Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Retrotopia: A Gift to be Simple

This is the eleventh installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator ventures out of Toledo into a tier one rural county and sees one of the alternative cultures taking shape in the Lakeland Republic. 

***********
We changed trains in Defiance. The station wasn’t much more than a raised platform running along each side of the tracks, with a shelter of cast iron and glass overhead to keep off any rain that might happen along. The day was shaping up clear and cool; the town looked like old county seats I’d seen in parts of upstate New York that hadn’t been flattened during the endgame of the Second Civil War, a patchwork of clapboard and brick with the county courthouse rising above the nearby roofs. I could see only two obvious differences—first, that the only vehicles on the streets were pulled by horses, and second, that all the houses looked lived in and all the businesses I could see seemed to be open.

The train west to Hicksville came after we’d waited about fifteen minutes. Colonel Pappas and I weren’t the only people waiting for it, either. Something close to a hundred people got off the train from Toledo with us, some in olive drab Lakeland Army uniforms, some in civilian clothing, all of them with luggage and most with long flat cases that I guessed held guns. Once Pappas rolled up the ramp onto one of the cars and I followed him, I found that the train was already more than half full, and it was the same mix, some soldiers, some civilians, plenty of firepower.

I sat down next to Pappas, who gestured expansively at the train. “Not what you’d usually see going to Hicksville,” he said. “Every other time of the year this is a twice a day milk run that hits every farm town between Bowling Green and Warsaw. This weekend it’s six or eight runs this size every day.”

The train jolted into motion, and I watched Defiance slide past. After maybe a mile, we were rolling through farmland dotted with houses and barns. Some of the houses had wind turbines rising up above them and solar water heaters on the roofs, while others didn’t; tall antennas I guessed were meant for radio rose above most of them, but not all. The dirt roads looked well tended and the bridges were in good repair. I shook my head, trying to make sense of it.

“Checking out tier one?” Pappas asked me.

I glanced at him. “Pretty much. I wasn’t expecting to see the wind and solar gear.”

“You’re thinking it’s tier one, how come they have tech that wasn’t around in 1830, right?” When I nodded, he laughed. “Outsiders always get hung up on that. Tier level just says what infrastructure gets paid for by county taxes. You can get whatever tech you want if it’s your own money.”

“What about a veepad?”

“Sure, as long as you don’t expect somebody else to pay for a metanet to make it work.”

I nodded again, conceding the point. “I get the sense that a lot of people here wouldn’t buy modern technology even if they could.”

“True enough. Some of that’s religious—we’ve got a lot of Amish and Mennonites here, and there’re also some newer sects along the same lines, Keelyites, New Shakers, that sort of thing. Some of it’s political—most of the people in the full-on Resto parties are just as much into low-tech in their own lives as they are in their politics. They learned that lesson from the environmentalists before the war—you know about those?”

It was my turn to laugh. “Yeah. I had some of them in my family when I was a kid. ‘I want to save the Earth, but not enough to stop driving my SUV.’”

“Bingo—and you know how much good that did. The Restos aren’t into that sort of hypocrisy, so a lot of them end up in low-tier counties and stick to simple tech.”

“What do you think of that?”

“Me? I’m a city kid. I like nightlife, public transit—” He slapped one of the tires of his wheelchair.  “—smooth sidewalks. Tier one’s fun to visit but I’d rather live tier four or five.”

The train rattled through farmland for an hour or so, stopping once at a little place named Sherwood, before we reached Hicksville. The station there was even more rudimentary than the one at Defiance, just a raised platform and a long single-story building with a peaked roof alongside the track, but Pappas had no trouble maneuvering his wheelchair on the platform once we got off the train. “We’ll wait here,” he told me. “Once the crowd clears someone’ll meet us.”

He was right, of course. After a couple of minutes, as the train rolled westwards out of the station and the crowd started to thin, a young man in army uniform with corporal’s stripes on his sleeves wove his way toward us and saluted Pappas. “Colonel, sir,” he said, “good to see you.” To me:  “You’re Mr. Carr, right? Pleased to meet you. The jeep’s this way.”

He wasn’t kidding. Sitting on the street next to the station, incongruous amid a press of horsedrawn carts and wagons, was what looked like a jeep straight out of a World War Two history vid. Pappas saw the expression on my face, and laughed. “The army’s got a lot of those,” he told me. “Good, cheap, sturdy, and it handles unpaved roads just fine.”

“What fuel does it use?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s diesel. Everything we use runs on vegetable oil if it doesn’t eat corned beef or hay.”

Pappas hauled himself into the jeep’s front passenger seat while I tried to parse that. The corporal helped him get his wheelchair folded and stowed, then waved me to a seat in back and went to the driver’s seat. I got in next to the wheelchair, found a place for my suitcase, and got a firm grip on the grab bar as the engine roared to life.

Six blocks later we were on the edge of Hicksville. “Tomorrow’s action is twelve miles north of town,” Pappas told me. “We’ll be staying right near there—all the farmhouses around here rent out rooms to visitors. Melanie told me you want to see how people live in tier one; you’ll get an eyeful.”

It took us half an hour to get to the farm Pappas had in mind, driving on what pretty clearly wasn’t the main road—now and then I could see dust rising off to the east, and a couple of times spotted what had to be a line of wagons and carts carrying people and luggage toward whatever was going to happen the next day. I speculated about why I wasn’t part of that line—Pappas’ rank, maybe? Or a courtesy toward a guest from outside who wasn’t used to horsedrawn travel? That latter irked me a bit, even though I was grateful for the quick trip.

Finally the jeep swerved off the road, rattled along a rough driveway maybe a half mile long, and clattered to a stop in front of a sprawling clapboard-sided building three stories tall. Two others and a huge barn stood nearby, and fields, pastures, and gardens spread out in all directions around them.

“Welcome to Harmony Gathering,” Pappas said, turning half around in his seat. “I mentioned the New Shakers earlier, remember? You’re about to meet some of ‘em.”

By the time he finished speaking the front door of the building swung open and a big gray-bearded man in overalls and a plain blue short-sleeved shirt came out. “Good day, Tom,” he called out. “And—Mr. Carr, I believe.”

I got out of the jeep. “Peter Carr,” I said, shaking his hand.

“I’m Brother Orren. Be welcome to our Gathering.” He turned to the corporal. “Joe, do you need help with any of that?”

“Nah, I’ve got it.” The corporal came around, got the wheelchair unfolded, and Pappas slid into it. I got my suitcase; the gray-bearded man turned back to the door and nodded once, and a boy of ten or so dressed the same way he was came out at a trot, took the suitcase from me, gave me a big smile, and vanished back into the building with it.

“Things hopping yet, Orren?” Pappas asked him.

“Oh, very much so. You have plenty of company.” He motioned toward the door. “Shall we?”

Inside the walls were bare and white, the furniture plain and sturdy, the air thick with the smell of baking bread. “Tom tells me that you’re from the Atlantic Republic,” the bearded man said to me. “I don’t believe our church has put down roots there yet. If you have questions—why, ask me, or anyone.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll take you up on that once I figure out what to ask.”

He beamed. “I’ll welcome that. Of course you’ll want to get the dust off first, and lunch will be ready shortly.” He turned and called out:  “Sister Susannah? Could you show our guests to their rooms?”

An old woman with improbably green eyes, dressed in a plain blue dress, came into the room from a corridor I hadn’t noticed. “Of course. Come with me, please.”

“Don’t worry about me, Sue,” Pappas said. “I know the way.”

That got a quiet laugh and a nod. Pappas rolled away down a different corridor, and the old woman led me up a nearby stair and down a long hall lined with doors. “This is yours,” she said, opening one. “Give me just a moment.”  She smiled, went on further down the hall.

The room was a simple cubicle with a bed on one side, a dresser and desk on the other, and a window on the far end. The bare white walls and the plain sturdy furniture were scrupulously clean, and the bed had a thick colorful quilt on it. My suitcase had been set down neatly beside the dresser.

A moment later the old woman was back with two pitchers and a bowl. “Here you are,” she said, setting them on the desk. “If you need anything else, please ring the bell and someone will be up to help you right away.” She smiled again and left, closing the door behind her.

The pitchers turned out to contain hot and cold water. Towels and a washcloth hung on a rack near the door, and a little shelf next to it had a bar of soap on it that didn’t look as though it had ever seen the inside of a factory. Two bags hanging from the back of the door had hand-embroidered labels on them, towels and linen and guest clothing; over to one side was an oddly shaped chair that turned out on inspection to be some sort of portable toilet, with a big porcelain pot underneath that sealed with a tightly fitting lid when it wasn’t in use. Tier one, I thought, and decided to make the best of it.

The funny thing was that the primitive accommodations weren’t actually that much more awkward or difficult to use than the facilities you’d find in a good hotel in Philadelphia. I wasn’t sure what I would be in for if I decided to take a bath, but I managed to get cleaned up and presentable in short order, and went out into the hall feeling distinctly ready for the lunch the old man had mentioned. I wondered for a moment if I should ring the bell, but that didn’t turn out to be necessary; as soon as I stepped out into the hall, the same boy who’d taken my suitcase up to the room came down the hall and  gave me directions. As I left, he was hauling away the water pitchers.

Lunch—sandwiches on homebaked whole-grain bread and big bowls of hearty chicken soup—was served in a big plain room in back, where big wooden tables and benches  ran in long rows, and the benches were full of men in Lakeland Republic uniforms; the only people who wore New Shaker blue were a couple of young men who brought out the food.  “The people who live here eat in their own dining hall,” Pappas told me when I asked him about that. “You’re welcome to join them, if you don’t mind eating in perfect silence while somebody reads out loud from the Bible.”

“I’ll pass,” I said.

He laughed. “Me too.  Sundays at Holy Trinity is enough religion for me, but I guess it works for them. They start a new Gathering somewhere every few years, they’re growing that fast.”

I racked my brains for the little I knew about the original Shakers. “Do they swear off sex?”

“No, that was the old Shakers. The New Shakers marry, or some of them do—Orren and Sue are a couple, for example. The brothers and sisters don’t own anything, not even a toothbrush, and live together like the old Shakers did.”

“And the other sect you mentioned?”

“The Keelyites? They’re like the Amish, they own their own homes and farms, but they’ve got their own beliefs and their prophet Eleanor Keely put a third testament into their Bibles. They’ll tell you that when God said we have to live by the sweat of our brows, He meant that anything that’s not powered by human muscles is sinful.”

“We’ve got Third Order Amish back home who say that,” I told him.

Pappas considered that. “I don’t think we have them here yet,” he said. “Now that the border’s opened, who knows? I bet they talk theology with the Keelyites. God knows what they’ll come up with.”

About the time I’d polished off lunch, Brother Orren came in and asked if I’d be interested in a tour of the Gathering—I gathered he’d been briefed by somebody—and I spent the afternoon trotting around the place with a soft-spoken guy in his early twenties named Micah, who had brown skin and a mane of frizzy red-brown hair. “My parents got killed in an air raid during the war of ‘49,” he told me as we walked toward the barn, “and the Gathering took me in. Any child who comes to us finds a home.”

“Did you ever consider leaving?” I asked.

“I left when I was nineteen,” he told me. “Spent three years out in the world, two of them in the army. It was a learning experience. But I came back once I realized that this was where I belong.”

“Do you miss anything from outside the Gathering?”

“Oh, now and again. Still, there’s a song we inherited from the old Shakers; the first line is ‘Tis a gift to be simple’—and that’s true, at least for me. It’s a gift, and as we say, a grace, and I’m happier here than I ever was out there in the world.”

I thought about that as we walked through the barn, the greenhouses, and the rest of the Gathering. In its own way, it was impressive—a community of around two hundred people that met all its own needs from its own fields and workshops, and produced enough of a surplus to make it an asset to the local economy—but something about it troubled me, and I sat up late that night, by the glow of the one candle each room was allotted, trying to figure out what it was.

202 comments:

1 – 200 of 202   Newer›   Newest»
Eric Backos said...

Dear Mr. Greer, Your Grace, &c.
Cleveland, Ohio: The weekly joint meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440 is posted on greenwizards.org under the MeetUps forum. Splendorem Lucis Viridis! Public Welcome! Tables for Failed Scholars. (Look for the table topper with the green wizard hat.)
Faithfully yours
Tower 440

Eric Backos said...

Hi Boss

Thank you for adding “Superiority” by Clarke to my cautionary-tales-about-technology lesson plan series. (For those who don’t know me, I’m working on teaching certification for middle school English and math.) In addition, I’ve added the poems “Rearmament” by Robinson Jeffers and “Electronic Tape Found In A Bottle” by Olga Cabral to my list.

“Maestra y Aprendiz” by Susan Harelson (conveniently found in After Oil) is on deck for my more-likely-futures lesson plan series. The Dark Mountain Project’s Manifesto and the Philosophy of Into the Ruins magazine have been particularly helpful in rounding out my lesson plans, and they may feature directly in subsequent lessons.

Further suggestions from the assembled Wizardren for additional reading materials are very welcome!

Eric

Patricia Mathews said...

Wow. What an exit line. Now you've got me wondering what about the New Shakers would bother Peter Carr, since he's familiar with similar sects back home. Actually, I rather like them as you've described them so far.

Though I think I can answer his question about a bath. Communal bath houses, one for Sisters and female guests; one for Brothers and male guests. Or perhaps separate bath houses for the guests, since they do the dining halls that way. Solar hot water showers; possibly a big boiler for the soaking tubs. Does that make sense?

Bootstrapper said...

Shades of Dimitry Orlov's "Communities That Abide".

Pondering this last paragraph, I realised that, to live in a community like the Gathering, your focus must shift from yourself, the individual, to the community, of which you are a (fairly unimportant) part. To gain the advantages of living with the Gathering, you must give up some of those you currently enjoy. This is the rock upon which many 'Hippie" communes of the Sixties foundered; their inhabitants thought they could separate themselves economically from the mainstream, without giving up the 'benefits' of mainstream society.

Cheers!
Paul

Joel Caris said...

Hi JMG,

Intriguing! I like this Retrotopia entry quite a bit. I thought we were going to be visiting a school this week, but perhaps I had that wrong or perhaps the story surprised you with a short detour. If the latter, I consider it a detour well worth taking. I even like the little cliffhanger at the end!

I found myself trying to parse the "corned beef and hay" comment, as well. Does that tie with the Keelyites and human muscle power? Do humans provide some transportation through their own labor, or does it go deeper than that into some interesting territory? I'm very intriguing. Then again, I may just again be reading more into stray lines than I should be.

On another note, I'm happy to report that Into the Ruins has been doing brisk and steady business since your link to it last week. I've received a number of story submissions, subscriptions, emailed inquiries, and encouragement and well wishes. I'd like to note that I just put up an artwork submissions page, and I encourage any interested parties to check it out. I'd also like to encourage people to keep submitting stories and consider subscribing. Thanks to everyone who's already visited, subscribed, submitted, emailed, or otherwise engaged. It's exciting to see the momentum and hear people's enthusiasm for the project!

Oh, and write those letters to the editor! I think we all know there are a lot of whip smart people on this blog who have some great thoughts and observances to share about the decline of industrial society. I'd love to publish some of those thoughts this spring in the first issue.

Ventriloquist said...


"but something about it troubled me, and I sat up late that night, by the glow of the one candle each room was allotted, trying to figure out what it was."

Perhaps he was wondering if the current stand-in for the Federal Reserve was going to suddenly raise the rate from ZIRP to something unthinkable like . . . . 250 basis points?!

Horrors!

Howard Skillington said...

Those who have been hoping for religion to dwindle away to nothing will be disappointed by the post-collapse world. Some survivors will seek it to make sense of the cataclysm they’ve managed to live through. Others will turn to it to fill the hole left by defunct time sucks like television, smart phones, and the Internet. And, I think, not a few will substitute all manner of beliefs for the scientific world view that will prove startlingly ephemeral as “modernity” recedes into the past.

My guess is that there will be a proliferation of all manner of new religions, faith communities, and cults of unpredictable strangeness – as different from familiar belief systems as that world will be from the one that we have known.

John Michael Greer said...

Eric, delighted to hear it. I'll see if I can scare up any other ideas.

Patricia, stay tuned! Yes, there are bathhouses at New Shaker Gatherings, one for each gender and one for guests. (Like the original Shakers, they welcome visitors.)

Bootstrapper, exactly. Have you ever read Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance? It's a good solid chronicle of the decline and fall of a hippie commune, set in Massachusetts before the Civil War; the same habit goes way back.

Joel, I got hit by an unexpected detour. I was at least as surprised as Carr was when the house at the end of the drive turned out to be a Shaker community! As for corned beef and hay, Pappas was talking specifically about the fuel for the Lakeland Army; we'll see more of that shortly.

Ventriloquist, heh. Parturient montes, nascetur mus...

John Michael Greer said...

Howard, well, yes. The notion that religion will wither away is a common fantasy during periods of rationalism, and what inevitably follows is that rationalism withers away and a new crop of religions brush the dust off their sleeves and keep chugging along.

Shane W said...

Well, I am disappointed about religion, not that it didn't wither away, but that all the sects you've mentioned so far are Christian. What about pantheistic, cyclical, nature-based spirituality? The new religious sensibility you've mentioned in the past? As a consolation, please tell me that these Christians are not salvationist, biophobic, Earth-escapers in the mold of the old religious sensibility, but biophilic, Earth-embracing Christians focused on the cycles and turns of the seasons?
Regarding the New Shakers, in After Progress, where you mentioned the Transcendentalist commune failure, you explained that celibacy is one of the requirements for monasticism, in that it promotes cohesiveness by preventing pair bonding & the jealousies that come from that. How do the New Shakers manage marriage, then? Seems like you also mentioned that the Shakers died out because they didn't have a complementary "layperson" option to go with their monasticism.

Shane W said...

This doesn't seem like a "new crop of religions" so much as the same-ole same-ole religions...

Bryan L. Allen said...

The boy of ten - I'm thinking the New Shakers are a "Learn by Doing" community, much as humankind have been throughout most of their existence. Perhaps Carr is bothered by the notion of what he sees as child labor? I do know that as a boy, I would have been delighted to make myself useful as that boy is doing. Helping the adults, and watching what they were doing, to me was always more appealing than doing rote homework!

RepubAnon said...

It'll be interesting to see whether the Lakelanders have plans for an ISIS-like invading force. It's one thing to fight in a scenario similar to Mack Reynolds' "Computer War", but quite another to fight a more ruthless foe planning to simply exterminate the existing population and replace it. (Think Hitler's "liebensraum", ethnic cleansing, the Rape of Nanking, etc.)

Genevieve Hawkins said...

There being no religion in "advanced" societies is probably as popular of a meme as rocketing into outer space. I always figured that religion or some form of spirituality would continue on, as we all recognize instinctively that some things are unknown to us (like what happens to our consciousness after we die). Science looked like a great replacement but is failing on it's promise to allow us to live forever, and thus avoid the question of what happens to our consciousness when we die. So now science has become another hysterical religion to me, one that does not even acknowledge that there are unknown things and thus doesn't see the nose on it's face (consciousness) literally.
The Retropia narrative sounds like a more likely outcome for religion in a post collapse society, but it hasn't delved into the seedy sides of humanity. Are any people knocking door to door to save souls? What of opposing religious viewpoints?

Ynnothir Coll said...

I grew up visiting my Amish relatives several times a year. This installment was very evocative for me. A cacophony of wholesome scents are still percolating through my brain.

It also brings up questions I've had about intentional communities. What does it take to make them work? Can you create the conditions that will allow them to thrive? Or are they like memes, in that you can try to force them all you want, but they'll only take hold if some unknowable harmonic arises within people and provides a fuel that just can't be synthesized? (I mean, do you think anyone predicted that "Run, Forrest, run!” would be the most quoted line from Forrest Gump?)

On a tangential topic, I got a copy of Star's Reach from the library this afternoon and I've hardly been able to put it down. Anybody enjoying these Retrotopia installments... well, I get the sense I'm late to the party, but if you haven't read Star's Reach yet I can't recommend it enough.

On a completely unjustifiable tangent, I found a typo on page 15. I don't mention it because I want to be That Guy (even though finding a typo from the Archdruid is a little like spotting Bigfoot). It's just that Trey's close friend as a young prentice, Conn, was misspelled as Coll, and that delighted me enough to laugh out loud. (Take another look at my handle.)

Robert Bazinet said...

I have to be honest, I didn't read much of it this week, yet. I'm a long time reader though, I assure you Sir. When you mentioned 'county seats in upstate new York that hadn't been flattened' by said war, I immediately thought of the phrase that always comes to my mind when I think about my ancestral home, the thousand islands region of new York. The land that time forgot. It does seem that certain people are starting to remember my homeland now. And Syracuse, the city I grew up in, a sad decaying wreck so symbolic of our nation as a whole. I still believe it will rise again, God willing. That is all I have to say for now.

John Michael Greer said...

Shane, stay tuned! We've still got a ways to go yet.

Bryan, nah, Carr's discomfort is broader than that, and will become clear to him as we proceed.

RepubAnon, a war of extermination requires an immense preponderance of force or a very weak defense. In any other circumstance, the defenders have every incentive to fight to the death, and an attacking force will be ground up like hamburger. Of course the defenders will suffer serious losses; so? If the alternative is annihilation, a very large number of people normally embrace the "I'll gladly die if I can take two or three of them with me" strategy. Combine that with Lakeland special forces surging into the invading nation's territory to shred their infrastructure and damage their warfighting capacity, and you've got a very, very hard nut to crack. (And before you bring in nuclear weapons, I should mention that we'll be discussing those in an upcoming episode, too.)

Genevieve, stay tuned!

Ynnothir, glad you're enjoying it! Yes, that's one of the typos that will have to be fixed in a second edition, if there ever is one. As for intentional communities, I really don't know.

Robert, I expect many of the half-abandoned towns of the Rust Belt to get a new lease on life as the global economy ends. Still, we'll see.

donalfagan said...

The text already had me thinking of 4QF when Brother Orren showed up. I hope there will be mead.

Here in Baltimore, I have been feeling tension on the light rail for the last few weeks. Local schools had cancelled all field trips to Charm City in expectation of trouble as the first Freddie Gray wrongful death trial was in deliberation. Courts seem generally unwilling to even charge police that blatantly shoot people so I was expecting they might convict Officer William Porter on misconduct but let him skate on manslaughter and assault. But it was declared a mistrial due to a jury that was deadlocked on each of four counts.

A mistrial is not an acquittal, but it could weaken the more serious charges against the driver of the van transporting the seriously-injured Gray, Officer Caesar Goodson. There were a lot of police out, but only two early arrests last night. One man was arrested for asking why he had to disperse, and local activist Kwame Rose was arrested across the street for using a bullhorn to start the usual chants. The 300 Men March group was devoted to peaceful protest, and the weather is chillier than last week, so it seems to have been relatively quiet.

Chloe said...

I'm going to throw my hat in the ring re guessing why Carr is unsettled…

You've drawn attention to the line "Tis a gift to be simple", and you've talked about what knowledge we should preserve from our own society in the past - that the end of growth or even what people think of as "progress" doesn't mean the end of technological development; that low-energy societies don't need to be blindly superstitious ones; and that while many of the things we research today are not necessarily as important to know about as we think, the scientific method itself should be valued and preserved. Have the Shakers, perhaps, got the wrong end of the stick about all of this? There's a difference between, "It is a gift to live simply" and "It is a gift to *be* simple" - that implies a deliberate rejection of complex thinking and ideas. Saying that people are "simple folk" suggests not only that people don't necessarily engage with things like science, history, politics etc but a certain inability, perhaps a wilful one. Add to that "gift", which in religious terms can easily turn into, "something we need to impose on other people" and… The Shakers strike me as potential book-burners. (There would be a certain irony to that, given that in the historic post-Roman period it was the church that preserved a lot of classical culture.)

Or maybe I'm completely off-base, but I have to say, if I was in Carr's position I'd be unsettled too.

Denys said...

The longer we are into this series, the more I realize how we as a family and community could be living like this now - technologically simple, human powered, off the vee-pad and meta-net. It doesn't have to wait until after a civil war and total collapse of what we know as society.

Have to add how much I appreciate this online community - I don't recall one serious mention of the climate talks in Paris. That sanity I would miss if we disconnected completely from the online world. I do believe I would have more people to relate with around me once the spell of the Internet is broken for everyone. After the withdraw symptoms subside of course.

M said...

I really like the concept of tiers, and being able to choose your level of engagement with more advanced technology. Like, I suspect, many other Archdruid readers, I would head for the nearest tier one or two county in a heartbeat, given the opportunity (at least as describe so far; this week's last sentence adds a bit of foreboding to the proceedings).

But I wonder how long such a tiered system could realistically be expected to last?

After many years of wending my way from an environmentalist viewpoint to an avid reader of this blog and a belief that we are indeed in the long descent/emergency, I have come to the conclusion that excess energy corrupts us, because, as animals, we are hard-wired to conserve it in ourselves, and exploit and hoard available outside sources, from slavery to mega oil corporations.

True, after several civil wars, a good part of the population will be at least temporarily amenable to controlling the desire for energy/power. But, like highly specialized dog breeds left to their own devices, will these tier distinctions eventually blend, especially as the higher tiers seek the territory necessary to maintain the higher energy flows per capita?

Like everything else, civilizations rise and fall, with the fall based in large part on this overconsumption of the available energy source (or alternatively, being overrun by a civilization on this high energy path). There is often a brief period where things are more or less in balance, and could go on for a long time, but human societies, with some exceptions, rarely have the restraint to keep from blowing by these watermarks into increasingly dysfunctional ways. (There is an excellent explanation of this in Ivan Illich's work, particularly Energy and Equity.) The fact that we are now in a civilization with global reach means that the consequences of the fall will be planetary--ie climate change, etc.

Of course, this does not mean despair, but rather acceptance. From the ashes other societies will rise. Gathering and protecting the seeds, teaching kids, acting in a way that corresponds with our knowledge of things, this is what we can do at this point.

Odin's Raven said...

What has happened to the larger Christian churches? Is this scenario particularly suited to fissiparous sects? Presumably a relatively self sufficient village could be clustered around an Anglican, Catholic or Orthodox church or even a monastery, just as easily.

Don Plummer said...

Well, we finally made it to Defiance County! I was wondering what your description of rural northwest Ohio might look like and was quite surprised, though intrigued, by the emphasis here on religious communities. I thought you might have more to say about the billiard-table flatness of the topography. But maybe later.

That thought reminds me of the journey Trey sunna Gwen makes through this country some four hundred years later, in the company of Cash the elwus, on his way to Troy from Melumi. When I first read of Trey's stop in Napoleon (I forgot the Merigan name for the town), I wondered, in the depopulated future described in Star's Reach, whether agriculture in the region had largely been abandoned, except perhaps right along the Maumee River, thus allowing the Great Black Swamp to re-emerge. (The only reason farming can be done in this entire quadrant of northwest Ohio is through the maintaining of an elaborate drainage system, something I would think might become too intensive to be worth it in a depopulated future.) The land next to the river itself would therefore become the only habitable part of the region.

I'll be interested in reading about the kind of relationship these New Shakers have with the Lakeland Republic's army, given that the old Shakers were pacifist (if I'm not mistaken). Of course the old Shakers did take in orphans; nice to see that tradition revived here.

I do have a question. The cumulative effects of climate change fifty years into the future don't seem to have figured into the Retrotopia narrative yet, have they? Everything seems "normal" northern Ohio late winter/early spring (Am I correct as to the season?)so far. Will any hints of climate instability emerge later in the story?

MigrantWorker said...

Good afternoon mr Greer,

Hah! The boy and Sister Susannah are not working. I mean, of course they do work - but the New Shakers make no effort to monetise their labors; the two of them are, effectively, serving. Would not mr Carr see it as exploitation, even if only subconsciously?

MigrantWorker

Don Plummer said...

Re-evaluation from my previous comment: maybe the season is closer to late autumn? The Atlantic Republic, after all, just had an election. I'm guessing that the early November election dates are still being observed, at least there.

The weather Carr and his acquaintances are experiencing still doesn't seem to be odd for the season and location.

Jack Ellis said...

Dear Mr Greer

These fortnightly visits to the Lakeland Republic are a quiet pleasure. Thank you. Please don't be too harsh on Carr's relatives in their SUVs. Their (our? my?) failure is possibly as much in imagination as virtue. Stories are powerful in that regard. More please.

team10tim said...

Hey hey JMG,

The thing I find odd is that the military is staving at a religious gathering. I don't expect that the soldiers have any issue with it, but I would expect the (Christian? Thou shall not kill and the like?) religious group to have objections about routinely housing soldiers. This isn't a very big incongruity, more of a quibble. I imagine that the brothers and sisters are pacifists and so I assumed that they would have an issue with housing soldiers for an annual military event. I know there are chaplains in the military, but when Mr. Carr tried to sort out what was bothering him that's what leapt to my mind.

But Mr. Carr would have been able to put his finger on it if that was his issue. I suspect that the problem is choice. These people choose to be there even after they have left to see the outside world. I don't think it's the religious choice that bothers him, I think it is the tier one choice. He's seen a tier five city and knows that it's possible and he knows that counties choose what tier they are going to use. I don't think he understands why people would choose to be tier one when they could choose to be tier four or five. I don't think he has thought through the economic issues. Small agricultural towns don't make lots of money and the populations is decentralized which makes power lines and roads expensive for the amount of use they get.

But I think what's bothering him is deeper than that. Even after he thinks through the economic issues I think he will still be troubled. I don't think he can understand how or why people would want to be tier one. I think that what Brother Micah said is bothering him: 'I'm happier here than I ever was out there in the world.' I don't think that Mr. Carr has a place in his mind where a choice like this can fit.

Thanks,
Tim

gwizard43 said...

What scares me when I think of religions 'brushing the dust off their sleeves and chugging along' in a post industrial age is the notion that it will be the violent and intolerant fundamentalist religions of all stripes represented so vociferously in today's world. In that sense, "religion" has become, for many of us, methinks, a snarl word, calling to mind first and foremost those particular sects, rather than the numerous, far more tolerant religions that in fact also abound. With any luck, this time around, we'll see some religions evolving from what you termed a couple of years back a 'genuinely new religious sensibility' among those chugging along as we move deeper into the Age of Consequences!

Patricia Mathews said...

From Albuquerque, bundled up to the ears indoors during a major cold snap by local standards, my alter ego Burna Lotta Gass wants to know how a big Tier One building would be heated. A Roman hypocaust comes to mind as a very possible solution. But since Peter Carr seemed not to notice any problems with a cold bedroom, I thought I'd ask.

Daniel Najib said...

Enjoying the narrative so far. You've wet my appetite, and now I really want to know more about what sorts of other religions are gaining ground in The Lakeland Republic. You mentioned that the Atlantic Republic has Third Order Amish, but what else do they have?

Side note. As someone currently living in New York City (part of the Atlantic Republic in this future, I think) and hating this concrete jungle, you have me really wanting to move to tier one/two.

Brother Guthlac said...

"but something about it troubled me"

'Twill indeed be interesting to see the direction the comments take this week.

buddhabythelake said...

JMG, et alia--

John, I am enjoying this excursion into Tier 1 immensely. I recently took my preschool/early grade-school aged grandkids to the county historical society's village for the annual "Christmas in History" event and we toured the different buildings, including three houses ranging from turn of the century (with telephone, "modern" woodstove, and a water pump right in the kitchen) to a frontier log cabin with a smokehouse and fireplace. Aside from the obvious questions about TV and internet :) was "but where is the bathroom?"

Re one of the comments above about the new religions being similar to the old religions, I think that we have something of a false history of sudden and distinct shifts of religious sentiment whereas the truth is that most, if not all, religions were the result of gradual and more subtle modifications of existing forms. Christianity was just one mystery religion among many, but happened the be the one that survived. Similarly, the current trinitarian orthodoxy was one interpretation of christianity among many, but it was the survivor (with a bit of help from the power of the state). What you have described is the continuing evolution of our present forms into new variations which will be competing for survival in the new landscape. (I like the third testament, by the way, and how you are showing that what we see as fixed is not at all so.)

Finally, I have to report on an interesting "Fred Halliot" moment that I observed recently. A few days ago, I was at our local Y and overheard a portion of conversation between two other men in the locker room who were discussing the recent shootings, bomb threats, etc. They mentioned no one by name (that I heard) but when they said "he" it was clear from the context re halting immigration that they were referring to the Donald (as in "he isn't saying stop everyone forever -- just until we can get this straightened out"). What struck me particularly was the calm and rational tone of the exchange. These were not high-strung, rabid true-believers, but two men calmly discussing an issue. I'm wondering if anyone else has witnessed something similar?

Matthew Sweet said...

This has nothing to do with anything in this week's post (directly at least) and I probably deserve a late slip as other more intelligent folks have probably already put these ideas together more coherently, but here goes.

I'm on board with the notion that genuine sustainability requires a drastic reduction in consumption. Now, I work in transportation engineering and deal in the active forms (walking cycling etc), which by necessity also encourages shorter trips. Commute time and distance only continues to increase in my part of the world (southern Ontario, Canada) as real estate prices push more people farther out from the core employment areas. But I finally put the pieces together in my mind that travel, especially but not limited to daily commuting, is a form of consumption, and one of the more damaging sorts. Readers may be saying to themselves, "well duh", but I always knew that the consumption of fuel and road space was an issue, but not so much the activity of long distance travel itself. Our society over-consumes transportation, thinking nothing of distance and time, since so many of the costs are hidden.

To quote CS Lewis: “I number it among my blessings that my father had no car, while most of my friends had, and sometimes took me for a drive. This meant that all these distant objects could be visited just enough to clothe them with memories, and not impossible desires, while yet they remained ordinarily as inaccessible as the Moon. The deadly power of rushing about wherever I pleased had not been given me. I measured distances by the standard of man, man walking on his two feet, not by the standard of the internal combustion engine. I had not been allowed to deflower the very idea of distance; in return I possessed 'infinite riches' in what would have been to a motorist ‘a little room.’ The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it ‘annihilates space.’ It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from travelling ten. Of course, if a man hates space and wants it to be annihilated, that is another matter. Why not creep into his coffin at once? There is little enough space there.”

Mr. Bystander said...

JMG. I'm captivated by this series of posts. So much that I've begun taking small steps to reevaluate my life. I'm turning 30 in February, so what better time to have a midlife identity crisis than right now? I don't want to bore you with a blog post in your comment section so I'll try to keep it short and to the point.

I had to close my Facebook account down this week. Your blog has opened many eyes for me but one in particular resonated more than others and helped me take that step. I realized that Facebook and most of the Internet was leaving me feeling lonely and empty. I found myself giving attention and energy to things I'm not sure I care about. Closing the account is my attempt to simplify my life and find the real me buried beneath years of "Likes" that aren't my true self. An identity crisis inded. But much needed for personal development and growth. I started wondering how my life would be today without the Internet at all. It's impact on my life has not been good. Living without the metanet or a veepad is a reality I long for.

Thank you for everything you do.

hapibeli said...

We use biodiesel in our old sailboat for the engine and the cabin heater. The tech to purify the used vegie oil is a bit sophisticated, which keeps the price about 40 cents per litre higher than the current petroleum diesel, but well worth it in terms of smell. Biodiesel is also a strong solvent, so the engine runs cleaner. I replaced some older fuel hoses and will keep an eye on a few gaskets as biodiesel can eat up rubber ones over time.

www.smellbetter.org

Nastarana said...

Madison County in upstate NY has a splendid courthouse, still in use today.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6113/6278361598_913b24d6e6.jpg

The Great Plains are already becoming depopulated today and likely have become more so by 2065. I tend to doubt that The Lakeland Republic needs to fear more than seasonal raiding parties from that direction.

Can Shakers be called up for military service along with all other Lakeland citizens?

Mitzi said...

Maybe Carr is disturbed because of the history of the Old Shakers. In the 1800s in Kentucky the movement was attractive because most rural people lived desperate lives in one-room cabins with dirt floors. Communal life was a huge step up from constant struggle for survival. It was worth giving up sex, because you would not be trapped watching child after child die of malnutrition or disease. You could actually be in a position to help other people's desperate children. Are there people this desperate behind the well-groomed facade of the Lakeland Republic, or are these people all war orphans and refugees?

buddhabythelake said...

JMG--

Just a guess, but is Carr's troubling issue the stasis of the lifestyles he's observing and their lack of desire to "progress"?

Sylvia Rissell said...

I observe that Mr. Carr's education and life experience have produced the impression that money and high tech are positively associated with happieness. 
However, he has been observing happy, productive, hopeful citizens of Lakeland who don't have tech (by choice).  The New Shakers being the most extreme example so far.
Mr. Carr will eventually come up with some other quality that more accurately predicts happieness.  I suspect it will be some combination of fairness, opportunity for productive work, and community membership, but I await further chapters to be enlightened.

Rita said...

@Robert Baziet--if you haven't found them already, James Kunstler's post industrial novels are set in upstate NY. Good reads, slightly different vision than JMG, but entertaining.

Taking in orphans in times of catastrophe is an obvious way to grow community--will be interested to see how many adult volunteers enter and how and how well they integrate. My experience with small groups (specifically Wiccan covens and other spiritual groups) is that every new person changes the dynamic, as does the loss of any person. Not sure how large a group has to become to have some kind of internal balance that can absorb change without being transformed into something different.

Martin B said...

The classic method for washing with a pitcher and basin: "First, you wash down as far as possible, then you wash up as far as possible, then you wash possible."

Robert Mathiesen said...

I am delighted to see such things appear here as the Keelyites, the New Shakers and the Third Order Amish. In addition to the myth of inevitable material progress, there is a corresponding myth of inevitable spiritual (and religious) progress. I am very much looking forward to see what has happened to challenge that second myth in the Lakeland Republic between now and 2065.

Shane W said...

@Denys,
thanks for your comment. I totally agree. Couldn't have said it better myself. After having spent late summer & fall on an off-grid farm, simpler is more rewarding in many ways.
@Mr Bystander,
congrats on giving up Facebook & realizing the lie of "social" media. Your awareness is key to breaking the chains! Look up from the screen and engage with the world around you in real life!
Re: the San Bernardino shootings & Trump,
I'm very suspicious of this one. For one, it has all the markings of a "going postal" shooting which are all too common nowadays, and the terrorism connections are flimsy at best. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I certainly don't deny that 14 people were shot in San Bernardino, but the whole optics around this is very fishy and doesn't set well with me. It does seem like a red herring to get people's minds off real issues and back onto a convenient scapegoat. Honestly, Muslims are basically an "expendable" minority group because they make up such a small percentage of the population, and Trump must know this. As a member of an "expendable" minority group myself, one that makes up probably less than 5% of the population at best, I know all too well just how well society can function while demonizing an "expendable" minority group. I really think Trump is pandering to bigotry among older white voters, who vote in much higher numbers relative to other age groups and ethnicities. I don't think his attitudes are very representative of society at large, particularly younger people.

MIckGspot said...

Twice per day milk run train? I wonder if the Lakeland Repub is into government price supports such as milk or pharma etc.? Thanks for the story JMG.

Art Myatt said...

Collapse of the galactic empire predicted in 1961; I think you'll enjoy it:
http://folk.uio.no/knuthe/msfndinalbry.html

Intentional communities? here's an excellent reference:
The Communistic Societies of the United States, by Charles Nordhoff
published in the 1870s; free version available on Google Play

aiastelamonides said...

JMG,

'Tis a gift, moreover, to be free.

I was busy last week, so I'll say now that I am excited for the new Space Bats contest. I will try to whip up something good by June.

Regarding Mr. Carr's adventures, it will be interesting to hear just what it is that is bothering him. Many people would not like the idea of devoting themselves wholly to God or anything else, or giving up private property, but I would think that if that were the source of his discomfort he would not have trouble pinpointing it. He seems content with the economic feasibility of the Gathering too. I can't think of anything else that would make the New Shakers more disconcerting than the other Lakelanders, except the difference in degree of technological simplicity (which I would think would get somewhat flattened out in the mind of someone raised in a technophilic country).

A Post-Millennial said...

An interesting turn. I wondered as I was reading why Pappas and the Neo-Shakers' knew each other. I guess the religious group is essentially running a guest house for travelers. I'm curious to learn more about the Atlantic Republic's army.

I was inspired by a recent article in The Atlantic to revive my blog with a post about the inevitable death of the internet. I reference your "A Pre-Mortem" article, JMG so I figured I could plug it here; it might be of some interest to your readers. I'm thinking about submitting it as a Letter to the Editor to Joel Caris's project.

Looking forward to hearing back from you re: the Paper Druid. To those not in the know, I'll be working with some folks to produce a twice-a-month paper publication containing JMG's to most recent reports, selected comments from the blog, and a third column reserved for letters to the editors. We'll plan to launch soon, and will have a website and mailing address through which to subscribe, as soon as the last few kinks are worked out.

Unknown said...

Rita,

My observation of Orthodox Christian monasteries and how adding and subtracting people changes the group is somewhat similar to your points. But, the larger the group the lower the "percentage" of change 1 person added or subtracted makes. There are other factors in play, too, as some of the people have different "ranks" or roles i.e. Abbot, other clergy, long time monks, younger monks, people exploring vocations, etc.

Archdruid,

While I'm very sympathetic to the idea of a new shaker movement, I love a lot of what they brought to the world in terms of design of furniture and the idea of voluntary simplicity, I'm not sure there's ever been a close, intentional religious community (for short, a monastery) where there were mixed sexes and marriage was allowed that worked for long. The very word "monastery" contains the idea of monos or singular/alone. Monasteries can/should be somewhat like a family, but the whole dating/pairing off thing would create so many problems (jealousies, hatreds from broken off relationships, etc.), I'm not sure it is workable with real humans even if they have "religion" in common.

Mean Mr Mustard said...

Hi JMG

Not many Brits get to pass through Hicksville, OH, but back in 1992, that was too good an opportunity to miss on the flat gridiron cross country route - just for the cheesy tourist grins stood beside their roadsign welcoming careful drivers. I remember seeing Mennonites at Goshen on that trip - even back then, some suburban folk knew the simple life had advantages - my OH resident driving host noted they had higher crop yields than the surrounding agribusiness monoculture.

Just a crying shame you already said the Cord Duesenberg motor museum at Auburn had their many fine historic (but likely reliable) exhibits requisitioned and lost in the war. But right now, they do have a DeLorean there, so you can go check out the Lakeland future for yourself, and without driving any distance!

Bah Humbug and Happy Solstice to one and all!

Mustard

buddhabythelake said...

@ Mr. Bystander

I echo Shane W's comments. I deactivated my FB account almost 4 years ago now and have never looked back. Absolutely zero regrets.

Shane W said...

@Mitzi,
the Shaker Village in KY is located in the central part of the state, which @ that time was one of the wealthiest, most Southern parts of the state. It was characterized by large, slave based, plantation agriculture (hemp was a major crop) with large antebellum homes like the rest of the South, and had the rigid class structure typical of the slaveholding South. The agriculture was not small, poor, subsistence based. While I'm sure that there were a lot of poor whites @ the bottom of such a system, I'm not sure that the area would have been characterized by one room log cabins and starvation. If anything, the poor whites would be struggling because they were shut out of the landed, slaveholding aristocracy. The one room log cabin starvation would have been typical of Appalachian Eastern KY, which lies 50 or more miles west of Shaker Village.

John Michael Greer said...

Donalfagan, I wondered how many people would catch that! Yes, 4QF was on my mind when I was writing the post, and a friendly bow to our host there seemed apropos.

Chloe, and everyone else who speculated about what Carr's brooding over, all I'll say at this point is "stay tuned"!

Denys, exactly! That insight earns you this evening's gold star. The whole point of any utopian fiction, of course, is to point out how we could be living right now, and this one's no exception to the rule.

M, this notion that maximum consumption is hardwired into our species is very comforting to the residents of today's industrial countries, I grant, but it doesn't hold up to any kind of serious examination. There are plenty of examples of human societies that have voluntarily held consumption in check over the relatively long term. Now of course there's another question, which is how long a society like the Lakeland Republic could hold out in the face of a world in which progress and economic growth continued indefinitely, but -- and I think I'll stop right there. Stay tuned!

Raven, I see you weren't paying attention. Col. Pappas referred in passing to his own church, the Orthodox cathedral in Toledo, so you can draw at least one conclusion from that...

Don, it's mid to late November, and the climate is five to ten degrees warmer than we'd consider normal -- you'll notice that there's no snow on the fields, nor will there be any during Carr's stay. The West Antarctic ice sheet is breaking up -- that was mentioned in passing in the first episode -- and coastal ports such as New York City are gradually being flooded by rising seas, but those don't directly affect the Midwest, and by 2065, the sort of changes I've just described are about what I expect.

Jack, there's a good deal more en route. As for the SUVs, though, I'm just trying to picture how people in 2065 are going to think about the people today whose desire to save the Earth doesn't go to the length of motivating them to change their own lifestyles. My guess is that they'll have some exceedingly bitter things to say in that regard.

Tim, very few Christian denominations apply "thou shalt not kill" to the military, as I'm sure you know; the New Shakers are, as we'll see, conscientious objectors of a certain class, but that doesn't forbid them from offering hospitality to guests who are attending the annual drone shoot. As for the rest, stay tuned!

Gwizard43, most religions, and most religious people, are tolerant in practice -- they have to be, to get along in a multifaith world. We'll find out later on why the Lakeland Republic tends to feature a lot of tolerant, apolitical religious groups and rather fewer of the other kind.

Patricia, if it's got adequate insulation, the heat from the big brick ovens down in the daylight basement will keep the whole thing toasty in the process of baking each day's bread!

Daniel, yes, New York City is part of the Atlantic Republic, although the low-lying areas of it are underwater at high tide and all the tunnels underground were flooded decades ago -- the main industry in town is salvaging steel from abandoned skyscrapers. As for religions, I don't know yet -- my style of writing involves a lot of winding characters up and letting them talk, and I'm often as surprised as anybody by what comes out of their mouths.

Brother G., good. Very good. Yes, indeed, it will be interesting...

Brian Kaller said...

Oh, JMG, I’d love to see a return of the Shakers, or something like them -- to see radical Protestant sects concern themselves with crafting great furniture, music and gardens again, rather than Satanic baby panics, anti-science conspiracy theories and angry web site comment sections. Your description of the Keelyites intrigues me – can they eat animals, but not use them for draught labour?

I wonder if they consciously named themselves after Robert Owen’s New Harmony experiments in this same area of the continent. I'll bet you've read Charles Nordhoff's 1875 book "The Communistic Societies of the United States" -- it’s a fascinating document of those cultures.

I’d be curious to know what religion is like in the Atlantic Republic; I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more spiritual difference between a Catholic, say, in Lakeland and a Catholic in the Atlantic Republic than there would be between a Catholic and Quaker in Lakeland.

About the Jeeps: are there enough old 20th-century Jeeps around now that our descendants can keep them going, as Cubans do their 1959 cars? Or did Lakelanders create car manufacturing plants?

This keeps getting better; as always, thank you, and may you have a blessed Solstice.

Helen Highwater said...

What I want to know is what kind of sandwich he ate - was it corned beef?

Raymond Duckling said...

@Mr.Bystander

Congratulations on your scape from Farsebook; I did the same about 5 year ago. It is always a radiant, bright day every time another soul breaks out of the spiderweb.

Don Plummer said...

Well, snow by late November was pretty much what we expected to see when I was growing up in northern Ohio in the 1960s. After all, tracking deer or other game by the tracks they made in the snow was how hunters usually found their mark back then. Even as late as the early 1990s, we might have snowstorms in early December. But even now it's rare to have snow on the ground for more than a day before mid to late December, so the fact that Carr hasn't encountered any snow didn't strike me as unusual.

I must have missed the early comment about the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Clarence said...

Have what you like, like what you have. Well presented thus far.

Clarence

Shane W said...

"...which is how long a society like the Lakeland Republic could hold out in the face of a world in which progress and economic growth continued indefinitely, but -- and I think I'll stop right there."
But, JMG, doesn't Lakeland exist in a world in which progress and economic growth have reversed, in which regress and economic contraction is the norm?

Rebecca Zegstroo said...

I'd love to join a Gathering if there was a secular option. Bible with meal would ruin my appetite.

Shane W said...

Off topic,
but I just used up an Amazon gift card I received, and I wanted to let all know that a lot of JMG's recommended readings are going for VERY CHEAP. I just scooped up The Great Crash 1929 for under $2, Small is Beautiful for under $1, and Beyond the Limits for only $.01! Make out your holiday reading lists, folks, and get ready for the cold months ahead...

Patricia Mathews said...

Oooh, yes! Bakery and hypocaust all in one! Very neat, very logical, and I had totally spaced on how much bread they'd need to bake every day. And I note that Carr hasn't commented on the food at all, one way or the other, which surprises me. Is food there and back home so much alike, then?

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

@buddhabythelake,
re: "Where's the bathroom," bathroom changes can be traumatic either way. When I was a young child, I remember a great aunt in Arkansas telling what happened when her mother got the first flush-toilet in the county. After installing it, she took down the outhouse and invited her lady friends over for lunch, intending to surprise them with it. Pretty soon, one of the ladies excused herself, went out back, returned asking "Where's the new privy?"
"It's indoors now," replied the hostess, "Just go to the end of the hall."
"Sarah! Are you sure that's sanitary?" came the horrified reply.
None of them would use it.
re: Fred Halliot moments;
To avoid slandering anyone else, I will admit to personal discomfort. Hear my confessions, fellow readers, and feel free to enlighten me;
1) Until recently, I worked with a very sweet young lady who is a conservative Muslim. She has always been a kind, polite, and forebearing co-worker. Recently she cut back on her hours to open a cupcake kiosk stall in the local Mall. I wish her all the success and happiness in the world.
The thing that nags at me late at night, just a bit, is that this is very much the way that the friends and co-workers of several recent Muslim shooters described them before they took up weapons. Will my co-worker shoot up the Mall some day? I cannot believe that she would. I have met her husband, her mother, and other family members, and these are good people. I cannot believe there will ever be a problem, yet deep down, I am not 100% sure.
2) In Howard County, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore where my sister-in-law is a teacher, she was required by the county to wear a head scarf because the conservative Muslim parents of some of her students complained that it violated their religious sensibilities for women to go bare-headed. Sis-in-law is a conservative Christian. She is offended on religious grounds, but must comply or risk losing her job. This too adds discomfort points to my feelings about Muslims. County government says her religious convictions are not as important as those of the parents of her students.
I'd like for my gut to be sure that my co-worker will not take up a gun. I'd like to see that school system retract the scarf policy, and I'd like to be able to discuss these issues in public without fear of recrimination. In the current social and political climate, all this seems impossible, but I think we need to find a way to talk about these things.
In the early 1960's, people wondered whether John F. Kennedy could put the interests of the US ahead of his Roman Catholic faith, so maybe we have a similar question about Islam in the US that also needs to be answered in a way that satisfies people at their gut level.
IMHO, Trump is not helping. He seems more like a trial balloon candidate for some future Fascism. Whatever he says on an issue makes it impossible to discuss--Possibly an application of dark magic/thaumaturgy?
Anyone else want to confess? Or if not, all enlightenment welcomed--and if this is too far afield of the Blog topic JMG, feel free to delete it, I will certainly understand.

Shane W said...

I just have this nagging feeling that once the US implodes, the whole Arab/Islamic terrorism thing (in North America) will implode with it, as we'll no longer be a world power able to project power in the Middle East and blow up wedding parties with drones and Medicins sans Frontiers hospitals. Then the terrorists will shift their grievances to BRICS nations and continue terrorizing them instead.
You never really know who is going to open fire in a crowd in the US now, or where, it's really gotten that volatile.

Brother Guthlac said...

Is nobody aware of Hutterite colonies?

A Pappas who is still practicing Orthodox. Encouraging.

John Michael Greer said...

Buddha, exactly. Changes in religious sensibility don't happen overnight, and they generally take the form of step by step modifications of existing forms rather than the sudden appearance of something wholly new. (As I've noted over in the other blog, modern pop Neopaganism is far less original than it likes to think.) Also, of course, this narrative is, ahem, "Retrotopia," and so borrowings from older American religious modes are kind of the order of the day.

With regard to the Trumpery, that's what I've been expecting for some time now. A post on the politics of resentment that will discuss the Trump phenomenon and its roots in the side of class warfare nobody on the left wants to talk about -- the systematic crushing of the American wage-earning class for the benefit of, and as often as not at the hands of, the salaried class -- is in the works.

Matthew, excellent! Where's the Lewis quote from? That may be the best thing of his I've seen yet.

Mr. B., delighted to hear it. Welcome back to the real world!

Hapibeli, and if you live in a country that doesn't happen to have oil wells and have been through a decades-long embargo, burning vegetable oil in a diesel engine is just the way things normally are. I recall reading that when Rudolf Diesel originally invented the engine that bears his name, he ran it on peanut oil.

Nastarana, in 2065 the country due west of the Lakeland Republic is called the Missouri Republic, and it extends north from the northern two-thirds of Missouri to the border with West Canada. It's pretty dry, yes -- the climate's close to that of the Great Basin states today -- but there's agriculture in the river valleys and seminomadic herding elsewhere, and relations with the Lakeland Republic are generally quite peaceful; the two republics engaged in quite a bit of surreptitious trade even during the embargo years, and there's a quiet mutual-assistance pact in place in case either one ends up facing a war. More on this as we proceed.

Mitzi, you've gotten suckered into the standard, highly distorted image of the American past -- not surprising, as that's pushed very hard these days by the promoters of the religion of progress. Go read some novels written in the 19th century -- you might try Laura Ingalls Wilder and Mark Twain for starters -- and see how well their descriptions of the world they saw around them differ from the modern stereotype of "desperate lives in one-room cabins with dirt floors." It really is an eye-opener.

Martin, good! My late father-in-law used to call that a "possible bath," and described it in exactly the same terms.

Robert, stay tuned. The thing is, religions generally innovate by reaching backwards -- every major American religious innovation I can think of thought of itself as reaching back to the distant past, whether it's the Church of the original apostles, the "old ways" of the Pagan past, the ancient wisdom of the Theosophists et al., or what have you. So the myth of spiritual progress has very shallow roots.

Mick, nope -- "milk run" is American slang for a train, bus line, etc. that stops at every little podunk town along the route, while the express run skips all but the big towns.

latheChuck said...

Goldstein: As for your sis-in-law having to cover her head, I agree that it seems to be an absurd accommodation to please a few parents, but then you described her as "conservative Christian". According to 1 Cor. 11, Christian women should also cover their heads! Or perhaps her "conservatism" is of the American-Conservative, and also Christian, and not Christian-Conservative?

John Michael Greer said...

Art, many thanks for the story! I've read Nordhoff many a time -- I first encountered it while doing research for one of the first articles I ever got published, a piece called "Hermeticism and the Utopian Imagination," which was in Alexandria back in the day.

Aias, I'll look forward to your story!

Post-Millennial, you will indeed hear back from me fairly soon -- I've been up to my eyeballs with certain changes in process that'll be announced at the solstice.

Unknown, I've encountered a couple of quasimonastic communes that managed to function quite gracefully with married couples. It requires certain adjustments but can be made to work. Mind you, I'm quite sure there are also celibate monastic communities in the Lakeland Republic -- Old Catholic, New Catholic, Orthodox, and others -- and we might just run across one of those as the story proceeds. We'll see.

Mustard, you're one up on me -- my sole exposure to Hicksville has been via a road atlas and some encyclopedia articles, gracefully outdated, on Defiance County.

Brian, got it in one -- Keelyites raise pigs, chickens, cows, etc. for food, but they don't use animal-drawn (much less tractor-drawn) plows, thus the plant part of their diet consists of garden vegetables and tree crops. Their acorn-potato bread is deservedly famous all over the Lakeland Republic. As for the jeeps, in 2065 there's a factory outside of Ann Arbor that produces them -- they're not actually the World War II Willys GP, but they're inspired by it and have much the same philosophy of design.

Helen, nah, ham salad. Corned beef is standard rations in the Lakeland Army.

Don, Carr read on his veepad that another big chunk of an ice sheet had broken loose from Antarctica and was drifting into the sea lanes. It's just a hint; there will be more of same as we proceed.

Clarence, thank you!

Shane, heh heh heh...

Rebecca, intentional communities with a religious focus have much a higher rate of success than secular ones. Still, if you really want to get a secular neo-Shaker movement started, what's stopping you?

Patricia, in my first stint in college I lived for a while in a commune where the accommodations consisted of two old log cabins with a wood stove each. This was in Washington State up near the Canadian border, where it gets bitterly cold in the winter, and yet by the time we'd fired up the woodstove in the morning to boil water for tea and get breakfast going, the place was toasty enough that additional heating would have been a waste of time. Thus I have a high opinion of what a well-designed brick woodstove can do!

Shane W said...

Once upon a time, there was a president who governed during troubled times. His country had hit its Hubert peak, and was facing declining oil production. Stagflation was the order of the day. A lot of the world's remaining oil lie in a troubled part of the world that had just finished an oil embargo that brought his country to its knees. Rather than depend on that volatile corner of the earth to maintain his countries insatiable appetite for oil, his country would instead follow its own Hubert curve down, living within its petroleum means. It would do this by conservation, appropriate technology, and renewables, among other things.
Whenever there is a terrorist attack by jihadis from overpopulated Middle Eastern countries financed by Saudi oil money based on grievances from almost 30 years of military and diplomatic intervention, some reflection on the promising path that was abandoned in 1980, is in order.

John Michael Greer said...

Emmanuel, understood. The damnable thing about this whole situation is that, while the vast majority of Muslims are as peaceful and compassionate a group as you'll find anywhere, there's a small but significant minority who firmly believe that their faith calls them to slaughter the infidel, and a larger and even more significant minority who believe just as firmly that no other religion besides theirs should be permitted. I'm more than usually skittish about this, because under most versions of Shari'a law, as a polytheist I don't even have the right to exist -- in Muslim teaching, believing that there are more gods than one is the single worst sin there is, the sin of shirk, and a polytheist under Shari'a law faces the stark choice of conversion or martyrdom. Mind you, there's also a small but significant minority of Christians who believe that their faith calls them to commit murder -- the recent Planned Parenthood shooting is an example -- and there's a very large number of Christians who believe that their religion is the only one that anyone ought to be allowed to have, so Islam is by no means unique in having that problem. Still, in America today, Islam is a convenient target for demagogues, and the behavior of would-be jihadis simply plays into their hands.

Shane, and of course that's also the case. The US is a powderkeg surrounded by lit fuses these days.

Brother G., I am indeed, but didn't want to fill up the pages of the story with a list of different sects! As for Col. Pappas, I happen to know some Greek-American people who are active in the Orthodox Church, so it seemed like the logical thing to do.

Blueback said...

Speaking of powder kegs with lit fuses, have you seen the latest news out of Russia? It seems that Vladimir Putin is not only ratcheting up the pressure on Turkey but openly daring the Turkish Air Force to test Russian air defenses in Syria.

Considering that Russia has recently deployed state of the art S-400 anti aircraft missile systems and additional Su-30 fighters to Syria, delivered several S-300 batteries to the Syrian military and announced that the guided missile cruiser Varyag (sister ship of the Moskva) will deploy to the Syrian coast, I don't expect the Turks would come out very well if they did...

Oh, and there are also reports of thousands of Russian troops including S-400 batteries, tank battalions and motor rifle brigades are being deployed to Armenia on Turkey's northeastern frontier, while the Russian and Armenian governments just announced that Armenia will be included in Russia's aerospace defense network.

Blueback said...

With regards to your response to Emmanuel about Islam, David Goldman has a great essay over the Asia Times that brings up some of the same issues you do.

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dfr2010 said...

Just tossing this out for general consideration on Carr's feeling of disquiet. He has been without his metanet - and the implied constant barrage of advertising - for a few days at least, and in this episode is interacting with people who have never been subject for such assault. Along with the understandable puzzlement over their cheerful choice of less tech, he may be realizing that he can hear his own voice and think his own thoughts ... and may be discovering he is much more content and at peace with himself without the steady incessant put-downs of advertising (you NEED this product to be liked/loved/respected/popular, ad nauseum).

Just a thought here, as I have noticed how downright cruel and belittling ads are nowadays - especially on the idiot box - since having ditched television a few years back, and now not having a decently-tuned in radio station these past three years.

Matthew Sweet said...

The Lewis quote is from his autobiography Surprised by Joy, chapter 10.

Mitzi said...

Actually, I'm quoting the guide from the Shaker village we visited across the line in Kentucky from where I used to live in Tennessee. Shaker villages attracted the poor and desperate,as the only place they could find hope in a rigid social system. When prosperity came, Shaker life dwindled away.
I am a family historian. Many of my ancestors lived the life I am describing- came to middle TN to find their 160 acre "plantation" (the only payment for fighting in war) was rocky, hilly, and flood-and-frost prone, unpredictably, spring and fall- slavery was limited-to-nonexistent. I've seen the footprint of the cabins inside homes built around them by succeeding generations. I have photos of my ancestors standing in front of cabins you would not let a dog take shelter in. I have stood in cemeteries where men buried their wives and half their children. I have blacksmithing receipts on scrap paper for used horseshoes going back to 1857.
A good read from my perspective- not fiction- is Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi (especially Appendix A about the 1882 flood) or Sam Watkins' Company Aytch (my GG-GF served in Company H).
Southern life was not all mint juleps and ball gowns. The rough side was quite rough, and a Shaker village would look palatial by comparison.

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

@latheChuck; yes, the head-covering thing is ironic, isn't it? Sis-in-law says she is offended on religious grounds, so I take her at her word.

Shane W said...

I can't help but think that the focus on Muslims/terrorism is an effort by the mainstream media to change the subject. You have two populist candidates that are tapping into voter grievance about the economy, albeit they appeal to very different demographics. Now, all of a sudden, there's San Bernardino, and the media is obsessing over Trump's Muslim ban comment, which is just Trump being Trump, saying outrageous things. Yet the same thing is true for the other populist candidate, Sanders, that they're casting as "weak on ISIS/national security" because he wants to redirect the discussion back to his economic platform. All of it seems like so much distraction by the media.

onething said...

Emmanuel,

I googled the county and the situation and came up with nothing. Is this a public school? Are all the female teachers being told to wear head scarves. I'm finding this quite difficult to believe.

John Michael Greer said...

Blueback, can you give me a source or two on the Russian military presence in Armenia? I know that sort of thing can be difficult to track -- try finding, for example, detailed discussions of the fact (and apparently it is a fact) that Yemeni forces have surged into three southern provinces of Saudi Arabia and the Saudis are mobilizing tribal forces to try to repel them -- but I'd welcome something I can cite.

Nick, very likely we would get along; I have Muslim friends. The difficulty remains that, as noted, a significant fraction of Muslims believe that I don't have the right to keep breathing because of my religious beliefs -- and some of those, as we've seen, are rather too willing to slaughter unbelievers more or less at random.

Dfr2010, heh heh heh...

Matthew, many thanks.

Mitzi, and yet of the 21 Shaker villages founded in this country, only four were in the South -- two in Kentucky (Pleasant Hill and South Union), and one each in Georgia and Florida (White Oak and Narcosee), both of which folded within a few years of their founding. The vast majority were in New England, New York and the Midwest, where conditions of the sort you've described were much rarer. Furthermore, Shaker converts weren't limited to the poor by any means. That is to say, it's a far more complicated thing than you (or the museum you've cited) seem to think.

Shane, no doubt that's part of it.

Nancy Sutton said...

IatheChuck, indeed! Up until Vatican II (1962), observant Catholic females always had a 'mantilla' (i.e., a 'doily') in a small plastic purse, inside our large purse :), which we dutifully extracted and plopped on our heads before entering any Catholic church (we were forbidden from entering any other kind of church service). And, indeed, the 'modern' burqa resembles the old Catholic religious habit.

But I'd like a link to the Maryland school district requiring head scarfs to mollify Muslim parents.... sounds fishy to me.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi JMG,

Thank you for this diversion into the New Shaker territory. That book reference about the failed communes will make an interesting addition to the library here and I'll keep an eye out for it in the second hand bookshops. As I'm not connected to many services at all and sort of rely on my wits and systems here, I get the distinct impression that a lot of those intentional communities fail because they require people to pursue common goals (and that doesn't necessarily mean thinking the same thoughts or sharing the same beliefs and values and people often confuse that issue) in order to produce a surplus from a landscape. It is not easy. I'm very interested to read that the farmers in your story can actually earn a living (as well as looking forward to that possibility).

I'm never quite sure of the news that you get in your part of the world and what impact it has. It is interesting to me anyway, that interest rates have been lifted a little bit this week. I see this more as a desire on the part of the rentier class to earn a living from investments. It will almost certainly accelerate the need to print more money to cover the increase in borrowing costs. On the other hand it may also be a method of removing money from the secondary economy and bringing it back into the tertiary economy - it certainly seems to me that there is a tacit acknowledgement that an over-supply of money will ultimately lead to hyperinflation (or also hyperstagflation as we discussed last week). It is marvellous to see such contradictory policies being pursued because as you have often stated in the past - and I agree with you - that different power groups aren't necessarily pursuing the same outcomes.

My gut feeling is that the various economic policy options have about run their course because if virtually free money can't stimulate the growth of employment in the economy and printing money is finally pushing the inflationary levers, then other less economically dependent policies (which have been historically tested many times over) will do so.

Oh, I came across this letter to the editor that I thought that you would enjoy reading: It was written by Robert Bloch, who later wrote the story Psycho: "I am awfully tired of poor old Conan the Cluck, who for the past fifteen issues has every month slain a new wizard, tackled a new monster, come to a violent and sudden end that was averted (incredibly enough!) in just the nick of time, and won a new girlfriend, each of whose penchant for nudism won her place of honour, either on the cover or on the interior illustration... I cry: 'Enough of this brute and his iron-thewed sword-thrusts - may he be sent to Valhalla to cut out paper dolls.'".

A fine diatribe! Well done and his valiant wordsmith efforts has inspired me to write a letter to a certain editor that we all know. Brace yourself, my friend! Hehe!

