My own layman’s misgivings on reading Deep Adaptation were that rational attempts to cope with societal collapse are pointless. The course of events will not be guided by consensual discussion, but by the actions of a few who sieze power.
One of the first symptoms in my opinion will be Martial Law – the legal right of the force still nomnally under the orders of the civil authority to shoot indivduals for what they might do. This is likely to lead to a suspension of democracy. As the causes of the crisis are unlikely to recede, this suspension will become permanent.
There are already clues as to what might happen when populations break down under intolerable conditions. Germany’s reaction to the trauma of humiliation (not necessarily the defeat itself) after the first world war,and the barbarity, well within living memory, of the break up of Yugoslavia.
But for me, a more direct precedent is dismissed as irrelevant by most: Rapanui (Easter Island).
For most of my life I have been dimly aware that I have a different pattern of insights and blind spots from most others. It may be Asperger’s, but the cause is irrelevant. As soon as the MIT published Limits to Growth in 1972, a keystone part of the anwer was obvious to me: a universal basic income to give security as the economy contracts.
I wrongly assumed that this was obvious to everybody else. What has emerged since is the reasons why what should happen didnn’t, and that these too were missed by nearly everybody else. Only a minority saw what I think is obvious., possibly ony a tiny minority.
There needs to be a paradigm shift in attitudes to allow downsizing to be acceptable. About 200,000 years ago genetic mutations enabled a species of hominind to exploit new areas. All other hominids died out. But this involved the exponential principle: doubling in equal amounts of time. But where lactobacillus doubles in hours, and coronavirus in days, the new species only doubled after several generations. But the exponential effect was the same:
the limits to expansion were reached without warning quite suddenly.
But the new cultural patterns of behaviour persisted because they had served the new species well. Agriculture, a much more laborious form of subsistence than hunting and gathering emerged in several different places. The disastrous history of Easter Island, revealed by archaology fits this pattern.
Normal minds cannot accept that Homo Sapiens could be so stupid. Capitalism is indeed responsible for most of the threat to the ecosphere, but like agriculture, instead of accepting the Earth’s limits, expansion, on the back of new technology, could go on indefinitely. Meanwhile, population continued to increase.
There is another precedent dismissed by normal minds as not relevant to a modern complex world. According to Richard Wilkinson in his book Poverty and Progress, the Siane, a tribe in New Guinea, distingished between necessities, which were shared unconditionally, and everything else. Your status depended on your skill in playing silly games with everything else. Wilkinson explains that this bizarre arrangememnt gave
an identity of interest when dealing with ecological threats.
Rupert, Jem, Scientists Warning, Open Democracy, Greta, Attenborough, will someone, anyone please explain to me why the unconditional basic income, practiced by a primitive tribe in New Guinea should not be rolled out, word wide, urgently?