Discussion regarding the likely collapse of techno-industrial/western civilisation from the perspective of the UK. This will entail a significant involuntary reduction in the human population level (die-off). Associated topics include climate change and the wider ecological crisis, depletion of non-renewable resources, the political and economic consequences of collapse, and the psychological difficulty of accepting and coming to terms with it.
Discussion regarding the likely collapse of industrialised civilisation from the perspective of the UK. This will entail a significant involuntary reduction in the human population level (die-off). Associated topics include climate change and the wider ecological crisis, depletion of non-renewable resources, the political and economic consequences of collapse, and the psychological difficulty of accepting and coming to terms with it.
I think it is important to speak publicly about what appears to be about to happen in Gaza. It looks like Israel is about to commit the genocide of 2 million Palestinians, and it also looks like western governments are going to implicitly support it. Nothing like this has happened in modern western history.
The west has done plenty of things wrong, but underneath it all there has been a commitment to humanism and liberalism that distinguished modern western culture from what went before. What is different about this is the pre-meditated decision to commit genocide. The only thing that compares to it in modern western history is the holocaust, and because of that the Nazis have become pretty much the definition of everything western liberalism and humanism stands against. You could perhaps compare it to the treatment of the aboriginal populations of the Americas and Australasia, but that was justified by openly declaring the victims to be sub-human -- people really believed that the aborigines were so primitive that they were better off dead. And also disease did much of the killing. That thinking cannot apply here. This is just genocide of an entire population in retaliation for the actions of a tiny minority of armed men, who the general population didn't even choose as their leaders. Not only that but those actions were the result of decades of severe provocation.
IMO there's nothing like this in western history -- not on this scale anyway. Even institutionalised race-based slavery was motivated by greed rather than the desire to exterminate your ideological enemy, and the slaves were considered sub-human. You have to go back the time of the crusades to find anything as bad as what is about to happen in Gaza. To be clear -- I am talking about acts carried out by westerners and officially supported by western governments, against persons acknowledged to be fully human. There have been plenty of examples in non-western contexts, but they represent everything we stand against. If the west officially supports this -- which means failing to stop it, which looks inevitable -- then the western world will lose its most basic claim to moral superiority. Any pretence that the west still has a moral compass will be blown to smithereens.
This is history unfolding before us, and in the worst way possible.
We have known for 50 years that growth-based economics must end, but have made almost no progress towards actually making it happen. Why? Why is degrowth economics so impossible? It isn't due to the laws of physics, so the problems must be cultural in some way. But if so, why don't we have a clear idea of exactly what those problems are? Answer: because the academics involved in this area are themselves in denial about process which will lead to degrowth.
Degrowth economics (ie an economic system, not an ideology) is not optional. It will be forced on humans whether we like it or not. It is not a case of "growth based economics must end for the sake of the planet" but "a society premised on growth based economics cannot be sustained and will eventually collapse". The academics involved in this area are not willing to admit this, for political reasons. Instead, they argue that the transition to degrowth economics must be controlled -- it must be planned and agreed internationally, to preserve the "wellbeing" of the poor.
This paper demonstrates the problem perfectly: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328718300715
Challenges for the degrowth transition: The debate about wellbeing
In other words, degrowth societies would be societies that are organised according to fundamentally different cultural, social, economic, political and technological principles as the ones that are dominant at the moment, organised around the growth ideology.
In the last section of the second part of the paper we propose that the establishment of regular deliberative forums that discuss universal needs satisfaction could be one (small and first) step to address this. This could be organised according to a “dual strategy” as proposed by needs theorists (Doyal & Gough, 1991), combining input to consensual decision-making by experts and citizens. We argue that it would be important to add other ‘dual’ elements here to make these deliberative forums fit for debating universal needs satisfaction under degrowth (and for considering the underlying cultural principles on which this will be based): these forums would need to establish a dialogue between people from rich and poor countries, as well as between ‘representatives’ of current and future generations. The dialogue between rich and poor people globally is necessary because of their different relations to degrowth – the incomes and material living standards of groups across the world whose basic needs are not currently being met would need to be allowed to rise in the future until their basic needs are satisfied whilst those of the rich will need to decline rapidly. At a country level, degrowth trajectories will need to vary in rich versus poorer countries....
In other words, the authors are saying that we all need to get together -- all 8 billion of us, with our different cultures, religions, systems of government, available resources, position on the planet, etc... -- and agree how to make degrowth fair. In individual countries, the rich and poor need to agree how to do this, and then all the rich countries would need to agree with the poor countries on a way to allow the poor countries to "catch up" while the rich countries slow down.
This is pure, unadulterated fantasy on the scale of the New Seekers' "I'd like to teach the world to sing." It cannot and will not happen. Human societies simply do not work like that -- they never have done, at any time in any place, and they never will do either. We can safely say, with 100% certainty, that the transition from growth-based economic to degrowth economics is not going to happen like that. So there is our answer -- we have made no progress towards degrowth economics because the academics working in this field inhabit a politically-motivated fantasy world. Ultimately it requires the World Economic Forum to start behaving like a Global Communist Party. The probability of this actually happening is nil.
The truth that they are point blank refusing to admit is this: the actual transition to degrowth economics is going to be neither voluntary nor nice. The reality is going to be chaotic, competitive, and on a global scale there are going to be a lot of losers. That is...there is simply no way that any country (ie sovereign entity) is going to prioritise the wellbeing of people in other countries over the wellbeing of people in their own, especially given that this rebalancing between rich and poor is going to have to take place internally in the rich countries too.