Mate, we are cooking down here. The temperature sailed past 40'C (104'F) here today and looks set to do the same thing tomorrow and Sunday. At least the cicada's outside seem to be enjoying the heat!

Cheers

Chris

PS: I've got a new blog entry up: Learning to fly. A young Kookaburra bird flew in to say hello to me on its maiden flight. Some rare Corella's turned up this week - and they are incidentally the best talking birds around, so I'll have to be careful what I say around them. Bones Wars took place amongst the dogs... I'm showing step by step how I deal with a very hot summer (welcome to the world of global warming). More berries and other fruits are still ripening (yum!) and more tomato silliness. Lots of cool photos (especially of the bird).

Nastarana said...

Dear Mr. Goldstein, I wonder if your relative has considered contacting the ACLU? I can't believe that her employer's dress code is legally enforceable.

I think Mr. Carr has the typical upper class attitude of today, "Where's my share?" He can't bear to see people living in comfort and some prosperity without him and his faction or family being able to tax or monetize the wealth being produced.

Robert Beckett said...

Esteemed Archdruid, as a constant eavesdropper in your e-salon of ideas, I thought to offer a brief comment after a long hiatus.
Firstly, may I extend my best wishes for a Joyful and Magical Solstice to you and Sara, and likewise, Holiday Best Wishes to all readers and commenters here of all persuasions.
Secondly, I struggle to find adequate words of praise for your current Retropia series, interspersed as it is with the usual thoughtful and germane essays.
You are among a handful of the most important contemporary writers in the English language, IMHO, and a master of the craft. It is encouraging to see the fruits of your labours propagating, taking seed as the several writing competitions and Joel's new magazine take off. Nothing is as powerful as an idea (really, a well thought out and coherent package of a multitude of ideas) whose time has come. Bravo!
A topic I expect you may return to shortly is the possibility of a film/video interpretation of Star's Reach; I refer to your recent conversation in this forum with Antroposcen. I trust many readers have opened the link to his short film.
Great feature films, again IMHO, must have the foundation of a great story, and remain true to the author's ideas. As an example, the novel and film adaptation "Cold Mountain", both great works.
Ideally the author maintains artistic control, perhaps as lead script-writer. A sensitive director is the next prerequisite, and so on through the actors, cinematographers and the many other specialists involved behind the scenes. The "rocket fuel" as they say, is of course money.
Another blogger I follow, Sandy Krolick, (kulturCritic), attempted to crowd fund a film project based on his novel Veronica, though unsuccessfully at last report.
(My daughter is a professional script-writer, now married to a fine American man who is an assistant producer - they have moved to Tinseltown, working on various projects and hoping for the big break - they could offer a far more detailed description of the crazy process of film-making than I could.)
Here's a seasonal wish for a wider audience for your excellent work.
Robert Beckett

RPC said...

I'm surprised the New Shakers don't just eat in the same room before/after their guests - it seems uncharacteristically unthrifty to build an extra dining room.
BTW, I've noticed a theme in your writings: "simple" equates with "soup and bread for the mid-day meal." Just wondering if that's deliberate?

Unknown said...

I was disappointed that the toilet wasn't the Jenkins Humanure system. I have used this method for may be 10 years now and love it. (toilet w/ 5 gallon bucket and sawdust which is then taken to the composting area). Jenkins book, the Humanure Handbook, is extremely well documented in terms of safety and viability of the composting method. It is a classic example of turning the 'waste' produced by energy using infrastructure (potable water and then sewer) into a resource (compost).

John Michael Greer said...

Cherokee, a very fine diatribe! As for the interest rate increase, I'm far from sure if the people who run the Fed really have a clue, or if they're simply going through the motions of managing a process neither they nor anyone else understands. Oh, and the original Shakers were wholly self-sufficient and even prosperous -- communal living arrangements and no salaries make for low overhead -- so I figured the same model would work again.

Robert, thank you. I don't propose to push the issue of a film version of Star's Reach -- I'm open to proposals, but cinema isn't a medium or an industry I know at all well, so I'll leave that dimension to those who have a clue. On the other hand, if you're feeling so inspired, by all means send a copy of the book to your daughter and her husband, and let them know that the rights are available... ;-)

RPC, most New Shaker Gatherings make do with one dining room, but Harmony gets enough guests each fall for the drone shoot that it's worth their while to have a second. (It's used for other purposes the rest of the year.)

Unknown, the contents of the close stool (that's what those are called) goes into the Gathering's very extensive composting system, along with an abundance of animal manure and farm, garden, and kitchen waste. Jenkins' system, which I've discussed several times in these posts, is designed for a single family -- a communal farm with hundreds of residents and a fluctuating population of guests needs other arrangements.

Patricia Mathews said...

Time flies! Let me wish you and Sara a Blessed Solstice as well.

Shane W said...

I would gladly embrace the lifestyle of the New Shakers if there were a pantheistic, Earth spirituality based alternative. As a single, collapsed 40 year old, a monastic lifestyle that shuts out the outside world is personally very appealing, and I would, and have, worked very hard for very little. Hard, productive, real work is rewarding in its own right, and pales in comparison to the non-work typical of most workplaces today. The only thing for me is that none of the existing monasteries are of a faith I'm interested in--it may be a few more hundred years before they appear. Most of the "intentional communities" I've encountered make all the mistakes JMG mentions about the hippie communes in spades, and it seems like many people are obsessed now with withdrawing into their nuclear families and shutting out everyone else.
I agree w/Nastarana regarding people wanting their cut. I've been on off grid organic farms, and they live very close to the bone, with very narrow profit margins, and even though the ones I've been on have been mostly left-of-center, listening to them talk about taxes and USDA regulations sounds a lot like the right-wing Tea Party. Certainly, they'd have a lot more breathing room and be way more profitable if they were operating with few taxes, less regulation, and less overhead. I'm reminded of JMG's post about the storefront vacancies in Cumberland, where he says that there's no shortage of viable businesses that could operate in the vacant storefronts, but that by the time they pay taxes, rent, and meet regulations, they can't make a profit and go out of business if they even make it that far.

Shane W said...

My guess is that something like the New Shakers is only feasible in a more collapsed society like Lakeland, where taxes and regulation have fallen considerably from current US norms, particularly in Tier 1 & 2 counties.

Carnegie said...

It was VERY interesting to read the last two entries because I actually know a Tom Pappas in real life. Right now, he is five years old.

Currently, I'm learning sustainable agriculture at an Anglican convent (yes, alongside real life nuns - it's very difficult, very educational, and a lot of fun.) Every morning we hear a sermon from a different speaker, and one of the priests on rotation is a Pappas. His son (the Tom I mentioned) would be well-prepared for a possible low-tech future by his parents -- and yes, priest-dad does have a bushy, curly moustache to go with his impressive beard. The Anglican salary (and retirement fund) for small parishes is very meager indeed, but rather than try to add another job, this priest and his wife actually live very simply and practice many "survival skills" like sewing, cooking, growing and preserving a very impressive garden, personal home repair, etc. I would not be surprised at all to see them give up wi-fi or even electricity if their incomes could not support it.

The convent is right outside a small Anglican private university. Already I can see the seeds of some future LR-esque county. One of the things I've been surprised by is just how quickly skills that were lost in the last two generations are now being picked up again. Cooking is very big among the youth here (mostly because the cafe food is too expensive and not very good). Thrift is practically a virtue, if not a commandment, and there's enough rich kids around that you can buy a nice, wool dress-coat at the thrift store for five bucks. Rather than mockery, people who can knit and weld get an "ooh, aah" by the students (our intensive ag tutor/head gardener at the convent was lambasted for his interests thirty years ago but now revered among the community and student body). If you chop your own wood and fuel your wood stove, you are cool.

In many ways the current age echoes the beginning of the convent that I am working at. In the late 1800's/early 1900's, this area was extremely depressed, far more so than most areas in America at the time. There were no schools. If folks on the mountain didn't have a grain crop to save for Winter, they either killed a neighbor family for theirs or starved (very common). Knowledge of water/wind mills had not yet reached the high mountains, so grains were ground by hand, a trying task for the wives, and tools/knowledge of sewing, knitting, and other cloth-working were nearly nonexistent. The convent, when it arrived, was treated with extreme suspicion, but the Sisters who started it sacrificed everything to bring a little prosperity, education, joy, and (yes) religion to the struggling mountain people. By all accounts, they succeeded. Nowadays, this area has public schools, but the convent and its Sisters are still a pillar of this small mountain community, and most people have a relative or two who went to the original religious school (or its partner boys' school, headed by a nearby monastery).

It is easy, now, to see why monasticism proliferates in some of the poorest parts of the world. The greatest treasures of the convent are not gold-leaf tea-sets, lovingly donated by some wealthy associate fifty-some years ago, but rather the archives of their newsletters dating back over a hundred years ago, documenting life in these mountain as the wars, industrialization, and the Sisters changed it over time. In the future, the same archives may act as haphazard guidebooks for running the convent on lower-energy - after all, most of the same buildings and natural springs and resources are still here, under- or un-utilized.

peacegarden said...

Love the story…especially this week’s subtle cliff hanger ending. As usual, it is a joy to read your work, and that of the commentariat.

Wishing you and Sara and all of our on-line community a joy-filled Solstice and peace throughout the season.

We’ve chosen some “crazy” logs for our Solstice bonfire…lots of twisted and contorted pieces, and are hoping for clear skies so as to have an outdoor celebration. But, we can still burn the logs in our woodstove if needs be. Warmer weather is returning in a day or two…we have been enjoying the balmy days and nights we’ve had lately.

Peace,

Gail

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

Its a County public school. So far as I know she has to wear a head scarf because she has Muslim students whose parents complained. If there is general interest i could get more specific details

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

This week we are revisiting the question of whether intentional residential communities have more longevity when they are religious foundations. Of all the world's religions, past and present, the only ones I can think of that have a monastic tradition are Christianity and Buddhism. Hinduism has a strong ascetic tradition but it is only informally communal. AFAIK, the same is true of the Jains.

In its three thousand year history, Judaism has had only two episodes of communal monasticism, the Qumran community that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the kibbutz movement, in which Socialist-Zionist ideals took the place of religion. Neither of these models spread to diaspora Judaism. The Vestal Virgins look like a nunnery, but actually they were a priesthood bound by taboos and virginity was not a lifetime commitment. Women were vestals for a term of office and if they outlived that term, were free to marry.

In many tribal cultures, adult men and women live is sex-segregated communal living quarters and meeting houses, and they carry on most of their daily activities without much interaction with members of the other sex. Some other primate species have similar patterns of social organization. It has considerable staying power and I would expect to see some version of it arise in societies where communal living arrangements are advantageous.

Blueback said...

John Michael,

Here are a few news sources that I found about the deployment of Russian troops in Armenia and the integration of Armenian military forces into the Russian aerospace defense system:

http://www.australianetworknews.com/will-russia-station-7000-soldiers-armenia-turkey-border/

http://www.worldbulletin.net/headlines/167367/russia-continues-military-buildup-around-turkey

http://sputniknews.com/military/20151121/1030507715/joint-defense-system-russia-armenia-nato-isil.html

https://iwpr.net/global-voices/armenia-russia-new-air-defence-deal

https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/motives-behind-russian-armenian-air-defense-deal-0

I have also heard that one of the many reasons why Russo-Turkish relations have deteriorated sharply in the last year or so is because Vladimir Putin openly acknowledged the reality of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire during the Great War in a speech earlier this year, which infuriated the Turks and led to strong diplomatic protests from the Turkish government.

In any case, I would definitely keep an eye on events over there. My suspicion is the deployment of Russian troops to Armenia is intended as a strategic distraction, letting the Turks know that if they do something foolish in Syria, they will have to face the possibility of a Russian counter-attack into northeastern Turkey, right at a time when things are heating up between the Turks and the Kurds and military analysts are warning of a possible civil war inside Turkey itself.

sanguinesophrosyne said...

Boy what I wouldn't give to have a 5 minute look inside one of those dairy barns! It got me to wondering how they would get the milk. Even tier 1 types would probably be motivated to use some sort of machine if they were to try any sort of business scale endeavor, just a few minutes is enough to cramp most people's hands! This got me to wondering about what types of hoses they would use, since I assumed the rubber or bioplastic would be the most exotic and difficult components to source, available almost certainly only through trade. This got me started into looking into where exactly rubber comes from and the process of making hoses. Then it hit me that a Jeep would have plenty of similar hoses and belts, and under much more stress, so I must be overthinking the problem.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Thanks, JMG, for Horace (Parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus = "The mountains will labour in childbirth, and an absurd mouse will be born". Remembering the relevant poem rather badly from 1980s Melbourne (Monash Univ, Prof. Gavin Betts, not far from Cherokee's farm), I had thought present-tense "parturiunt", and yet now I find that the ever-shaky Internet giving both tenses, with your "parturient" indeed predominant).

It is startling to note, as you yourself repeatedly have, the high level of literacy in the Victorian USA. In a press cartoon now preserved as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cincinnati_Convention_Mountain_of_Horace.JPG, your quoted verse is referred to in the most oblique way, in connection with the efforts of some "Liberal" movement. The artist evidently takes it that everyone can supply the full context just as soon as he explains to his readers that what he has drawn is Horace's mountain.

Perhaps when we visit a Lakeland school or two, in the rather near future, we will hear something about curriculum? A sinister aspect of the Internet piece to which a (rightly skeptical) reader of yours disparagingly referred a few weeks ago, in which the reporter praised the classroom use of computers (oh wow, how totally 2000, how excruciatingly Dot-Com-Bubble), was that curriculum hardly got mentioned.

Does this computerized school - most or all of us here will be wondering - teach any modern language apart from Spanish? If the ever-so-important German, then to what level? Is there Latin? Does its physics lab (no doubt crammed with computers) have an oscilloscope and an optics bench? Do lab calculations enforce propagation-of-uncertainties, as when one supplies the correct "x" for the template "A tungsten slug whose mass is measured on the balance to 38.2 grams plus-minus 0.3 grams, and which is found with the little glass pycnometer bottle to displace 1.90 cubic centimetres of water plus-minus 0.40 cubic centimetres, has a density of 20.1 g/cm^3 plus-minus x"? Which Shakespeare plays got read in which years? The answers to questions like these illuminate a school's proficiency, for good or ill.





Tom

Toomas(dot)Karmo(at)gmail(dot)com

onething said...

Emmanuel,

Yes, I'd like the name of the school. And I want to know how many teachers are being told to wear it.
Also, the point is not religious. The point is we live in a society that allows everyone their own religion and no one can dictate it. And the schools cannot promote or enforce standards of one religion upon others.

will said...

>>The damnable thing about this whole situation is that, while the vast majority of Muslims are as peaceful and compassionate a group as you'll find anywhere, there's a small but significant minority who firmly believe that their faith calls them to slaughter the infidel, and a larger and even more significant minority who believe just as firmly that no other religion besides theirs should be permitted<<

Hardly an original observation of mine, but though the vast majority of Muslims are indeed peaceful and compassionate, the totalitarian jihadist core ultimately renders them meaningless. Even after 1933, only 10% or so of German citizens were nazi party members; before Hitler seized power the number was even less. I recall reading in some Colin Wilson book that only 16% of the Russian population were ever communist party members back in the Soviet heyday. 

Point being, that while most people are very decent, live-and-let-live folks, it doesn't take great numbers for the extremists to rule the day. 

I'd like to add that I have MS - a great number of my physicians over the years have been Muslim, and I could not have been in better medical hands. 

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

(A) Carnegie, please don't get upset, but I am feeling a little uneasy about your Anglican convent. (You mention this in a comment, above.) Without going into details, I remark that I exercise a kind of Sherlock Holmes vigilance about reporting - for instance, in newspapers, or over the Internet - on Catholic and Anglican affairs. Something here (I suppress a detail or two) does not seem quite accurate. Perhaps you could give us some particulars? Name of convent, and of associated monastery, and a link to Web site (I can't at the moment think of a convent or monastery without Web outreach, except perhaps for a place near Murmansk, in the Orthodox-rather-than-Roman world) would be helpful.

(B) I also do have to add, in a rather pained way, that JMG is at two points getting a little shaky on his generally wonderful theological remarks this week.

(1) It would be odd in 2015 for a Christian monastic foundation to associate itself with the military to the extent of facilitating a drone shoot. Are we to postulate some radical shift in Christian theology by 2065?

Admittedly, the Archabbey of my modest and sometimes uneasy affiliation, Saint Vincent in Pennsylvania, does in its oblate newsletter ask us again and again - I cannot be alone in wincing at this - for prayers for such intentions as "Greg, serving in Iraq". And staunch, sound Catholic Worker activist Robert Waldrop in Oklahoma has exposed in correctly withering terms the failure of the (timid) US Conference of Catholic Bishops to denounce the 2003 USA Iraq invasion. He remarks that only a few members of the Conference wrote about this problem at the time, and that an outright clear condemnation, in the sharp language of you-know-what (starts with s-as-in-Sierra) came from one.

So with this as with much in Church life, things are not quite black-and-white.

These concessions made by me - and one could add further concessionary remarks on such awful medieval things as the Teutonic Knights and the Crusades - my point largely stands: monasticism has been. by and large, without too many too ghastly deviations in at any rate post-medieval times, a diplomatic outpost of the Prince of Peace.

(2) "Old Catholic, New Catholic" (JMG's phrase in a comment) is tending in a not-quite-happy direction. "Old Catholic" is the formal term for a Victorian-era movement, triggered by unhappiness with Pius IX, as documented at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Catholic_Church. The Old Catholic movement is alive and well, albeit not in communion with Rome. Its membership will therefore be curious, and apprehensive, on what JMG will now be doing with their name in his literary construction.

"New Catholic", on the other hand, leads to apprehensions of a different kind, now not from the Old Catholic community but from the mainstream Catholic world. JMG's suggestion here might be - he will correct me if I err - that by 2065, the current Catholic Church will be doing something which is in a rather novel way lurid, perhaps bifurcating in a replay of the 1054 schism. Attention to the squalor of the current Church (the sexual and financial abuse scandals on the one hand, and the smaller stuff - various kinds of shallowness at the parish level - on the other hand) would be less speculative, and would earn the greater regard of the Catholic readership.

In general, the dangers of commenting on the affairs of one country from a position within another have their analogues in religion. :-)


Diffidently, hastily,


Tom (Toronto-area Estonian-diaspora Catholic)

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

This problem of religious sensitivities (my posting, above) reminds me of a fairly comic experience, regarding not religion but the matter of different countries. In 1987 or 1988, I found myself in polite chit-chat over cocktails or something with a Dean from one of the faculties of Notre Dame, in Indiana. I explained to the Dean, as one does over the hors d'oeuvres in such a vacuous setting, that "Well, yes, we [sc. the Republic of Estonia, then diplomatically recognized by the USA despite the then-ongoing USSR postwar occupation] have a Consul in New York, Dr Aarand Roos." This name I of course pronounced correctly (roughly the same as "roos" in German, or indeed as "rose" in French, upon lengthening the vowel). The Dean must have asked how the name was spelled, since one of his next remarks was, "Well, we would pronounce that as 'ROOOS'" (he made it rhyme with "booze"). Tempted though I was to express the hope that he was not criticizing speakers of a minor Nordic language regarding their pronunciation of names from their own language, I nevertheless held my tongue. And of course the Dean might have been in a state of mild fatigue, or whatever.

Jeepers. Now I must stop, having in this afternoon's clutch of postings managed to be a bit hard on an education-system reporter, on reader "Carnegie", on JMG, and on the University of Notre Dame. Perhaps I can continue after supper in another posting or two, along more cheerful lines.


Diffidently, hastily,

Tom (Estonian-diaspora Catholic near Toronto)

Toomas(dot)Karmo(at)gmail(dot)com

www(dot)metascientia(dot)com

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi JMG,

Glad you enjoyed the diatribe. It was very well written and had just the right amount of jealousy and bitterness to be totally transparent and at the same time amusing. You know Robert Bloch actually was a fan of Howard’s work!

Exactly! So many different agenda's are being pursued that no one is effectively in control and the only policy options being presented are rehashes of the same old, same old. New options will eventually appear and I have no doubt about that, because it is an inevitability, if only because what can't be sustained, won't be sustained. And so it won't. How the different power blocs fail to understand that is way beyond me, but then I guess that is why they are in that position in the first place.

It is way hot down here and it was 26'C (78.8'F) outside (and inside the house too) at 6am this morning so I got up and did some stuff. I don't have air conditioning here so I reckon the inside of the house will reach up to just shy of 30'C today 86'F which isn't bad at all considering it is way past 40'C (100'F) in the shade outside. Insulation is everything in these conditions - and it doesn't look set to cool down tonight either.

Oh, what was I talking about - that's right. My mind drifts in this heat. It was hot this morning, so I cheated a bit and went down to the local cafe / general store to enjoy a coffee and toastie in their air conditioning and enjoyed reading the newspaper. It was very nice.

But in all of that reading I spotted an article titled "Russian radar keep US grounded". I don't know whether this is propaganda or not and it is referring to Syria, but the weird thing is that the article is on my printed newspaper but has disappeared completely from the Internet. I was thinking that it was a very unwise article to publish and it was originally attributed to Bloomberg. If it is true, then air strikes - other drones - over Syria are done and totally finished. Why would that article even be in my newspaper - very unwise? Not good.

Cheers

Chris

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Now I will try writing on a more cheerful note.

(A) Thanks, JMG, for highlighting the Shakers. It will perhaps help some readers to see a rendition of the "Simple Gifts" hymn, encapsulating some of their spirituality in choreography and song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLAnuG1340g (upload of 2011-12-23, by YouTube user "Cibertracker Imperium", to a duration of 1:40).

The Shakers were an American articulation of the "science of love", which the Catholic world for its part particularly celebrates and particularly studies through Thérèse de Lisieux. - Or rather, are even now an articulation of that science: Wikipedia says that as of 2010, the Shakers had three full members and one novice. - Or, if it is too much to say "science" (though I do think this term apt), say "insight", say "wisdom", say whatever.

(B) I also want at this point to give everyone a kind of Christmas card, involving tenor Roberto Alagna.

Christmas cannot be destroyed by shopping malls and industrialism.

It shines forth obstinately, even in the palaces of avarice and falsehood - for instance, even at the counting-house of Scrooge and Marley, even when television gets that deep 1843 story into its own distorting 20th-century and 21st-century grip.

And it rings forth in hymnody - with perhaps a unique power in what is for some the favourite music of the season, "O Holy Night". I discovered today that the power of this hymn emerges in a special way when one does not resort to an English translation, but instead follows the original, as "Minuit, Chrétiens".

The gold standard for a powerful vocal tenor-solo rendition has been Jussi Björling, singing from a translation into Swedish. But oh, to know Swedish! (I get scant success, at least on first attempt, from Estonian or German, and in this ADR readership only Tidlösa and a handful of others will be properly equipped.)

Today, to my delight, I found Björling equalled by a powerful contemporary tenor, perhaps the supreme tenor of our own time, Roberto Alagna, and indeed singing some stanzas from the French original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWq5OWYaXDw (upload of YouTube user "MUEZZAB", on 2006-07-21, to a duration of 5:22).

An appropriate method for following Alagna is to read the words with parallel literal English translation at http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/NonEnglish/minuit_chretiens.htm. One can ponder Alagna's interpretation through repeated readings and repeated listenings, until the full force begins to emerge, as in monochrome chemical-darkroom work the photographic print rather suddenly begins emerging in the developer bath.

One minor linguistic caveat: the just-cited publication does mistranslate L'amour unit ceux qu’enchaînait le fer; what is in fact needed is "Love unites those whom iron [sc the sword?] once enchained," in place of the translator's theologically apt, and yet philologically deficient, "Love unites those who restrain the sword."

We do of course additionally have to discount, as bad theology, the idea of the Father's "wrath", courroux, in the first stanza. (Thérèrese de Lisieux is an efficacious corrective.)

What emerges from this exercise in Gallicism is an astonishing declaration of emancipation: first Peuple, à genoux ("O People, to your knees") and then Peuple, debout! ("O People, arise"). The hymn in its French conception has been well called a spiritual Marseillaise.

Perhaps JMG will at some point be able to write something about Liberation Theology, either in a general way or in the specific context of Lakeland?


Tom

Dwig said...

John Michael, you write: "There are plenty of examples of human societies that have voluntarily held consumption in check over the relatively long term."

Do you have some references for this? I'd very much like to learn more about these examples, and any common characteristics they might have.

Robert Mathiesen said...

Toomas and Chris at Cherokee, I think the (in)famous Peter Principle explains both the Dean at Notre Dame and power blocks within Australian politics: as people move upward in a hierarchy with enough levels, they will each eventually be move out of their highest level of competence and into a level of incompetence. This seems to me to be one of the great guiding principles of human behavior in Western Civilization, right alongside of Murphy's Law and Lord Acton's dictum about the corrupting effects of power.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@Nancy Sutton--You wrote, " And, indeed, the 'modern' burqa resembles the old Catholic religious habit."

You are perhaps thinking of the hijab. That is a large headscarf which is wrapped in a variety of ways, some of which are very similar to a wimple. There was a period during the Middle Ages when European married women wore the wimple along with a loose fitting, long sleeved gown. The classic nun's habit looks to me as if it were derived from secular female clothing of that period. Nuns are brides of Christ and I think the original idea was that they would wear ordinary modest clothing, nothing fashionable.

The burqa is worn in Afghanistan. It doesn't resemble anything women in Christendom wear. A Google search brings up lots of sites with illustrations of the distinctions between different kinds of head and face coverings worn by Muslim women.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

It would help if those of us with a special interest in the Catholic world had a separate place to discuss, from week to week, the bearing of ADR, in its week-upon-week evolution, on Catholicism.

I make the following pair of assumptions:

(a) Catholicism will persist in some form no matter what bad things happen in coming decades. (We have been through the impending mess before, with the catabolic collapse of ancient Rome.)

(b) The vital currents in contemporary Catholicism can be discerned, as at previous points in Church life, by observing rank-and-file Catholics. We find, for instance, that people insist on reading the current Pope's Laudato Si'. We likewise find a strong engagement of the rank and file with monasticism, rather especially including monasticism in its more demanding forms. We note, e.g., the townspeople of Norcia (Saint Benedict's old town) recently begging that the Benedictines return, and to their joy finding duly traditionalist American Benedictines duly setting up right in town, brewery and all. (That monkish product is bottled under Latin label 'Birra Nursia', with motto Ut laetificet cor.)

But what is unknown is how well Catholicism will weather the impending catabolic collapse. Will the Church give creative witness, as in recent decades it has in Latin America? Or will it resemble instead the unimaginative, compromised Catholicism of 1933-1945 Germany, helpless even under the encouragement of the 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge?

What I would now like to do is to set up a blog, if some people might be inclined to help me.

We want to spread our workload.

I would be happy to write one modest Catholic essay every four weeks, touching on some aspect of JMG's work (for instance, on some current topic from ADR; the thorny topic of pacifism would have suggested itself this week, and soon school education may become a current ADR topic). Perhaps three other people would likewise be willing to write one modest, short, essay, with each such writer pitching in for one week out of four? And perhaps some fifth person would be willing to moderate the envisaged blog, applying JMG's own rules of courtesy and openness?

We basically want our Gang of Four essayists to work in the traditions of those two specially exemplary Catholic journalists, Chesterton and Dorothy Day.

I can think of a Catholic journalist in Ireland who follows ADR and has also appropriate Chesterton-and-Day skills. Would he be at all inclined to lead and guide the enterprise - perhaps both (1) contributing overall guidance, and (2) posting an essay every four weeks? Then I could plug along as a Gang essayist contributing, yet not leading. And, as I say, we could do with three others - two more to round off the essayist "Gang of Four", and then one more to moderate incoming reader comments.

I would envisage our readers, and hence our comment-writers (as opposed to our four Gang essayists) to be ultimately quite a mix of (a) Catholics, (b) people-who-within-the-established-limits-of-politeness-jeer-at-Catholics (no Mick without a jeer squad), and (c) people who are not Catholic and yet are rather kindly disposed toward Catholicism. The comments below the essays would end up being somewhat feisty, even disputatious, while staying within the limits of courtesy.

I would imagine the envisaged blog as having, say, one-tenth the ADR volume of postings. It would provide a place where specifically Catholic stuff could be aired boldly, without smothering ADR itself in clouds of Roman incense.

Offers of help, comments, etc offline, please, to Toomas(dot)Karmo(at)gmail(dot)com, by 2015-12-31, with subject line including "Catholic-in-catabolic-collapse". I report back on ADR, either saying "Yes, we have enough update to proceed" or "No, alas, we do not at this time have enough uptake to proceed", in the evening of 2016-01-01 (FRI).

Tom

647-267-9566 (cellular)
www(dot)metascientia(dot)com

John Michael Greer said...

Patricia, thank you and likewise to you and yours!

Shane, if you want a monastery for your own faith, well, somebody's got to found the first one, you know...

Carnegie, your Tom Pappas is about the right age to be a colonel in the Lakeland Republic army in 2065, but the character in my story goes to a Greek Orthodox church rather than an Anglican one.

Peacegarden, thank you, and a happy solstice to you and yours!

Emmanuel, several people have asked for specific details, and I have to admit at this point I have my own doubts. Please post an online link that confirms this story of yours.

Unknown Deborah, you're forgetting the Taoists, who adopted monasticism from Buddhist examples in the middle ages and have an extensive monastic tradition.

Blueback, thanks for the links! That really does bear careful watching.

Sophrosyne, milking substantial dairy herds by hand was standard practice all over the world until quite recently. Having milked a modest herd of goats in my time, I can tell you that, as with any other manual process, the muscles quickly get accustomed to the movements. Furthermore, if you don't have machines to do the work for you, just about every task on the farm requires hard work, and milking at least is done sitting down. Thus the New Shakers, like most other dairy farmers in the Lakeland Republic, don't use hoses; they use hands and buckets.

Will, much depends on whether the majority of compassionate and tolerant Muslims choose to oppose the violent and intolerant minority, or not.

Toomas, why, yes, we'll be hearing about the curriculum -- I still have a series of posts I want to do about what a meaningful education for a deindustrializing world would look like, but that's a later project. As for the religious issues, first, most Christian sects in the US are not pacifist in orientation and tend to support the military in various ways. Second, as we'll see in passing down the road a bit, in my fictional 2065 the Catholic church in North America has suffered a major schism between its traditionalist and liberal wings, respectively the Old Catholics and New Catholics I mentioned. Based on extensive conversations with Catholics I know, that's a very high possibility. Whether or not the schism will eventually be healed over, or whether it'll turn into something as enduring as the Protestant schism, is outside the bounds of this story.

Cherokee, here are some links for that story: link 1, link 2, link 3. I also saw the Bloomberg article, and yes, it's interesting to note that it's been removed so completely -- just as it was interesting to watch the US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf suddenly scurry for the exit right after Russia showed it could hit the Middle East with cruise missiles from its Caspian Sea fleet...

John Michael Greer said...

Toomas, the Shakers were a very interesting phenomenon -- as I noted in a previous post, they managed to reinvent much of classic monasticism from the ground up, with apparently no significant knowledge of earlier examples. Their music -- well, it's well worth getting past "Simple Gifts" to the very rich musical heritage they created. But I think you might have a bit of a problem with their theology!

Dwig, I'd encourage a look into Japanese forest law, especially during the Tokugawa period, to start with; more generally, the Tokugawa period is a great example of a society that pursued, and largely achieved, economic stability by the deliberate rejection of growth and progress. There's a fair amount of literature on the way that many tribal societies structure their taboos and customs to limit resource exploitation and population growth, though I don't currently have the references. Those were the examples I had in mind when I wrote that.

Robert Mathiesen said...

Re the Russian S-400 system based at Latakia: a broader web search finds a few interesting articles on it about a month older than the three that JMG linked to. One article that turned up noted that the system also has the capacity to shut down all computer networking within the "bubble" that it forms around itself. And it's a rather large bubble, with a radius in hundreds of kilometers. -- And yes, it is _extremely_ telling just how thoroughly the Bloomberg article seems to have been purged from the web. But there is still working link (at the moment) at:
http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-age/20151219/281779923080099/TextView

Daniel Najib said...

Mr. Greer,

Re: your mention of the schism between the Catholic Church and its traditionalist and liberal wings, I'd love to hear more on that.

Also, re your links to Cherokee: Turkey and the S-400 and missile-defense; although I enjoyed and viewed as accurate your views of tech warfare in Twilight's Last Gleaming, I think you overestimate Russian capabilities here (and that's me, speaking as a Russophile). Russia, IMHO is not going to get their Su-30's shot down in Turkey (compared to the expendable Su-24's). Despite their petty large air force, also, not much of that is projectable outside of Russia. Much like the Americans in Tanzania, they have no AWACS, no tankers, no way to sustain a campaign against Turkey if such a conflict would arise.

The Russians are spread pretty thin; all of the Russian Air Force is not available to attack Turkey. If they were to put everything they had into their bases in the Southern District, they would still be vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the Turks, and the Russians don't have oil tankers.

Also, RE: The S-400; that is just a SAM system. US forces could take all those missile systems out in a single pass, the US has a plethora of SEAD/DEAD options against S-400; a handful of S-400's would not last an hour in an actual shoot out. The S-400 is large, easy to see and track, and it's not the kind of system which moves quickly nor is easy to hide, it's vulnerable to all sorts of US stand off weapons, including the AGM-88, AGM-154, AGM-158.

What I see as happening is the U.S. is just afraid of what damage might come, and thus damage to public opinion. Right now, the U.S. could take the fight, but it's image would be scarred still if it didn't come out on top with all kills, no losses.

Gloucon X said...

Emmanuel Goldstein said... In Howard County, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore where my sister-in-law is a teacher, she was required by the county to wear a headscarf because the conservative Muslim parents of some of her students complained that it violated their religious sensibilities...

Link please? That would be unprecedented and would certainly make the national news.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi JMG,

Well, well, well. Interesting times. That article incidentally was the very first article in the "World news" section of today's paper. The only conclusion I could take from the article is that air strikes - like carriers - are effectively rendered ineffective by a relatively cheap technology - it certainly looked cheaper than an aircraft. My gut feeling from the news reports is that the Russians are taking the initiative and supporting Assad.

And isn't it funny, that I have that article in print here but it has been totally removed from the local online news resources? I've never seriously considered that the Internet is somehow a "free" service. It is most certainly not free in the normally understood sense of that word, or free of mediation either.

By the way, I'm really enjoying your fictional narrative. I'm assuming that you have plans to get this tidied up and published into a book form in the near future? I reckon you have a surprise for us in store with the jazz dude which should be interesting to see.

Your future posts on education should really annoy a whole lot of people! I look forward to that! Hehe! I could teach my profession by apprenticeship and certainly many of the people in the profession would benefit from that by being a lot more humble than they actually are now. Just for your interest, the federal government here has just announced that it will pursue Australian's living overseas that have federal government student loans (the loans are only federally funded here).

It has been a crazy couple of days down here. The weather is more extreme than before - in fact even more records have been broken and this evening is looking as if it will be the hottest December night on record (after the hottest December day) for Melbourne. Well done everyone.

Spare a thought for your readers in Adelaide, South Australia though: SA heatwave: Adelaide breaks December record while extreme fire danger warning remains in place.

And, we're in not much better shape here: More than 300 fires break out across the state as temperatures soar

What I love about these sorts of days when there is a big fire is that there is always a photo of some guy in shorts and flip flops (which we call thongs down here) with no shirt holding a garden hose whilst standing in the full sun on the roof of a house. What is with that? As someone who used to be a volunteer firefighter, all I know is that if that man (and it is always a guy) was in that exact situation and faced by a serious fire - he'd be dead pretty quickly. There must be some cultural meme in the image that is completely lost on me as I reckon it is just a stupid thing to do, but you see it in every fire news coverage...

Hi Robert,

I love the Peter Principle thanks for mentioning it as it is both very amusing and so true. I reckon Hagbard's law plays a role too.

Cheers

Chris

Carnegie said...

Toomas: Sorry - I was intentionally being vague, there. The convent's internship program (where we live in a little house just next door and take care of the gardens, chop the wood, rake the leaves, clean up after services...) is well-publicized on their website and newsletter, so saying exactly which organization it is would handily reveal my own identity! If you have any further questions about the program or the place, please e-mail me privately at carnegiesspinninggrave(at)gmail(dot)com.

H said...

Cherokee, the article you mention has not disappeared completely from the Internet:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-declassified-0af11b48-a4f6-11e5-8318-bd8caed8c588-20151217-story.html
http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-age/20151219/281779923080099/TextView
http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-12-17/new-russian-air-defenses-in-syria-keep-u-s-grounded

Phil Harris said...

JMG & All
Talking about the 'closed stool'; civilisation could turn on understanding this matter, as it has done for thousands of agronomic years. I found this site useful for a talk I gave to an ASPO venue in Italy some years ago. http://www.agroecology.org/Case%20Studies/nightsoil.html
I borrowed the picture 'old & new' China indoors for my talk.

For those who cannot go all the way just now, saving urine for compost has almost no health risks long or short term. There is a useful discussion of avoiding the disadvantages of the 'latrine' in Eve Balfour's classic book 'The Living Soil'.

best
Phil

Nestorian said...

Toomas,

Though I am now a Nestorian, I am a former Catholic who knows the Catholic mind extremely well. You can contact me via email at holyapostoliccatholicchurch@gmail.com.

(Yes - the so-called Nestorian Church DOES consider itself to be THE Holy Apostolic Catholic Church of the East, and titles itself accordingly.)

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

OK I will try to document the headscarf-in-school-system anecdote. This happened several years ago, after 9/11/01, maybe around 2010. I stopped by my brother's house and walked into a conversation between my mother and sister-in-law about her being compelled by the school to wear a headscarf. They were in the process of picking out headscarves and everyone was pretty upset about it. Both sis-in-law and one of her daughters still work for the same school, so I should be able to get some sort of verification. I couldn't find anything on it with Google either, but my smallest set of results was about 50,000 hits. Hope to post additional info within a day or two.

Bill Pulliam said...

I've been thinking about your moving up the date for your hypothetical civil war and balkanization of the USA. I'm not sure that is what I see from the present schisms in culture and politics. There's one basic reason for this: they are not rigidly regional. Parts of rural Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee are quite similar to each other in these regards. Parts of Portland, Nashville, and Pittsburg are likewise quite similar to each other and very far from their adjoining rural areas. In the 1860s there was a single concrete legal and moral issue that split the US into two very distinct regions. Border states like TN only voted to seceed after the war had already begun; in the first round of voting internal divisions prevented such drastic action. In the current environment I think most states are effectively border states, with the political schisms running internally within them, not just in a larger scale pattern.

I can see this leads to troubled times, but I'm not sure it leads to regional breakup. It is perhaps a more fertile ground for fascistic nationalism than partition. We currently have 45% of the electorate willing to vote for a candidate who speaks favorably of religious comncentration camps.

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

Re: Carr's discomfort-- Could be that after arriving at the New Shakers, Carr notices that he has not been asked to pay for his meals and lodging. He has paid out of pocket elsewhere in Lakeland, so why not here? And if the New Shakers contribute to the local economy, can they do that without involving currency? Verrry interesting...

Blueback said...

You're welcome. As someone who comes from a military background and is still very much interested in military history, I have been paying very close attention to events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

One great source on Yemen has been SNAFU, which is run by a former Marine who served in Iraq. His blog has also been a great source of info about the Syrian and Ukrainian civil wars and the ongoing farce that is the F-35 Lardbucket. The conflict in Yemen has turned into a rather nasty proxy war pitting the American backed Saudis against the Iranian backed Houthis, a Shia sect that overthrew the previous Saudi and American backed Yemeni government in a revolutionary war.

The Saudi intervention in Yemen has turned into a major debacle in which the Saudis have been getting curb-stomped even though they have a much bigger and better equipped war machine and total air superiority.

Solomon has posted quite a few videos of Saudi tanks, including M-1A1's and M1A2's, being destroyed by anti-tank missiles. Apparently, the Houthis have been able to get modern ATGM's from a number of sources and have been observed using American made TOW's, Russian made Kornet's and French made Milans.

The Houthis have also made very effective use of Soviet made tactical ballistic missiles. There was an attack the other day on a Saudi military base with an OTR-21 Tockha which is reported to have killed between 120 and 180 soldiers and caused a great deal of damage. There were also reports of an attack a week ago in which a Tockha hit a Saudi base in Yemen, killing over 80 soldiers, including dozens of Blackwater mercs and two senior Saudi officers, including the colonel who was in charge of Saudi special forces units in Yemen. In addition, the Houthis claim they have sunk two Saudi warships with antiship missiles fired from the shore.

I too have heard that the Yemenis are counter-attacking into Saudi Arabia and the Saudis are getting desperate. This is ironic, because rumor has it that one of the reasons why the Saudis intervened is because King Salman's son is not only Deputy Crown Prince, but minister of defense. The intervention was seen as an easy victory and an a great opportunity for Prince Mohammed bin Salman to win his spurs as a military commander. Needless to say, he and his father got more than they bargained for...

Phil Harris said...

JMG & All
There have been several recent memorial pieces for Doug Tompkins, including one at the Dark Mountain Blog, but I am linking to a blog in Scotland – ‘Trees for Life’, that I have referred/linked to here at ADR in the past mostly for images capturing a true Druid experience; for example sometimes the best dressed man out in the wild needs bug netting. (I have actually no idea whether this guy with the camera and the ideas has Druid tendencies, but I have my suspicions. http://www.alansblog.org.uk/)

Seriously, Doug Tompkins follows the same ecological strategy as the small-scale version in Scotland, hence the connection. We can get serious about refugia on a small scale, tiny compared with Doug but just about everywhere, if we start joining up the dots.

Connection with the topic this week? Well, it’s like the ‘closed stool’ and the fate of civilisation to my mind.
best
Phil

nuku said...

Re communities: In New Zealand there are at least 3 long running "intentional" communities; this is communities consciously created and organized along certain principles.
Here are URL's for them:

http://rainbowcommunity.org.nz/history.htm A "back to the land" community started in the 70's.

http://www.gloriavale.org.nz/ A Christian community (see youtube for a couple of documentaries made there)

http://www.riverside.org.nz/ NZ's longest running community started by conscientious objectors during WW2

http://www.tuitrust.org.nz/ A non-religious community dedicated to exploring alternative ways to organize living/working/economic arrangements and society as a potential model for the wider community.

I lived at Tui Community for 8 months during a difficult time in my personal life and have participated in numerous 5 day "gatherings" of men and women there over the years. I chose not to remain at Tui, but I appreciate the advantages of living an intentional community.

Some local councils have provided legal frameworks for communally held land titles. Some communities, like Tui, have structured themselves as charitable/educational trusts.

There were also many failed communities in NZ especially those started during the "hippie" heydays in the 60's.

Helen Highwater said...

@Shane W
If you are referring to President Jimmy Carter who was President of the US in 1980, you have to also remember that although he understood the dangers of fossil fuel use and wanted the US to transition to renewable energy sources, he was also the author of the Carter Doctrine, which stated: “any attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States” and “will be repelled by the use of any means necessary including military force”.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi H,

Fair enough - I did say local news sources.

Cheers

Chris

FiftyNiner said...

@Bill Pulliam,
I must say I agree with you about the ways that this country may fracture in the future. I preface this with the admission that I am one of the least "traveled" people on this blog and I'm quite aware of my isolation and resultant insularity. This blog has made me acutely aware that there are many people who hold to the notion that the South is different--which it absolutely is--but not in the ways that they think. People here lead their lives in about the same ways that the rest of the country does. They go to work on their own automobiles; they shop at the same stores; their food comes to them by truck; and they watch television; football; and Nascar, or if they are wealthy enough they go to the games and races in person. We have shown in the past few years that we are no more immune from the acts of violence that plague the country than any other region.
What got me to thinking about this was the implication that there is a secessionist sentiment in the South that is identifiable and stronger than anywhere else. I just do not see it! The proof for me rests in the ways that the Confederate Flag flap has played out across the South:The flag has been removed from countless venues by the people of the towns, colleges and states without much fanfare at all.
The racial unrest that plagues St. Louis and Baltimore in particular seems to confirm that things are indeed more tense in border states than they are here in the deep south. But targeting blacks is also alive and well here. In the suburbs of St. Louis they were balancing the municipal budgets on the backs of their poorest citizens, while here in Alabama the governor and legislature just closed the driver's license offices in the 31 poorest counties in the state which just happen to be predominately black.

