Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Doom and the Dark Side of Cosmic Fecundity

The Cosmic Dance of Shiva, supreme Hindu god of destruction and creation

Like many in the blogosphere, I have expended considerable mental energy in recent years studying and fretting over the various "doomer" scenarios that threaten humanity in the 21st century. There was a time when I found the apparent facts utterly depressing and was convinced that there was no light at the end of the tunnel for mankind – that the future offered nothing but total collapse and devolution. But some time during the past six months or so, and particularly with my recent turn to the “dark side”, I have come to view the doomer issues quite differently. Since making the Dark Energy my ally, I no longer dread the Apocalypse, but see in it a deep truth and a powerful avatar of progress. As strange as it may sound, I now welcome peak oil, climate change, ecological disruptions, natural and man-made disasters and all the strife and struggle that they imply.

How can I make such a callous statement? The answer should be obvious to any objective thinker: through strife and struggle life evolves and man achieves progress and greatness. Civilization was born out of the hardships that followed the last ice age; the Classical Age arose from the ashes of the Bronze Age Collapse; the European Renaissance followed the disastrous 14th century; the conquest of the New World made possible the wealthiest and most progressive empire yet seen; world-transforming technologies like computers, nuclear energy and jet airplanes emerged from the cauldron of the last World War; the moon shot grew out of the power struggle known as the Cold War. And now, after decades of relative stagnation, the wheel is set to turn again. So while I don’t dispute the reality of the doomer prognostications, I don’t dread this doom, but welcome it as the birth pangs of a new age.

This is a perspective that anyone conditioned by the "progressive" Judeo-Christian values of Western civilization will have a very hard time coming to grips with. It truly is a worldview that is "beyond good and evil" in the traditional sense, one which I suspect is, at least in elite circles, becoming the conventional wisdom. My sense is that the wealthy and powerful enjoy their status for good reason: they understand the dark nature of this world better than most, and use that knowledge to their advantage. I also suspect that these elites know better than most that doom is coming, and are making preparations to exploit it as we speak. The doom that we face, the potential culling of populations and collapse of civilizations, is to the illuminated just another manifestation of Howard Bloom’s “Lucifer Principle,” of the sort that has driven human progress from the beginning:
"The nature scientists uncover has crafted our viler impulses into us: in fact, these impulses are a part of the process she uses to create. Lucifer is the dark side of cosmic fecundity, the cutting blade of the sculptor's knife. Nature does not abhor evil; she embraces it. With it she moved the human world to greater heights of organization, intricacy, and power." –Howard Bloom, The Lucifer Principle

So I suspect the conspiracy theories have more than a grain of truth, and there really is a Luciferian elite drawing up plans for a New World Order and/or a Satanic Singularity at this very moment. And I expect they will succeed.

Another expression of this principle can be found in Hinduism, that most ancient and wise of all religious traditions. For the Hindus understand the cyclical nature of all things, and worship a deity who embodies the eternal cycles of destruction and creation: Shiva, whose cosmic dance of Tandava has apparently begun again.
The two most common forms of Shiva's dance are the Lasya (the gentle form of dance), associated with the creation of the world, and the Tandava (the violent and dangerous dance), associated with the destruction of weary worldviews – weary perspectives & lifestyles. In essence, the Lasya and the Tandava are just two aspects of Shiva's nature; for he destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again.

Whatever the nature of this approaching Eschaton, I choose to see it as the darkness before a new dawn. I choose to believe that apocalypse is the necessary evil that will tear down our weary worldviews, end the Judeo-Christian Aeon and make way for an Aeon of Nietzschean, cosmic civilization. So when you hear a garden-variety doomer wringing his hands about all the cataclysms about to befall a greedy, evil and selfish mankind, just smile and say to this simplistic soul, still stuck spiritually in the old Aeon: "Yes, of course mankind is greedy, evil and selfish, and of course the cataclysms are coming. And I wouldn’t have it any other way."

"Without strife, your victory has no meaning.
Without strife, you do not advance.
Without strife, there is only stagnation."
–Sith Master Uthar Wynn

"Only this have I learned so far, that man needs what is most evil in him for what is best in him – that whatever is most evil is his best power and the hardest stone for the highest creator; and that man must become better and more evil." –Friedrich Nietzsche

"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." –Harry Lime, The Third Man

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Vision of The End

Gaze with me into the mirrors of your Multiversal mind, and see one possible future coming into view...

This is not the world your mythmakers promised you — no Disneyland of techno-prosperity and consumer capitalism for all. No, this world is racked by holy wars and ethnic conflicts, Malthusian catastrophes, refugee invasions, eco-anarchy and Millennial insanity. Do you see it? There, in the frontview mirror? Do you see the chaos approaching in the twilight of this, the darkest of all ages?

The chaos is descending fastest across the lands of God-drunk Islam. Thirsty Yemen is falling to the soldiers of martyred bin Laden; modernity is in on the run in flood-ravaged Pakistan; hungry Egypt marches to the tune of the mystic Muslim Brotherhood. The bombs are dropping everywhere, from Tripoli to Waziristan; the drones martyr ten, but a hundred more take their place. The enemy takes all losses, yet no victory is in sight. And all across the Western world, no one knows why we fight.

The West, for all its weaponry, is a disarmed and defenseless civilization. Bereft of a deeply rooted culture, lacking spiritual strength, absent even the language to comprehend the epochal developments which engulf it, its decadent citizens retreat ever further into their Matrix of distractions.

But one day soon, all of that will shatter. One day soon, like the Roman citizenry of old, they will awake to find that barbarians have overrun their outposts, put their Legionnaires to the sword, broken through their gilded gates and are pillaging their temples.

There is no Iron Curtain this time, falling across Europe from the East. Today a wall of chaos surges up from the South like a fecund beast. The ramparts of Fortress Europa cannot hold it back; the rot of godless centuries has breached your citadels at last. You have no soldiers for the battlements because your cathedrals and hospitals are tombs. Your gods are all dead, and leave you to your doom. You are a spent race, with no fight left in your souls. Mohammedan holy warriors will roll across your lands, raping your women and plundering your treasures like the Saracens of old.

The Final War of this age has already begun, and before the drama is done, every weapon of mass destruction will fly, and millions upon millions must surely die. Cities and civilizations will conflagrate in atomic hellfire; whole races will be decimated by super-virus bio-sorcery; Final Solutions will be executed entirely by machine.

The Samson Option will be activated in Israel, as the walls come tumbling down. The holy places at Mecca and Jerusalem will vaporize, Arabia and Persia will turn to glass. The armies will gather at Armageddon, and all believers will know that Judgment Day has come at last.

Everything combustible will burn. All that has been created shall be destroyed. But in every end is a new beginning, and in every darkness the promise of a new dawn. So it ever was; so it shall ever be. Until The End.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Eternal Specter of Fascism

Since I’ve recently been accused of being a fascist (and not for the first time), I did a little self-reflection and concluded that, yes, I probably am that.  And so, I suspect, are you, if you are honest with yourself and possess any degree of self-awareness.  Allow me to explain...

Ever since adolescence I have been acutely aware that our glorious species is, for the most part, a vast troop of self-deluding monkeys who, despite our overgrown neocortexes, are still largely driven by hundred million year old lizard brain impulses.  Perhaps I had an advantage over others in perceiving this fact, in that for medical reasons I did not hit puberty until I was 21 and a junior in collegean age at which I was presumably a bit more self-aware than most adolescents.  During my accelerated transformation from boy to man, the change in consciousness which testosterone triggered in me made my true nature frighteningly clear, and by extension, I understood the frightening nature of all men.

Modern civilizations have created an elaborate apparatus to moderate, harness and control our primal energies, but it remains a rather thin layer atop a dark sea of prehuman imperatives.  Sigmund Freud called this sea the “Id”, which is in a constant battle with the ego and super-ego for cognitive control.  Aldous Huxley pointed out that every human being is both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, owing to our brain’s evolutionary trifurcation into the lower reptilian and limbic complexes and the higher neocortex.  Each of us is in a very real physiological sense a split personality, and our conscious, rational mind is just one of these personalities, scarcely aware of what the other ones are doing.

