It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia. – Frank Zappa
According to Archdruid John Michael Greer, societal decline will be gradual rather than a single cataclysmic crash but there will be bumps and jolts on the way down. He bases this on the study of the declines of other civilisations which have all followed the same trajectory as ours is now. John Beckett and Byron Ballard describe our time as Tower Time. The idea from the Tarot is that the collapse will mirror the meaning of The Tower, i.e. collapse and ruin. I suspect both are right, it just depends on your perspective and time frame, but the key point is that our current society is crumbling and will continue to do so.
White’s law stipulates that the complexity of a society is proportional to the amount of energy used by it. As our access to energy declines with peak oil and the failure to replace it with renewable energy, the energy available to society will cause the complexities that we have built in to start to creak and crumble until the point that the equilibrium of energy and complexity is reached.
Add to slow decline in available energy the increasing climate disasters which will destroy infrastructure that we can’t afford to replace and which will displace people through war and famine, and we have a perfect storm brewing (if you’ll excuse the poor taste of a pun).
And if this wasn’t enough… the people who have been promised the world are beginning to realise that they have received it yet. Their anger has driven Brexit and Trump, yet it is anger than the liberal middle classes have fostered through continued ‘aspiration’ and with schools teaching kids that they can be or have anything they want.
For example, the idea that 50% of people should go to university is frankly ridiculous. How about teaching kids the useful stuff while they are at school, how about teaching them to think and analyse. How about teaching them some life skills such as money management and growing food? Rant over!
So what follows the collapse? Is something born from the ashes, rising up like a phoenix? Yes, probably but what is the time frame? Is it in our lives, those of our grandchildren or do we have many generations to wait? Is it linear? Will the phoenix rise up across the Earth or will there be pockets coming and going? I suspect the latter. Will these pockets be in places that have access to energy? Of course – it was no coincidence that civilisations grew from areas closer to the equator than the poles.
And what should we do now to prepare for this?