While in college long ago I took a seminar in American Studies with a professor from Iowa. It was his contention that California is one of the truly unique places on earth. He said that it was the first place in human history where so many people of differing languages and cultures came together voluntarily--without having been sent by some prince, potentate, or president--to pursue their own self-interest. And they were able to do this without constant war as has been the norm throughout history. In the 35 years since, California has begun to look like the rest of the country and I am sure there is no small resentment of the chunk revenues that go to Washington that they do not get back. So, on balance, there is probably more of a secessionist sentiment in California than there is in almost any state of the South. The US will be lucky to have held California for 200 years following the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. Manifest Destiny is not all it is cracked up to be.

Seb Ze Frog said...

Good Morning.
Dear John Michael, and others who might have read some of my comments before: I assume that by now you know that I usually confine myself in the realm of trivialities, where I feel the most at home. This time though, I have to take a real issue with this Retrotopia. And don't try to dismiss it as being an issue caused by my French upbringing idiosyncrasies. This time, the issue is SERIOUS. I want to talk about sandwiches.

Regardless of my opinion about the infinite declinations of bread and meat slices permutations and their value in the world of gastronomy, I think it improbable that this would be the kind of food served in Tier one counties.

I have cooked for more than 20 more than often, and usually end up in that role in any gathering that uses common-shopping-and-cooking rules (maybe it is a small talent that can keep me on the right side of the oyster shells when their sharpening noise gets too disturbing). I have also worked in harvests when the work is hard and the weather is cool. And never sandwiches have been even remotely part of the meal arrangements. Maybe it is because I live in France... But my feeling is that the reason is actually deeper.

First, making sandwiches for a crowd of hungry people is labor intensive. Much more than cooking a hearty stew. Second, sandwiches are cold food, and hungry laborers, especially in cold times, enjoy a hearty (again) and warm meal. And third, sandwiches, once made, are made. It is very difficult to re-use the left overs. I don't think that sandwiches have been part even of American gastronomy before the peak of prosperity, when eating fast became a prime concern. I have to re-read them, but I loved reading Max Twain and Mrs Ingals books, and I am not sure that I saw sandwiches mentioned there. Actually, and I think you might be in agreement with me here, if I had saw any mention of them in those otherwise enjoyable books, I am quite sure I would have remembered.

As you see, I have tried to make my point as documented as possible. And I hope that I have managed to convey the idea... no... The FACT, that sandwiches are but a sad anecdote of the present, and that this thesis has nothing to do with my personal sensibilities. Of course, if you ask me, going to Tier One, ending up in a sympathetic religious congregation, and being served chicken sandwiches... That would deal a hard blow to my inclination to settling down there, while so far the Tier System was getting very dear to my heart.

I hope that this hasn't been too unbearably serious. My apologies, but some times, the subject at hand is too important to let it pass. I will do my best to avoid getting to that level of intensity again in the nearby future, and wish to all a pleasant and happy Solstice.

Seb


























Patricia Mathews said...

Speaking of candles - a discussion about candles in the Regency came up on the Almack's list, After someone asked what "working candles' were. The usual "rich people had beeswax, the poor had tallow" and "the light was ample/pitiful" categories proved to be far too simplistic for the early 19th Century. Just in case anyone here is interested in the technology:

There were a lot of intermediate and mixed candle waxes made from things like rapeseed oil (called 'canola' here in the States, I think) that crystallized into a hard wax and burned quite brightly. There were mirror-backed candle stands, both glass and polished metal. There were glass globes that spread the candle light out. And braided wicks, when someone thought of them, made for a more even burn and less trimming.

The old-fashioned illustrations of the taper in a holder with a large bottom tray are accurate - as anyone knows who has ever tried to get wax out of an altar cloth, those tray-bottoms were necessary!

Just details for anyone using candles.

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

Retraction--Head Scarf-in-public-school-story
I could not find anything online about this in the Howard County School System policies, or news items. I emailed family members that I remembered were there and would have known about the incident. So far, only my brother (ie., husband of sis-in-law) emailed back to say that he does not remember it occurring. Since he is a lawyer, he would certainly remember something like that.
So I must apologize to JMG and all blog readers (_particularly_ any Muslims) and ask that the story be disregarded. If anything turns up in future to substantiate my memory, I plan to email it to JMG offline for review--But for now, I am formally and for the record labeling this one a false memory. Deepest apologies to all.--EG

william fairchild said...

JMG-

We are deep into a Sunday, so I don't expect you to publish my comment. I really enjoyed the reference to chamberpots. My mother (born in '34) used to signal her cousins a mile down the road that she wanted to play by hanging a sheet outside her window. Back in those days a successful farmer would provide a house along with some wages for his farmhand. It was expected. One time, she spent the night at her friend's house. They were farmhands for my Grandpa. Their house had no indoor plumbing, but a well and an outhouse. She and her girlfriend were jumping on the bed when she slipped and her foot landed in the chamberpot filled with last night's fermenting, fragrant "gifts". She cried.

Your description of tier one very much reminds me of pre-WWII rural farm life.

Not a bad way to live, as long as you are mindful of jumping on the bed.

You also seem to reference Rumschpringe. So go experience tier 4, if it is not to your liking, you may come home...

william fairchild said...

JMG-

As to your critique of the "environmentalists" it is well deserved. Despite the good intentions of earnest "greens" and the protestations of us on the more radical side, no one has addressed honestly, or even admitted the problem of "lock in". So you know the SUV is a gas guzzler. Really, so is the Buick. But, you live 45 mins from work. 2 hrs by bus. And you expect your Honey to accept you leaving early each day, coming home late, and leaving her (him) to deal with kids, school, events, grocery shopping, etc.

Or you quit your job out of principle, and the mortgage is paid how? When the rubber hits the road, our infrastructure for daily life is built around profligate carbon use. 'Tis quite a bummer, really.

Hubertus Hauger said...

Apropos, preparing for war; Did you people hear from that fake poll, about if the US should bomb that town of Agrabah? Did you see, that of the conservative voters 81 % did not object. One may say, well that´s normal for them. But, Democrats voters have also been questioned. Now, here 64 % did not object.
For the ones of you, who don´t exactly locate the place, crowded with all these eastern thiefs, robber, murderers, vicious sorcerer and ugly monkeys, who deserve to be bombed to oblivion. Surprise, surprise!

I am not laughing at the people, who were fooled. Rather it makes it clear, how we all live in a fantasy world. So, what ist what? Who knows ... ?

onething said...

Derv,

I did respond to your email invitation last week.Maybe it ended up in the spam folder.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi JMG,

I'm currently reading Jason Heppenstall’s (a regular commenter at the blog here and author of the most excellent blog 22 Billion Energy Slaves) book The Path to Odins lake. It is an excellent read and I thoroughly recommend it.

At one point in the book he describes his feelings upon reading your also excellent work "The Long Descent". The funny thing was that I had a completely different reaction upon reading your book which was more like: "Cool. This will open up some breathing space and opportunities for different stories and opportunities". I've feared the unknown future, but never felt down about it. It is an exciting possibility because for me the current narrative - from my perspective - puts so much stress on people, which they can't even see, and it is hard for me to observe that in the population and people that I know. And it is not even an exciting or even remotely interesting narrative either. It is dull and boring, and for me it is like living in a mono-culture and people hang on to it with a death like grip. I get why George Ramero always set his zombie films in a shopping centre - I hear you man!

Anyway, sometimes I see in nature that the young buck has to come along and stomp the living daylights out of the old buck - who's ways have become fossilised in place - and to that end I offer you a sneak preview of a short video with just that thing happening in the forest here: Fighting Kangaroos.

Happy solstice and best wishes to both yourself and Sara!

Cheers

Chris

Philip Hardy said...

Dear JMG
I am interested in the upcoming Drone shoot.

I’m reading the “Gunners of August” by John Hutton at present, which follows the artillery of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1914 at the start of the Great War. Several anecdotes from the book I think have a bearing on the upcoming drone shoot in your tale. The first is that the aircraft in this very early phase of the Great War when supporting ground troops operated in a similar way as drones do today; they would loiter over a location spotting targets and ranging artillery fire onto them. They flew at a height of 5000-7000 feet i.e. a mile plus directly up from the ground which kept them largely safe from service rifle fire from trigger happy soldiers. In the initial few weeks of combat quite a few aircraft had been shot down by rifle fire, unfortunately often by their own side! It took several months before national recognition markings were put on aircraft to mitigate this!

To deal with German aircraft at the Battle of the River Aisne in September 1914 the BEF brought in 1pdr Pom-Pom automatic cannon. They proved ineffective due to the tracer in the rounds burning out between 2000-3000 feet, making it impossible to shoot the guns onto the German aircraft. It took a year before effective high altitude weapons were developed and deployed.

WW1 aircraft were very simple machines compared to today’s drones, and thus less vulnerable to fire compared to a modern drone with all its black boxes, even with redundancy. Plus the missile carrying drones are as big as WW1 aircraft, and the missiles are an additional hazard to the drone if hit. High powered rifles firing special long burn tracer ammunition could force drones upto 10,000 feet, and would be very difficult to counter as their firing would produce virtually no ground signature (flash, dust kick up, or thermal signature). If the drone killers worked as teams with shots coming from multiple directions the drone crew (pilot and sensor/weapons operator) would suffer task overload negating the drone’s mission.

To give another anecdote I had a mate in the British Territorial Army some 30 years ago. He recounted that on one of their summer camps they were given 10 target drones simulating enemy aircraft to shoot at during live fire exercises, that is they were not for routine target practice but would appear at random during other exercises. His job was to man one of the GPMGs (equivalent to the American M60 machinegun) mounted on a pedestal mount on the back of a flatbed Landrover. The drones were meant to last the 2 weeks of the camp, but were all shot down in 2 days! My mate said its surprising how good you can get with a machinegun when you can fire virtually unlimited ammunition and get lots of practice!

Lastly, would it be possible for the Lakeland Republic to produce small surface to air missiles. The original Sidewinder, SA 7, and Blowpipe missiles were produced in the 1960s with transistor technology, though the CCD cameras for heat detection may be trickier to produce. A cottage industry producing a 1000 a year could be possible. Stocks built up over a decade would be a formidable arsenal.

Best regards. I will understand if you don’t publish this comment.

Philip Hardy

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

Dear Emmanuel Goldstein,


Thanks so much for your posting, with its retraction. One now feels happier about the Internet, realizing that there are people out there who are willing to admit to making mistakes, and indeed to invest time and effort in fact-checking.

Tom



PS: I might as well at this point remark that apart from having myself put some incorrect Latin up at some point in the last year or two or three (can't remember details, sorry, but my memory is of something done wrong at my desk), I did in 2015 make an incorrect ADR remark regarding the Système International d'Unités definition of the kilogram.

I was right to remark that efforts are under way to get rid of the bad old Paris "standard kilogram" definition, based as it is on a conserved artefact - an actual chunk of metal, the dreaded "International Prototype Kilogram" (IPK). But I was wrong in my description of the current thrust of the efforts.

A few years ago, people were thinking of anchoring a universally reproducible standard kilogram, to replace the IPK, via an "Avogadro's Number" count of some appropriate atom or molecule. This was all I said when I posted to ADR.

Now, however, the dominant line of thought is one on which Plank's Constant is made exact by definitional fiat, and on which national standards labs around the world become tasked with creating local implementations of the kilogram by making measurements involving Plank's Constant. - The procedure is analogous with the current method for defining the metre: gone is the dreaded old Paris-conserved "standard metre bar". Instead, the second is given a universally reproducible definition in terms of an everywhere-constructible atomic-physics oscillator, and the speed of light is fixed by definitional fiat at 299792458 metres/second. A laboratory armed with an oscillator correctly implementing the second, and additionally knowing the speed-of-light definitional fiat, can then construct a length standard. Such a laboratory can do so even if Paris, with its various metal artefacts, is for some reason out of reach.

Analogously, then, for the standard kilogram: current thinking is that Plank's constant should be fixed by fiat, say as 6.62607004 × 10-34 metres^2 kilograms / second, and that on the strength of this definition, plus the available standards for metre and second, national standards laboratories should be tasked with patrolling local kilogram standards.

This current line of thinking MIGHT be implemented around 2018. If that happens, it will constitute one of those improvements in Système International d'Unités which seem to occur every few decades.

One would expect Lakeland to have a National Standards Laboratory, somewhere, analogous to NIST in the USA of 2015 or NPL in the UK of 2015, capable of patrolling the accuracy of the various Lakeland length-measuring and mass-measuring devices. (As a Lakeland engineer, for instance in the very-important railway business, you check your calipers and micrometers against metal calibrating blocks; every couple of years, you courier your calibrating blocks to a Lakeland equivalent of NPL, and they tell you the error in those blocks; and every couple of years, you do the same with the standard metal masses in your laboratory's analytical balance.)

The dreaded problem of the instability of the dreaded IPK ("mass loss", to speak colloquially - i.e., actual mass loss, were we to have an IPK-independent mass definition - of some tens of micrograms over a period of some decades) is discussed in several places on the Internet, for instance in the Wikipedia kilogram article. I have not looked at these discussions carefully,



Tom


PPS: Seb ze Frog: Yes, yes, YESSSS: &agrave: bas le sandwich. Ah le sandwich; ce sont les anglos qui mangent le sandwich. Sa Majestée la Reine les mange, j'imagine, par exemple à Balmoral, de temps en temps. Mois, pas souvent. Ai-ai-ai.

John Roth said...

@Seb Ze Frog: For the occasional innocent who may not know: the sandwich was supposedly invented by the Earl of Sandwich, who wanted to be able to eat while not leaving the gaming tables. I quite agree that a meal in a monastic setting would not involve sandwiches. It’s a very good way to make a meal when you have to eat and run, or when you otherwise don’t want to sit down for a formal meal, but otherwise not. In this case, though, the diners are mostly militia troops here for a few days for a military exercise, so sandwiches may be appropriate. Or maybe not.

@Emmanuel Goldstein:

This may be a bit of disinformation, a false memory, or one of those strange occurrences documented at the Mandela Effect site. The universe is stranger than you know. (This site is a major time sink, which is why I’m not including the link - be warned.)

Sylvia Rissell said...

Mr Greer: I second the sugestion that the cuisine of Lakeland deserves a little more variety.

There would seem to be a lot of local and seasonal variation, plus some cultural variants (as the citizens are varied). Italian inspired pasta at one restaurant, a variant on Indian dahl sereved with naan somewhere else. Perhaps an enthusiasm for recipies from '30s cook books?
In its own way, food is as much of a cultural marker as clothing is. Lakeland ought to be a great place for fusion cusine, although I cant imagine them describing it that way!

Marian Veverka said...

A few thoughts as I read along:

Sandwiches. They are so much a part of US culture that I can't picture any kind of out-door gathering without then. Picture a line of 2 or 3 women. #1 slices long loaves of bread. #2 places 2 on a plate & adds a glop of filling. #3 cuts sandwich in half & hands plate to waiting person.

I began to wonder where plates came from. Perhaps pile of rubble after battles had ended? Abandoned homes, farmhouses? knives, forks, spoons, pots & pans...

whomever said...

Emmanuel Goldstein: I just want to thank you for doing your research and posting your retraction. It takes a big person to admit they misspoke or misremembered. And it's very easy to misremember, studies have constantly shown that people will remember things they told but didn't experience as an actual experience.

Caryn said...

JMG: Many thanks. I'm really enjoying our ride through Tier 1 and all of Lakeland. This is providing a very much needed positive 'escape' for me in some difficult times right now. Although, 'escape', is not quite accurate, as It is helping (as you have been saying all along) a re-direction, opening possibilities of different ways to live. As I said on an earlier thread, I love stories, (books, films, TV shows, (good ones), plays etc. I'm finding this one very enjoyable and instructional.
Yikes, I, for one, really need this right now, and am very grateful for it.

As another commenter mentioned, I am also looking forward to Carr's visit to that Jazz performance, and am also wondering what form of music and entertainment Tier-1 peeps engage in? Will we see traveling players or musicians? Fireside one-upmanship tall tales being told? Twice or thrice yearly fairs, barn-stomps or dances? Does the average Tier-1 family have a fiddle, guitar or horn? Can't wait!

@Seb ze- Frog: from foodtimelines site: "The bread-enclosed convenience food known as the "sandwich" is attributed to John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), a British statesman and notorious profligate and gambler, who is said to be the inventor of this type of food so that he would not have to leave his gaming table to take supper."

But it is KINDA refuted at wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandwich
Too much to cut and paste so in summary: Wrapping meat, cheese or condiment inside or between bread, matzo, tortilla or other bread-like 'wrap' has been found worldwide throughout history.

(In Western Europe) Trenchers in the middle ages were 'dinner plates' made of bread, fed to the dogs after a meal, or eaten as part of the meal for the less wealthy. Not as widely accepted in England until the industrial age as a fast, portable, cheap meal. They were thought to be a food of the late night gamblers finally finding their way into polite society as an acceptable late night snack. So you're right, in that they were the food of the aristocracy, but post industrial revolution, found great popularity in the lower working classes.

I'd have to agree with you very solemn point: In a sit-down meal, I wouldn't expect to find sandwiches per se. But they are eating soup-n-sam's, so it may just be butter between the slices of homemade bread.

Incidentally; I just baked my first homemade bread last night and it was heaven! I think I did it right, although it was far more dense than anticipated. The density actually turning out to be a 'feature' rather than a glitch: 1 bowl of curry and 1 thick slice even filled up the bottomless pit of my 17 year old! WIN!

Nastarana said...

Dear William Fairchild, I am sure you know what happens when anyone tries to get a local government to extend public transportation. The entire fraternity of used and new car dealers, insurance salesmen, gas station franchisees, and so on, organize to defeat the idea because "It will put us out of business."

About American Catholicism: the church, congregations and hierarchy, are only now coming to understand how much damage was caused by their extremely ill-advised alliance with the Republican Party. A verse about serving two masters comes to mind. I surely do not need to convince anyone on this site that the Republican Party does not now and never did have the slightest intention of repealing Roe vs. Wade.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

woops, typo----moi, pas souvent (sandwiches: I remarked, in approbation of Seb Ze Frog, that Anglos eat them; that HM the Q, for example, quite possibly eats them, say at Balmoral, from time to time; and that I for my part do not too often eat them)


Tom

Shane W said...

@Bill, FiftyNiner,
whenever secession comes up, people inevitably think of different regions going to war with each other. I guess that stems from our experiences with secession (the American Revolution, the Civil War) However, this time around, I don't see it leading to different regions fighting each other. I truly believe that the regions (New England, Atlantic, Confederacy, Texas, Deseret, etc.) could and would probably amicably work out any differences that arose. Regarding secession, it is not so much that each region hates the others so much and wants to go to war with them, as it is a universal loss of faith and even hatred of the Federal Government in DC. One need only look at polls to tell how little faith people have in DC & the Federal Government. Indeed, that is a unifying, not divisive, sentiment. Mostly people who favor secession, be they Vermonter or Texan, do so because they think the Federal Government has gotten too corrupt, unwieldy, incompetent, etc. I'm not sure that going to war with another region over differences factors in to that. Secession appeals to people who think the country has gotten too big and too far removed from the population, and who thinks that a smaller, more localized nation makes more sense. I think JMG's peaceful dissolution via a 2nd Con Con would be the best outcome, though I realize that as long as the empire is still functioning, dissolution/secession doesn't stand a snowball's chance in Hades, that it will take a crises to spur secession/dissolution into action. If, indeed, we do get Fascism, then secession/dissolution goes from being one option to being a moral imperative.
I'm not sure how much the artificial red, rural/blue, urban divide still matters anymore. I've heard organic farmers in one breath condemn the Tea Party/Right wing, while in the next breath, express extreme suspicion of pro-Agribusiness USDA regulation. Bill, while it is true that there are trendy progressives in every city, and Don't Tread on Me gun nuts in every remote area, that doesn't get to the truth of the matter, which is, some cities are way more conservative than others, and some are way more liberal. Same goes for states. Nashville, as a whole, is a conservative city. It's trendy, progressive neighborhoods are much smaller and make up a much smaller proportion of the population than, say, San Francisco or Portland. California, the state I moved from, is ruled and dominated by it's huge urban centers. It's rural areas are basically disenfranchised. On the other hand, Kentucky, where I moved to, is ruled and dominated by it's overwhelmingly rural population. Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky are as neglected by Frankfort as rural California is neglected by Sacramento. So there are differences between states, which is why voting patterns have gotten so reliable as the parties have become polarized. (None of this explains the vast, neglected middle that both parties ignore.)

Shane W said...

JMG, I'd like to know your thoughts on the Confederacy. Have you given any more thought to what it looks like? It's pretty much an article of faith among "progressives" in the South that the only thing between us and the social mores of 1865 is the Federal government, particularly the Federal judicial system. Not helping matters is the fact that the League of the South is a bona fide member of the Society of Intolerant Anachronism, as you once put it. My biggest fear is that fair minded people in the South will cling to the Titanic of the Federal Government, while some abhorrent group like League of the South comes in to the void. I really do not agree with the progressive fear mongering on this--I do not think there is any widespread appetite among the majority in the South to revisit lynching, segregation, and civil rights and while I do think that a theoretical Confederate Supreme Court would currently disenfranchise gay couples by eliminating same sex marriage, I don't think that would be a given 10 or even 5 years from now. (Same-sex marriage will probably be legal hemisphere-wide, save a section of Central America, in the next few years.) I think people make the mistake of thinking that the South is reactionary, when in truth it is small-c, Burkean conservative--it gives great weight to the existing order of things, views social changes very skeptically, and adapts social changes very slowly. But it DOES CHANGE, like any society does. There's also the inherent stubbornness of the Southern mind, particularly when some Yankee demands we do something. Southerners reflexively dig in their heels and refuse to do anything once sanctimonious Yankees, coming from a position of moral superiority, demand that we do it .

