from Eudaimonia Website
But it's hardly just countries in a political sense. The planet. A mass extinction of life itself. People's sense of optimism and faith in the future imploding into nationalism, extremism, fascism. Trust, meaning, belonging, purpose. Bang...!
Everything, more or less, as far as you look, seems to be collapsing in on itself, as wide as you care to see.
Why is that?
...it seems to follow a specific and characteristic pattern too.
Do you see the pattern yet...? The general pattern of collapse in this new century is implosion from the bottom up...
The bottom is chewed through, eviscerated, eaten away, depleted - until nothing is left - by the top. The middle therefore buckles and breaks. The top caves in, eventually, along with it.
Whether we look at societies, economies, the planet, or food chains - this pattern of collapse is what seems to characterize now.
Of course, I am only speculating, thinking out loud. You are welcome to disagree if you like. But I wonder if you don't see a tiny grain of truth in what I am observing, too.
Let's take a few examples.
Trumpism and Brexit are obvious cases of this pattern. But this is also what is happening to food chains. It is also what is happening to glaciers and rivers and oceans. It also what is happening in Europe now, too.
Everywhere we look today, we see bottom-up collapse :
I read recently that some hedge fund baron from Chicago is buying up astonishingly expensive properties at a record pace - $250 million in Manhattan, $150 million in London, and so on. (Ironically, it's a hedge against economic collapse).
This is an example of collapse itself - the growth of the super rich, who have grown ultra wealthy by exploiting the poor, nature, the planet, democracy, and society.
As all those things fade, the middle classes buckle and implode, and turn to extremism and fascism. Wham! The top falls in at last, too.
But the same is true of
what we are doing to the natural world, to life on the planet, and
to ourselves more generally - runaway predation, savage
exploitation, is depleting and ravaging all our systems, and causing
them to collapse from the bottom up.
Whether inequality, climate change, or mass extinction - all these are growing, not shrinking, which tells us bottom-up collapse is quickening.
Now, that raises certain questions. There are many kinds of collapse we could imagine. We might imagine collapse from the top down, from the middle out, or of all levels at once.
Yet wherever we look, we see one very specific kind of collapse.
If the pattern is easy to see, then I think the cause is, too.
Let's think about what bottom-up collapse really means.
But that is exactly what capitalism and neoliberalism say we should do:
The goal and purpose of all human organization is,
...are what came to dominate the world entire, more or less.
But because together,
Wham...! A catastrophic
wave of bottom up collapse, which has spread through
economies, societies, polities, nature, psychology, until, at last,
there doesn't seem to be anything left but collapse.
Together, neoliberalism and capitalism call for 'austerity' - the idea that societies should never invest in a single thing, that everything should be privatized, from hospitals to schools to parks.
Now, wherever austerity has been tried, the result has been a kind of stunning, ruinous collapse:
All these are examples of bottom-up collapse...
Austerity impoverished the average person, beginning with the poorest, who then revolted, by toppling leadership. But by then the psychological damage was done - instead of supporting more investment, more cooperation, the average person had been seduced into becoming a nationalist, an extremist, a fanatic.
These societies grew badly destabilized - and now they are paralyzed, teetering on the brink of epic historic ruin.
If you think I exaggerate, see,
But society still marches
happily towards it...
Collapse from the bottom up:
The inner mechanism of bottom up collapse is this:
But the result is not
prosperity and triumph. It is depletion. Ruin. Implosion...
When we deplete the
bottoms of things, we are also eroding the foundations of things -
and the problem is that we don't often see this profound form of
interdependence and interrelation yet.
When we deplete the bottoms of systems, which are also their foundations, whether in natural systems, or human, socially-constructed ones, like economies - we unleash second and third order effects, which we don't often anticipate. (Sure, people like you and me might point them out - but who's listening to us?)
Those effects are things like what happened in America and Britain - growing poverty didn't lead to people making sensible choices, it led to people being blinded by rage.
In just the same way, the collapse of insects and glaciers doesn't just exist in a vacuum - the second and third order effects mean,
And that brings me to you and me.
Do you know how everyone feels so on edge these days? So anxious, so worried, so weary? Why is that? It is because the nonlinearities and sudden implosions of bottom-up collapse are largely unpredictable. We can say these things will happen - fascism, sudden climate catastrophe, ecocide, Brexits - but we can't often say when.
So a sense of grim uncertainty comes to dominate our lives. It is as if we know everything is going wrong - and we don't have the power to stop it - yet we also don't have the assurance of a date for the sudden end of the insects, the glaciers, this job, that gig, this democracy, that government...
We only know it's coming...
That's a traumatic
psychology, my friends - it is one of hopelessness and
powerlessness, and there are few things more painful and bruising to
experience at a visceral, existential level, again and again, every
Not at all. To undo all
this, I think we must begin at the beginning. We must see the
pattern of bottom-up collapse that defines this new century - and
understand what it really means. It means something like this.
Perhaps even by you and I - we are only human, after all.
Yet if we understand all
that, then the solution - such as there is - also becomes a little
What? Everything that we can. Everything from basic incomes to to trees to insects to glaciers to hospitals to schools to retirement to mountains and forests.
Do you see how the theme
of nourishment and replenishment is what flows through
all our challenges, like a great laughing river, renewing a parched,
We will have to re-imagine the kind of organizations that we make:
We will have to alter the nature of "work" - so far, it basically means,
And then we will have to
change our social norms and values - and the attitudes they
reflect - so that we prize and celebrate and reward the act of
nourishment, not just more ruthless, violent predation.
What else do you think a
whole new century is for...?