Links and Tweets of the Week: August 22, 2009: The Post-Civilization Edition

BLOG Links and Tweets of the Week: August 22, 2009

transition town
the transition movement logo


Finally It’s OK to Talk About Civilization’s Collapse: This blog is mostly about preparing for the collapse, later this century, of our fragile, unsustainable and overwrought civilization. It took me awhile to be honest about this, because you won’t hear any debate about this in any of the mainstream media, or even in most of the alternative media, and it’s certainly not polite conversation at the dinner table or the political rally. But slowly it’s becoming respectable, if still a bit eccentric, to argue that we’re too late to save the world (if it were ever possible) and to start to talk about what comes after civilization. The Transition movement deserves much credit for this. This week, there’s an astonishing dialogue in the Guardian between George Monbiot and Paul Kingsnorth about whether civilization’s impending collapse should be mitigated (Monbiot) or encouraged (Kingsnorth).

conception of art after the collapse of civilization culture by afterculture

Artists Begin to Document the Story of Civilization’s Collapse: The aforementioned Paul Kingsnorth has started a movement — the Dark Mountain project — of writers and artists to tell the story of civilization’s current demise, and to imagine possibilities for the world that will follow, a world with a much smaller, Uncivilized human population. Thanks to Vera B for the link. Here are the project’s 8 Principles of Uncivilisation:

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of story-telling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

woodland home
500sf home above was built using local, healthy, natural materials into a woodland hill in Wales

The Challenge of Building Community:
Sharon A, referring to her reluctance to act on what she has written about organizing communities for transition to post-civilization society, writes: “Why was I so reluctant?  Well, because organizing people and setting up models, administering groups and training people to enact models are all things I don’t want to do.  I like writing from home in my pajamas.” She continues:

What I’m hoping to do is to find a few people willing to try and put together model neighborhood groups, and try out different strategies and tools – help figure out what issues are best to organize around, how best to approach this in as inclusive a way as possible, how to offer responsive solutions now, etc…  I want to figure out how to get busy people who haven’t thought much about whether our societies can continue, to show up and start working together – not just in places where there is a local charismatic leader or where the neighborhood was always cohesive, but everywhere. Of course, I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m doing…

I personally believe that the municipal level is too large to get the numbers of people we need engaged.  When you want to make change in a city, you go neighborhood by neighborhood, you get down directly in the community, at the block level if needed…

We must do it in community, we must work with people we once did not need, we must adjust our way of life – we must, ultimately, settle – in the sense of finding a home in places we thought we were only resting momentarily in, and settle, in the sense of finding a vision that accepts what is viable in a settled way of life, rather than the lost and destructive dominant discourse, and settle, in the sense of go out among people we did not choose, whose common ground is that they to, have entered the process of Settlement with us.

tar sands


Obama Approves Tar Sands Pipeline: If anyone had any reason to believe Obama planned on doing anything real about climate change, you can give it up now. Another capitulation to the oil industry and the corporatists. Guess it’s up to us now.

US Municipalities Sell Overdue Tax Receivables to Corporate Vultures: Miss a payment on your local taxes and you may find that instead of owing the town money, you now owe it to a brutal corporate moneylender who will charge usurous interest rates and penalties and would sooner evict you than try to settle, because it’s more profitable for them.

Changing the Corporation: Why we urgently need to rein in corporate power, and why we will never do so.

Why Progressives Lost the Health Care Debate: George Lakoff does a great study of how incompetent progressives are when they come up against the brilliant PR strategists of the extreme right. This lengthy and smart “it’s not too late” memo is directed right at Obama and says we need to reframe the debate in these terms:

  • An American Plan, not a “public option”
  • A Health Care Emergency, with people dying for lack of insurance and health care
  • Doctor-Patient Care, which is what the plan is really about
  • Coverage is Not Care: insurance companies are in business to profit by denying care, rationing care
  • Private Taxation, by insurance companies that govern our lives
  • Doctors Care, Insurance Companies Don’t
  • Insurance Company Bureaucracy: they are inefficient, run by bureaucrats

A Nuremberg for Guantanamo?: The idea of an international tribunal for detainees of the US’ offshore and secret torture prisons has merit, provided the US can stomach acknowledging to the world that it has flagrantly violated international standards of law and decency for eight years.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy, You’re in the Army!: Psychologist Martin Seligman (Authentic Happiness guru) has been hired by the Pentagon to counsel the military rank and file on mental stress so fewer of them will commit suicide.

blue falls by islandtime
photo taken in bc interior by viktoria haack


The End of Salon Blogs, and the Story of Julie & Julia: Alas, Radio Userland, once a credible player in the blog market and the platform on which this blog has sat for six years, is folding December 31, taking with it Salon Blogs, all my articles, and reader comments on the comments server that never worked right. So watch for a new home for this blog later this year. We were quite a community when we started in 2003 — a couple of hundred of us commenting on each other’s blogs and wondering if anyone else would ever read them. Then there was a breakout success — Julie Powell’s Salon Blog containing the story of her attempt to copy all the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook. The rest is history.

This entry was posted in Preparing for Civilization's End. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Links and Tweets of the Week: August 22, 2009: The Post-Civilization Edition

  1. Dave says:

    Does the export tool for Moveable Type still exist? not, WordPress does have a way to import blog posts from an RSS feed.

  2. Randall Ross says:

    Hi Dave, I sent you a link to a fantastic blog host in private email, as well as some further guidance/suggestions. Check out http://www.dreamwidth.orgRead their policies and diversity statment.

  3. Indigo Ocean says:

    I want to second the WordPress idea. They can import your current blog, and you can choose whether you want to have your blog hosted on their servers or your own domain. I don’t think they are going to be out of the blog game as long as there is a blog game, but if you’re nervous about relying on another blog host again, the self-hosted option is a good one. You go to for a blog hosted by them and for one you host on your own domain.

  4. Dave says:

    If you do go with self-hosted WordPress, BTW, I’d be happy to assist, via email or Skype. Which is not to say there aren’t plenty of other open-source solutions (Textpattern, MovableType, Joomla, Drupal, Habari). I do think one lesson here is to get your own domain, arrange your own hosting (be sure to backup frequently), and use free software with an active user community.

  5. Brutus says:

    The Monbiot/Kingsnorth discussion is heartbreaking. It amounts to the option of fighting (not quite denying, but strangely similar) or accepting our collective fate. Seems to me it’s not and either/or proposition. People can do both, or neither, and those are subject to change as our personal situations change.

  6. Melisa Christensen says:

    I read through the Dark Mountain SIte (and I really like it). I feel like there are some conclusions to be made once one has adapted these beliefs and maybe that conclusion leaves you right back at the beginning: at the same place you were before you realized anything was wrong. I like the idea of leaving civilization ( hardly possible). It seems that would solve things. I probably wouldn’t survive and that might be the point (and I might be okay with that) but I would be right where I was supposed to be.

Comments are closed.