It Takes a Village

bonobo mother playing with her baby; photo by Frans Lanting in the Smithsonian

The word village comes from the PIE root word weik which refers to a clan or tribe — a small group of people that is larger than just a family of relatives.

The expression “It takes a village”, usually followed by “… to raise a child” speaks to the fundamental way in which humans live together. We cannot survive as individuals, no matter how rich and powerful and clever we may be. Our species just doesn’t have the physiology or the individual capacity to do so.

Primate species have a wide variety of social arrangements, depending on what has provided evolutionary success in their biosphere, but the primates closest to us, the bonobos and chimps, almost always associate in what are called fission-fusion communities.

Fission-fusion communities are less cohesive than [other] multi-male multi-female groups [such as those of baboons and macaques]. These groups occupy very large home ranges in which temporary foraging parties cleave and coalesce over time with changes in resource availability and female reproductive condition. These social systems are typically characterized by female dispersal [females leave the group at puberty and join other groups] and male philopatry [males remain with their natal group for life].

There is an obvious resonance and similarity between this bonobo/chimp social organization and that of humans, dating back to our earliest origins. Land and property has often remained with the (usually first-born) male human, and females have to find accommodation elsewhere, usually mating with males from other nearby communities.

Because of the variable fission-fusion nature of the societies of bonobos and chimps, they are not really ‘troops’, which is why the term ‘community’ is usually used to describe them. Chimp and bonobo communities generally vary from 20-80 individuals.

Historically, in most parts of the world, a village is the closest human settlement in size to a chimp or bonobo community. Wikipedia states: “The population of a village varies; the average population can range in the hundreds. Anthropologists regard the number of about 150 members for tribes as the maximum for a functioning human group.” This (quite controversial) maximum number of 150 is famously known as Dunbar’s number.

And hence “it takes a village”, not only to raise a child, but to function effectively and sustainably at all as a human society. Fewer than 20 and you don’t have the diversity needed to reproduce healthily and learn effectively from others. More than 150 and the group loses cohesion and effectively becomes chaotic and ungovernable.

Of course, it takes a lot more than the right number of ‘members’ to constitute a healthy, cohesive, and functional community. Most of us, regardless of what we are used to calling a “community”, have absolutely no idea of what actually building and being in community entails. But here’s a list of some of the qualities I have observed or been told about, that every effective community must have:

  1. Mutual trust
  2. A diversity of skills, knowledge and capacities (“mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive” to meet all the community’s requirements)
  3. A willingness, and the experience, of the whole group to self-manage
  4. Love and respect for all of the community’s members, including those you don’t particularly like
  5. The will and capacity to collaborate rather than compete with other members
  6. An appreciation of the resources, advantages, limitations and dangers of the specific place where you live
  7. Freedom from chronic debilitating stress
  8. Enough local basic resources to enable the community’s self-sufficiency

On a psychological level, there are additional individual needs that the community has to meet (healthy attachment and capacity for authenticity, a sense of meaning and purpose, possibility of optimism, sufficient attention and appreciation, connection with the natural world etc). The community cannot hope to be healthy if many of its members are ailing or dysfunctional.

How does a community self-organize and self-manage to ensure these requirements are met, so that the community remains caring, cohesive, collaborative and functional?

The simple answer is: practice. There is no formula or rule-book for managing a community, which depends on the community’s ever-evolving culture, preferences, opportunities, appetites, needs, situation, and passions. The sense of community is an emergent phenomenon of its membership and its circumstances.

Why is this important? Because as collapse deepens, our very survival will ultimately depend on our capacity to build and live in community. Fortunately, the collapse we are now going through is a long (relatively-speaking) emergency. We will have time to practice, to learn, to fail, and to start all over again, and again.

We might begin now to identify where we think we want to establish community when the SHTF in our particular part of the world, and who we think we might want to live in community with. But what will ultimately happen in and to our particular little community is unpredictable.

As Tyson Yunkaporta says, the key is not to try to create community by imposing or following any particular ideology, theory or model, but rather to stay adaptable to ever-changing circumstances. We may be looking at multiple long-distance migrations to new and unfamiliar places before our community takes root, and its membership will likely change during those journeys.

That will also mean leaving egos at the door. What one person thinks, believes, or thinks they know, is not going to matter. The building of community, especially among the ruins of a dying civilization, cannot be designed, planned, directed, or conducted. To create a true community, there will first have to be a sense of urgency, since as Joe Bageant often said “Community is born of necessity.” In most places we are not even close to a recognition of its necessity.

And then, once there is a sense of necessity, we will, one way or another, look around and find a way to create a community with those with whom we find ourselves, wherever we may then happen to be. And when we get to that point, ready to self-organize, well, then… it will take a village to make it happen.

Posted in Collapse Watch, How the World Really Works, Our Culture / Ourselves | 1 Comment

What Could Go Wrong Next

currency exchange in Somaliland, an unrecognized country within Somalia, from the BBC, photographer Simon Reeve

Collapse is happening more quickly this year, but for most people it’s still happening so slowly as to be hardly noticeable. What will it take to wake people up to what’s going on? And when the next crisis happens, will it be seen as an element of a larger civilizational collapse, or merely as another isolated incident that we need to ‘bounce back’ to ‘normal’ from?

The last major signifier of collapse was, of course, CoVid-19, or perhaps more specifically our utterly incompetent and selfish response to it. Hurricanes, massive forest fires, record heat waves, financial collapses, and the political and economic collapse of individual nations are all still seen by most as ‘isolated’ events that have ‘always happened’. And already the seeming majority view of the pandemic is that it was an embarrassment that hopefully won’t happen again and is now best forgotten.

So, against a background of everything slowly falling apart, what might we see next, that can’t easily be dismissed as an anomaly, but which rather has to be viewed, at least by those paying attention, as a portent?

My reading of history suggests that major economic crises happen more quickly and more often than political, social or ecological crises, so my guess continues to be that the next major turmoil as we slide into collapse is likely to be an economic one.

I should know better than to write down my predictions for the short-term future (though I did correctly predict the Ukraine War), but it is fun to speculate, so here is my guess at the ‘top 3’ possibilities:

1. Partial collapse of the banking system:

Our fragile banking system, and all the financial and economic systems tethered to it, have never recovered from the collapse of 2008, which required trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to prevent total collapse. Having blown the budget on foreign wars, the US and its vassal states have nothing left in the till for another massive bailout.

Almost every bank is overextended with high-risk loans (needed to meet profit targets), and vulnerable to a run by worried depositors, and when banks start refusing to honour deposits to stave off insolvency, trust will evaporate and citizens will look for safer places to park their money. The banking industry’s attempt to move us to a ‘cashless’ banking system, where you cannot take any money out in cash, will accelerate their nervousness.

Without a functioning banking system, governments will have to reestablish public financial institutions, which will entail relearning from scratch how to do so. Without adequate deposits, banks can’t loan money, and they have to call in existing loans. The economic effects could be horrific, and it could take decades for the situation to restabilize.

2. Global currency chaos:

The US is furiously working to prevent the emergence of a multipolar world, because the exorbitant privilege (their adjective, not mine) given to the wildly overvalued US dollar as the global reserve currency would quickly be lost, as countries switched to trade in reasonably-priced reciprocal currencies.

That would lead to a run on the US currency not dissimilar to a run on a bank — the currency would collapse, and without a replacement (even a return to the gold standard would probably no longer work), currency chaos, with wild fluctuations as the speculators (who presently do 95% of all currency trades) desperately try to recompute what value, if any, the rest of the world’s currencies have. It may not get as bad as a return to barter and scrip this time, but for those who deal with, hold assets in, or visit foreign countries, it could be a wild ride.

3. Trade wars leading to hyperinflation and empty shelves:

The US, as part of its attempt to destabilize China and other countries that threaten its economic and (to a slightly lesser extent) political hegemony, is using economic and trade sanctions and economic blockades to try to weaken those countries’ technological, resource and other economic advantages. That plan appears to be failing, as other countries are just reorganizing their manufacturing operations and pivoting to other supply sources and trade partners.

Once the world realizes that the US essentially produces nothing of value except war materials, it may not take that long for trade agreements to be revamped to cut the US out of the picture entirely, since they have nothing to offer except threats, the world’s reserve currency, and an insatiable appetite to consume everything.

There’s even a question about how long the US’ European vassal states will put up with absurdly overpriced US gas and other resources in place of ‘sanctioned’ Russian supplies, a situation which is leading to the disastrous de-industrialization of Europe as it can no longer afford the energy to power its manufacturing industries.

This will all inevitably be hugely disruptive to global supply chains and trade patterns, so our current economies, which are based on just-in-time delivery of everything (for “efficiency” reasons), are likely to seize up. Remember those pictures of people running to the bank with wheelbarrows of cash to exchange it for new bills before inflation makes it worthless? And the huge lineups and empty shelves after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Coming soon, perhaps, to a country near you.


Any of these three crises (which are somewhat related) might easily lead to a broader economic collapse — a major depression that we may never really ‘recover’ from.

There are some other possible near-term crises that I considered adding to this list: immigration wars, cancelled elections, extended major heat waves (much greater than the one in Europe in 2003 that killed 72,000 people), more balkanization of countries as national governments become too unpopular to hold, more natural disasters (like the Indonesian tsunami that killed 250,000 in 2004, or the Haitian earthquake that killed 320,000 in 2010, except this time in a ‘western’ country), and another pandemic (this time most likely an avian flu pandemic, that will wreak havoc on global food supplies). Any of these is quite likely, but they are, I think, less certain that the three economic crises at the top of my list.