Jeanne Labonte said...

Seb ze frog may have a point about the sandwiches. Sandwiches initially were popular largely among the aristocracy because they were the ones who had bread made from refined flour. Once the industrial revolution took hold, refined flour became increasingly used among the middle class, so the custom of making sandwiches as a lunch food also took hold as it was quick, easy and worked well with white bread.

Having made whole grain bread from time to time and trying it out as sandwich bread, I personally find it distinctly heavy and chewy. It just doesn't make a good sandwich bread the way refined flour does (though it does make great toast). Soups and stews would be more easy to prepare and feed to large gatherings of people with bread as a side dish. Or if you live in northern New England like I do, you're more apt to see the traditional baked bean supper.

Perhaps the Lakelanders have their own local favorite dishes?

onething said...

But Seb! What about really GOOD sandwiches? Rare roast beef on a fresh, crusty French bread...and with a slab of mild cheese?

William Fairchild,

I have thought about the problem of "lock-in" quite a lot. Indirectly, we discuss it here all the time, but perhaps always tangentially. It is an interesting issue.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@FiftyNiner--Living as I do in a suburban enclave, I don't claim to have my finger on the pulse of public sentiment in California, but for the moment, I don't think secessionist sentiment is very strong here except in poor rural areas that are equally disaffected with our liberal state government.

That may change if the Republicans get control of the White House and keep control of the Senate, because they have at best the capacity to deeply annoy us and at worst to get a lot of us killed.

California is separated from the national seat of government and the major populations and industrial centers in the rest of the country by two mountain ranges and about a thousand miles of sparsely populated desert and farmland. For the first hundred years after it entered the Union, my state was a distant minor province. That changed during WWII. San Francisco was the shipping out port for men and munitions for the Pacific theater. The Bay Area built a lot of Liberty Ships.

Immediately after the war, California became economically and culturally integrated to points east by the Interstate Highway System, air travel, television, and the military industrial complex. In the fifties and sixties, a lot of federal dollars were spent on nuclear and aerospace R&D and production in California, both private companies and research facilities facilities tied to the University of California. Air Force and Army bases were built all over the state.

Until pretty recently the state has received vast economic benefits from the defense industry, federal water projects, and subsidized modes of transportation which enable agricultural products and other goods to be shipped to domestic markets far away. That's changed somewhat. Most of the military bases have been closed down. Defense dollars have been directed to other states. We have a lot more poor people here now. However, most of the poor are too busy trying to feed themselves and stay out of jail to be politically active.

On the whole, the federal system worked pretty well for California. It has allowed the state considerable autonomy (because it is populous, relatively rich and very far from Washington, D.C.) while taking care of the common defense. As long as foreign nations do not physically threaten this state and the national government does not interfere too much with our environmental regulations and economic and social arrangements, I think Californians will be content to continue paying tribute. The economic troubles that the state faces from climate change and peak oil are being coped with in ways that the federal government is neither helping much nor interfering with much. A great deal of California's trade now is across the Pacific. The Feds on the whole have supported that.

That's for now. After the really big earthquake that's due to hit LA or San Francisco in the next twenty-five years, a lot of our infrastructure will be a wreck and things may change.

John Michael Greer said...

Robert, I also read about Russian electronic-warfare capacities, and wonder just how thoroughly they can make hash out of the hyper-gizmocentric US military. We may just find out one of these days.

Daniel, I'm far from sure you're right about the S-400. US military technology isn't invulnerable by any means, and its sheer technological complexity leaves it wide open to the kind of monkeywrenching that would put missiles through a lot of US planes.

Cherokee, I've already talked with Founders House about publishing Retrotopia. As for the heat, ouch! Here it's just below freezing, and we had our first flurries of snow two days ago.

Phil, I ain't arguing.

Bill, I'm not suggesting secession as a result of a civil war between regions. The pattern I have in mind is a civil war of insurgent forces against the US government, followed by an attempt to establish a new national government which fails due to insufficient consensus among regions over a handful of critical issues; that leaves the states, as in Twilight's Last Gleaming, to form new aggregations among themselves.

Blueback, yes, that's about what I'm hearing as well. Unless the House of Saud can get a lid on things very quickly, given the other pressures bearing down on it -- such as potential bankruptcy if the price of oil doesn't rise -- a collapse of the Saudi government in the tolerably near future can't be ruled out.

Phil, I need to do a post on refugia sometime soon, as the endgame gets closer.

Nuku, thanks for the links!

Seb, as you're not American -- and no doubt thank your lucky stars for that fact on a daily basis! -- I can readily understand your lack of enthusiasm for sandwiches. In the US, though, they're the generic lunch food; go to any locally owned diner anywhere in middle America during lunch hour, and the great majority of the entrees will be some kind of filling between two objects made of bread. (Not all sandwiches are made with sliced bread; buns and rolls also have their devotees.) If the Lakeland Republic had been formed from states in one of the hip coastal areas, no doubt things would be different, but we're talking the quintessence of middle America here; the best sandwiches I've had on my travels, like the best corned beef hash breakfasts, have all been in states that will be part of the Lakeland Republic in 2065.

Patricia, thanks for this! I wasn't aware of canola oil candles -- that would be a natural for the New Shakers, too.

Emmanuel, thank you. I appreciate your taking the time to check, and your willingness to admit a mistake -- not a common thing these days!

William, that's why a close stool that keeps the chamberpot out of harm's way is such a good idea! As for the SUV issue, I understand. Fifty years from now, though, nobody's going to care about that; most people will think about the folks who just keep on driving their SUVs today the way that people today think about those Germans who did nothing to oppose Nazism.

Bill Pulliam said...

Shane -- I was specifically talking about *war*, not just political conflicts. There is a long way between disagrement and armed attack. Considering that in many ways a conservative in Tennessee in 2015 is to the left of a Liberal in Tennessee in 1958, Ijust don't see these clashes as being deeply entrenched enough to actually get the masses literally murdering each other. Especially since the "left" and "right" ideologies that prevail now have both been manufactured by those in power to keep themselves in power, and are not really organic grass-roots products nor reflections of deeply-held values that have persisted for generations.

John Michael Greer said...

Hubertus, given the near-total failure of the US public education system to provide any kind of basic education to Americans, I'm surprised that the figures were that low.

Cherokee, oh, I know. That book, not to mention its sequels, fielded the most remarkable diversity of reactions!

Philip, thanks for this. We'll be getting to the drone shoot shortly. My theory here is that for the reasons you've outlined, military drones that fly at today's altitudes will be a thing of the past in 2065; there will be surveillance and communications drones that fly at very high altitudes, upwards of 50,000 feet, and attack drones that come in at treetop level in an attempt to evade radar. It's the latter that the drone shoots take as their target.

Sylvia, why, yes, -- but so far we've sampled only a very small number of food options in the Lakeland Republic. There will be others. How would you like your Asian carp cooked, madam?

Marian, the Lakeland Republic has a thriving pottery industry, of course, so plates aren't a problem!

Caryn, delighted to hear it. Anything that can make a 17-year-old feel comfortably full for more than a few moments is definitely an achievement!

Shane, one of the perpetual ironies of history is the way that people claim to be reaching back to the past when they make their most spectacular leaps into the future. I have no doubt that the Confederate States of America in 2065 considers itself to be the same nation founded in 1861, even though it has next to nothing in common with that earlier nation except most of the same real estate. Today's South is an extremely complex society, regionally diverse as well as multicultural, and -- Jim Kunstler's fulminations to the contrary -- there are ways in which it's better prepared for the unraveling of the industrial age than most other parts of the US. That said, no, I haven't really worked out the details yet, as they haven't come into the story.

Jeanne, of course there are local variations in the Lakeland Republic! Again, Carr's visited all of two places to eat so far; stay tuned for more.

Bill Pulliam said...

JMG -- I dunno, I think the populist insurgency might stop as soon as the food stamps and disability checks get threatened... As I said to Shane, these "extremist" ideologies are not organic outgrowths of lived experience, they are manufactured by the political class. Once it actually threatens them, expect them to start manufacturing something else. They may already be in the process of trying to turn the anger away from the US government onto other scapegoats. We are back to "All Terrorism All The Time," which tends to support central government, not weaken it.

Sylvia Rissell said...

So many ways to cook fish... Research!
(Note to self: learn to catch, gut, and cook asian carp. Also, rewrite lyrics to traditional folk tunes to describe how we are all tired of eating carp.)

FiftyNiner said...

@Unknown(Deborah Bender)
Thank you for the insights on California. Of late I have been thinking of how sparsely populated some parts of this country are as opposed to to others. Los Angeles County has over twice the population of the State of Alabama! There are over three thousand counties in the US and half the population lives in 146 of those. Alabama has only one of those counties(Jefferson/Birmingham) and Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas, contiguous states of the lower Mississippi valley don't even have one of those counties. There are still a lot of wide open spaces in the country. It really is extraordinary that there is not more of an urban vs rural divide in the US.

Industrialization brought with it the migration to the cities. If de-industrialization were to bring a measured rational reversal of that migration it would be a good thing for humanity.

Seb Ze Frog said...

Sandwiches... the last bite ?

I am amazed at how many answers this comment of mine fielded. One more point in favor of me sticking to trivialities, for serious business is indeed taken seriously.

Thanks to the lectures about sandwich origins, that cleared a misconception of mine, for I leaned towards thinking that they were traditional aboriginal food from the Sandwich islands.

And to those who asked... Yes, I do like the occasional sandwich. In my many travels and stays in the US I have been confronted with the human inventiveness applied to slices permutation in food, and have more than once found them enjoyable. And while I think that my point about left overs is valid, I agree with our esteemed host: Sandwiches are very much part of some section of America's culture, and as such I can very well see them survive, even in a Tier One Shaker's dinner.

But John Michael, as thanking my stars for not being American... If you don't mind, I'll pass on this one.

First, I think that on this side of the pond we are working hard on proving the homogeneity of the Universe, at least as far as political and economical stupidity is concerned. Second, and more importantly, on a personal basis my preference leans towards learning to thank my stars for what I am. And for the beautiful and always surprising ways in which other are what they are. Even if it means learning to enjoy the multiple permutations of sandwich gastronomy ;-)

My best wishes to all for this Solstice
Seb

PS: when in Berkeley, there was this little restaurant with a French cook... they made snails sandwiches. The Universe is indeed full of wonders that go beyond the powers of human imagination...














Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...

oh dang - Planck's constant, not Plank's constant: Planck, not Plank, ai ai ai ai ai ai ....


In that good history book, 1066 and All That, Errata page: for 'pheasant', read 'peasant', throughout.


Tom the Careless

Patricia Mathews said...

Once again, I want Carr's comments on what he's been eating in the Lakeland Republic! I'm sure he must have some. I have never traveled to other regions, even the south of my own state, without noticing such things. Frex, that any Westerner who simply orders "tea" is in for a shock once she gets out of Fort Worth and east into Dallas. A tall glass of tea-flavored sugar water?!?!?

Out here, a very common snack food is the hand-held burrito, especially for breakfast. Scrambled eggs, hash browns, chopped green chile, and cheese, wrapped up in a flour tortilla, Beans, cheese, & green chile for lunch; various kinds of meat.
That's Norteno cooking; elsewhere in Mexico you might get a dish of beans with a corn tortilla. The Army of Atzlan will probably live on beans & tortillas plus whatever else comes to hand.

The Roman army staple was hot wheat porridge. Probably whole wheat, for all I keep envisioning the rough, tough legions marching and fighting on Cream of Wheat.

Not sure what the armies at Agincourt ate, but the standard English peasant meal was porridge or pottage made of oats or peas or beans, accompanied by bread and ale, and again, anything you can throw into the pot. A novelized version of Harry Smith's letters from the Spanish Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars* mentions having lighter-weight cooking kettles issued to the troops, for their delight. Standard meals: anything-you-can-find paella, or roast anything-you-could-catch, rations often being delayed.

But apparently during harvest season the reapers might have had some sort of hand meal and ale for their midday lunch. Time was of the essence, you see.

End infodump - things domestic being of more interest to me than the details of battles and the military what-ifs which so preoccupy my fellow listies on the history and alt-hist lists.


Amusing side note - apparently the Scots-Irish back country frontier folks of the 18th century ate a dish they called sour curds, which disgusted and freaked out contemporary observers - AND apparently the 20th C author of ALBION'S SEED. I last reread that while eating a dish of that contemporary staple, yogurt, and nearly choked on his opinion with laughter.

*THE SPANISH BRIDE, Georgette Heyer.

Shane W said...

Again, Bill, I think you're missing the point. See JMG's response, which I agree with. I'm not sure why when we mention "regions going to war with DC/the Feds" it gets translated as "the Great Lakes states going to war with the South". What we're witnessing right now is collapse of faith in the civil religion of Americanism. Now, I hate to beat a dead horse, but, again, this goes back to generational change. Polls show the youngest Americans to be the least patriotic, because they have no living recollection of the powerful, well governed US of the 50s-60s, when Americanism was at its height. Their earliest memories are of Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the George W Bush II. When the 2nd Civil War comes, it's not going to be region vs. region, it's going to be region vs. DC/the Feds. It will be a unifying thing. The Feds will be facing multi pronged attacks from various regions at once.
Needless to say, none of this will take place as long as one "side" can continue "driving to Walmart" (as Jim Kunstler puts it), while the other "side" can continue "driving to Costco/Trader Joe's/Whole Foods". Really, cheap gas and cheap big box consumption is the only thing holding us together right now. Once the empire can no longer ensure that, all bets are off regarding unity, because there's nothing else left of the Americanism that once held us together.

Shane W said...

@Bill,
& what makes you think that a crisis of a magnitude that stops the food stamps & disability checks isn't in the offing? Or, even if said checks & EBT cards still go out, they're not worth the paper/plastic they're printed on? Or that supply breakdowns mean that even with said checks & EBT cards, there aren't any goods in stores to purchase with said checks & EBT cards? It happened in the Soviet Union when their empire crumbled, it can happen here too. That's when the insurgency gains strength.
Regarding the media's attempt to deflect the attention to terrorism, haven't you noticed how little effect it is having? People aren't falling for that gambit the way they used to. Candidates labeled "strong on terrorism" are not seeing a boost in their polling numbers from the media's attempt to deflect attention to terrorism. It's not working anymore.
JMG,
one of the South's biggest weaknesses is it suburban sprawl--it's explosive growth in the last 50 years puts it on par with the West for having the most spread out, car centered, suburbanized infrastructure. Overcoming that obstacle is going to be very difficult for Southern cities. One of the best things going for the South is its poverty--a lot of its population is already collapsed economically--lot less farther to fall.

Robert Mathiesen said...

In old New England, and probably elsewhere in the US, women brought out a cooked meal at midday to the men working in the field, who took a break from reaping to eat it. Switchel seems to have been available at all times out in the field, but that was simply a drink and could easily be swigged down. If there are several reapers, they have to coordinate their pace and distance so as not to cut one another down with their scythes, so no doubt switchel breaks were coordinated also. A lone reaper could, of course, take a short break whenever he liked. He might have a pottery jug or ring canteen full of it on his person. (I have made switchel, and it is a strange taste by modern standards, but very refreshing if one is at work out in the sun.)

Shane W said...

Honestly, considering that the under 30 crowd would be the source of boots on the ground for any shooting war, I don't know where the Federal government will get the troops for a 2nd Civil War, all things considered. Mercenaries are notoriously fickle, especially if they don't believe in the cause they're fighting for. Even Lincoln had trouble getting soldiers to fight, as there were draft riots in New York, and that was in an nascent empire on it's way up, not a collapsing one managing crises. I think desertion and refusal to fight will be big issues.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@Patricia Mathews--The legions ate Roman Meal cereal, not Cream of Wheat. Unfortunately the company is no longer making the porridge, only a bread that is nothing special. I wish someone would buy the company and start making the cereal again.

donalfagan said...

There's no Paleolithic Tier in Lakeland, but this article on anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan is interesting:

http://www.believermag.com/issues/201511/?read=article_sherman

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi JMG,

Excellent, I will definitely purchase a copy when it is published. I enjoy your fiction writing. :-)! Enjoy your snow flurries too (I would swap some snow flurries for a bit of the heat down here if I could ;-)! ).

Yeah, I'll bet there were some classic dummy spits too. In some respects they're kind of fun to read. Oooo! That one's really annoyed... Hehe – evil genius chuckle!

Oh, I'm not sure but you may have noticed the ginormous fall in the Apple stocks over the past few days. It occurred to me that such falls concentrate wealth in the hands of the banks, because a lot of people (just like in 1929) use debt to purchase stocks. The value of the stocks disappears, but the value of the debt does not. What is also interesting is that such falls in stock prices (and the numbers are huge), also assist in disappearing (like wealthy Chinese business dudes are simply disappeared by their Government on suspicion (!) of corruption - sorry, I digress) all of that excess printed money - thus alleviating inflationary pressures. I did say that the number one goal of economic policy was to alleviate inflationary pressures - even if it means leaving a complete and total train wreck in its wake. And wow, that fall must have left a pile of damage to peoples financial futures. I have always said that I do not expect to be able to retire in the current sense of the meaning of that word.

Now speaking of the meanings of words. I pulled out the trusty Concise Oxford Dictionary fourth edition 1950 to look up the word "insurgent". It gets thrown around in the comments a bit here and I was unsure what exactly was meant by that word, so here is what the hardback dictionary says on the matter:

insurgent, a&n. 1. Rising in active revolt; (of sea etc) rushing in. 2 n. Rebel. Hence ~ ENCY n.

The thing is - from an outsiders perspective - there appears to be mass shootings in the US every couple of days from the news reports that we receive. People here in the comments section write about their fears in relation to such things. From an outsiders perspective such reports and fears are extraordinary and very alien relative to the culture here. I have also travelled to some pretty interesting parts of the third world and such things sometimes (like they do here) do occur, but it is still rare. I'm trying to get an understanding as to how such events aren't an actual insurgency which - and there could be a strong argument for this – is a product of domestic and foreign policy? Dunno, but something about it is bugging me.

Cheers and happy solstice!

Chris

Ed-M said...

Hi JMG!

I don't have much to say this week, except...

Happy Winter Solstice! :^)

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

One more thought about California. About a month ago, I suggested that if the Democratic candidate for President beats the Republican candidate in the November election, the chief competitors in the 2020 election will be the nominee of the Democratic Party and the nominee of a fascist party. I still think that's the political temperature of the USA as a whole. California looks to me like Germany circa 1910.

zentao said...

Obama on Climate Change: Act Now or Condemn World to a Nightmare

With that said he climbs into his private jumbo jet and flies off to Hawaii...

"Let the peasants eat their carbon tax credits and enjoy the healthy lower thermostat settings."

Pleasant solstice to all here and please let this era of hypocrisy end soon...

Shane W said...

@Chris,
the shootings & rioting are basically disorganized and random. The thing to look for is when they stop being disorganized & random, and start becoming targeted and organized. That will be the key...

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Greetings JMG,

(late to the party but I want to wish everyone:
A good Alban Arthan, lovely Solstice, merry Christmas, (late) happy Hanukkah, and any other solstice-timed holidays you might celebrate!)

As a member of a smallish sect (unprogrammed Quakers), I find it interesting to contemplate the rise of multiple offshoots and branches to the plain-living groups familiar to us in the present day. Extrapolating for Quakers, you might, I think, find us in urban areas, some (but not all) living in intentional communities, running small schools with a curriculum unfashionable in present day America but that might make sense in the Lakeland Republic, perhaps working in medicine or among incarcerated populations, and working quietly behind the scenes to bring about peaceful resolutions to political conflicts within and without the LR. We will be choosy about our technology, serious about our cooking and gardening, and will continue to avoid doctrine of either the Protestant or Catholic variety. Our clothes will be similar to what the surrounding society is wearing, only plainer and sans excessive stylishness.

You will find us even in the corrupt city state of Chicago, where we are known for our trustworthiness, especially in trade and negotiations, always valuable when certain dealings are necessary between fractious groups. :)

Re Peter Carr's sense of unease, I think it's nothing to what he'll experience when he leaves the LR, gets back home and has to readjust to conditions.

Caryn said...

more points: Both peripheral or Off Topic, but On topic to some of the other comments.

Just saw both the repub. debate and then later, the Dem. debate and was struck by an across the board ubiquitous phrase spouted by all candidates: "This is what I'd do…to MAKE Americans safe!" 'MAKE Americans safe?' This strikes me as inherently false, fantasy and infantilizing. Nothing and no one can actually take all risk out of life and MAKE us safe, especially in this troubled time of change and upheaval. I do get that a Govt. can and should have a prepared and effective military to fend off any would-be invaders, etc. But, for example, in these debates, this mantra was invoked consistently in regards to the San Bernardino shooters - a man who was born and raised in the US, who had from the evidence they have released so for, been well on the path of radicalization before his trip to acquire a like-minded wife in Pakistan, whose encrypted texts and phone records may or may not have provided any clue to his future acts. Like many 'lone-wolf' mass shooters, (yes, sick that there are so many), there is scant evidence that we coulda-shoulda-woulda been able to act to prevent it.

Personally, I've given up on the constant the any Govt. can 'MAKE us safe', after living in London in the year just prior to Tony Blair's election. There were IRA bomb threats and 'suspicious packages' shutting down the Tubes at least twice weekly in those days. Sometimes they went off, usually they didn't. Us, Yank expats freaked right out, but it was instructive that the Brits just grumbled and took a bus, and got on with their day. They'd been living with these bombs for a decade or more. It's the price paid for living in a (fairly) 'free' country with an enemy, (I won't get into the 'chickens coming home to roost' or the moral rightness or wrongness of their and our predicaments - too long.) But it occurred to me that this was indeed a better perspective - You can't expect a certain level of freedoms for yourself, without a certain level of risk.

So, peripherally to Shane W.'s and other commenters discussion of possible armed revolt and insurgency; what to make of this ridiculous mantra of "MAKE us safe!!' Are voters really falling for this? Are they really pining for a big-daddy Gubmint to take the risks and dangers away? While still providing a 'free' playground for them to live, shop and drive in?
As Shane has said, the under 30's generation are far more disillusioned. Are they disillusioned in this fantasy also?

