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Black Friday: Why This One Is Especially Dark

By Carolyn Baker

21 November, 2007

A few moments ago I posted on my site the MSNBC version of "The Coming Consumer Crunch" which forecasts severe and painful belt-tightening for American families in 2008. Then when I checked my inbox, a Truthout bulletin listing Kelpie Wilson's latest article "Give Thanks For Oil" appeared. One paragraph leapt out at me:

Why should we give thanks that the future holds no cheap oil? There are several reasons, but the first is that cheap oil has fueled a 50-year-long party in the industrialized West that has left us with an unsustainable economy that is wrecking the planet. The recent awareness of global warming is beginning to put a damper on our out-of-control binge, but not fast enough to slow the heating of the planet. Rising oil prices will force a cutback in consumption. Rising oil prices will also chill the fantasy of endless growth and force us to confront the reality of planetary limits.

I have no crystal ball, nor do I claim to have well-developed psychic powers, but I'd be willing to bet almost anything that next Thanksgiving season will be dramatically different from this one. A dark curtain of despair has descended, along with $100 oil, on Wall Street, and the amount of debt that the American working and middle classes are trying to juggle is, as Stan Goff so eloquently stated in his article on my site, "Middle Class Angst", nothing less than "pre-volcanic."

Cheap oil will allow us to travel "over the river and through the woods" to grandmother's or someone else's house, or we may prepare our food orgy at home using gas or electric ranges, savoring the turkey and trimmings made possible by low-cost hydrocarbon energy. While the feast will be more expensive than it was last year, its cost may pale by comparison with the price of next year's gastronomical adventure-if indeed we can afford one. The after-dinner experience is likely to consist of television or movie viewing at home or another car trek to the local cine-plex for a new Thanksgiving Day release or two. A walk or bike ride requiring no use of hydrocarbon energy would be ideal, but it will take much more energy depletion than we are now experiencing to make that option viable for most Americans.

On Friday, millions of shoppers will descend on malls and box stores where the bells and whistles of credit card transactions will reverberate every few seconds, non-stop for perhaps seventy-two hours. Those bills will come due for those shoppers in a post-holiday hangover of dollar plummeting hysteria, monumental levels of debt, foreclosure, bankruptcy, unemployment, energy depletion, skyrocketing gas and food prices, illnesses treated without health insurance coverage-or just not treated, unprecedented levels of homelessness, and by all indications, within a few months into 2008, America will be well on the road to a re-run of 1929-or something inconceivably worse.

None of this, of course, includes the likelihood of an attack on or invasion by the U.S. of yet another country in one of its serial oil-addiction binges, nor does it include another terrorist attack orchestrated by the U.S. government, nor does it include a natural disaster or two where Blackwater troops storm into the homes of innocent American citizens followed by another fraudulent election engineered by the Democratic Party or the cancellation of an election entirely.

As I continue to write and talk about collapse, the "tell-me-what-to-do" supplications escalate, and when I speak my truth in reply, my words are met with responses only slightly less hostile than eye-rolling. Americans not only refuse to accept the limits the earth is pounding them with, but demand that their response to those limits be effortless, cheery, hopeful, and above all not require them to change anything about their lives. Any suggestion that introspection, dramatically altering one's lifestyle, and pondering one's values, priorities, and life's work are as important, if not more important, than voting for Green Party candidates, consuming less energy, or purchasing environmentally-friendly products is met with blank stares or my favorite response, the accusation of "fear-mongering."

Two hundred species or more of life forms died today on planet earth, and two hundred will die tomorrow, but I'm not supposed to remind you because that wouldn't be "hopeful"?

Today, Gerald Celente, Director of Trends Research Institute stated that "We are going to see economic times the likes of which no living person has seen", as he forecasted a "Panic of 2008." Celente continued to say very non-hopeful things like:

"I would not be surprised if giants tumble to their deaths" and "The ‘Panic of 2008' will lead to a lower U.S. standard of living."

"A result will be a drop in holiday spending a year from now, followed by a permanent end of the ‘retail holiday frenzy' that has driven the U.S. economy since the 1940s," says Celente.

On this Thanksgiving Day I will shudder as I do every day for those clueless individuals and families who in a few years or even months may be daily visiting food banks which are already experiencing shortages. I will feel deep grief as I contemplate the teeming masses of innocent humans who will die because of Peak Oil, climate change, global pandemics, and species die-off and who because they didn't want to have their bubble of hope burst, called people like me a fear-monger while continuing their suicidal courses of action. I will be painfully aware that the food I eat for Thanksgiving dinner is on my plate because of cheap oil, and as I settle into a comfortable seat at the movie theater, I will be acutely aware that my two-and-a-half hour escape from reality is only possible because of the natural gas that powers the digital video and sound systems that dazzle me with what is unquestionably my favorite art form of all. What will I do in a post-collapse world when I don't have it? Make my own art perhaps?

Yet another part of me-a different part of my physiology experiences a bit of relief-perhaps a release and expansion in my cells as I realize that empire is reaching the end of the line, that the slogan my friend Matt Savinar has at the top of his website is not only true, but unfolding faster than I or anyone else could have imagined:

Deal with reality, or reality will deal with you.

So on this Thanksgiving week as stomachs are stuffed and the cacophony of credit card transactions deafens and defies the reality of global economic meltdown, I will celebrate that we are now closer to the total collapse of civilization than we have ever been, and that for all the rampant suffering it will evoke around the world, the soul-murdering, mind-numbing, body obliterating culture of empire is terminally ill and on life-support. I know not how many, if any of us, will survive its collapse, but I do know that until it has fallen fatally silent, no life form on earth will ever experience freedom or fullness of life.

These are the "good ole days" to be remembered when we have almost nothing that we now take for granted or feel entitled to. And at the same time, these are dark new days that begin and end amid the sea change occurring all around us. That darkness signals and end to holidays as we have known them. This year, like all those other years, we will lament that despite our best intentions, we ate too much. In what year will we remember Thanksgivings of the past and weep and salivate as we search for whatever morsels of food we can find? I am convinced that absolutely nothing will awaken Americans except starvation, but by the time they have arrived at that horrifying circumstance, it will be far too late.

In these dark new days when readers email me with questions or arguments about aliens or engage in nit-picking philosophical posturing, I refuse to respond with anything other than the following questions: What will you do when you have no food to eat and no water to drink? How will you obtain healthcare when it no longer exists? What have you done to liberate yourself from debt? Where are you living and how sustainable is it? If you need to relocate, why haven't you done so? I then refer them to the Survival Acres banner ad at the top of my site and the Preparedness Store at Matt Savinar's site. In other words, does it really matter what I or anyone else thinks about aliens or what method of intellectual masturbation we prefer when we have no food or water?

These are the good ole days, my friend, and these are also the dark new days. Happy Thanksgiving; savor every bite.



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