Place your bets. Rien ne va plus.

Posted in Collapse Watch, How the World Really Works | 2 Comments

If, When, Now That

This is, like everything, a work of complete and utter fiction.

“Childlike Wonder”, by Midjourney AI; my own prompt


If, some morning, this body were to awaken, without a sense of self and separation to reconstruct its worldview and conception of reality, nobody would notice. ‘I’ would not notice, since there would be no ‘I’ to notice. Nothing would have changed. Nothing would change.

If, some afternoon, while walking in the forest by the creek, this belief in being centred in this body, and in control of it, were to suddenly dissolve, the walk would continue, unchanged, and the apparent behaviours and preferences of this body thereafter would remain the same. No one would perceive any difference in what was seemingly happening.

If, late one evening, gazing down from this window at the night city and the night sky, and singing along with the music in the headphones, it suddenly became obvious that there was no one gazing, no one singing, and never had been, the gazing and singing, and the closing of blinds, and preparations for sleep, would continue as they seemingly always had.




When, some morning, this body awakens, without a sense of self and separation to reconstruct its worldview and conception of reality, nobody will notice. ‘I’ will not notice, since there will be no ‘I’ to notice. Nothing will have changed. Nothing will change.

When, some afternoon, while walking in the forest by the creek, this belief in being centred in this body, and in control of it, suddenly dissolves, the walk will continue, unchanged, and the apparent behaviours and preferences of this body thereafter will remain the same. No one will perceive any difference in what is seemingly happening.

When, late one evening, gazing down from this window at the night city and the night sky, and singing along with the music in the headphones, it suddenly becomes obvious that there is no one gazing, no one singing, and never has been, the gazing and singing, and the closing of blinds, and preparations for sleep, will continue as they seemingly always have.




Now that each apparent morning this body awakens without a sense of self and separation to reconstruct its worldview and conception of reality, nobody notices or remembers its absence. There has never been anybody to notice. Nothing has ever actually changed.

Now that there is no one to believe that there was ever anything centred in this body or in control of it, whenever there is an apparent body walking in the forest by the creek, the apparent walking continues and the apparent behaviours and preferences of this body remain just as they seem. There is only what is seemingly happening.

Now that it is obvious that no one has ever gazed down from this apparent window at the night city and the night sky, or sung along with the music in the apparent headphones, the gazing and singing, and the closing of blinds, and preparations for sleep, continue as they seemingly always have.


Posted in Creative Works, Illusion of the Separate Self and Free Will | 1 Comment

Links of the Month: September 2023

an old cartoon by Michael Leunig, from his fans’ Facebook site.  “What has been lost…”

All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races, going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses, no expression, no expression
Hide my head, I wanna drown my sorrow, no tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles, it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good, Happy birthday, happy birthday!
And I feel the way that every child should — sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous, no one knew me, no one knew me
“Hello, teacher! Tell me, what’s my lesson?” Looked right through me, looked right through me

And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles, it’s a very, very
Mad world, mad world
Roland Orzabal


wind and solar energy remain an insignificant source of energy, as oil, gas and coal dependence continues unabated; chart from Our World in Data

Collapse goes (briefly) mainstream: CNN actually interviews a climate scientist about collapse without challenging or dismissing his statements.

Why we’re running out of affordable energy: Tim Morgan explains in detail, one more time, the imminent collapse of cheap, affordable energy, which spells the end for industrial civilization.

Badmouthing collapse realism: First it was Rebecca Solnit “doomer-shaming” collapsniks for telling the truth about the inevitability of ecological collapse. Renaee Churches was one of many to reply to her offensive and divisive Guardian article. Then it was Rachel Donald arguing (her word) with her guest, Bill Rees, on the same subject, on her podcast. At least she followed up with an article acknowledging what Rebecca has not — that we have to work together to deal with the climate crisis, not fight among ourselves over how bad it is. Thanks to Indrajit Samarajiva and Paul Heft for the links.

Protection racket: As social collapse deepens, especially among the homeless, sick and poor, the ultra-rich, and even government authorities, are responding by hiring their own private police and security forces. This is not a good sign.

Close to extinction, the first five times: There have been at least five times in the last million years when humans nearly became extinct, all with different causes but all of them related to sudden drastic climate change. The latest study suggests the human population 900,000 years ago dropped to as little as 1,300 people.

Move that shit over here: The Honest Sorcerer describes how much of our non-renewable energy consumption consists of moving goods and materials around to where we are, and explains that that need is expected to triple by 2040. Ain’t going to happen. Thanks to Paul Heft for the link.

“Forests are no longer our friends”: David Wallace-Wells, in a masterful understatement, explains that massive and ubiquitous forest fires have switched our forests from being net carbon sinks to net carbon emitters.

The Maldives as a microcosm of climate collapse: Coming soon to nations everywhere.


‘accommodating’ sculpture by Tuck Langland in the Goshen IN public library; image from the memebrary

How to really address rising crime: Better social supports, instead of more police. Well, duh.

Mutual willing incomprehension: Political detente and peace require a willingness by all ‘sides’ to try to really understand the others — both what they are actually trying to do, and why. This is obvious, but in all our major current conflicts, such willingness, and even capacity, is absent.

Moving from self-help to collective action: The key to achieving change, says the author of this year’s Massey Lectures, is re-learning how to collectively organize to fight existing power structures.

The myths of happiness: Claims that people are happier if they exercise, spend time in nature, pursue “mindfulness/meditation”, and have active social lives, are simply not supported by credible evidence. They’re just psychobabble.

#1 tip for internet content providers: It’s ignore the trolls.


Cartoon by Colombian cartoonist Boligan, from Cartooning for Peace

Corpocracy, Imperialism & Fascism: Short takes (thanks to John Whiting for many of these links):

Propaganda, Censorship, Misinformation and Disinformation: Short takes:

CoVid-19 the Gift That Keeps On Giving: Short takes:


cartoon by Christopher Weyant in the New Yorker

We owe everything to trees: Fascinating article by Jill Lepore traces our dependence on trees as our homes for most of our time on earth, as our source of fire which was essential to our capacity to migrate from our early forest homes, for our earliest weapons to survive as hunters, for paper and books, and many other purposes. The earliest human age should, she says, be called the Wood Age, as it was more transformative than those named after stone or metals. She describes some of the reasons we might have been forced to abandon these Edenic structures as our homes, but strangely omits the cosmic ray theory, that suggests the forests were all burned several million years ago by an exploding Nova. Thanks to Kavana Tree Bressen for the link.

State security secrets!: A priceless exploration into AI by Thomas Wade, who asked ChatGPT what tactics the US security state could use to undermine, gaslight and control us, and got a list of 500 mind-blowing methods. The list would be falling-down-funny if it weren’t exactly what propagandists and sociopaths (and probably most governments) actually do. Thanks to Peter Webb for the link.

Being adopted by a cat: A charming tale from Indrajit Samarajiva. Some things are the same the world over. 

Things are  not as they seem: Another gem from Indrajit about the nature of reality and the stories we tell about it, inspired by a visit from the tooth fairy.

Abandoning the Big Bang myth: Webb telescope data suggests our mythological stories about the origin of the universe just don’t jibe with the facts. Sadly, our response always seems to be to create an even more complicated story. I’m absolutely convinced that if we gave up storytelling and just accepted, as adults, that we cannot possibly hope to know the true nature of the universe and its origins, it would be a great step forward.

No, there is no new global mental health crisis: There are many surveys and news headlines suggesting the current political and social stresses have created a monstrous new global mental health crisis. But drill down into the data and you’ll find it’s only American youth who are suffering. And a more likely cause of that is their unhealthy addiction to social media.

Mindfulness: The useless billion dollar industry: There is absolutely no credible research that ‘mindfulness’ meditation has any enduring therapeutic value whatsoever, beyond the placebo effect. And no, it doesn’t help you lose weight either.

Headline from the Beaverton (Canadian version of The Onion): “Toronto Goodwill asking people to stop donating Leafs jerseys” (ask a Canadian)

Mitch McConnell’s brief flash of humanity: The moment he had his mini-strokes, or whatever they were, the monster in Mitch briefly disappeared, and a real person appeared. A lovely read.


“Sadness”, by Midjourney AI. Not my prompt.

From Matt Haig, in The Midnight Library:

Nora had always had a problem accepting herself. From as far back as she could remember, she’d had the sense that she wasn’t enough. Her parents who both had their own insecurities, had encouraged that idea.

She imagined, now, what it would be like to accept herself completely. Every mistake she had ever made. Every mark on her body. Every dream she had ever made. Every dream she hadn’t reached or pain she had felt. Every lust or longing she had suppressed.

She imagined accepting it all. The way she accepted nature. The way she accepted a glacier or a puffin or the breach of a whale.

She imagined seeing herself as just another brilliant freak of nature. Just another sentient animal, trying her best. And in doing so, she imagined what it was like to be free.

From Caitlin Johnstone, on western xenophobia and propaganda and on Hollywood’s copaganda and psyopaganda:

Nothing will shatter your dreams of a broad left-right antiwar coalition faster than publicly opposing US warmongering against both Russia and China simultaneously.


Hollywood overdubs the [wimpy peeps of the] bald eagle with the [more powerful-sounding screech of the] red-tailed hawk in precisely the same way it depicts police officers as spending their time fighting crime, and depicts news reporters as brave muckrakers digging for the truth to expose the wicked and corrupt, and depicts soldiers as heroic defenders of the American people.

