January 12, 2016

Economic Collapse: How to Face it Without Fear

In which I suggest you face collapse not with fear but with understanding. Even reverence. And eventually hope.

Three years ago I gave a talk on collapse. September last year I began telling my friends that we were just weeks or months away from either a single large crash in the world financial markets or a staggered one. Today there's good reason to believe that it is just a matter of days.

For most people collapse is not an easy idea to grasp. They have absolutely no frame of reference and are usually too caught up in everyday struggles to pay attention. I rarely talk about it. When I do bring it up to people who have absolutely no understanding, I usually get two kinds of reactions:
    1. The first kind of people nod agreement about its inevitability but seem completely disinterested. You might as well be talking about a veterinary disease like Bovine Babesiosis. "It may concern someone (I can't imagine who) but certainly does not concern me," their body language seems to imply.
    2. The second category reject the idea outright. "Not possible, not likely to happen," they say. They are not interested in seeing the evidence and have none to offer on their own. They know "for a fact" that the status quo will prevail till eternity just because everybody thinks so too. You are labelled a doom sayer (but they never call themselves sheep).
Sometimes it's a combination of the two. Very rarely, a third category makes an appearance.
    3. Such a person comes to an agreement when faced with the evidence but jumps directly into panic or despair without taking out the time to pause to really understand.
All this is about to change very soon. Collapse is well under way. As the markets, big banks, currencies, institutions, an oil company or two, etc. begin to crash one by one, more people will join category three. That is, they will get into panic mode without pausing to understand why it is happening.

I am writing to reassure you that it is indeed possible to wrap your head around the new emerging reality. It does not take a financial maverick to foresee collapse and it is by no means my discovery. I just saw the patterns emerging before most people simply because I was paying attention to facts and trends - all in public domain, some for decades - which are otherwise ignored by those who dominate the mainstream narrative. It also helps to have an independent mind.

Three years ago (20th Feb 2013) I gave a talk at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi with the title "Unlimited Growth, Climate Change and Notions of Pralaya" (dissolution). One section of my presentation (out of five) was devoted to an analysis that showed the possibility of beginning of collapse in 2015. The slides showed graphs modelling, in just a few short years thereafter, dramatic decline in industrial output, services, food, and population along with an increase in death rates around the same time.

Yes, we are right on track. And yes, I repeat, there's no reason to panic. It's probably too late now to begin to prepare to be in the ideal situation, yet the humble and the wise can still take action that will allow them to face the end of the economy without fear.

The very first and the most important step is to try to understand. And remain patient while you do so. It will take time. Prepare to devote time if you wish to secure your future.

How can one possibly make sense out of behaviour never seen before such as markets crashing like a house of cards, you say? Well, the key guideline when you're trying to understand is to ignore the transient and the detail. Zoom out a bit. Focus on the big picture instead, the fundamentals, the underlying patterns, the unchanging, and the inter-connectedness of the various factors.

I cannot lay out the big picture here. This is not the space to summarise several different concepts for which multiple books have been written. There are numerous ways of framing our current predicament and I do not consider any single one as the most definitive of all.

But there are some ways of framing that are easier to understand and relate. And there are people who have the gift to convey the complex in simple ways. I suggest the following resources.

The Predicament
    Resources-economics frame

      Small is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher
      Limits to Growth by Meadows et al.
      The Party's Over by Richard Heinberg
      The Third Curve by Mansoor Khan
      The Enemy of Nature by Joel Kovel
      The Enigma of Capital by David Harvey
      The Crash Course by PeakProsperity.com (video series)

    Environmental frame

      The Ringing Cedars of Russia by Vladimir Megre (book series - all nine books)
      Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
      Endgame by Derrick Jensen
      The Collapse of Western Civilization by Naomi Oreskes
      Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen

      Historical-cultural frame

        Collapse by Jared Diamond
        Reinventing Collapse by Dimitry Orlov
        The Ringing Cedars of Russia by Vladimir Megre (book series - all nine books)
        Ancient Futures by Helena Norberg-Hodge
        The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris

        Moral frame

          The Encyclical by Pope Francis

        The Way Forward
          A guide to living

            The Ringing Cedars of Russia by Vladimir Megre (book series - all nine books)
            The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible by Charles Eisenstein

          Practical advice

            Prosper! by Chris Martenson
            How to Be Alive by Colin Beavan
            The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins
            The Ringing Cedars of Russia by Vladimir Megre (book series - all nine books)


        Yes, that's a lot of books. You do not have read them all. I haven't. In some cases I have read other works by the same author and am familiar with their premise. Choose any you would like to read. Each one is hand picked out of hundreds of books now on collapse (most of them written with Resources-economics frame under 'peak oil' banner).

        If I had to pick one resource out of the above to start on the path of understanding, it would be The Crash Course at PeakProsperity.com. I've admired Chris Martenson's insights and prolific output over the years first on his website and recently on PeakProsperity.com. The Crash Course is a series of videos over 4 hr. in duration that will likely take you an entire day to watch as you research the concepts presented. There is a shorter condensed version too which you can watch afterwards to revise.

        Once again, when you're trying to understand factors through the economics frame, you are not expected to become a financial expert. It is not important to understand the nuances of every single factor involved that is taking us towards collapse. The most immediate ones include but are not limited to oil production, its supply and demand dynamics and the accumulated financial stresses - credit bubbles, national debt, global currencies etc. What's more important is to recognise the fundamentals and the patterns.

        After you begin to understand the crisis by viewing it from more than one frame, you can start reading about the way forward. If financial security is your prime concern, you will find the answers in Prosper! by Chris Martenson. A note of caution is not to jump directly to way forward resources without first understanding the predicament.

        Read Charles Eisenstein and you instantly know he is way ahead of his times. When Eisenstein is looking at something you get the sense that he's not looking at it but through it. Through the patterns and gears underlying that system, thing, event, person whatever it may be. I was fortunate to meet him in Bangalore last year two years ago. I recounted him a story from Hindu Puranas that conveys the notion of unlimited growth leading to climate change and collapse including his own narrative of separation - all through symbols, as such stories do. He told me of similar tales he had heard in other parts of Asia.

        If you would like to read someone closer home pick up Mansoor Khan's book. The veteran film maker is a terrific story teller. He has his own unique lens through which he frames the financial mess we have gotten into for the lay person. He is also a prolific speaker (you will find his talk schedule on his site). Mansoor has been an inspiration and a friend not just through his words but his life choices as well.

        From Fear to Hope

        The Ringing Cedars of Russia book series contain much more than 'a guide to living'. It's hard to describe these books. They are most unusual of all in the list. In fact, one could argue that they are more than mere books as they have inspired a transition movement in their county of origin and beyond.

        The books have several aspects to them that are unique. One of them is that in contrast to the books with resources-economics frame, The Ringing Cedars books fill you with immense joy and hope for the future of humanity. And if you're able to grasp its essence, you gain a reverence for the order of things. Reverence even for collapse.

        If I had known they had sold 12 millions copies I may not have picked them up as I tend to be biased against all things super popular. But I did not know. It's best to approach these books without preconceived notions, even ones I described above. Needless to say I cannot recommend them highly.

        January 01, 2016

        What I did during the Paris Climate Conference...

        All photographs shot on 06-Dec-2015

        Each seed and sapling carries within it the possibility of hundreds more. In less than two months the plants will begin delivering fresh produce free from chemical inputs while restoring carbon back into the soil. Meanwhile you get to witness the greatest miracle of creation.

        Anyone can do this.