follow the same path or cycle.  What my real concern is that human beings seem to have forgotten that or choose to ignore it.

Human beings have come to believe that they are a special case, to which the normal rules do not apply.  They have come to believe that through their own ingenuity they can overcome the natural order of things.  They can destroy instead of steward.  They can grow without limit.  As Buzz Lightyear proclaimed ‘To infinity, and beyond’.  Has anyone considered just how ridiculous that sounds?

Do people actually consider that we can get past the limits imposed by living on a planetary sphere that has boundaries?

Not only that but do they consider that it also has a biosphere surrounding it that is the only place in the universe within which man can ever enjoy the pleasures of life that are our privilege (not a right) to enjoy in the short time that our own life cycle and that of the planet converge in time and space?

And have they considered that biosphere, when viewed from space is infinitessimally minute (very small and narrow), barely discernible from the surface of the planet and beyond that there is a whole heap of practically empty, dangerous and deadly to humans, blackness, in which, as someone said, “no-one can hear you scream”?

Have they considered that there is no Planet B to which we can escape?

Have they thought that the only source of energy available to enable us to live here comes from the Sun, to a lesser extent from the Moon and also generated by the revolutions in space performed by the planet itself?

We cannot create energy.  That is the basic truth that we have forgotten.  We can only use the energy (incoming and already stored) that nature has provided and is still providing.  That means that we have a budget.  It also means that we have to live within that budget.  It further means that perpetual growth is a myth.  No, it is not a myth as there is always some truth in a myth.  Rather, it is a lie.  It is a mistaken belief.

Let me repeat that.  Perpetual growth is a lie.  It is a lie that very few of us have acknowledged or recognised.  It is a lie that is being used to blind us to the fact that everything we have known will eventually end.  It is a lie that we have accepted as a convenient truth to permit us to do nothing about living within the capacity of the Earth to sustain us in the long term.  There is no cornucopia.  There is no figurative universal abundance that we can draw on outside of what is daily provided for us by nature.  There is no conjuring up energy/matter out of thin air by magic.  What there is is what there is and we have to collectively learn to live within the means that it gives us to do so.

There are two things that we have taken as basic givens that the previous statements show up as being absolute falsehoods.

One is perpetual economic growth.  The other is perpetual population growth.

Unfortunately I have neither the patience, energy nor time to go further into that right now.  Maybe later, but there are many information sources available to follow if by some obscure chance I have stirred someone up enough to seek them out for themselves.  I urge you to do so.  Better to live and die in possession of the facts than to sleep away until death overtakes through ignorance.

Don’t just take my word for it.

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CASSE Hope

I, along with a host of others including some famous or household names, signed the CASSE position statement a number of years ago.

CASSE is the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy. A steady state economy is something that may never be achieved before the economy we have actually self implodes but it is a worthwhile goal and may be the only hope to divert us from facing a catastrophic future.

CASSE doesn’t get much of an airing in mainstream news circles, in fact I would be surprised if this isn’t the first you have heard of it. But they have decided to spread their message by getting as many people as may be interested to read about it through offering their book ‘Supply Shock‘ for only 99c from now until this Sat., Jan 11, wherever ebooks are sold eg. Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, etc.  Note: I have only provided the link to iTunes because the others don’t appear to have updated their web pages at time of posting this.

Do yourself a flavour and take this opportunity to become acquainted with it.

Supply Shock .99c offer until Jan 11 2014