From Scott Cook — his latest song “A Bigger Pull” (thanks to Kavana Tree Bressen for the link — song has not yet been released):

I got friends who live in cities with brewpubs and bike lanes
Who got sweet tattoos and charcuterie, and ancient grains
Who seek out the finest, frothiest flat whites and macchiatos
Who eat cheese made out of cashews and CBD gelatos

And I got friends who live in small towns and like to shoot at deer
Who like dogs that like working, who like beer that tastes like beer
Who say yes sir, and thank you ma’am, and even God bless y’all
Who castrate and brand and have a testicle festival

And where my city friends are careful with the language that they use
Some of my country friends just get a kick out of trampling on taboos
But if I call and tell ’em I’m broke down, they’ll be there in an instant
My city friends would ask, “don’t you have roadside assistance?”

I got friends who give their kids names like Leaf and Tree and Arlo
Who feel like their fellow grownups failed the grownups of tomorrow
And I got friends who give their kids names like Colton and Shelby
Who think teachin”em to respect the flag and their elders is healthy

I got friends who go to seminars and ayahuasca retreats
Who might spill their deepest secrets to the kindred souls they meet
And I got friends who don’t say a lot, but mean everything they say
Who believed every word of Scripture (’til their daughter turned out gay)

I’ve seen forests of culture flattened by the money machine
All the houses with Black Lives Matter signs and no black folks to be seen
And I got friends who’d never hunt or fish but love their surf and turf
And me, I’m burning diesel drivin’ ’round singing songs to save the Earth

Sometimes it hurts to hear my friends talk about some of my other friends
Like everything that’s going wrong has somehow got to do with them
As if they’re so completely different they just can’t be understood
As if one side’s all bad and the other side’s all good

But from a certain angle they look similar to me
Whether they get worked up by Fox News or MSNBC
I’m not saying there aren’t real concerns, no, everybody’s got ’em
Just that it’s less about the left and right than the top against the bottom

‘Cause a few folks aim to own the world and they’re well on their way
And no matter what crisis comes, they’ll make sure they’re okay
They’ll short-sell and hedge and make profit from misery
If they wanna catch a bunch of fruit they just gotta shake the tree

Well, the left I loved was punk rock and Food Not Bombs
Now it’s cancelling comedians and policing language norms
Greenwashing corporations with whatever’s on brand
With the fresh new hell they’re dreaming up in Davos Switzerland

Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it with less of a smirk
That our Grandpas fought the fascists and built all the public works?
Back when unions gave us weekends, faced the bosses and their thugs
How come now it seems so joyless, censorious and smug?

With an ever-narrowing circle who think just like we do
We went from we are the 99% to we are the chosen few
If we’re gonna move the needle, if we even have a chance
What’ll it take to make all us snowflakes into an avalanche?

And didn’t conservative used to mean careful and considered
Rather than racing to sell off everything to the highest bidder
Weren’t lying and cheating condemned in the Bible
Didn’t there used to be a wheat pool to keep the farmers viable?

Is there something wrong with public roads, the library and post office?
And who really thinks it’s a good idea to run prisons for a profit?
Now we all believe in freedom, what about the freedom to live?
And not to go bankrupt buying medicine for your kids?

There ain’t no one who’s just one thing, there ain’t nothin’ uncomplicated
There ain’t one without the other, man, we’re all interrelated
We belong to one another, we drink from the same cup
Stop throwing punches at each other and start punching up

Fortune favours the fortunate, it don’t trickle down
Gonna need most of us paddling to turn this ship around
Gonna need a tent big enough to fit most of us inside
Gonna need a bigger pull to turn the tide

From Confucius: “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.”

Posted in Collapse Watch, How the World Really Works, Our Culture / Ourselves | 4 Comments

Everything Falling Apart: Three Perspectives

my own diagram of what Jim Kunstler calls “The Long Emergency” — a gradual multi-stage collapse over an extended period

Aurélien, Patrick Lawrence and Yanis Varoufakis are IMO three of the most astute observers of our modern, global, industrial civilization culture. It is now pretty apparent that collapse of that culture is well underway, and no longer just the looming danger I’ve been writing about for twenty years.

These three writers have all recently written “state of the world” articles from very different perspectives. They’re all well worth reading and thinking about. I thought it might be useful to summarize, contrast and comment on them. The common thread of all of them might be “everything slowly falling apart”. That’s perhaps an excellent descriptor of this, the first of the three phases of each stage of collapse. The disintegration phase.


Aurélien’s contribution is called, aptly enough, “Going to Pieces Slowly“. The British historian, diplomat, and cultural analyst (now based in France) writes:

Given the many developing crises that are jostling for priority now, social breakdown, either self-generated, or more likely a consequence of multiple economic or environmental and health crises, may well not be far away. In fact social breakdown is perhaps already here, even if, as William Gibson might say, it’s not evenly distributed… People accept the legitimacy and authority of the state as much out of habit and collective self-protection as anything else. So the kind of decay in state legitimacy that we are now starting to see is less likely to lead to violent conflict, than to a kind of sour apathy and disengagement, and a search for some [group that can fill the power vacuum or some] way of making up for what the state can’t do. There are parts of the world where you can see this in action…

No western country has remotely the internal security forces required to defeat a serious massed challenge to the legitimacy of the state, because so much depends on unspoken social contracts between the governors and the governed. But supposing that starts to break down?… We forget the extent to which it is safe to go out into the streets precisely because the vast majority of people never think about smashing their way into a supermarket and looting the goods, or attacking police or firemen. But this is only a convention and, beyond a certain point, if too many people decide to disobey it, there is nothing much that the authorities can do…

For the first time in modern western history, there are no groups with organisations and ideologies waiting in the wings [when civil order breaks down], either to launch a struggle for power, or to profit from a power vacuum.

Aurélien goes on to explain that the crumbling of political and social system legitimacy would immediately have knock-on economic effects that would amplify political and social unrest: the collapse of investment, currency and housing markets, massive disruption of food and energy supply chains, degraded road and public transport and communication infrastructure, and a surge in organized crime. This is where the slide into chaos begins, and we’d be wise, he says, to study some African, Latin American and Asian countries where this has already happened, to see what may come next.


Patrick Lawrence’s new piece, entitled “Psychology & Disorder“, is a history of American Exceptionalism, describing the history of that unique ideology that runs right across the political spectrum, and has now, like one of those pathetic western-supplied tanks rotting in the fields of Eastern Ukraine, run out of ammunition and fuel. In the text of a speech he gave to a Swiss conference on multipolarity, the American author, foreign correspondent and globe-trotting university lecturer writes:

Little that America has done, from the earliest settlements and the Quaker hangings in the late seventeenth century to its nineteenth century wars, expansions, and annexations, to its anti–Communist crusades in the last century, to Vietnam, and all the coups and interventions in the post–1945 decades: To grasp all of this fully we must see the underlying, driving psychology… All of these events, disparate as they are as historical phenomena, arise from the same consciousness: They are all part of the same root phenomenon. And all of this goes, it hardly bears mentioning, for all that we witness now: The cruelly inhumane proxy war in Ukraine, the dangerously provocative encirclement of China, America’s unruly conduct in the Middle East, in Latin America—America’s claim to exceptionalism lies behind all of this…

After the débacle of the Vietnam War, Ronald Reagan’s [subsequent] feat was to persuade an entire nation, or most of it, that it was all right to pretend: All was affect and imagery. He licensed Americans to avoid facing the truth of defeat and failure and of professed principle betrayed. He demonstrated in his words and demeanor that greatness could be acted out even after it was lost as spectacularly as it had been in Indochina.

This is the exceptionalism whose many destructive consequences we now witness. It is an ideology whose most peculiar feature is that it is subliminally understood to be exhausted and that it rests in large measure on denial. No American political figure would dare now to speak sensibly against the exceptionalist orthodoxy. This is ever more the case as the orthodoxy becomes more obviously hollow, more detached from perfectly discernible realities…

[In her essay “Ideology and Terror Hannah Arendt notes that ideologies] replace thought with belief, so obviating the need for ideological believers to indulge in the act of thinking—to respond with rational judgment to events and circumstances. Another [of ideologies’ consequences] is the effect of isolation. Ideologies are in one dimension boundaries, and one stands on either side of these. Those inside these boundaries share a bond made of allegiances of which no one else can partake. Those outside these boundaries are simply excluded: They are Others. The implied separation is sometimes much more than psychological, but it is psychological before it is anything else.

Americans [in addition to now being politically isolated from much of the world], are also isolated from others psychologically, and I would say this is also in direct consequence of their claim to be exceptional. Like all ideologues, and here I will make a generality I am prepared to defend, Americans, by and large, would much rather believe than think. This in itself tends to leave Americans isolated, because he who believes but cannot think is incapable of relating to the world… We trap ourselves within a fantasy of eternal superiority and triumph. So we cannot hope to speak the same language as the rest of the world, and we don’t. We do not see events the same way. We do not react to events in the same way. We do not calculate the same paths forward.

Patrick sees little evidence that the US, and its perpetually-governing Professional Managerial Caste in particular, are either willing or able to abandon the bankrupt idea of American exceptionalism, which has propelled us to the brink of nuclear annihilation, and is now largely driving the slowly accelerating economic, political, social and ecological collapse we are now trying to contend with. And as long as this insane ideological belief, rather than rational, evidence-based thought, is what is directing the decisions of those in power, what hope do we have of even softening the blows of collapse before we plunge into the chaotic phase?


Yanus Varoufakis has just written “Technofeudalism Has Just Arrived“, a look at how massive inequality, the demise of democracy, the de facto privatization of the internet, and horrific financial and economic mismanagement, have combined to produce a dramatic shift in the dynamics of power, and has hence shifted the global economy from a capitalist one to a ‘neo-feudal’ one. In the introduction to his new book, the Greek-Australian economist, professor and former parliamentarian writes:

What has happened over the last two decades is that profit and markets have been evicted from the epicentre of our economic and social system, pushed out to its margins, and replaced. With what? Markets, the medium of capitalism, have been replaced by digital trading platforms which look like, but are not, markets, and are better understood as [private] fiefdoms. And profit, the engine of capitalism, has been replaced with its feudal predecessor: rent. Specifically, it is a form of rent that must be paid for access to those platforms and to the cloud more broadly. I call it cloud-rent.

As a result, real power today resides not with the owners of traditional capital, such as machinery, buildings, railway and phone networks, or industrial robots. They continue to extract profits from workers, from waged labour, but they are not in charge as they once were. They have become vassals in relation to a new class of feudal overlord, the owners of cloud capital. As for the rest of us, we have returned to our former status as serfs, contributing to the wealth and power of the new ruling class with our unpaid labour – in addition to the waged labour we perform, when we get the chance.

Yanis asserts that it is essential that we understand this new economic power dynamic in order to grapple effectively with the personal, political, economic, social and ecological challenges we are facing. Although the book has not yet been published, judging from its detailed table of contents, its key ideas will be familiar to readers and viewers of his writings and speeches.

He argues that the US acted as a “Global Minotaur” that used its economic and political power from 1945 through 2008 to essentially repatriate all the proceeds of global production back to the US, despite the fact the US is a massive debtor nation that produces essentially nothing of value (except munitions). But the financial collapse of 2008 brought about the end of the “Minotaur” and opened up the opportunity for the power shift to the private technofeudalists who now control global commerce through ownership of their online ‘platforms’ (their fiefs), and who are indifferent to ‘profits’ because they get their ‘rents’ from both producers and consumers (users) of their platforms.

He attributes the new US hostility to China to the fact that China’s technological advancements (and possibly their superiority) threaten the technofeudalists’ oligopoly over platforms and rents, and hence their wealth and power. And he argues that the Ukraine war, with its crippling economic sanctions and massive theft of non-westerners’ bank deposits, is largely an economic war rather than a political one. The losers in both wars, he says, are Europeans, the Global South, and our ravaged planet.

As an idealist, his answer to these problems is perhaps not surprising: He wants the internet to be de-privatized and reconstituted as a public commons. He wants corporations and currencies to be democratized, repurposed to serve the public good. He wants land to be returned to what it was before the foreclosures — a public commons. I would love to believe that was all possible, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I do not. Good diagnosis, though.


So we have the gradual acceleration of global political, social and economic collapse, with no group likely to be able to fill the power vacuum as the world slides more quickly into chaos. And we have only poorer nations, ahead of us on the curve, to study for clues as to how that chaos is going to unfold.

We have an Empire that remains deluded about its ideology to the point that it is in denial about everything happening in the world except what it sees as immediate threats to its supremacy and exceptionalist beliefs, and which is pushing for multiple wars against nuclear armed countries in ‘defence’ of those beliefs.

And we have an economic system that has quietly replaced unregulated capitalism with an even more insidious and destructive private neo-feudal order that views the world’s consumers as its ‘product’ and the world’s producers as its renters, and is completely agnostic to social, labour, economic and ecological abuse.

Sounds like everything slowly falling apart, all right.

Posted in Collapse Watch, How the World Really Works, Our Culture / Ourselves | 3 Comments

The Trauma of the Self

This is a partial, edited transcript of a meeting held by Tim Cliss in 2021, on zoom. Probably not of interest unless you are intrigued by the message of radical non-duality. At the end of the transcript, I ponder a bit on the subject of human trauma. 

“The Dissolution of the Self” by Midjourney AI; my prompt, photoshopped

Tim’s introductory remarks:

We’re talking about life, being alive, aliveness. Whatever we want to call ‘this’, it’s not in parts, Parts are an illusion, and the central illusion is that “I am apart” (from everything) or “I am a part” of something larger. ‘Life’ is whole and complete. There is no ‘oneness’ to be found or become ‘one’ with. There is nothing ‘apart’ or ‘becoming’ anything. This is the end of the possibility of becoming. Everything is exactly as it is ‘already’ in every way. The sense of self is a sense of being apart, excluded, separate.

There isn’t anything ‘in place’ of ‘me’. When ‘I’ am no more, there is nothing instead, or better. There is no ‘you’ to be replaced, so the seeming absence of ‘you’ isn’t even noticeable, because ‘you’ already are not what you feel and believe your self to be, which is apart.

The (terrible) term ‘non-duality’ is just pointing to the illusion, the mistake, the misunderstanding, that ‘you are’. The problem with ‘I am’ is that that felt sense of being separate, ‘inside’, with everything else ‘outside’ is so convincing it seems impossible that it can’t be true. The conviction that ‘I know who I am’ becomes so powerful that it becomes the centre or lens through which all other happenings and experiences are filtered ‘in relation to me’.

Because ‘I’ have this felt sense of being absolutely real, I believe my story is real, and in that is most of what we call suffering. “I am real and I did something yesterday and I could have chosen to do otherwise or differently. And because I will exist tomorrow I need to work on ensuring that I do better tomorrow, and that I keep myself and those I care about safe now and tomorrow.” These misunderstandings arise as anxieties and neuroses and insecurities.

It can happen seemingly that this illusory sense of ‘I am’ can dissolve, or fall away. It isn’t ‘seen through’, or ‘realized’. It just no longer appears. That can be slow and excruciating or instantaneous. That’s the whole message: Self isn’t real. ‘This’ is not something that can be known or seen or been.

There is a longing not to feel that sense of separation. But ‘this’ is not at all what the self wants or imagines. The ‘me’ wants to know, and in the absence of ‘me’ nothing can be known, or learned, or obtained, or achieved, or lost. And the equality of everything can then feel like love, but not a love for someone, or a love that has conditions. It is a love that simply, unconditionally, is.


[after the above introduction, Tim answered questions from the meeting’s attendees; in the edited transcription below, I have abridged many of his answers, and grouped answers to related questions by topic, even when they occurred at different times in the meeting]

Money and Power:

Separation feels very unsafe; this tiny me in this vast universe. Money and power are sought by some because they give the illusion of greater security. But it’s just an illusion. And with more money and power come more choices and responsibility, more to lose and hence more suffering. But nothing is separate. There is no one to have anything. But absolute poverty and powerlessness is unthinkable to ‘me’. Yet there is only ‘this’ and it can’t be found or achieved or lost. There is no ‘you’ to have things, and no things to have. There is no poverty greater than that.

The ‘Me’ versus the Body:

‘This’ is the ‘not turning up’ of the one who is attached to, inside, and having, a body. Without ‘me’, the seeming body is just allowed to be as it is. It’s not ‘mine’,
When there is no ‘one’ to be attached to the body, there is no longer any judgement or criticism of the body. The entire ‘self-improvement program’ disappears. Everything, including the body, is just accepted. It’s easier with the body when it’s not ‘yours’.

For a lot of selves the body is like a prison. But the body is already empty, and perfectly capable of looking after itself without ‘me’. There is no ‘experience’ of the body being empty; there’s just no longer any inside or outside — it’s all just empty.

All the body-obsession associated with being a physical ed teacher, and the related vanity, is gone. The body pursues pleasure, whether that is ‘good for it’ or not, since the body is no longer ‘my’ body. The body is subject to its conditioning of course. ‘I’ have nothing to do with what it does.

Getting ‘This’:

It can seem really heartless to say that there’s no path or process, nothing the self can do. But once bitten with this message, there is no antidote. You can’t leave it alone.

When there’s nowhere else to go, when ‘this’ is it, and there is no possibility of being anywhere else, it’s the end of any effort to be or do otherwise from what is.

Everything is just what it (apparently) is, and what ‘you’ called ‘yourself’ is just ‘being human’. And everything is just the same ‘being’.

The Loss of Motivation:

One apparent result of the self no longer turning up is an apparent laziness. There is no longer a ‘you’ urging that things be done. So there is less inclination to work or to concentrate doing things. Yet there’s probably more love of stories, because they’re just indulgence, enjoyable for what they are, which is just stories. They don’t ‘mean’ anything.

Even ‘my’ story becomes more enjoyable to tell. There are still emotions attached to the story, rooted in memories, but there is no longer any attachment to the story, even ‘my’ story.

It is such a relief that, without ‘anyone’ around to ‘allow’ or not ‘allow’ anything, life is allowed to just be as it is. This is not saying ‘your’ life will be better or worse. There is no longer a ‘you’ to ‘have’ the life, and judge it.

How the Unraveling of the Self Might Appear:

If ‘self’ dissolves, unravels, becomes more transparent, and starts to feel insecure as ‘the ground starts to fall away’, and you’ve never heard this message to give you context for it, you might even be hospitalized (as suffering from a serious dissociative disorder). If you’ve explored and been attracted to this message, however, so you have the context and language to describe it, it might be less devastating.

With the loss of the sense of self, there can be great fears about ‘losing yourself’ or becoming disconnected from the people close to you. Or there may be just a carrying on as if nothing had happened. With the realization that there are no real relationships between family members (they are part of the loss of everything) this can be overwhelming. And in Tim’s story this ‘dissolution’ was excruciatingly slow, and terrifying.

Yet after all the overwhelming fear and excruciating terror, it was realized that there was and is nothing to be afraid of. Self is afraid of not knowing, but the abyss of not knowing is completely benign. There is bliss in going to sleep now; just a falling into the embrace of nothing. But the fullness and wonder of life is exactly the same as the emptiness of the embrace of nothing.

The End of ‘Personal’ Love and the Emergence of Unconditional Love:

There is no one to be ‘in love’. There is just love. But while there is no longer love ‘in relationship’, ‘this’ is in a way more loving. There is no longer love out of need or expectation or negotiation. In place of such ‘transactional’ love there is unconditional love.

Since there is no ‘you’, ‘you’ can never fall in love. There can be ‘falling in love’, but it doesn’t need a ‘me’ or a ‘you’.


There is no causality. Things are the way they are, but not ‘because’ of anything. There does not need to be a reason or purpose for anything.

Being with Other People:

There is seemingly less interest in pleasing and compromising with other people, but conditioning of the body is what it is. It was never ‘me’ doing anything anyway, so very little changes. But it is not terrible being alone anymore. Though being alone with others is somehow more enjoyable than being alone without them.


‘I’ loved the Eckhart Tolle model of the ‘pain-body’ for awhile because it let ‘me’ off the hook. It wasn’t ‘me’ causing the suffering, this model tells us, it was my ‘pain-body’. But the truth is that all humans suffer trauma, deeply and repeatedly, especially in our ‘defenceless’ childhood. It’s just that that trauma isn’t actually ‘yours’.

[end of transcript]


Dave’s thoughts:

I have been profoundly affected by Tim’s comments on trauma over the years — he’s a trained and experienced psychologist, and therefore brings a unique and compassionate perspective to this ‘radical non-duality’ message.

He explains that trauma has a profound affect on all of us, on our conditioning, and on the fears, neuroses and suffering we all feel. The ‘injury’ of that trauma doesn’t magically disappear if the sense of self and separation drop away — memories and conditioning remain. Gradually there may be less neurosis, less anxiety and fear, though the fear of a sudden close call or great danger will still arise instinctively in the body. But by taking ‘ownership’ of ‘our’ decisions, experiences, and judgements, we actually inflict and prolong the suffering and trauma that comes from them, which is tragic. But we have no choice but to do so. You don’t have to have a ‘self’ to be traumatized — but it helps!

So what is trauma, exactly? Psychologists define it as our reaction of profound emotional shock stemming from one event (acute trauma) or repeated events (chronic trauma) that are simply too stressful and horrifying for the person to deal with. It can result in lifelong, debilitating, unpredictable emotional (and sometimes physical) reactions to triggers, dreams, memories and flashbacks, and lifelong incapacities like PTSD, unmanageable addictions, dissociation and depression.

Gabor Maté, the renowned Canadian psychologist and addiction therapist, agrees with Tim’s assessment that we all suffer from trauma; it’s just that some of us handle it better, and some of us are more aware of what it’s done to us. His argument is that (especially in our modern stress-filled world) while it happens to everyone, those who have an emotionally stable infancy and childhood, sufficient to develop a sense of healthy attachment and a sense of autonomy, are better equipped to deal with it, but that our modern society deprives most of us of that early stability and development opportunity. Trauma, he says, is not “what happens to you”, but rather “what happens inside you” as a result of the traumatic event(s), how you self-adapt to its occurrence, to protect and support yourself. That may be suppression of emotion, denial, dissociation, addiction, or some other coping mechanism.

I’m still trying to sort out how trauma, which is ubiquitous in humans, ties into the unique belief of humans, which apparently emerges very early in life, that they are separate beings with selves that control and are responsible for ‘their’ body and ‘their’ lives. Hence giving rise to emotions like shame, guilt, low self-worth, chronic anxiety, indiscriminate and irrational hatred, and so on — emotions that wild creatures, lacking this sense of self and separation, apparently don’t feel.

But, horrifically, humans have induced all the symptoms of stress-related trauma in wild creatures in the laboratory. So trauma is not uniquely human, even though the ‘self’ apparently is. The common variable, of course, is acute or chronic stress. What does all that mean for the effect of (the illusory) self on humans’ unique proclivity for gleeful violence, and for such disconnection from the natural world that we have irrevocably destroyed our planet’s capacity to sustain life, including human life? I have no idea. Maybe it’s a question that cannot be answered.

Posted in Illusion of the Separate Self and Free Will | Leave a comment

What Does Chaos Look Like?

Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework (2021). Adds liminal domains, points of uncertainty or paradox, notably the aporetic domain, from whence, notably, NZ’s Jacinda Ardern chose to cede decision-making authority to health experts as being better equipped than politicians to determine the most sensible next steps to deal with the pandemic, buying time in a chaotic period of crisis and keeping options open.

Chaos, in its social rather than mathematical sense, refers to the absence of effective constraints.

What that means in a human political, economic or social system, is that no one pays attention to any accepted rules governing the system, which are therefore unenforceable. In ‘chaotic’ economic and political systems that means oligopolies, bribes, extortion and other ‘officially illegal’ activities may prevail without limit. In some cases, organized crime actually substitutes its own laws, rules and constraints, to deal with the chaos.

What I think we are starting to see this century is gradually increasing levels of chaos in much of the world. In fact, the increasing number of the world’s economies that are dominated by oligopolies and organized crime might actually be a little less chaotic than countries that are still trying to play by the rules. In countries ruled by oligarchs and organized crime, you at least know who you have to pay off, and how much, and the consequences if you don’t. That may be despotic, but it isn’t chaos.

If the system collapses to the point that even oligopolies and organized crime cannot maintain order, then you have at least short-term chaos and possibly anarchy. Immediately, in order to get essential things done (like food and energy distribution), ad hoc systems will emerge. Dmitry Orlov has described how this happened with the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the ruble: A system of commerce emerged based on a combination of tribute (giving to those you respect), barter (trading reciprocally for something of value), gifting (giving without expectation of compensation), and scrip (effectively, IOUs signed by someone known in the community that become a replacement ‘currency’ that others agree to accept). Such systems, of course, do not scale.

In political systems, a descent into chaos means that, especially in the early stages of collapse, and largely thanks to ubiquitous corruption and broken electoral systems, those in power may not need to have the support of citizens to stay in office nearly indefinitely, and they are hence free to ignore the citizens and their wishes and needs, other than propagandizing them through the media. And they can accept money for implementing laws and regulations written and paid for by moneyed interests.

But that tends to only last a short while, as citizens lose respect for these “officials” and start to disobey their laws as well. And then, if the police and others charged with enforcing the laws become as disenchanted as the rest of the citizens, political chaos is likely. That means, among other things, that people will stop paying taxes, will overtly disobey laws and rules set by officials they no longer respect, and that there will be a huge jockeying for power and authority among those seeking to fill the power vacuum. Politics and economics, after all, only function when there is broad agreement to abide by the rules; coercion and propaganda can only achieve so much in its absence. Currencies, in particular, are based in trust that they can be redeemed for their face value, and when that trust is lost, the currency quickly becomes worthless, as citizens of many countries can attest.

Once you get political and economic collapse, and these systems devolve into chaos, social collapse may ensue, as people take things into their own hands and refuse to trust anyone else. As Dmitry explains, social collapse and social chaos are disastrous, as they preclude everyone’s attempts to restore some sense of order. Civilizational collapse then becomes pretty much inevitable.

My sense is that this situation is well advanced in many poorer countries, and becoming much more evident in many countries in the west, to the point I currently believe global civilizational collapse is nearly inevitable over the coming decades, and this will occur even without the multiple ecological crises that are compounding the polycrisis.

Once an entire civilization crumbles, collapse historically has followed one of three pathways: devolution, with the making and carrying out of decisions radically relocalized to the family, tribe or small community level (as larger and more centralized systems just cease functioning or are no longer recognized as legitimate); absorption, where the members of the collapsed societies scatter and join other still-functioning cultures, if there are any; and/or abandonment, where the citizens just ‘walk away’ from systems that no longer function and re-band together (in the same or some other location) into cohesive social groups and self-organize to create order within those groups and in relation to other groups. They then self-impose new constraints and hence achieve some sort of self-governance.

We may see all three, or some new alternatives, in different parts of the world as collapse deepens. One of our greatest challenges in many parts of the world is that most of us are completely dependent on the centralized, specialized, fragile systems of modern capitalism, such that few of us still have the competencies and skills to meet any of our basic needs without support from “the system”.

We can learn much about coping with collapse and the resulting chaos, from studying past civilizations, and from studying how those in poorer nations (and impoverished parts of more affluent nations) have already been dealing with the essential collapse of their political, economic and social systems.

Many of these collapsed societies and sub-societies have effectively self-reorganized around tribes (in the broader sense of the word: “families or small communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, often with a common culture and dialect”).

In many cases, the economies of these ‘neo-tribal’ societies are substantially what Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing in her brilliant book The Mushroom at the End of the World has called salvage or scavenger economies. During the reign of an industrial capitalist economy, salvage activities are marginalized and usually feed back into that capitalist system (eg collecting recyclable containers and selling them to commercial buyers, or selling privately harvested crops to commercial enterprises). Anna’s book, which describes how the salvage/scavenger economy works already today in parts of the world, is essential reading for anyone wanting to imagine what our post-civ economy and society might look like.

When the industrial capitalist economy crumbles, just about every activity carried out then becomes a salvage operation, since there is no longer a reliable commercial/industrial system to sell the salvaged goods to. So as Big Ag collapses (as farmers in the Great Depression found out), there is no longer a market for large volume monoculture crops, and all food and resource harvesting at every level becomes a salvage operation. You then ‘harvest’ and sell just what’s needed, just in time, to whoever near you needs it — copper for repairing broken machines for example. And at that point you give up reliance on large established markets ordering stuff in large quantities in advance, because they’ve disappeared.

We will all become salvage operators. A lot of industrial economy outsourcing and offshoring has already made much of the economy into a salvage operation — ‘independent’ truckers replacing commercial fleets, Uber/Lyft drivers, and ‘gig’ economy, offshored and outsourced work are all, in a way, forms of salvage work that currently sit at the periphery of, and feed into, the industrial economy. As that industrial economy collapses, we will all be doing salvage economy work, except we’ll be meeting the needs of our fellow community members, not those of big corporations which will no longer exist.

The issue in a salvage/scavenger economy is not “Who will buy my product or service?” but “What does my tribe/community need today, and where can I salvage it from?”

Ronald Wright’s somewhat dystopian cli-fi novel A Scientific Romance envisions what a salvage/scavenger economy might look like. But personally, I need look no further than outside my window, where I see throngs of crows, every day, thriving in such a self-evolved economy, drawing on the things humans throw out.

And before our invention of killing tools and fire, humans scavenged for everything we ate, and many anthropologists would assert they lived happier and healthier lives than we do. (Mind you, there were not eight billion of them!)

Economic collapse (and the resultant chaos) will likely come much more quickly than ecological collapse, at least for most of us. Even then, it will not be an overnight occurrence. To modify the famous Hemingway expression, collapse will happen slowly, then suddenly all at once, and then it will slowly tail off until the system, and those dependent on it, disappear. Think of it like the right side of a ‘normal’ (bell) curve, or the descent of a roller coaster. For most of us in the west, we’re still in the first of these three phases of collapse.

So what do we do as we slide into the second, chaotic phase, as everything starts to fall apart and then does so “suddenly all at once”?

We cannot possibly know. It will unfold very differently in different places. The key word for coping with collapse into chaos is not sustainability or resilience or regeneration — once you’re on the way down, none of those is an option. Instead, the key word is adaptation. Some of the means by which we can position ourselves to better adapt are:

  • acceptance: The sooner we are able to get past the ‘blame game’, and appreciate that things aren’t going back to the way they once were, the better off we’ll be.
  • increasing our collective competence: We don’t all need to become individually expert at growing and harvesting our own food, but collectively, depending on who we define as our community, we will have to acquire and build on a whole suite of self-sufficiency competencies. They include the basic “know-how” of how to make/provide/manage our own food, clothing, shelter, water, energy, resources, tools, livelihood, infrastructure, health, education, art, recreation, and stories, and a host of ‘soft’ skills like conflict resolution, mentoring, persuasive and facilitation skills.
  • learning from those experienced: In collapse, theoretical and conceptual skills will take a back seat to practical skills, so once it happens, we will need to identify those in our community who have hands-on experience doing essential things, and then learning by watching them and trying it ourselves.
  • being pragmatic: We humans tend to be really attached to our models, ideas and ideals of how things “should” be done. We will likely have to settle for less ideal ways of doing things that work in the moment and in the situation we find ourselves in. Sometimes the perfect can be the enemy of the good, and of the “good enough for now”. Rigid commitment to some new ideal “how we’re going to live together” plan, especially if it isn’t “safe-to-fail”, could prove perilous. Increasingly, we’ll be looking for “adjacent possibilities” that will make things marginally better.
  • drawing on the “wisdom of crowds”: As we face novel and unexpected situations, our personal specialized expertise is unlikely to serve us as well as a mechanism to draw upon the collective knowledge, ideas, and experiences of the whole community.
  • collaborating: Few of us have experienced working in (often spontaneously) self-organized environments where there is no hierarchy, and where decisions are arrived at, and actions are taken, collectively by consensus and appropriate delegation. That kind of experience will soon be invaluable.
  • exaptation: Exaptation is the accidental or deliberate repurposing of something from its original function to a new and useful function. The classic example is that birds evolved wings for warmth and cooling, and only later did these wings evolve for purposes of flight. Most scavenging and salvaging activities are inherently exaptive, repurposing activities. When we can’t get what we need “ready-made” we’ll have to cobble it together, exaptively.
  • abductive thinking: Abductive thinking entails the capacity to see things from different trans-contextual perspectives, to listen empathetically and pay attention to outlying thoughts and perspectives and draw on them to imagine novel approaches and ideas, to draw on the “logic of hunches” and intuition, to rest in uncertainty and welcome and play with ambiguity, and to combine well-considered, pragmatic theory with direct experience. It requires lots of practice, good attention skills, and rigour. And a practiced capacity to hypothesize, and to test out hypotheses, and hold several hypotheses simultaneously. And a capacity for “small noticings” — recalling things you noticed in a different context that just might apply to the issue at hand. Few of us are very good at this.
  • finding our community: While the community that we find ourselves in as collapse reaches the “suddenly all at once” stage, may be able to acquire and share the skills and resources needed to become a true community, it might well not. If not, we may have to keep searching until we find a community in which we usefully and comfortably ‘fit’. We are all likely to become ‘homeless migrants’ at least once in the coming decades, until we find it.

These skills and methods, the more we can acquire and practice them in the years to come, will help make us more competent at navigating collapse and chaos and co-establishing and building sustainable communities with just enough of the right constraints to be viable and healthy.

We cannot ‘prepare’ for collapse and chaos, because we have no idea how specifically it will play out where we live. But we can start, anytime, I think, acquiring the skills, knowledge, connections, networks and capacities, so that, regardless of how it happens, we’re able to adapt ourselves, and co-adapt with those we’re with, to cope as well as humanly possible.

Posted in Collapse Watch | 5 Comments

Outside the Overton Window Looking In

image by Midjourney AI; my own prompt and photoshopping

At various times over my 20 years of blogging I’ve found myself taking a controversial position on some issue, usually political or economic, but occasionally social or ecological.

I was surprised that my articles “against” love, “against” hope, in support of polyamorous relationships, and asserting our lack of free will, turned out to be less controversial than I’d expected. I was equally surprised at the relatively hostile response of some readers to my position on healthy veganism (including a death threat), my opposition to western involvement in the war in Ukraine, my strong support for masks and vaccines, and my occasional ridiculing of religions and ‘spirituality’ (including CBT and ‘mindfulness’).

But generally, people have been pretty tolerant of what people write on their blogs. They are, after all, just opinions, and no matter what you believe, you can find a blog or a group somewhere that will reassure you that what you believe is right, and that anyone who believes to the contrary is misinformed or worse.

For most of those 20 years, I’ve hewed to a fairly consistent ‘progressive’ party line on most issues, to the point early blog listings categorized me as a ‘radical lefty’ blogger. I think in many ways I am even more so now than when I started blogging, though I’m a lot less doctrinaire and idealistic than I was. I rarely tell people what to do any more, or even proffer advice or “solutions”. I write more in the first person singular, and add “I think”, or “it seems to me” to qualify what I am saying, so I think my opinions are expressed less categorically than they once were, no longer implying that “this is obviously what any smart, informed person would believe”.

Some of the principles that govern my writing are:

  1. I try to remember, and state as often as possible, that I don’t know much on a lot of topics, and my “thinking out loud” is rarely more than “this is what I think, tentatively, for now, and why”. I keep track of when I change my opinion on things, and try to own up to how and why I believed what I did. I’m not a very humble person, but I try not to be arrogant. And I try to be honest when I say what I believe on the basis of the “preponderance of evidence”, and admit when I am not an expert. I’d rather be useful, or at least interesting, than popular.
  2. When it comes to a few issues, I see no virtue in “both-sidesing”. Sometimes you just have to take a stand. That doesn’t mean that adversaries are “evil” or “insane” or “wrong”, it just means that the danger they seem to me to present to people and the planet outweighs, IMO, their right to be taken seriously and given airtime. The recent mutterings of RFK Jr are an example.
  3. I try to appreciate the inherent complexity of all things, especially anything that is social or ecological, and try not to simplify things that are not simple, even though that means living with uncertainty and ambiguity and expressing that in my writing. In most cases I am suspicious of simple models, answers, diagnoses and “solutions”.
  4. I recognize the immense power of stories, and therefore deliberately do not tell stories (particularly the emotionally-charged ones that mainstream media increasingly rely on) when there’s anything much at stake in how they’re taken. Many awful atrocities have been facilitated by manipulative story-tellers. When I write stories, they are usually labeled up-front as fiction.
  5. I try to avoid writing “me too” articles. If I haven’t got something — new information, new perspectives, new insights, new possibilities — to add, I don’t see much point in writing about a subject.

Some of these principles are on occasion in contradiction to each other, and then it’s a balancing act. Chronicling collapse is an exercise fraught with challenges, especially when the future is unpredictable and when so much is unknown.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of the Overton Window, it is essentially the range, across the political spectrum, of ideas that are currently considered acceptable for airing in public. Especially in the blogosphere, that window has always been reasonably broad. In the mainstream media, it’s always been much less so, and is quickly getting much narrower.

