Links of the Month: April 2023

Midjourney imagines TS Eliot walking along the beach. “Do I dare to eat a peach?”. My own prompt.

As usual, I’m reading a lot about collapse these days, and the tone of the writing seems to be growing darker, more desperate. There’s a kind of blame-y distancing of ourselves from what collapse actually represents, that seems prevalent in recent articles and books on the subject. The term “modernity” I find highly problematic. It is not “modernity”, some ‘other’ that is behind collapse — it is our homogenized global culture, the systems we have evolved to get things done, our personal and collective worldview, and our way of being in the world. “Modernity” is not some kind of global cancer that has victimized us, and it’s not “modernity” that has “conditioned” us. We have conditioned each other to get to where we’ve arrived, and we didn’t do so maliciously. No one, and no personified “ism” or modern, wrong-turn malaise is to blame for that. We didn’t “go wrong” at some point. This is just how our species evolved.

To me, accepting that is essential to any kind of real appreciation of our predicament. If we can acknowledge that, perhaps we can stop trying to “heal” ourselves from who we really are, and instead acknowledge that this is who we really are, without judging it as good or bad, or avoidable.

I’m also thinking a lot about what we might do to delineate what actually is and is not possible, to deal with the overwhelming crises that seem to have paralyzed all but the psychotic. If we wanted to show that our governments and our citizens are not completely helpless and useless, it seems to me we could find no better way to start than by eliminating gross financial and economic inequality. Unlike so many of our current predicaments, this problem is actually solvable.

It would require some large-scale legal, tax and regulatory reform, to be sure, and some international cooperation, and would of course be resisted by many of the rich, but it’s quite doable. Mostly, it would require more of what we seem to be conditioning out of each other these days as our sense of learned helplessness grows — namely a dash of courage. I think we will see it soon, but not from the numb old gatekeepers who dominate the halls of power and wealth, who are too busy hoarding all the wealth and power they can accumulate.

I think it will come instead, over the next two decades, from those born after 2000, and especially those born after 2010, if we haven’t dumbed them down too much in our earnest efforts to condition them to cope with the crises we’re facing. They, after all, have the least to lose by confronting the atrocity of systemic gross financial and economic inequality, so perhaps they’ll demonstrate the courage we — all of us — have been unable to muster. I suspect they will at least try, and I’ll be cheering them on.


this cartoon has been kicking around social media for years, with the dates updated, and sometimes the third pane removed; no one seems to know who the original artist was

A better catastrophe?: Alex Smith talks with Tim Lenton and Andrew Boyd about coming to grips with the inevitability of global ecological collapse. Andrew also describes 12 archetypes of how we respond to the threat of collapse; which one are you? Thanks to Paul Heft for the links, and the one that follows.

Going up: David Spratt provides a reality check on the absurdity of believing 1.5ºC and even 2ºC is a remotely achievable goal. The lowest reasonably-conceivable increase is now 2.7ºC, according to the ever-hopeful “we can still do this” IPCC  cheerleaders and the UN chief, but no one with any intelligence still believes them. Between 3-6ºC is a more reasonable guess, and where we go from there is anyone’s guess. The technophiles are already salivating for geoengineering.

Do what I say not what I do: Meanwhile Biden has approved new oil & gas drilling in the gulf and in the arctic that will more than undo all of his legislation to date. And Canada’s governments, including, sadly, some complicit First Nations groups, are hell bent to set off 12 carbon “bombs” with new mining, drilling, fracking and pipeline developments. Worldwide there are 425 such catastrophic “bombs”, and there is no sign that development of them is even slowing down. And BC’s government is painting itself green while approving massive new LNG developments, most of which will be exported to Asia if it can make it through the treacherous coastal straits.

Firmageddon: The largest tree die-off ever to hit the region, due to drought and insect infestation, is underway in the US pacific northwest. Thanks to Kavana Tree Bressen for the link.


image and woodwork by

Are prisons (still) obsolete: Angela Davis’ bold call for abolition of our archaic prison system is still waiting for a response, 20 years later.

The anatomy of economic collapse: Indrajit Samarajiva summarizes the ideas from Tim Morgan’s five-part article on why our global economy is teetering on the edge of collapse. I think this needs as much attention as ecological collapse, because it’s going to hit most of us sooner.

