Thursday, February 8, 2007

Down This Winding Road

The postings in this blog are based on a major premise – that the Western world hit an all-time “top” in early 2000 and that the coming decades (for at least the rest of my life) will be a bear market in social interaction, markets, government and international relations. Chaos, destruction, agonizing and drawn-out low-grade wars and the atomization of loyalties will replace the long, 500 year upswing in empire, big governments and decisive warfare.

Like a wildfire that burns a forest to the ground, paving the way for new growth, this coming firestorm will raze the familiar world of our fathers to the ground and grind their foundations to dust.

Using the theory of socionomics, I hope to be able to find a road in the fog and avoid if I can the big blow-ups that will rock communities all across the globe.

That in mind – what “flavors” will this coming collapse have? Here are some high points, to be expanded on in the future:

1. Environmentalism. I think this will be a huge driver in the coming years as climate change begins to affect every political and social debate and discussion. The fact that I am of the opinion that the vast majority of climate change can be traced back to fluctuations in solar energy output, not human activity, is irrelevant here. Most folks think that people and industry are the prime culprits. This is understandable. You need villains to blame to make yourself feel righteous and if you can pretend there are actual steps you can take to mitigate “Global Warming – EEEEEEEEEKKK!” then it also makes folks feel better, as well as giving plenty of fodder for demagogues.

Get ready for the age of the radical Green. Look to Iraq right now for what small groups of motivated individuals willing to die for God (or Gaia, in the future) can do.

2. Peak Oil. As discussed in earlier entries, Peak Oil is a geologic fact (in my opinion). I also believe that if you leave human beings free to create and experiment, alternatives will be found to petroleum fuels. The world will look very different, but people will still travel. The hype and panic that Peak Oil can cause emotionally is more important than the geologic facts. End of the World. Everything going dark. Famine as tractors grind to a halt all across the globe. The Evil Rich using ethanol for their Beemers while the Noble Poor starve for lack of corn in their bellies. Etc.

Again, a great mental “hook” to place blame and destroy knowledge and productivity – activities that will seem a good idea when negative mood truly gets entrained. You want to grow some algae for biodiesel? That might be “unsustainable” – and you might find your equipment wrecked and your algae pond drained. Combined with rabid Green ideology, science may have to go underground…

3. Technology Makes War Far Less Decisive. I need a short acronym, so I guess calling attention to 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) works just as well. In short – a critical mass of cheap, effective communications (internet, radios, satellite phones, cell phones, etc.) combined with “brains” for bombs (microchips for either guidance of ordnance or remote detonations) make small groups quite able to destroy infrastructure and wreck stability. Sending in huge armies to “conquer” countries will be met with a resistance that doesn’t stand up and “fight fair” but one that will focus on water, power and fuel distribution nodes, most of which are very vulnerable to attack. I won’t go into details here. If you can’t see how truly vulnerable most infrastructure is to attack, then continue smoking that crack pipe.

Indecisive wars means weak central authorities. It means locals having to rely on the clan, or the tribe or the village. Bigger allegiances become a net negative burden, not the positive influence that we’ve seen over the last 500 years in the Western World. Hello walled cities, high tariffs and a very strong us-versus-them mentality.

These three factors will color the local and international scene for years to come. The consequences should be brutal in most places. Those localities or countries that can keep some sense of cohesion, that can keep the lights on and avoid the death of science – they will be fortified islands in a storm, isolated lamps in an oppressive darkness, until the day comes for the light to spread across the globe once again.

No comments: