I totally understand that CM and I do not have all the answers or get everything right. We have opinions, and we share them in our articles. I believe that our backgrounds and current lifestyle offer us a unique and unbiased view of the world unfolding around us. Our lifestyle allows us to understand the world in ways we never dreamed of when we lived connected to the grid and kept up with modernity.
I wanted to discuss some topics I see in the comments and forums of Peak Prosperity, Ecosophia, and Kunstler.com. Unfortunately, some commentators out there are in for a dreadful future despite their hand waving and wishful thinking.
This goes for all of us, but I wanted to say that just because we “think” something doesn’t mean it becomes a reality. Take, for instance, commenter conversations on JHK's latest Monday post (it’s a great piece, btw).
Note: This is not aimed in any way at JHK. The man gets it. He knows the complexity and work ethic to make these new systems work. Unlike many big names in this community, he is the only one actaully living a simpler lifestyle and growing some of his own food. This piece is aimed at certain commenters on his and these other wonderful sites that just don’t seem to understand the world we are moving into.
Do you think a country with food processing centers burning down, historic drought, diesel scarcity, supply chain disruption, several types of mass psychosis, and few people growing their own food will not eat anything and everything in sight when mass starvation takes hold? Why the hell then are these commentators absolutely adamant that we will easily transition to horses as our backup mode of transpiration? Does it seem realistic that most Americans who have never been around livestock, much less a horse, will saddle up thunderbolt and get to work? What about the necessary supplies needed to maintain a horse? Whose leather is the saddle going to be made from? Are there even enough horses for just a fraction of Americans to own or use? Are blacksmiths rising from the dead to make horseshoes, bits, bridals, and plows? When Americans are starving shortly due to their lack of personal responsibility to grow their own food, why wouldn’t they eat horses too? Americans will do whatever it takes to fill their stomachs, even if it means eating all the proverbial “seed corn” to satisfy today's cravings at the expense of tomorrow's bounty. We need to get serious about the mess we are running into when it comes to producing food and the future realities. Saying we will have a metamorphosis into small-town living and horse-powered societies is in the same realm of unrealistic expectations as believing that we can easily transition to renewable energy and electric cars to power our current entitlements. It ain't gonna happen as easily as some folks think it will.
To preface, I believe that horses will once again be the primary source of transportation and replace machines in agriculture YEARS from now. However, to get to that point is a massive gulf we are totally ignoring. This gulf will be more or less a dark age where civil war, crime, disease, and starvation take center stage. We are overlooking this unsavory chapter by trying to skip ahead and say horses will replace machines, and small towns will be where everyone lives. Excuse me, but many things have to change for that world to appear. Yes, they will show up, but hold your horses because those alive today may never see those days come to pass. It may take decades for the effects of a disease, civil war, famine, mass migrations, water scarcity, government stupidity, and so on to ware off for enough horses to be bred and materials sourced to rebuild small towns. In the meantime, during all of this civil unrest, you and I will most likely be alive, and we need to pass on what we have accrued over the years in industrial society to help those growing up in a de-industrialized future.
When I mention that CM and I have a unique perspective, I’m saying that our lifestyle has taught us how to live in ways that the average American doesn’t comprehend. We do not have running water in the house, unlimited electricity, refrigerator, air conditioner, instant hot water, and all the other luxuries in which everything miraculously appears when you turn a knob or flip a switch. Most of our energy comes from human labor to accomplish daily tasks, much like the rest of the people on this planet outside of the first world. When you begin to grow your own food, hand dig your own well, install your own solar electricity from scratch, raise livestock, design intricate permaculture systems, wash clothes by hand, collect rainwater, compost humanure, build depleted soils, save edible plant seeds, grow, harvest, and create tinctures for herbal medicine, teach yourself how to graft, sew your own clothes, build your own house and structures, implement security measures, et cetera you gain a unique perspective into what it really takes to live outside the Overton window of approved society. This limited view of the world hinders most Americans and makes them totally unprepared for the “Long Emergency.” Even still, in my opinion, many people in the alternative thinking classes do not truly live a resilient lifestyle but somehow convince themselves they know what the future will be like as they sit in their palaces of privilege and daydream of things to come. Well, news flash, bud, it ain't gonna be what you want it to be, and it will involve many things you never considered. Truth be told, we will be lucky to maintain literacy, basic health care, civility, personal liberty, and enough food to keep us alive.