Wisconsinites rebel against the gerrymandering right: In a recent election, the citizens elected a progressive to the state supreme court, tipping the balance of power in that court. Wisconsin has the worst gerrymandering in the country (a 20% rightward skew), and the citizens are also unhappy with the state’s restrictive abortion laws and proposed voter repression laws.


source as noted, via Hartmann Report; several of the ‘red’ areas outside the south are First Nations reservations

Our strange measures of happiness: An interesting exploration by Patrick Lawrence about the business of statistically measuring happiness, especially at the national level. And why anyone who’s lived in China would not be surprised that its citizens honestly rate themselves much happier than do any westerners.

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

20 years of execrable NYT war-mongering; collage by Caitlin Johnstone

Propaganda, Censorship, Misinformation and Disinformation: Short takes:


a reimagining by British artist Aravis Dolmenna

Making music:

We aren’t stuck here: Midwesterners Lyz Lenz and Taylor K Philips about the unique culture, language and mannerisms of US Midwesterners. Falling down funny.

Obsidian Cliff: How a Yellowstone mountain famous for its sharp stones became a cultural touchpoint for Indigenous/First Nations peoples. Thanks to John Whiting for the link.

But is it art?: Two renowned artists debate the virtues and foibles of Midjourney AI. Thanks to Marian Bantjes (one of the artists) for the link.

Just give me money: Tracking historical surveys suggests that, for the first time, Americans think money is more important than either religion or community. As long as it’s not Chinese money, I guess.


Midjourney imagines a future scientist looking up at the stars; my own prompt

From Indrajit Samarajiva, on Euro-American Empire’s racist hatemongering:

Western ‘democracies’ are really just reality TV shows paid for by arms dealers, drug dealers (pharma), and whatever other corporate AI wants to corrupt the place. They periodically host call-in shows called ‘elections’ but the sponsors remain the same. And remain in charge. It’s a circus. The White Empire periodically trots some country its people haven’t heard of into the Cable Colosseum to torture them with sanctions and execute them with drones, and the people dutifully cheer. Hollywood also relentlessly propagandizes the goodness of CIA and MI6 agents and the justification for violence wherever the Empire pleases, because they’re the ‘good guys’. Historical facts like the millions dead in their Terror Wars alone are just numbers. The Empire lives in stories, and its propaganda arms are unparalleled.

Well-meaning people are pushed into this narrative not just in the vulgar sense of the Chinese and Russians and Iran are evil and trying to kill them. They are pushed into the well-meaning idea that sanctioning and attacking these people is actually for their own good. It’s the white man’s burden redux, now carried in a New Yorker tote bag.

From Caitlin Johnstone on criticizing journalists:

[Sydney Morning Herald editor] Bevan Shields melodramatically refers to the public excoriation of his colleagues [by former Aussie PM Paul Keating over the paper’s anti-China war-mongering] as “Donald Trump-like abuse of journalists doing their jobs,” but they are not journalists doing their jobs. They are propagandists. If you want to call yourself a journalist, you need to act like it. Be skeptical, question your sources and their funding, and get the story right. That’s the job. In this case the lives of nearly 26 million [Australians] are relying on you to get it right. It’s a huge responsibility and you are failing us. You deserve so much worse than to have mean things said to you by a retired politician.

From Caitlin Johnstone on resisting the US anti-China war drums:

The problem is not that Australia’s corrupt media are saying our nation will have to follow the US into war with China, the problem is that they’re almost certainly correct. The Australian media aren’t criminal in telling us the US is going to drag us into a war of unimaginable horror; that’s just telling the truth. No, the Australian media are criminal for telling us that we just need to accept that and get comfortable with the idea.

No. Absolutely not. This war cannot happen. Must not happen. We cannot go to war with a nuclear-armed country that also happens to be propping up our economy as our number one trading partner. We need to shred whatever alliances need to be shredded, enrage whatever powers we need to enrage, kick the US troops out of this country, get ourselves out of the Commonwealth while we’re at it, bring Assange home where he belongs, and become a real nation.

From Philip Larkin in The Whitsun Weddings:


Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind’s incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds in the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.

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1 Response to Links of the Month: April 2023

  1. Tim Smith says:

    Great thanks for your ongoing Links of the Month series! I usually find more worthwhile links in any one of those posts than in the whole of the mainstream media. (Well, to tell the truth, I’ve pretty much given up on the MSM, but I am sincere in my compliment.) Please keep up the great work!

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