Learning from others (?)

If you have a nice day job at a large firm or a government entity, or someone with a secure (!) pension, your cosy view of the world will probably be a lot different than those of us (myself included) who are more in the ‘Mobile Creatives‘ class of Charles Hugh Smith.   Yes, you might know about the state of the world and all the unhappy futures we might experience, but the steady state income and predictability of things in your life may make these things seem like science fiction, rather than reality.

As Charles Hugh Smith writes, “mobile creatives… trust the network, not the state…”, That is something I wholeheartedly agree with; time and time again, I’ve gotten work from people in my network, and lots of work has been passed to colleagues in the same ‘mobile creative’ boat.   Also, my repertoire has been expanded a great deal, and my skill set (and client list) is a lot wider that I ever thought possible.   My thought is that because of the need to keep looking for work (one friend jokingly reminds me that ‘you only eat what you kill’), we are more attuned to changes in the financial environment, and are more likely to think about existential threats.  For those who are (for now, for whatever reason) insulated from the slings and arrows of the outrageous economy, talk of Peak Oil, economic collapse, and social unrest are largely theoretical.

Theory, however, can be pressed into practice relatively quickly, as happened time and time again around the world. In America, alas, the idea of things getting personally messy is something we tend to think happens ‘to the other guys’ in the world.    The list of ‘civilized’ locales where things have gone haywire is long, but many seem to forget these places, and think of them as things that happened in the history books.

There quite a few places where the fall from ‘First World’ civilization have happened within recent memory, and, as a bonus, we have people who lived through and write very well about such things (and most importantly) from the regular person’s perspective.  From Argentina, we have Ferfal, and from Russia, we have Dmitry Orlov; both have described in detail what happens when things go bad, and the important of networks in staying alive, safe, fed and sane.   In my own circle of friends and acquaintances,  people from Yugoslavia, Montenegro, and Beirut have told some harrowing tales of violence, societal, and monetary collapse.  If you lost your job in the past few years (say, in the 2008 meltdown), you may have had an inkling of what might happen in a larger collapse, but if you found another position at another large firm, these stories were most likely pushed to the back of your mind.

Why *do* most Americans ignore the possibility of serious, in-your-face collapse, even when it has happened time and time again around the world?   American exceptionalism?    Are small business people/’mobile creatives’ more likely to take the possibility of collapse/climate change/economic disaster more seriously?   How about folks who have lived through Katrina or Sandy?  Or have they all gone back to their zombie view of the world (i.e. “They’ll figure out something.”)?

Last week, the question, “What will it take for everyone to be on the same page with respect to our converging catastrophes?” was raised.  Maybe part of the answer is that we don’t need one catastrophe, but a series of smaller, regional ones.   If easy mobility is still available,  ‘collapse awareness’ might still be elusive (“Oh, I’ll live with my friends in the next town/city/state over if things get bad for a while.”).

Hurricane season starts again soon.  The California drought continues.   Arctic ice coverage keeps dropping.  Will this be the year, or will America continue to sleepwalk into the future?








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