JMG or anyone else care to shed some light on this mantra I keep hearing?

latheChuck said...

Chris- The gun violence issue in the US is confused by many competing interests. Here are a couple of ways to slice the data.

Of the total number of people killed by guns, two-thirds are suicides, and a little more than half of all (successful) suicides are by gun.

If you're white and die of a gunshot, 77% of the time, it's a suicide. But if you're black and die of a gunshot, 82% are homicides.

When people report "mass shootings", they aren't necessarily talking about "mass killings". Of 367 "mass shootings" in Jan-early December, almost half (160) resulted in no deaths. Over 100 resulted in one fatality.

Andy said...

Simple and low-tech can be inexpensive...or...Did the Ruinmen and Green Wizards start in 1972?

http://www.theadaptors.org/episodes/2015/12/3/imagine-earthships

"If people don't see disasters on their horizon you can't convince them of that - they're going to have to see it on their own. And I'm just making life-rafts right and left."

Happy Solstice all.

Andy

Shane W said...

@Caryn,
I was really worried that post-Columbine kids, who went to schools that resembled prisons more than schools, who grew up in the post 9/11 security state, would have no idea of freedom, and basically be milquetoast conformers. I'm very happy to report that I've met a lot of the under 30 crowd who are highly suspicious of the security state, privacy intervention, and trampling civil liberties. It's very refreshing. A significant number of them ain't buying it.

Caryn said...

2nd thing I wanted to say was simply Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa.

Enjoy the Holiday Season everyone!

Denys said...

@Shane I'm not convinced on the randomness of the public shootings that have occurred. The media certainly portrays them that way. The cause (medication stopped? political cause? religious fight? something else?) never seems be be uncovered because the police shoot the person dead or the person takes their own life. The friends and family are always shocked and say they had no idea. What else are they supposed to say - "I knew he was plotting something." - and be charged with co-conspiracy?

The other killing rampage finally tracked is killings by the police. Here are two sites tracking it http://killedbypolice.net and mappingpoliceviolence.org The first site tracks the police just shot a person dead; the second site includes those who die by taser, chokehold, or suddenly in their cell. Not a day goes by that the police don't shoot someone in public. 98% are never charged with a crime.

Denys said...

In terms of the future US civil war, I agree with those who say it won't be drawn around state lines. Given the distribution of military grade weaponry around the country into groups of like minded "patriotic" citizens, I could see those groups striking targets they see as falling to the other side, whatever the heck the other side is. They could take over pockets of areas that are useful to growing food or along viable transportation. They would leave the cities alone. It could be so distributed the US government or police couldn't get it back under control for some time.

The uprising of the patriotic - That is sorta like what is happening in the PA state legislature where we are 6 months past the budget deadline. The newly elected democrat governor's budget has been held hostage by Tea party representatives who refuse to pass anything. They can not reach a compromise. Non-profits serving the poor and public schools are saying they will not reopen in January 2016 because they can't take out more loans to cover operating costs. Teachers and government works still want to be able to retire after 25 years of service (50 - really????) and received full pensions and benefits. Public workers are upset the taxpayers can't afford to keep paying out to people who are retired more years than they worked (work 25 years, and be alive another 25 -35 years retired with full pay). Some municipalities have withheld payment into the state coffers until the budget is passed. Hot mess doesn't begin to describe it. Wouldn't be shocked with Pennsyltucky tipped over into violence and residents would be dumb-founded. They are so stuck in their glowing screens they can't see the ugliness growing.

Lynnet said...

ShaneW-- I just don't think you'll see the various regions combining forces to fight DC, when things start to come apart. There will be only a vacuum there (a giant sucking sound?), and you can't fight a vacuum. I think we'll have a crabs-in-a-bucket fight, where each region uses its own ideological quirks to justify grabbing resources from neighboring regions.

Donald Hargraves said...

zentao: It's a contradiction, not a hypocrisy. Remember, we're talking about the President of the United States, and while it would be nice for him to fly coach the logistics would be daunting. Remember, we're also talking secret service agents and the need for security, plus the sheer gawking factor from everyone ALLOWED on the plane. Plus consider the security issues of having President Obama walk through two busy airports during the busiest flying season of the year, and you might agree that it makes MORE sense to have The President Of These United States fly a private jet to a smaller, more easily controlled airport (of which there are still plenty).

But your comment does sort of link back to Mr. Carr's unease, I believe. After all, the guy has had a trip from a crowded train to a semi-isolated hamlet riding in a Jeep-like vehicle via a route that kept them hidden from the people (while everyone else rode cart-like vehicles, horses, or mules) and had "an orphan" give a not-necessarily-convincing testimony as to how he made it to the New Shaker community – complete with an Incomplete recitation of the one line from the Shaker song everyone knows (remember, the "orphan" sang "'Tis a gift to be simple" without the companion line "'Tis a gift to be free"). If I were Carr, I'd wonder what the real deal was. Was he being shown the truth, or just what they wanted him to see – In short, what was being hidden from him.

Shane W said...

@Denys,
as far as random, most of them seem to be loners, if not just a few people, they don't seem to be organized into groups with a goal in mind, and they don't continue after the incident--they're shot, or, in rare cases, apprehended, and that's that. What I'm looking for is an organized, guerrilla, insurgency group that claims many of adherents, that is organized around a specific goal, say occupying a city hall or a statehouse & kidnapping or killing the politicians, etc. We really haven't seen that kind of organized violence in the US since the late 60s with the Black Panthers, the SLA, and the Weathermen. Once we see that happening again, or being seriously attempted, we'll know we've crossed a line.
I think that the elites prefer the random shooting because in a society as sick as ours, there's a demand for violence, and they'd rather it be of the non-threatening (to their power), random, unorganized kind rather than the organized guerrilla insurgency kind.
I'm still not sure I see regions fighting regions. People in the South don't necessarily hate people in the Great Lakes states enough to want to go to war with them, and while they may have some choice words about New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Left Coast, there's nothing that not sharing the same country wouldn't solve. I disagree with JMG's placement of KY--KY is the South & belongs in the Confederacy, and is solidly Southern outside the major cities & N KY. In a hypothetical Civil War, my money's on the armed, redneck Confederate supporters. I think they'd have an easy time securing the cities and going door-to-door demanding people swear an oath to the Confederacy, and escorting anyone @ gunpoint who didn't across the Ohio River.

Shane W said...

I think the mood around the 2nd Civil War will be similar to the mood around the American Revolution, a unified spirit of fighting a despised tyrant (though I don't know where the Loyalists will be exiled to this time around) I think the infighting among factions will occur AFTER the 2nd Civil War, once the euphoria of winning dies down and the reality of governing a post imperial smaller nation with a lot less clout and no wealth pump to funnel resources sets in.

Raymond Duckling said...

First of all, Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Now, please let me share this little piece. It's about drone hacking instead of shooting, but it is in line with every piece of theory that has been discussed here about the economic dimension of war.

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/12/DHS-Drug-Traffickers-Spoofing-Border-Drones/124613/

Some relevant quotes:

'“The manufactures know it’s an issue. They’re not going to advertise it as an issue. It becomes cost-prohibitive. They’re not going to, all of a sudden, put it in their aircraft because it does drive the price up,” Michael Buscher, CEO of Vanguard Defense Industries. "... they ask us what kind of military-grade encryption that we use. We tell them what the cost is and where we are purchasing it from and then it becomes cost-prohibitive for them,” he said.'

'For small [UAVs], it’s a bigger deal. They can’t do the secure GPS. There are a lot of anti-jamming systems right now that can detect it but they’re big and heavy. So you’ve got something that weighs 25 pounds, you add five pounds, and it affects its payload or it affects its duration.'

"DHS had taken delivery of 11 MQ-9 Reaper drones, unarmed but otherwise similar to the ones used by the military in Iraq and Afghanistan. DHS anticipated that the cost per flight hour would be $2,468, far lower than the actual $12,225. The agency was using accounting tricks to move the costs of pilots, equipment, and overhead off the books. Even the actual flights hours — 5,102 — were a fraction of the promised 23,296."

Denys said...

Thought about the reason behind the mass shootings some more and wondering how much "deserve" is the cause. People in the US believe they deserve to be happy. (There are many things people feel they deserve but just going with vague "happy" right now.) They have the right to it no matter what or who else may interfere. I've watched people uproot their whole lives and others lives to be more happy. So perhaps each shooter is taking out people who stand between himself and the happiness he believes he deserves.

This concept of deserve I hear a lot - people who don't deserve to live in this country, collect certain benefits, have the job they have, drive a certain car, etc. People believe they deserve better than what they have.

Roger said...

JMG I read some of the commentary on national devolution-dissolution.

I watch the regional factionalism in the U.S. and the Washington gridlock-deadlock and I can imagine exasperation resulting in individual states colouring outside the lines, for example, in foreign affairs or immigration (to pick a hot button issue).

Another possibility is what we call on this side of the border "asymmetric federalism", where mal-contents insist on a devolution of Federal powers, for example, to the Texas Republic. But not to ALL states, just to one or to some. That's where the "asymmetry" (and, you might say, unworkability) comes in.

In this scenario Texas Congressmen and Senators still show up in Washington but without full voting rights. That way you maintain a fig-leaf of common citizenship.

This kind of fudge(or "elite accommodation" as we call it up here) happens when the status quo stops working but formal partition looks too challenging and where nobody wants armed conflict. Whether such a modus vivendi lasts is another thing.

Secession can have many gradations, that is, an edging out the door. Like what we have up here with one of our own provinces.

Shane W said...

@Lynnet,
I'm not sure--I guess it all just depends on how many crises hit the US at once, and just how quickly the US implodes--if it happens fairly rapidly, like with Eastern Europe & the Soviet Union, your scenario seems plausible. I guess I just had in mind a Federal Govt. still powerful enough to fight some semblance of a Civil War before it implodes. Nothing's a given, other than the unsustainability of the status quo. Beyond that, it's a wild card. A lot of it also depends on how small-c conservative each region is. If the region agrees to maintain English common law, a constitution similar to the original constitution, and maintains most of the traditional government organizations (legislature, courts, city council, mayor), and just tinkers with the more egregious offenses of the Federal government, it might maintain peace. If it goes total revolutionary and replaces everything with something bizarre and untried, then no telling what may happen.

Cherokee Organics said...

Hi Shane and lathechuck,

Of course, it is obvious and I hadn't considered the aspect that both of you raised.

If you re-read the original definition of the word, you will see no reference to either co-ordination, intentions, groups, objectives etc. These are all ideas that have been loaded onto what is an abhorent word - no one seriously wants an insurgency in their backyard - to allow us to continue along with our lives pretending that that word is not an actual description of what people have to potentially deal with on a day to day basis.

The core of the problem is and still remains domestic and foreign policy.

I don't particularly mind if you ignore my observations above, and fair enough if you do - I get that. I'm just trying to alert you to an instance of some interesting black magic being foisted upon you, perhaps unaware.

Cheers

Chris

goingnowhereslowly said...

I grew up in Defiance, Ohio and graduated from Defiance Senior High School in 1980. My family left shortly thereafter, and, in keeping with my very unoriginal teenage ambitions, I quickly lit out for the bright lights and big cities of the East Coast and didn't look back. A few years ago I did go back for my 30th reunion, and found that the town was doing better than I had feared, but not nearly as well as it had been when I was in school. Hicksville was the location of the county fairgrounds, where I played with the high school band every August.
Your mention of Defiance in a military context had me thinking about the exceptionally defensible Fort Defiance, on the bluffs above the confluence of the Maumee and Auglaze Rivers, across the Maumee from Chief Pontiac's birthplace (or so it is said). General Anthony Wayne, who fought in the American Revolution, was called out of retirement by President Washington to reinvigorate the US troops fighting the Northwest Indian War. He built several forts along the western frontier, including Fort Defiance in August 1794. The fort grounds are now a park and the site of an old Carnegie library where I spent many, many hours as a kid. The county courthouse is three blocks from the house we lived in. It is a classic 19th century Italianate courthouse, now sadly marred by a boxy extra story dumped on top.
Given that Defiance has long since ceased to be a frontier town, its natural defenses are not likely to be needed even by the Lakeland Republic. Still, to the extent that the rivers might become important corridors of commerce, one wouldn't want an insurgency to get hold of that bluff.
Defiance was also a canal town, and I wonder if the canal might see some use in a less fuel intensive era.

latheChuck said...

Hargraves- It would be a stunning act of political courage for our President to sacrifice his Hawaiian vacation entirely, rather that take his big jet and security entourage over the sea.

Alex said...

Having g grown up in the Sandwich Islands, I must weigh in on sandwiches. The feasibility of, that is. In Romance countries, say, Catalonia, a typical food form is "glop on a plate, with sauce". Said glop is generally wonderful, like a piece of nice fish ringed by mussels and garnisned with a large prawn, with a lovely sauce. Bread is supplied to sop up the sauce, so no waste. This works with soup, stew, chowder, perloo, and probably kedgereee, if the last is a bit runny.

I live in the so called silicon valley and the internet pipe is pinching down fast.

Kevin Warner said...

Hi guys
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas with good hopes for the New Year. Off-topic but still relevant to this website, here is a story called "Into the Comet" by Arthur C. Clarke which shows how when technology fails, you can often fall back on older methods to help you dig your way out of the hole that you got yourself into. The story can be found at http://mreadz.com/new/index.php?id=70156 and still reads well after over half a century of time has passed.
Cheers

Andy said...

Caryn: "JMG or anyone else care to shed some light on this mantra I keep hearing?"

Unfortunately, those of us in the US, even those of us without a TV, are subject to plenty of disinformation. Enjoy this refreshing island:

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/04/11/have-seen-enemies-and-they-weak/Cho9J5Bf9jxIkHKIZvnVTJ/story.html

As for presidents/world leaders and air travel: I suspect that in hindsight that we'll discover that the benefits of such travel far, far outweigh the carbon emitted during the flights - especially when we consider the benefits of recent travel tied to emissions agreements and COP21.

As for simplicity, collapse now, and alternate stories, I don't understand why ecovillages and Permaculture don't get much love here, especially when groups like Dancing Rabbit are showing how to live happily on about 10% of the energy an average American uses.

http://www.dancingrabbit.org/about-dancing-rabbit-ecovillage/vision/sustainability-guidelines/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS8YeDKKBcU

Brother Greer - don't stop writing - thanks for sharing your vision and for this community.
Fraternally, Andy

Shane W said...

@Chris,
the pathos of this society is just something you learn to live with. I've been poor for quite a while. I lived in downtown Long Beach and took the Blue Line and buses through Compton & South Central all the time. I've gotten "care" @ UCLA Harbor Hospital more than once (shudder). I never really consider avoiding dangerous neighborhoods. You just walk quickly and avoid eye contact. The pathos of it all is palpable--the ignorance, the violence, the desperation. It is sad. I know that there were murders, drug deals, gangs, and all kinds of things going on nearby, but, for whatever reason, I remained blissfully ignorant and never encountered it directly. I was up close and personal with a lot of the social ills that America is known for. Not that it is much better in most of the workplaces I've been in, where people nominally have a somewhat better quality of life (for the time being) I'm actually surprised we don't have MORE mass & police shootings than we do. It's really hard to convey how foul the national mood is and just how much rage sits just below the surface in modern-day America. It's really the one thing that we all have in common, red, blue, rural, urban, rich, poor. Recently, I've seen an urban neighborhood be gentrified, and I'm not at all sure it is an improvement--the trendy urbanites scare me more and have more rage than the poor folk they're displacing. The only sane people here seem to be recent immigrants who haven't yet mastered the English language.
Contact with nature rejuvenates me. When I'm in nature, I'm reminded just how blissfully ignorant wild plants and animals are of human affairs, and how little they care about our trivialities. I can watch a stream flowing and know that it was flowing long before I was there, and will flow long after I'm gone. The murder of crows doesn't care a whit about the petty nastiness of the office politics in the building inside. Nature is supremely indifferent, and I find that to be comforting. The seasons will continue to turn regardless of what happens in our society.

Shane W said...

Chris,
I could just fill up the comments section with anecdotes that I've actually encountered about the sadness, the indignities, and the outrages of modern day American life. Stories of coworkers, relatives, and people I know and have met. I'm not sure being outside the US you can get an appreciation of how collectively miserable we are. Contact with nature & domesticated animals makes it bearable.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@Shane W--I remember when the Black Panthers were active. IIRC, the Black Panthers did not kidnap civilians. They did not assassinate politicians. They did not occupy government buildings. They did not bomb anyone. Several of them were killed in what appear to have been police assassinations.

I also was around during the SLA nonsense, and was about two degrees of separation from one of its minor members. The only way I can make sense of that episode is that it was a government plot to discredit what remained of the New Left, and I'm not alone in that conclusion.

Nancy Sutton said...

Re: ". reflections of deeply-held values that have persisted for generations." I have a new understanding of the depth and subtle but very real persistence of these after reading "American Nations" but C. Woodard.

Re: " I think desertion and refusal to fight will be big issues," and anarchism in general -- I'm enjoying reading "Two Cheers for Anarchism" by James C Scott. Wherein (to paraphrase) he starts with noting how the Confederacy lost one quarter million eligible men to desertion or evasion of service ("a rich man's war, and a poor man's fight'); Napoleon's wars were ultimately crippled by similar waves of disobedience; and the potential effect on 'reckless' officers of real, or even just rumored, 'fragging' in Vietnam. He notes the anonymous, surreptitious, complicitous lawbreaking, quiet, unassuming insubordination, as in peasants' poaching and squatting, are unobtrusive and 'invisible'... the 'weapons of the weak.'

Multiplied thousand fold, such petty acts of refusal make a shambles of the plans of the powerful. He also notes how the planned and 'successful' revolutions typically result in governments more onerous than the ones they replace (French, Russian, Chinese, etc.).

And to quote: "One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called "Irish democracy," the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs." So, who cares what the 'jet setting phony environmentalists' do... there have always been hypocrites... it is 'us' who count.... well, perhaps :)

Nancy Sutton said...

Also, wasn't it only about 25% of the American colonists who wanted (economic, mainly) independence from Britain?

Andrew H said...

@Raymond Duckling
I laughed when I followed a link within the page to which you linked, which talked about the difficulty of controlling drones. The piece ended with the comment
"In the end, the best defense against small drones may lie somewhere between relying on manufacturer software updates — ineffective — and shooting them down — dangerous and uncouth. SRC’s Wilson said, “Our system is designed to operate without interfering with non-threat systems.”"

at
http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2015/08/chuck-schumer-no-fly-zone-drones/119389/

Cheers
Andrew

Denys said...

Excited about the print version of ADR. Would you consider a podcast version as well? Your voice is easy on the ears and your delivery is persuasive.

Shane W said...

@Denys,
hearing about Penn., I wonder if we might not get a state-level fascism on the level of a fascist governor to break through the gridlock before it happens on a national level. Successful governor's often run for the Presidency...

FLwolverine said...

Many of this week's comments have been about religion. It occurs to me that perhaps Carr is uneasy because his actual religion (as opposed to his professed atheism) is missing from Tier One. His actual faith being the Religion of Progress. Despite all the people he talked to in Toledo, Carr might have assumed that all the talk of limits just concealed a desire for and belief in Progress, but that assumption is harder to maintain in a Tier One Township, and especially in this religious community, where people have willingly accepted certain limitations and are not straining against them.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

Shane W., you wrote, "@Denys, hearing about Penn., I wonder if we might not get a state-level fascism on the level of a fascist governor to break through the gridlock before it happens on a national level. Successful governor's often run for the Presidency..."

Already underway in Michigan. The legislature and governorship are held by the same party. The legislature passed a law that if a city can't pay its bills, the governor has the power to appoint a city manager who reports only to him, for the purpose of putting the city back on a sound financial footing. This individual has the authority to make all decisions that were formerly made by the mayor, city council, and local government agencies, by fiat. He can sell city property to the highest bidder, lay off employees, sign contracts, etc. with no check from local voters. The governor may replace the manager at will. The local people have no say. A number of Michigan towns and cities have had managers imposed on them for years at a time.

A couple of years ago, Flint, Michigan was put into this kind of receivership. One of the manager's acts was to end the contract the city had to obtain its water supply from Detroit. He thought it would be cheaper to draw the water from the local river. The Flint river water wasn't properly treated and it corroded the pipes. Now the children who drank city water have lead poisoning and the water delivery system is going to need replacement because of the exposure of the lead joints in the pipes. Despite warnings from the EPA, environmentalists and a Flint pediatrician that lead levels in the water and in the blood of local children had tripled since the switch in water supplies, the governor and state environmental protection agency said the water was safe.

Need I say that the governor and most of the state legislators are white Republicans, while the populations of the towns and cities whose elected leaders have been deprived of power to govern are poor, black and vote Democratic.

Robert Mathiesen said...

I, too, remember the rise and fall of the Black Panthers, and also the Symbionese Liberation Army. My take on these things is about the same as the one Deborah Bender (Unknown) expressed above. The early Black Panthers were carrying out their program of empowering the Black population of Oakland and the nearby cities in an extremely effective and responsible way, and if they had been able to continue their work for a half-century or so, there would probably have arisen a Black "state-within-a-state" in the SF Bay Area, able to hold its own against any attempt by local or state government to resatore the status quo. They were a very, very impressive movement in the beginning. And yes, "police assassinations" is the right term for the killing of their best leaders. Their later history is far more dismal, and I have often wondered whether the last leaders of the movement were simply nuts, or had been surreptitiously poisoned in ways that left them alive and seemingly functional, but too paranoid to hold the movement together. Either is possible and gives a reasonable explanation for what happened.

As for the SLA, yes, it makes the most sense as a sort of "false flag" operation carried out by dupes who were set up by covert operators so as to further discredit the left side of the political spectrum.

If so, it's nearly even money whether the covert operators would have been set up by the Federal government under President Nixon, or instead by the men behind the scenes under the State Governor of the time (Ronald Regam). Regan had -- IMHO, of course -- become by that time basically a meat-puppet whose strings were pulled by his closest adviors. One or two of these advisors made Richard Nixon look like a model of rational benevolence and charity by comparison. I slightly incline towards blaming Regan's circle of advisors rather than Nixon's.

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