So for those who are exposed to blogs, the political writings of Noam Chomsky, the disclosures of whistle-blowers like Julian Assange, the deep and knowledgeable historical background offered by people like John Mearsheimer, and revelations such as those of award-winning investigative reporters of the calibre of Sy Hersh, for example, are pretty readily available, and often appreciated. They serve as an antidote to the much narrower and more right-wing views that now dominate publications like the NYT, WAPO, Guardian, New Yorker, Atlantic etc, publications that pointedly refuse to publish or even acknowledge the existence (except as crackpots or criminals) of people like these four extraordinary men.

If you read any of the above publications, it’s pretty clear that the Overton Window for these corporate media is very narrow, right-wing, and driven by a specific ideological agenda — substantially US exceptionalism, US/NATO unipolar imperialism, and neoliberal economics. On non-political, non-economic, non-military issues like gender rights and identity issues, they open the window slightly wider because these issues don’t threaten their core political and corporate sponsors, so they can appear to be more open-minded.

But recently, the Overton Window everywhere seems to have narrowed. Perhaps this is the effect of the mainstream media, which have become more doctrinaire even while pretending to maintain their ‘progressive’ credentials, and which now regularly pass off editorials and blatantly slanted reporting as real ‘news’. Perhaps it’s the effect of social media, which have been eagerly demonetizing, banning, using down-ranking algorithms, and just outright censoring and deleting writing and videos from people outside their perceived Overton Window, their ineffectual and ham-fisted way of “combatting conspiracy theories”.

Or perhaps it’s just an indication of how what used to be known as ‘the left’ or ‘progressives’ has fractured over the past few years over issues that pit leftists against each other (and that’s not entirely due to the mainstream media, and academia, harping on these issues).

I first noticed this trend a decade ago when trans rights activists got into battles with radical feminists. I’m not going to get into the issue here, but the upshot was a lot of ‘canceling’ of (and even physical assaults on) important progressive speakers like Derek Jensen. It was basically impossible to support ‘both sides’, and the animosity was so strong that if you supported one you were cut off from the other.

Since then, that malaise has spread. On issues such as the homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction problems in San Francisco that led to the recall of Chesa Boudin, for example, leftists couldn’t win no matter what position they took. This splintering of the left over social and ‘identity’ issues has continued, and it seems to have torn the left apart in the UK and Europe as well, particularly on issues such as immigration. And during CoVid-19, progressives throughout the Euro-American Empire have further split on issues like vaccine and mask ‘mandates’ (and even on the ‘Lab Leak Hypothesis’), much to the delight of the more unified right.

Again, I am not going to get into these issues (or at least, not again), because it would take a long article to explain the split on each one. The point is, the “range of positions and opinions acceptable in public discourse” has become incredibly complex, depending on which section of the “public” you are talking about.

So what we have ended up with is essentially three Overton Windows, one for conservatives, which is moving steady right towards rabid populism and fascism, and two (or more), often mutually exclusive, for progressives. So, for example, if you oppose US/NATO involvement in the war in Ukraine, you will have to deal with a large majority of self-described progressives who support the war (as happened in previous wars like the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, which, along with the mainstream media, most progressives also supported), and who find any opposition to the latest war intolerable.

As a result, as a blogger, I’ve found my positions on many issues attacked as often by those who would probably consider themselves progressives, as by conservatives (who generally don’t read my blog anyway).

So I know collapsniks whom I agree with on almost all issues, except on their belief that the government response to CoVid-19 was an excuse to increase power and surveillance over citizens. I know bloggers who are progressive on social and economic issues who fervently support supplying billions of dollars in gruesome weapons to the Ukraine army, and also support preparations for a war against China over Taiwan or Xinjiang or some other issue. My support of radical feminism has resulted in me being labeled a TERF. My belief that trying to prevent or mitigate economic, ecological, and political (and hence civilizational) collapse is now futile, and that it makes more sense to focus our attention on adapting ourselves to its realities, has been assailed by some progressives as defeatist and dangerous.

I have found myself adding blogs to my blogroll, newsletter or RSS feed lists, based on an excellent article on some issue, only to find myself deleting them when their author goes off on some (to me) bizarre and embarrassing tangent on another issue. And then I end up adding them back when someone points me to some new insightful writing of theirs. It’s exhausting! Oh, for the days when the people on my blogroll agreed with me on just about everything!

So perhaps the whole idea of the Overton Window has lost its meaningfulness as the complexity of public discourse increases. There are no simple left/right lines anymore (and some would say there is no ‘left’ anymore). And no part of the ‘window’ seems to be open to all major constituencies of the citizenry.

The concept of the Overton Window originally applied only to the acceptable range of government policies that the electorate would tolerate. Now government policies are largely, as Aurélien has explained so well, performative exercises in saying the right thing to the party faithful, rather than doing anything at all, while the policies that are actually enacted are substantially written by corporate donors, wealthy lobbyists, the defense establishment, and other powerful administrators not beholden to any party, or to the citizens.

So the original Overton Window has become relevant only for wording the carefully-crafted talking points, rallying calls and scripted op-eds in the mainstream media by the governing and opposition parties of the day.

As political collapse continues, this does not bode well. Coping with collapse of all types is going to require, as I wrote earlier, a focus on acceptance, adaptation, competence, experience, pragmatism, and collaboration. That will require a lot more tolerance than most people seem currently willing to show. Whether this will get better or worse as collapse deepens is anyone’s guess.

In the meantime, we bloggers are likely to be seen, more and more, as being outside the window of acceptable opinion and discourse, especially as the number of issues we feel compelled to be knowledgeable about (and have an opinion about) increases. Most people want things to be simple, in which case they’re going to find the blogosphere an uncomfortable place, perhaps best avoided entirely.

Me, I’ll just stick to my principles, write to try to make sense of the world and to chronicle civilization’s collapse, and invite others interested in my musings to follow along and respond as they will. That sense-making is likely to be complex, tentative, and counter-intuitive, and will probably often introduce new possibilities that may challenge, annoy or even outrage.

But perhaps, if we’re all finding ourselves increasingly on the outside of the window, looking in, we might look together, compare notes, and see if we can make more sense of it that way. We don’t have to agree. Two eyes give you perspective, and two heads are better than one, and all that.

Posted in How the World Really Works, Our Culture / Ourselves | 16 Comments

Moving Beyond Ideologies — continued

screen cap from one of Sabine’s recent videos

One of the mailing lists I’m part of (thanks to Paul Heft) has been debating physicist Sabine Hossenfelder’s controversial recent video in defence of capitalism. I’m a huge fan of Sabine’s scientific work, and I think her use of scientific methods and principles to “do one’s own research” is well-founded, even when it’s outside one’s area of expertise.

But I would argue that her video, entitled “Capitalism is Good”, should have been more modestly titled “The Ideas of Money and Capital are Good, in Theory”. She sees the problems with capitalism as stemming from poor governance and lack of proper regulation, rather than from the theory itself. But that assumes that systems of proper governance and regulation are possible in a massively complex world. My study of complex systems, and human systems in particular, suggest they are not.

This is how I replied to the mailing list group, in response to their heated debate over the video:

I think one has to consider that Sabine, who is a world class theoretical physicist, is an expert in exactly that — theory.

She is absolutely correct in that the invention of money and ‘capital’ was (and is) essential to large scale industrial production, without which many of the inventions and products we enjoy today (and many of the resultant problems) would never have occurred. They are great ideas in theory. So is Marxism, in theory.

The real problem is that we live in a society in which everything we do is part of a massively complex system, and such systems are essentially unregulatable. We think we can introduce a system that is governed by a theory or set of principles and then control and regulate its application. We cannot.

That is why all of our theories and -isms ultimately get us into trouble. Not because they aren’t good theories, but because we cannot control their application.

Capitalism is a great theory that is also one of the major causes for almost all aspects of the polycrisis. If we had 8 billion humans living under an economic system based upon some other great theory, like Marxism, or the Gift Economy, or even feudalism (which in theory is not as bad as we’re taught), it is almost certain that we would be facing a different but equally intractable polycrisis, and be in roughly the same stage of collapse that we are facing now.

My article last month on “moving beyond ideologies” was focused on political systems, but it applies equally to economic systems. As Tyson Yunkaporta said: “All you can do is foster the conditions for emergence and allow it to emerge and just behave with integrity, and, you know, maybe others will do the same. But the minute you have an idea and you think this is an important idea, everybody should know about this, everybody should be doing this — as soon as you do that you’ve made an ideology and you’re [fucked].”

Human beings, beyond the level of tribe, small community and autonomous confederation (in the indigenous sense of the term), seem to be simply politically and economically ungovernable. Despite all attempts to make us into homogenous robots, that is not who we are.

It’s a shame, because our brains are great at inventing theories and ideologies. You know, things that work brilliantly, in theory.

I will probably write more about this in future, because it’s critically important, but I think that’s enough for now.

Posted in Collapse Watch, How the World Really Works, Our Culture / Ourselves | 2 Comments

No Meaning or Purpose

For the hard core interested in the subject only. This is a partial transcript of Jim Newman’s answers to questions about radical non-duality, from his meeting in Amsterdam in March 2019. It was one of the last in-person meetings on the subject before CoVid-19. I thought his answers that day were particularly articulate. 

Midjourney AI attempts to capture the essence of “nothing has any meaning or purpose”. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it succeeded. 