What does all this have to do with fascism?  Everything!  For what is politics, after all, but an expression of collective human psychology?  Using Huxley’s Jekyll and Hyde model, what we might call “rational liberalism” is essentially the political expression of our cerebral Dr. Jekyll minds.  This part of ourselves finds political expression in the ideals of the Enlightenment, in notions of democracy, equality, the rule of law and progress.  It is the politics of such modern cerebral rationalists as David Brin and Barack Obama.

On the other hand, our reptilian Mr. Hyde minds express themselves politically in war, racism, slavery, xenophobia and genocide – all the old evils that the progressives have been so hard at work trying to eradicate in recent centuries.  The poster child for modern reptilian politics is, of course, Adolph Hitler.  Notice an interesting correlation here: just as our reptilian brains are much older than our cerebral brains, so too are the political institutions of war and tribalism much older than our recent regime of democracy and the rule of law.  Progressive politics, like the cerebral cortex, is a thin layer that sits atop a deep ocean of violent and regressive political instincts.

That this political layer is very thin should be obvious from recent historical examples.  The outbreak of fascism and Nazism in the 1930’s in the heart of Europe – home of the most advanced civilizations in the world at the time – was nothing more than a resurfacing of our reptilian impulses en masse.  War, eugenics, racism and genocide became state policy in many places for a decade or more, giving us a brief glimpse of what Mr. Hyde politics looks like in a 20th century setting.  The results were devastating for everyone involved, but the reptilian fascists were eventually defeated.  The cerebral progressives breathed a huge sigh of relief, then set about creating institutions which would ensure that such an outbreak never again plagued mankind.

What I find both amusing and disturbing is to hear modern progressives trying to dismiss the phenomenon of 20th century fascism with smug moralization or shallow rationalization.  By doing so, they are trivializing what is a very deep and seductive tendency within us all.  Human beings did not get where we are today merely by cooperating with our fellow man for the common good; we are the heirs of a legacy of tribal genocide, conquest and rape that stretches back to the dawn of proto-humanity.  This is who we are, at the deepest psychological level.  When you strip away our liberal conditioning, each of us has an inner fascist looking for any opportunity to break free and start cracking heads with a femur club.  There is no changing this fact, short of re-engineering ourselves chemically or genetically.  In an evolutionary sense it may even be a losing battle, in that the fascist thugs will probably always out-breed the progressive nerds.

Liberals today are therefore engaged in a never ending campaign to contain our fascist impulses via the powerful indoctrination tools of mass media, education and popular culture.  So our world grows ever more artificial and engineered, a Brave New World of electronic soma administered from birth to neuter the beast called man.  But if this Matrix should ever fail as it did in the 1930's and as it is threatening to do today in the face of economic collapse, climate change, peak oil and other Malthusian afflictions – then the fascists who are currently languishing in the prisons of politically correct civilization will take advantage of the chaos to break their chains, and like Tamerlane and Genghis Khan of old, they will rampage across the earth, leaving razed cities, piles of skulls and impregnated women in their wake.
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.” –Robert E. Howard, Beyond the Black River

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Imagining the Eco-Matrix

My friends, this may be my final sermon here at TDR, my ultimate attempt to explain why anyone concerned with the fate of humanity and our planetary biosphere should be in favor of continuing our civilization’s technological push forward, rather than wishing for its collapse. Ready?

The key point is this: continued technological progress will enable us to transition to a post-industrial age — to reduce our global ecological footprint by localizing manufacturing, harnessing eco-friendly energy sources and moving more of our activity into “virtual reality”. To see this, let’s try to imagine a different world: the world of the “Eco-Matrix”...

