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C-Realm Podcast #120: The Long Decent

"C" stands for consciousness

120: The Long Descent

KMO welcomes author and Archdruid, John Michael Greer, to the program to discuss his new book The Long Descent: A User’s Guide to the End of the Industrial Age and explore the possibility that Peak Oil may play out more like a fall down the stairs than like a plunge from a third floor balcony. Do the worldviews of Peak Oil aficionados, Singularitarians, and Trekkies all spring from the book of Revelations, and are modern visions concerning progress and the human future really just ancient religious myths in secular drag?


John Michael Greer made reference to Limits to Growth. I would recommend an episode of the Electric Politics podcast in which host George Kenny interviews Dr. Dennis Meadow, one of the three co-authors of Limits to Growth:


I read portions of Rapture of the Nerds, Not by Steven Smithee and made reference to the upcoming Singularity Summit:



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 18th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
Greer's such an eclectic bloke. I'm not much into his literature on druidry or environmental doom and gloom, but he's written a few fantastic books on Golden Dawn magick.
Sep. 18th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
argh...pet peeve!
The name of the book is "Revelation". Singular. Long name is "The Revelation to St. John the Divine."
Sep. 18th, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
Re: argh...pet peeve!
Yeah, I caught that in the editing, but by then my window of opportunity for recording in a quiet environment had passed. I tried to fix it by just clipping off the end of the word, but it sounded worse than the mistake that way.
Sep. 18th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Anyway. I actually had time to listen to this episode, and I think I'm tracking with you here. I am always bemused by those who think they have evolved beyond traditional religion, yet keep falling into mythological modes of thinking that are mostly the old ways in new clothes. Smithee, despite his claim to "get the joke," beneath the differences in detail with Christian chiliasts, looks to me to display the very same lack of epistemological humility. I respect Greer for his attempt to break out of modern paradigms entirely and push in a new direction, and I might add, one that actually has ecumenical wisdom to it rather than being merely mysticism (which is what I admit I might expect from someone styled as "Archdruid"). Thanks. I'll drop something into your hat. ;)
Sep. 18th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
Do the worldviews of Peak Oil aficionados, Singularitarians, and Trekkies all spring from the book of Revelations, and are modern visions concerning progress and the human future really just ancient religious myths in secular drag?

The latter option is what I've tended to think for some time now, myself. And a big part of why some of the secular humanist / 'New Atheist' crowd irritates me, i.e. because it seems to me that they are just doing the same things religion does but with different terms, and then lacking the self-awareness to admit it.
Sep. 19th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
Good Show
Greer certainly brings some stimulating thoughts to the table. I'm intrigued by his notion of a long decent rather than sudden collapse. While the past is our only place to look for some empirical evidence of human collapses, I don't think it's wise to make a categorical statement that all collapses of the past were long descents, so ours will be too. Humans have the tendency to group items with others that follow a similar pattern. The important thing to recognize are the drivers of the collapses. In our present case this driver is overpopulation combined with scarcity of energy. What will determine the severity of the collapse (sudden or long descent) is what the back side of Hubbert's peak will look like. Our food supply is almost entirely linked to fossil fuels. A steep drop of fossil fuel supplies, will mean a steep descent for population numbers. There's no way around that right now. The factors that are driving fossil fuel scarcity are geologic. So, in essence, geologic constraints are driving this current situation. That said, I'm hard pressed to think of any prior collapse that really has a similar dynamic.

In a nutshell, looking to the past as gospel for predicting future events is sure to lead to wrong predictions. That's exactly what got the investors in trouble in the stock markets. We need to look at this situation in it's own right and understand the unique nuances and stop trying to categorize it so it fits into a cookie cutter scenario.

Other than that minor point, I really think Greer is a great force of bringing these important concepts to the front of our consciousness.

Sep. 20th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
Living simply is better

I have sent you a message before, don't know if you got it. I have been listening to your podcast for a couple of months now and have been enjoying it very much. It is inspiring and enlightening in areas that I have been interested in and involved with for the past five years or so. I am not currently in a position to donate funds, but promise I will soon, I would like to support your worthy work.

I have some comments to put forward with respect, in relation to the issue of living simply and enjoyably in the Peruvian jungle and in Ikitos.

You have mentioned this example of experiencing a simpler and fuller life without electricity and much stuff in a few podcasts, specifically in the latest one. I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that more is not better and that we need to simplify our lives. We should do this for sooooo many reasons, environmental, social justice, mental health, peak oil, and not the least of which is to lessen the distractions and get to the core of what has value and how to be more present, conscious and aware with integrity. But I do not think that the examples of your Peruvian experience apply, at least not without some missing context:

1. you were on vacation, engaged in activities you are very passionate about, which you (and I) believe to have cosmic importance, while surrounded by like minded friends. This alone would be very pleasurable and have amazing value no matter where you were (including at a penthouse suite in the Ritz Carlton, no?!)
2. You were there in a the good season weather wise.
3. You came from the US with "pockets full of dollars" as a rich tourists. You did not need to worry about food, money, shelter, violence, injustice (which many of the indigineous people in Peru do worry about in their simple lives). I say this knowing full well (from listening to your podcast) that you are far from rich or even middle class in the US, but I trust you are aware that simply by flying to Peru and engaging in a couple of weeks of leisure, pleasure, and self reflection, you are amongst the lucky few on the planet...
4. From my experience with Ayahuasca, it has euphoric qualities, due in part to the nature of DMT and in part to the fact that it is such a cosmic and incredibly deep experience. As such having two weeks away from work, home worries and such engaged in ayahuasca would makes life easier and more pleasurable anywhere you did it.

I could go on... I hope I am not offending you, for I have no desire nor intent to do so. I wish only to point these points out in order to do for you what you do for me: challenge and inspire, to reevaluate the way we view the world and our ideas within it.

Keep up the good work,
The Camel from Vancouver Island.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 21st, 2008 11:03 am (UTC)
I did not know about it
Thanks for the link.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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