The Twilight of an Age (138)

pm138_550In his book, The Long Descent, John Michael Greer observes that our culture has two primary stories: “Infinite Progress” or “Catastrophe”. On the contrary, he sees history as cyclic: civilizations rise and fall. Like others, ours is exhausting its resource base. Cheap energy is over. Decline is here, but the descent will be a long one. It’s too late to maintain the status quo by swapping energy sources. How to deal with this predicament? He lays out practical ideas, possibilities, and potentials, including reconnecting with natural and human capacities pushed aside by industrial life. Episode 138. []

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  1. Stuart M. says:

    Mr. Greer’s vision of a long decline is probably more realistic than the apocalyptic predictions that are so popular on a site like this. While I agree that sometimes people can only be moved to change by dire warnings of impending catastrophe, others are turned off by incessant “cries of wolf.” Demographically, most European countries and Japan have aging populations that in some cases already show negative growth rates. Historically, many declining empires ended with a “decadent” phase, one that was characterized by a flourishing of the arts, be it literature, music or other art forms.

    While I am shaking my head watching the Washington types try to “electric shock” the American consumerist economy back to life, I do have some hope that Obama will follow through on his campaign words to focus on weaning America from its dependence on oil and to rebuild America’s infrastructure. There is nothing wrong with decline if we can reduce our impact on the environment and refocus our economy back to producing things locally in our communities and regions.


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