In this meeting we’re going to talk about — and whatever I say from now on, I mean “apparently”, ie it’s neither real nor unreal [only an appearance] — we’re going to talk about two things:

First, a pointing to what can’t be known; and that’s what’s happening. ‘This’ is what’s happening; ‘this’ can’t be known. It’s indescribable. It’s the ‘absolute’; it’s trying to describe what can’t be described. There is no word that can say what ‘this’ is, what ‘is happening’. Because there’s no distance, space or time in what’s happening. It appears there is but that’s not real. So we’ll be pointing at what can’t be known.

Second, the reason we think this meeting is happening (it’s not really happening; it’s only apparent) is because there’s an experience [a ‘me’] that arises in what’s happening that says “I know what’s happening.” And that experience “I know what’s happening” seems to be separate or distinct from ‘what’s happening’. It’s not. It’s an illusion, a trick. But that’s the experience. And it’s because this experience arises, that this meeting apparently happens. As that experience arises it says “I am separate from everything, separate from what’s happening, I am real, I was born, I have a life, I’m going to die” — and that’s problematic [for the ‘me’].

So ‘I’ need to find a way out, a way to be fulfilled, to feel whole. I need, through my experience I have of being real, to use my free will and choice to make my life better. To find whatever it seems to be that’s missing, which is, always, something else — the next moment, the next instance, the next experience. So the situation is, you have an experience, that arises in ‘what is’. That experience seems separate; it’s not.

Experience is an illusion. It assumes two “what’s happenings”. “What’s happening here” and “what’s happening there”. And there isn’t a “What’s happening here” and a “what’s happening there”. Experience is a sort of knowing; it’s a subject-object relationship. That’s what experience is. There is no subject or object. “Knowing” is the absolute appearing as knowing. Everything that arises is the absolute. Whatever you can name or say is the absolute. It’s not actually separate.

What’s being pointed to is that the knowledge or experience ‘I am’ is illusory. It’s the illusory experience that there’s separation.

You can’t say what this is. You can call it anything — you could call it ‘oneness’. It’s not oneness, it’s not non-duality, It’s not a thing.

There is no ‘you’, and there is no ‘there’, there is only what’s happening.

.     .     .     .

When somebody experiences the senses [experiences are different from sensations that are just what’s happening — the senses are just a function], such as when ‘I’ look, ‘I’ see an object. When no one is looking there’s only the infinite, the singularity of what’s happening. There’s no witness, no knower, no actor, no one outside of it. There’s just what’s happening. It’s complete, it’s everything, it’s whole. It leaves no space for there to be a witness, or a knower or a perception or a perceiver.

The thought that there is something else beyond what is happening is [also] what’s happening. The individual separates it, as if there was another reality. Nothing happens really, only apparently. ‘You’ is the experience of separation, that there is another reality. That there’s an experiencer, that there’s what’s happening and something else that’s happening. That’s the experience of duality; that’s an illusion.

There is no separation. The paradox of this is that it cannot be explained because there is no separation. It only seems paradoxical because of the [me’s] need to understand and explain it.

.     .     .     .

The apparent solidity of the individual gives the impression that this whole thing is coming from somewhere, that time and space are real, that this is a part of a continuum that has a beginning, a middle and an end. That’s a dream. There is only what’s [apparently] happening. There isn’t anything outside of what’s happening. But for the [illusory] individual it all seems real. For the individual, words are real. But there is no individual, just appearance. There is no experience, no experiencer, there is only [raises his hand] nothing [apparently] “hand-ing”.

.     .     .     .

There is no you. You, wanting to leave, is nothing, appearing as an individual saying “I’m real and I want to leave.” Nothing is hidden. There is nothing to find, nothing that has been lost. It’s only the illusory individual that has the illusory experience that there’s something lost. There is nothing lost.

The individual is an experience of being inside the body, with buttons and levers that ‘I’ call my free will, to be able to ‘deal’ with what’s outside the body. When ‘I’ arise — that experience of position inside the body — it arises simultaneously in everything else. And then the appearance, and ‘my’ life, are, [to the ‘me’], ‘real’. That experience is illusory. There isn’t anything in here [points to body]. There isn’t anything that ends at the skin. And there isn’t anything outside. There is no inside or outside. There is only what’s happening.

You don’t live in an illusion; ‘you’, the sense of being an individual, are an illusion. There is only the absolute, [everything]. There is no space for a question [‘why’]. There is no ‘one’ to ask.

.     .     .     .

Nothing is ‘known’. There is only what’s happening. And that can appear as ‘knowing where my hotel is’. It can even appear as the experience of being separate.

.     .     .     .

‘You’ don’t have a life. You’ve never made a decision. The ‘me’ doesn’t actually do much of anything. It doesn’t have thoughts or feelings; it takes ownership of what arises and says “that’s mine”. It arrogates everything to itself, in its illusory experience.

.     .     .     .

The memory of ‘you coming here’ is what’s happening, but ‘you’ didn’t do it. There is nobody ‘in there’. Nobody ‘makes decisions’. The entire experience of being an individual with free will and choice is an illusion. Because the illusion of the individual is ‘the absolute appearing as the illusion of the individual’, there is no why. There is just what’s happening. ‘Why’ only arises if there is real separation and somebody trying to find reasons. It’s all just the absolute. There is nowhere to go. Nothing moves. There is nowhere for a ‘why’ to arise and nothing for a ‘why’ to direct anything to, because there’s only what’s happening — apparently.

.     .     .     .

This is not a philosophical exercise. There is only what is happening. It’s not a philosophy, so it’s very difficult to talk about it in philosophical terms. It’s not a theory. It’s just what’s being expressed. It’s obvious. ‘This’ isn’t saying that there’s no individual as a theory, this is saying there’s no individual because [it’s obvious] there’s no individual. This isn’t saying that this [points around him] appearance is the absolute appearing as a room as a philosophy or theory; it’s just obvious that that’s all there is. So there’s no ‘room’ to philosophize about it.

This is like a film without a screen. And nobody watching.

.     .     .     .

When the ‘I’ [seemingly] arises [in very early childhood], it doesn’t immediately make sense of everything; it just makes everything ‘real’. Over time [in the story] it builds up a belief system around the solidity of ‘I am’ that makes sense of what ‘this’ is about for it. It needs to ‘make sense’ because it’s on its way somewhere. It feels like it’s on a path. It grows up and leaves home and Mom and Dad and loves God (another Dad) to make it feel good — somebody who knows what is going on. It’s a very insecure existence. It’s a frightening, contracted existence — it’s a dream, it isn’t real. But that’s its experience.

.     .     .     .

There is nothing excluded from what’s happening. No way to get closer or further away from what’s happening. It’s already everything. That’s why it’s suggested that the experience of being an individual is illusory — It’s not happening.

So when it stops happening, it’s obvious it never did.

For the individual, everything is really happening [to it]. The experience apparently happens to the individual, it’s apparently real to the individual. The individual can’t say it’s not real. To it, it is. [It’s the individual that isn’t real.]

.     .     .     .

There’s nothing to gain, and nothing lost. The experience of the individual is that something’s missing. It keeps adding experiences to itself, but never fulfils that gap of separation. It can’t solve the problem of itself.

.     .     .     .

Death only appears for the individual. It only has a reality in the experience of separation. There is no separation. There is no death.

.     .     .     .

This [pointing to his body] doesn’t actually see people, so it’s quite obvious there isn’t anybody in this room. [The fact that the individual sees people in the room is] just a dream. There isn’t personal responsibility. There isn’t anybody who could make a decision. There isn’t anyone. There is no ‘you’.

.     .     .     .

If there is the appearance of a sound [such as someone asserting something], it’s the infinite ‘sounding’. But the individual will try to make sense of what it’s ‘about’ because it’s on a journey and will want to give it meaning and purpose, hoping that it means something important. It doesn’t.

The hope is that in the future, something is going to happen to make ‘me’ OK. But there is no future, and there’s no need for hope, because there’s nothing ‘wrong’.

Nobody knows this. This [pointing to his body] doesn’t know anything. Knowing isn’t what this is about. The concepts of this are very simple to understand. But understanding doesn’t help the individual. Though that experience of the individual just might end [the same way it started happening, for no reason], revealing that it never happened, then that is just what’s happening. But the concepts are useless. “I know that this is the absolute” has no relationship to the fact that this is the absolute.

.     .     .     .

The individual may take what is shared here as some kind of practice. But it’s completely useless. [The ‘me’] is convinced it will be part of its own solution. But there is no real separation, there is nothing to overcome, nowhere to go. There is only ‘home’ — everything, ‘what is happening’.

This appearance is absolute chaos.

.     .     .     .

The individual thinks there is something missing, thinks that the solution has to be something added on to make it complete and whole. That’s an illusion. There is nothing needed to be added.

Meaning and purpose comes immediately when the individual arises; it’s part and parcel of the experience of separation, of being an individual.

All there is is the absolute — this, everything — appearing. There is no individual. Nothing is real (or unreal). There is no meaning or purpose.   

Jim’s style of speaking can strike some people as being a little brusque. For a contrasting style with the same message, this is one of Tim Cliss’ best meetings, IMO, an online interview and Q&A from April, 2021. The last half is especially good, with some really thoughtful questions from attendees. Tim is a retired teacher and psychologist, and quite compassionate. I may produce a transcript for this meeting, too.

Posted in Illusion of the Separate Self and Free Will | 4 Comments