The Empire is crashing! Hooray!!!! The exploding population has met the dwindling resources. For many centuries we of the “civilized” world have been the physical and mental captives of elite groups within our societies that control us physically and feed us mentally. Those who have always assembled themselves around the emperors for six thousand years; the preachers, the money changers and the generals, provide for us the values of our societies, the power relationships and provide their created image in our minds of the picture of reality they wish us to view. Now the breakout.
The fact that we are here indicates that our species is quite successful after a million years or so; but the disaster began when some turned to agriculture as a means of subsistence. The result of this was a society of hyper-male dominance in a hierarchal, command structure. This type of human culture which we call “Civilization” features a male role, not to nurture and protect the tribe, but to compete violently. In this milieu any emperor could get up a war party by promising loot, rape and pillage. The hyper-males are thorough. They loot the topsoil, the forests, the seas and each other. The ecological disaster areas they leave behind in what were once pristine climax ecosystems are legion. China, Indus River valley, Tigris-Euphrates watershed, lands of the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece, Italy, Spain, North Africa and now the whole world.
Living in such a society is nasty, brutish and bloody if not, by chance, physically then mentally. No longer do we cooperate in expeditions to hunt and gather the benefits of the earth. We now compete against each other for the “surpluses” extorted from the earth. Pro-actively, the patriarchal focus is on conquest, growth and “progress”. Coercion is the ambiance of a hierarchal command structure. The male dominates the female, the two dominate the slaves, the slaves dominate the livestock and the livestock dominate the ecology until it is thoroughly overgrazed. The slaves of China, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Southern U.S. and now the wage slaves of the world are our cultural heritage.
Now that the culture of empire is dying from excess we find our liberation from the industrially manufactured reality.
With a planetary crisis so profound we must regenerate from the foundation. We must ask again, “What is life and what is the purpose of living?” We must emerge from a lifetime of social conditioning to a new mental reality. Rather than killing living things for profit we must begin to understand that nurturing living things is our new direction. As heavily conditioned as we are, it is difficult to realize the simple things so we must proceed slowly. Every living thing on Earth lives in a complex habitat. Every living thing must have a habitat. For civilized humans, to kill one’s habitat, the earth and then die is the old way. To nurture one’s habitat and live from the increased biological wealth is the new way. For humans now, the whole earth is their habitat. To live in perpetuity on the earth humans must live in biological balance with the life of the earth. As heavily conditioned as we are it is difficult to realize this simple fact but if we can accept this reality then we can begin deducing from it.
The hyper-male society has fear of its competitors as the hyper-male fears his. The generalized anxiety promotes defensive anger. Today’s youth murder hundreds of people per hour in their video games, a million die in Iraq – no one notices. This is the emotional basis of the Empire. The heart of stone. The heart of love is the heart of life and this nurture of life is the new way.
The over-intellectualized society may think there is an instant, off-the-shelf solution down at consumer heaven, but it is not that easy. There is no solution for an exploding seven billion people based on dwindling resources.
The survivors need to create a human culture that lives in biological balance. Our ancestors had a culture like this but now only ten percent of the earth’s forest remain, the soil is exhausted, the buffalo are gone. What do we do? We make ecological restoration the basis of our culture. One colony at a time we create areas of biological stability until, in the far future the earth is returned to it’s optimum steady-state of health, the “old growth” or climax ecosystems. Colonies can easily do this as is being demonstrated by the thousands of eco-villages around the planet. We have tools. The practice of Permaculture can restore ecologies to at least scar tissue levels. Permaculture can produce more food per acre than the industrial system while rebuilding the soil and conserving moisture. This on a colony’s watershed. The practice of alternative building with solar advantages from local materials is now far advanced. We have the tools, now all we need to do is do it. Our descendants will applaud our effort.
Anthropologists report indicate that our ancient family of forager/hunters needed five hundred hours per year to fulfill their needs, traditional agriculturists such as the Hopi needed one thousand hours and had shorter life spans. We presently need two thousand hours per year and have much reduced health compared to forager/hunters. What did the ancestors do with all that spare time? They created a human culture and they had a human life. They created art objects which were also utensils. They sang, they danced, they had personal quests, they told stories, they recited the oral literature, they had a culture of festival! Life in ancient times was a personal event. They did not purchase a life off-the-shelf at a shopping mall!
Wm. H. Kötke, author of The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and the Seed of the Future and Garden Planet: The Present Phase Change of the Human Species, available at the usual places. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org