Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cascades of Failure

The malaise in the air is not merely constrained to one side of the Atlantic. Writer Charles Stross has similar feelings in the UK. While the conspiracy sites and cranks have been at it for decades, they do inadvertently provide a venue for certain types of news before the mainstream media diverts them to the masses. Things like the NDAA, LIBOR scandal, surveillance, and other stories all filtered through the alternative media before the mainstream one picked it up.

Imagine the headlines if it did: Centuries of legal tradition abolished! Democracy in death throes! Republics turning into hollow counterparts of themselves. (And so on.) Even if they did, however, there is a fundamental thing that many of the conspiracy sites miss (such as the unwittingly hilarious Alex Jones show): this is a systemic decline. The various scandals are just the symptoms of a larger issue, systemic decline and cascading failure. Attempts to fix the system from within often amount to putting a bandage on a terminal cancer patient. 

Resource depletion, escapism in all its forms (such as utopian wishing and dystopian nihilism), wars, unrest, and the like are stirring this up. There is no single mastermind behind it. There are a small clade of professional parasites that benefit from the ride down (police state shills, plutocrats, neocons, investment bankers, lawyers, lobbyists), but locking them up would be largely symbolic. A better approach could be to invest in what comes next: relocalized production of food, energy, and manufacture. Networked communities largely leaving each other on their own (but still assisting each other), rather than nation-states (although smaller nations, city-states, and microstates make economic/political sense).

It is not the end of the world, despite what the dying Boomers think. As the world economy flies off the rails, the answer is not to double down on failed policies. It is to step back, and focus on what truly matters: home, friends, and building a place welcoming to both. It is not the Apocalypse, but Ragnarok. A new world awaits on the other side.

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