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Collapse: Why Nobody Is Listening

By Peter Goodchild

20 September, 2011

There are several reasons why talk of systemic collapse doesn't get much response these days, but one clue to the puzzle may be the fact that "survivalist" Web sites still do very well. The image of Man Alone with his AK-47 and his lifetime supply of pork-and-beans has little relation to reality: a loner can never defeat a mob, and all it takes is one bullet to end that sort of battle. At best, the story of Man Alone is true only as allegory. Nevertheless, there's a question, and there's an answer, even if the two somehow don't match.

Four teenagers in an old car with broken suspension and rolled-down windows cruise the streets, shouting obscenities at lone pedestrians. A young lady with a 6-figure student loan tells me she knows she'll never be able to pay it off. A fellow teacher with whom I'm supposed to be working keeps falling asleep: her neighbor had an all-night party, and it's the middle of the week. She says, "There's nothing you can do about it." I know: the police barely have the staff to handle major crimes. And, yes, it's true: they know there's nothing rewarding about their jobs. The same is true of lawyers, doctors, and the various other authority-figures we created over the centuries.

Crime, cults, craziness, and chaos. Every day we add another 214,000 to the world's population. Every day, most of the world's natural resources go further into decline. It's an insane inversion of Maslow's hierarchy of needs: everything from the material to the spiritual is in short supply.

Why is nobody listening? Five reasons, beginning with the fact that it's not really "nobody." There are many people who know the world is going down the drain. They may not know exactly, but they know. They may not speak, but they know.

Secondly, the entire problem is too multidimensional. How can any theorist pin together all the connections from "peak oil" to "peak chaos"? And even if the connections could be made, how could they be explained? And the problem is increased by the fact that the average American spends two and a half hours a day watching television. How many hours does that leave for any genuine research?

Thirdly, there is a mountain of disinformation out there. Dealing with "climate change" is a multi-billion-dollar business (Al Gore alone has made a billion dollars from it) and nobody wants to kill the golden goose of the IPCC. Same applies to all those "environmental" organizations that we thought were supposed to be saving the spotted whatever, but were getting funds from the corporations that committed the crimes. And then there are the economists, who think the most distant galaxy can be explained solely in terms of money. And every six months, the magazines at the checkout counter announce "the Miracle of X Energy," as if the previous "miracle" had never happened. And any mention of overpopulation, of course, brings five or six major religions down on one's neck. We may be overloaded with data, but we're not overloaded with genuine information.

Fourthly, those who claim to have all the answers don't really have them, and I'm probably as guilty as anyone. I have no idea how 7 billion people can fit on a planet designed for a million. All I do know is that a great many people are going to die in the process of adjusting those numbers. Of course, that's not an "answer" either, so certainly no one is going to listen to that.

But I think, above all, that the reason no one is listening is that even those who know "the answer" aren't going to put it into words. It's just too hard to say. It will be Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. That's what we don't like to say. That's what the "survivalist" nuts have been saying for years, but those of us who are more refined simply dismiss them as loud-mouthed yahoos. There's no faster way of getting oneself ostracized in polite society than by using the "g" word. But I think I can see how Doc Holliday gave up dentistry.

Peter Goodchild is the author of Survival Skills of the North American Indians, published by Chicago Review Press. His email address is prjgoodchild{at}gmail.com.






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