Imagine a world where you work from home rather than driving a CO2-spewing vehicle through traffic to an office. Imagine spending most of your time in a dwelling powered by off-grid solar energy stored in super-efficient batteries. Imagine growing fresh, healthy food year round in indoor vertical gardens, using fiber optic lighting optimized for plant growth and plants genetically engineered for lower-power light spectra. Imagine making items you need with desktop manufacturing units ("3D printers"), using designs downloaded freely from the Matrix, rather than having them shipped from China. Imagine being able to experience any adventure imaginable via your fiber optic conduit to the Matrix, rather than going out into the world and consuming things. Imagine economic and political systems that function more like the peer-to-peer internet and less like a centralized industrial state. Imagine all knowledge, all culture and billions of potential friends at your fingertips. Ready or not, this is the world we are moving into!

People in the industrialized world are already spending much of their time in the mentally created worlds of social networks, the blogosphere, massively multiplayer role-playing games and infinite free digital entertainment on demand — the Matrix is becoming their reality.  Green energy technologies and 3D printing are being aggressively pursued worldwide (see examples here and here), and seem certain to catch on in a big way as they ride the exponential development curve. A good example of the new paradigm in action is google, which is both creating the architecture of the Matrix and developing the green technologies to power it. Another is the work of John Robb, who discusses ideas for resilient, network-centric communities at his brilliant blog, Global Guerrillas. Bright people like these, who presumably care as much about planetary life as anyone, are going to be the leaders of the future world of the Eco-Matrix.

The other key point, which I hope I have made abundantly clear on this blog, is this: the alternative to the Eco-Matrix which many doomers seem to favor — total industrial collapse — would be much, much worse for humanity and the biosphere by almost any conceivable measure. Try to imagine the horror industrial collapse would entail. Imagine the wilderness stripped bare of fauna and flora in a Malthusian struggle for survival. Imagine global famine, rampant disease, unspeakable crimes, bodies piled high in bonfires and cities burned to the ground. Imagine apocalyptic resource wars, barbaric tribal conflicts and a return to medieval religious ignorance. Imagine an end to all progress, science and civilization for a thousand years or more. This is what the sudden end of the industrial age would mean — it is a true apocalypse.

Terence McKenna said: "It is the imagination that argues for the Divine Spark within human beings. It is literally a descent of the World's Soul into all of us." Imagination is my greatest gift, and what the World’s Soul is telling me is that there is no alternative: we must keep pushing forward, to make what Terence called a "forward escape" to the world of the Eco-Matrix. If you don’t believe me, use your own “Divine Spark” to explore these questions and tell me what you see.

Even more than imagination, though, facing the future requires faith — faith that human beings are more than animals, faith that we have come this far for a reason, and faith that if we listen to our higher selves and imagine a better world, we can bring that world into existence.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Morning of the Magicians: Magical Thinking for a New Age

"I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." --J. B. S. Haldane

Rationalists of a certain literal, materialistic mindset look at the world’s current state and its future trajectory, crunch the numbers and conclude that, with a high probability, we’re all doomed. It’s an understandable conclusion, too, if you project current capabilities and priorities linearly into the future. But what is missing from their equations — from their entire worldview, in fact — is the element of what I’ll call, for lack of a better word, "magic".

Magic is the discovery of fire, the development of language, the evolution of consciousness, the invention of religion, civilization, science and technology. Magic is the unforeseen game changer, the quantum leap in human powers, the singularity in human affairs which renders all previous predictions absurd. Magic is the force that drives us onward and upward, individually and collectively, to a destiny which is, for all practical purposes, infinite in all directions. Call it genius, divine inspiration or the hand of God if you prefer, but magic is exactly what must save us now, in our moment of great crisis.

Doomers call this magical thinking; they speak mockingly of "pixie dust and unicorn farts" when anyone dares to suggest that humanity will invent a way out of its "peak everything" predicament without vast suffering and loss of power. But magical thoughts are what we should be thinking, for humans are, above all else, the magic-wielding animals. Aleister Crowley defined magic as "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will", and bending the world to our will is what we do, far better than any other creatures in the known universe. The doomer tries to place an arbitrary upper bound on human meddling — "recognize your limits", they say, "find your place in the natural order", "don’t be greedy" — but what they’re really saying is we should reign in our magic powers — the one indispensable survival tool without which we truly are doomed.

