"On the Fragility of Civilizations"

David Trammel's picture

Ran across this very long but very informative blog post on the "F=ma" website.

"On the Fragility of Civilizations"

I found it to be comparable to Greer's "Theory of Catabolic Collapse" in describing the mechanism of civilization decline. Brew a full pot of coffee or tea, you'll need it when reading this.

I followed your link and ran across this article. It rather explains what we are all up against.


I read that article and I really disagree with it. I think it is badly misguided and misleading. Look at the language it uses: fighting this and fighting that.

It is silly for individuals to pitch themselves into battle against a fossil-fueled world-view. People hold onto that view because their very lives (at present) depend on it. Why should you or I have to ‘fight’ anything so intangible anyway? I mean, of COURSE hegemony resists antithetic change! ALL systems resist destabilization.

Replace the words ‘hegemony’ with ‘system’ and ‘hegemonic’ with systemic’ and it becomes apparent what is going on. The enormous throughput of energy supplied by fossil fuels is the single greatest factor in maintaining the inertial stability of the system that is our current hegemonic money mess.

Energy is EN-ERGy: ERGonomic forces Enabled: working potential set in motion. As fossil fuels deplete more and more, so too will the prevailing powers now in place falter and fall on their own. Everything founded on the abundance of fossil fuels will weaken and die even if no one aims a fighting toothpick at them. Governance, economy, ideology, structures, and infrastructures all stand in the same danger.

All it takes to alter a situation is to live one’s OWN ideas, inhabit one’s soul, and embody one’s values.
Replace “struggle of ideas” with “ecosystem succession” and see if that affects your view of how to effect change! Shall I be a weed and risk being killed or a food plant and risk being eaten? If eaten, send my seed-thoughts onward inside edible fruits or lock them up in prickly burrs to discourage easy ingestion? If weed, how nasty and prolific can I get? Shall I be a Brazillian pepperweed with both good and bad qualities, so I get replanted? Or a giant hogweed taking all available resources unto myself and flourish everywhere that is left unprotected? What’s in YOUR garden?

Do practical things instead of abstract ‘fighting’. Withdraw, don’t engage. Guerrilla forces know this; why doesn’t the writer of this article?

Use lesser amounts of fossil fuels to heat and work. Use more human muscle. Follow the rhythms of the seasons in your food and clothing. Spend time in silent contemplation and deep ruminative thought. Do less. Act in these and other ways aslant to the forces pushing you to conform to use more, spend more, game more, blather more. By creating drag on the wings, being grit in the gears, you are already winning without a lifting an eyebrow in fight, fight, rah-rah pep rallies.

No one can “save the planet”, squeeze more compassion into society like extruding toothpaste from a tube, “fight” poverty or hunger. You can’t fight stupid. It’s like trying to box a heap of mud. The mud is not conquered and all you get is a lot dirtier. Life is not a boxing match and not a male territorial hornlock or headbutt. Stop dwelling on fighting, war and head-on opposition and start doing things softly, sweetly, in a decidedly girly fashion: dreaming, imagining, drifting, decorating, flirting, making beautiful spaces, singing to self and babies, living and being peace. This, by the way, does not mean yielding to bullies or being a doormat. Peace does not mean weak submission.

If you find that you MUST fight to save yourself or another from harm, then make deliberate, focussed, well-thought out choices about how and when and where and how often to do so, using your best strengths and most effective weapons, acting from a cool head and impartial heart. And, preferably, together with a largish group of people with whom you have already established bonds of friendship, shared visions, and mutual support relationships — you know, all that girly stuff.

Or, in womanly fashion, spend less time, thought and money on competitive sports and social media and more time cooking, cleaning, sewing, knitting, hanging out the laundry. Or, hammering, insulating, soldering, plastering, re-wiring, and composting. There is nothing that prevents a man from working just like a woman: in the home, for no pay, no respect, no glory, no visibility, and no rewarding praise. The purring approbation of merchant-captured media is reserved for those who mindlessly follow fashion trends, spend, spend, spend and buy, buy, buy. To be more yourself, do more yourself.

Or if you want to stay in masculine mode, adopt the masculine styles that laugh at corporate culture and live out on the range, in nature or in the fields, getting dirty, sweaty, smelly, and all those non-metro bodily conditions that make middle management squirm or sneer. Male, female or any other gender: wear overalls when you go to town, even if you only do it as a fashion statement. Send up the suits with mucky boots. Wear bushy beards. Be hairy all over—that really drives them into paroxysms of fear and loathing. Uncontrolled hair! How...how...ANIMAL.

Or, say you like glitz and glamour, body-waxing and urban amusements. Would that keep you from learning how to use and carry a licensed concealed weapon? Or prevent you from filling your sunniest window with soda-bottle-grown hydroponic vertical garden greens?

Dare to be called an old hippie. Dance at hoedowns. Lobby for hemp plantations in your state. Demand crop insurance policy rate reductions due to corporate collusion in refusing to take steps to mitigate climate change. And when you get your hemp farm and crop insurance rates lowered, take particular care to hire, bond, and pay a living wage to people who are returning to society after incarceration. Consorting with lowlifes and ex-convicts! How outre! Not stiffing the poor for every red cent? How declasse! How pinko! How unmerchantly! Trick them, confound them, disorient them, out-drink them. Co-opt them. Whatever. There are thousands of ways to be unique and only one way to be a conformist. What’s fighting got to do with it? Absolutely nuthin’!