Examples from Abroad:
I find the Cuban experiment a perfect test pilot for a possible future of America. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was cut off from supplies and had to make do with what it had available to feed its population. To this day, I do not see many horses used in preparing the intensive small-scale agriculture that feeds the population centers. Instead, human labor is abundant and easily trained in cultivating vegetables, processing, and seed starting.
These small-scale but intensive gardens produce a lot of food. Large-scale ag is not only a fool's errand but requires tremendous energy inputs even when using horses. Horses are not working for free. They have to eat, sleep and drink too. That is why I believe human labor will dominate our near-term future of food. We do not have enough horses to grow the food to support our industrial scaled populations, so it will take human energy to produce this food. This means smaller scaled and highly intensive sustainable systems are much more probable. Generations from now, as the human population falls back to carrying capacity, I definitely see horses being used more frequently to replace the dwindling human labor force—but not yet.
Life in small towns will not just happen either. Like any successful plan, local people need a unified effort with skills, knowledge, and willpower to make these communities function. The amount of money required to rebuild, repopulate, and re-economize small towns will not happen because someone in a recliner mandates it to. No, these places will have to go through rough times like the rest of us and slowly evolve organically to meet the needs of those around them with the resources at hand. One of the biggest hurdles these places will need to overcome, apart from capital scarcity, is dealing with human waste properly. The fact this topic is not discussed at all shows just how detached many are from designing a future that works. If we cannot talk about everyday things such as human pee and poop, how will we rebuild small towns that keep their populations unpolluted and healthy?
Composting human waste and turning it into life-giving soil should be on the radar of those daydreaming of the future. Composting human waste is critically important, so we do not irresponsibly contaminate water supplies, our food supply, or our bodies. Properly composting your daily waste shows character and personal responsibility so as not to make yourself, your family, or neighbors sick from your carelessness. Once your water supply is contaminated, there is no going back and cleaning it up in a de-industrialized country. I have written an article about how we properly compost our own humanure which was fun to write. Speaking of, we are currently using this finished compost to fertilize our melons, squash, and fruit trees.
Scapegoats & Projecting:
The last thought deals with age. If CM and I have learned one thing in the past several months of making this website, it’s that age does not guarantee competence. It does not matter if someone is 20 or 82; people love to point fingers at older folks, younger folks, and everyone in-between as a source of scapegoating or projecting in the resilience community. This screenshot captures an older person projecting at younger folks. Keep in mind that this person most likely does not live simpler, grow their own food, or have practical skills. If they had, something tells me they would’ve worded this differently. Perhaps instead of saying other people don’t like “work,” this person should get off their ass and start building resilience instead of riding the coattails of someone else.
With that in mind, there are not a lot of us younger folks who “collapse now and avoid the rush,” and neither are their many older ones doing it either. In an intriguing twist, the one who coined that great term lives in an apartment in a huge metro area, so I guess that phrase can take on different meanings for different people. I believe it should come down to personal responsibility to make the lifestyle choices you want to make. In saying this, it is implied that you deal with the consequences of those decisions; there is no free pass in life. So why should someone who lives in a 2,000 square foot debt house, drives an oversized SUV, eats out all the time, takes multiple vacations a year, and enjoys all the other planet destroying activities of modernity somehow be spared the consequences of their actions and peacefully land in the future maintaining all their entitlements? Bitch, please. We all get an invoice—I just want mine to be as small as possible.
Let's be Realistic:
Once again, I do believe we are experts in our lanes. We know the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to live this life daily. We put in the time and energy and know the resources needed to maintain a simplified level of comfort, protection, and essentials. We do not have all the answers, but we understand the problems and predicaments crashing down around us. That is why we share our thoughts to help others build their personal resilience with the time and resources they have available to them. We want to be realistic about what can be accomplished now and in the future. The future is not whatever we tell it to be. Reality dictates what we do, and we have to adapt to it or die.