Recent events and a series of email questions has led me to dig up a reply I put up on the LATOC Forum last year, back when I was still active there. This was in response to a post by someone who had just learned about the concept of peak oil and was hoping for some way to rally the masses to rise up and ween themselves from oil. I think the following applies not just to peak oil, but to the new situation I believe our civlization will find itself in come early next year.
...If we can restructure society to not be dependent on growth we can save ourselves I think there has to be a way. Spread it out the hardship, ween off oil, put a positive hopefull spin on it but make sure everyone realizes whats going on but doesn't panic and there is a huge push for local sustainable agriculture, population control, etc....
You might want to stop hoping for a big collective change of attitudes - remember, we have multiple generations of people in the U.S. who have their entire mental software coded to operate in a world of cheap fossil fuels, cheap personal transportation and ever-increasing standards of living. That's "normal" to the only frame of reference they've ever had and acting against that behavior pattern is "abnormal" - and most folks will move heaven and earth not to stand too far out of whatever crowd they have chosen to associate with. Their entire self-worth and egos are bound up in a future that will always be faster, richer, tech-enhanced and easily accessed in a big SUV. In addition, think about the vast, vast majority of the population - they are skilled only in office trades or service work intermediated by computers. What are they going to do, move out to a 20 acre plot of land, raise goats, compost their own manure and raise close to 90% of their own food in intensive ag? We are talking about people who have been literally hypnotized by various media and government promises for their entire lives. They aren't going to move to an eco-commune in rural Missouri in large numbers, even if they intellectually believe what they see when they read about oil depletion because, in my opinion, it hasn't reached their gut level of emotional buy-in and probably won't until things have gone off the cliff.
On one level, you can completely understand it. The vast majority of folks have profited and benefited directly by buying into a fossil-fuel intensive, consumerist lifestyle. Big cars, big homes that "always" go up in value, great food, booze, easy access to credit, no social restraints that you would find in insular communities that require certain behavior patterns be observed in order to survive, etc. - it's all most people are familiar with, all they've experienced their entire lives. They've seen doomers get "proven wrong" time and time again. Their minds are wired to function properly only in this consumerist, cheap fossil fuel world.
I guess my point is, if you are new to Peak Oil, do yourself a favor and don't waste time waiting for the masses to rise up against the Man or the workers of the world to unite or the o-ppressed proletariat to do whatever it is they are supposed to do. You have opened your mind to the reality of Peak Oil - you are no longer one of them. You have taken the red pill and it is time to realize that you have parted ways with 99% of your fellow countrymen. You can control you attitude, the kind of knowledge you stockpile in your skull, the people you tie yourself to through the bonds of friendship or family and your geographic location. Find a place you want to live when TSHTF, find a group of friends and family to act as a support (and more important, be a supporter to them), learn to be a producer - not a consumer and keep as cheerful an attitude as you can.
Maybe the financial markets will miraculously recover and we can all go back to going deep into debt buying stuff we don't need. However, if the worm has turned, then some of the above might be worth thinking about.