We therefore have a stalemate between a majority who are in denial about the need for degrowth economics at all, and a small minority who accept the need for degrowth but are in denial about the essential nature of the transition to degrowth economics. We have two competing visions of the future, both of which are 100% guaranteed to be wrong.
The only way to break the stalemate is to admit both of them are wrong -- that
(1) A transition to degrowth economics is coming whether we like it or not.
(2) Nobody is going to like it.
The transition will not begin with a global debate about wellbeing. It will begin with a debate about survival, which will take place primarily at the level of sovereign states, simply because that is where the real power lies. And in each sovereign state it will be different. How it plays out in the US and how it plays out in the EU are likely to be significantly different, and those are two different parts of the western world. In other parts of the world it will be even more different.
This is not to say that the rich are guaranteed to win. History tells us that though the rich go through long periods of getting their own way, at times of crisis they can become the biggest losers. What is guaranteed is that in those places where there is a rebalancing of wealth and power away from the rich and towards a fairer society, the winners in that process (which may well require civil war / revolution of some sort) are not then going to voluntarily give up all their economic gains domestically in order to make the global system fairer. People who fight for their own survival (or to maintain their standards of wellbeing) do not then voluntarily give up those gains in order to help people in other countries. They won't do this even if those other countries are themselves heading in the right direction, and they certainly won't do it if, as seems more likely, those other countries are still heading in the wrong direction. Even if you could convince them of the ethical argument to do so, there's a practical argument against it (ie it is pointless to help those countries, because that just sustains the unsustainable a bit longer).
I would be interested in any rational discussion about the above hypothesis. What I am not interested in is emotive arguments, virtue signalling and ethics that are detached from reality. What I am absolutely certain of is that the situation cannot improve until the denial ends. Real hope lies in the acceptance of reality, even if doing so challenges our most fundamental beliefs about reality.
Let's imagine that by 2123 the global population has collapsed back down to below 1 billion. That's a pretty drastic reduction, and it is safe to say that civilisation as we know it cannot possibly survive. By "civilisation as we know it" I mean what Francis Fukuyama declared to be "the end of history" -- western liberal democracy, by which he meant "neoliberal consumerist capitalism". Growth-based economics in general is one example of what cannot survive (obviously, given that die-off is the opposite of growth).
However, we cannot go back to the stone age either. We cannot unlearn agriculture or the phonetic alphabet and we can't destroy all the books or forget how to print them. Books mass-produced in the 20th and 21st centuries may well survive for millenia, and the more important people believe them to be then the more likely it is that they will be retained and copied. That means that all of the most important scientific and philosophical texts will survive.
This way of thinking about this sets up three categories of cultural advances:
(1) Things that can't survive (eg growth based economics and consumerism).
(2) Things that certainly will survive (eg agriculture, writing, books, science).
(3) Things that may or may not survive. By default this is everything else, but it includes some things we consider extremely important, such as democracy, satellites (working ones, anyway) and the internet.
We would each populate these list differently, I suspect. I'd be interested in knowing people's thoughts on this. What technological/cultural phenomena do you think can't survive, what will certainly survive, and what are the most important things that may or may not survive? All three categories are very important in shaping our individual expectations about the future. If growth-based economics can't survive then it will be replaced with something else, and right now not many people have a clear idea of what it will be. The survival or non-survival of the internet has massive implications. Etc...
Following a great meetup last year, we are meeting up again IRL mid-September! Come hang out with us to meet some other collapse-aware IRL, discuss our predicament, the various aspects of it, any resilience projects or lifestyle you have, and just life in general!
We are largely organizing in the discord, so please do join us there if you're planning to come!
Just found this. Directly relevant to the sub for obvious reasons, though not UK-specific.
THE IDEA OF THE MOVEMENT
I’m convinced that a new civilisation is around the corner. More and more of us are feeling it, sensing it, acting upon our inner calling. We know that it is time to live differently. To be more connected to the living world around us. To be in balance with the Planet, the Universe, with ourselves and our fellow humans.
Here I share with you my view of why and how the new civilisation might organise itself, what its new priorities could be, and what could be the essence of it. I am fully aware of my limitations. I humbly hope that it could be good material for a broader global discussion. I would also like to acknowledge all the inspiring people that I have had the privilege to meet, or to read their work, because they have all contributed to what is in front of you.
I feel the new civilisation has a clear mission: firstly, to create Planet Earth as an eco-zone of the Universe with its rich biodiversity at its core. Secondly, to populate the Universe by using technology, curiosity, and greatness to drive it.
The main change in organizing Ecocivilisation is our deep understanding that we are part of a common space that we share within a common consciousness. As a result, structures are based on systems and in the form of networks that nurture a society whose essence is relationships. The concept of competition retreats and gives way to endless collaboration, where the only principle is that collaboration never ends.
We are planning another meetup in London this summer - last year a couple couldn't attend due to the date selected, so thought I'd poll for best dates in advance this time. Please input only if you do plan to attend :)
Reddit is falling apart, who knows how long it'll last, so let's look local for community and talk about the collapse of civilization together! Who can imagine a better way to spend an afternoon! (but really, it was a good time last time, and I encourage you to meet us irl!)
Feel free to ask here if you have any questions, or join our discord:
(Black out boxes, go bags, stocking up on food etc.)
The Procurement Bill 2022 can be the lever for change if we can ensure that it’s amended to legally enshrine environmental obligations onto the Public Sector to make environmentally friendly procurement decisions. As it stands, there are no environmental obligations, we’re actively encouraging procurement professionals, stakeholders and the wider community to sign the petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/621955
This will ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent in an environmental and climate friendly manner.