Crowley said it well almost eighty years ago, at a similar moment of global crisis:
"We are in the middle of a world crisis. It is a very good world crisis — better than any crisis we have had before — and there is no man alive with an intellect big enough to grasp the threads of the problems which confront the world today. There are two ways out of that. Either consult a superior intelligence, which Magick shows you the way of doing, or you can develop your own mind, for it has a faculty which is as superior to the intellect as the intellect is superior to the emotions.

All magical operations require a very elaborate training of one kind or another, but I think the only way out is that we have got to put men in charge of this planet who are really more than men. We must get back to the times of the prophets or we must make ourselves prophets. And we must look at world problems from a standpoint which is entirely alien to that existing at present."

A few months after Crowley’s speech a man many consider to be a black magician and prophet of evil took the reigns of power in Germany, so we should be careful what we wish for. But the election of Barack Obama had a similar air of magic to it, as an improbable candidate rose from obscurity to cast a spell on an entire nation with his mesmerizing, messianic persona. As we again enter a period of escalating crisis and uncertainty, it seems that history is repeating itself and the magicians are being called upon to take over where less gifted leaders have failed.

But it will take more than oratory enchanters to solve our problems this time; we need wizards in the tradition of physicist-alchemist Isaac Newton, mystic-inventor Nikola Tesla, visionary polymath Buckminster Fuller and occultist-rocket scientist Jack Parsons. We need geniuses of science and invention who can produce the "energy miracles" that arch-mage Bill Gates recently called for, devise new methods of agriculture, new modes of industry and new forms of community. It may even take a prophet, like the mythical Moses, Viracocha and Lao-Tzu of previous ages, to inspire us to make the changes in our worldviews necessary for life in a new age. You could be one of these wizards, as could your child, or the girl next door. For wherever there are humans, there is magic, and wherever there is magic, there is hope. So while some say it’s almost midnight for mankind, I say it’s really the morning of the magicians.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Road Warriors: Nomadic Neo-Barbarians of the New Dark Age

In my last post I gave some practical tips for aspiring Neo-Barbarians that were focused on fortifying your homestead against Imperial interlopers and marauding bandits. In this installment I’d like to present another option for would-be Neo-Barbs which may turn out to be an even more appropriate (and fun) adaptation to the 21st century milieu of climate chaos, resource scarcity and global guerrilla-dom: hitting the road.

I expect this century to mark the beginning of a new Migration Period like the one that reset the ancient world starting in the 4th century A.D. As discussed in my review of Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of Modern Civilization, this previous era of mass migrations and barbarian invasions was driven by climate changes and Imperial collapses that look all too familiar to anyone with their eyes open in our time. History demonstrates repeatedly that when civilizations fail and climate destabilizes, people flee the cities and hostile environments en masse in search of greener pastures. Remember too that for hundreds of thousands of years nomadic hunter-gathering was the only game in town; it's the one mode of human life with the proven ability to survive the climate chaos that was the norm on this planet up until the last ten thousand years.

What cultural forms will the new nomads take as the Industrial Age winds down and the global reboot accelerates? Here are a few possibilities that seem like reasonable extrapolations from current trends.

Road Warriors

Coming soon to a highway near you?

The film Road Warrior may have seemed like comic book science fiction when it was released in 1983, but go back and watch it again and tell me if it still looks so outlandish. I found its depiction of post-Apocalypse Australia pretty spooky — I don’t know about you, but I have no trouble imagining mobile, heavily armed bands of latter-day Mongols rolling across the crumbling ruins of the North American highway system, piled into fortified RV’s, riding in the backs of pickups sporting 50 caliber machine guns, on souped-up choppers or even on horseback. These will be the pure barbarian warbands of the new Dark Age, violent highwaymen who prey upon anyone brave enough to take to the roads. As in the Mad Max movies, gasoline will be the new gold, and the most successful of these gangs will be the most lethal, led perhaps by unemployed military veterans who find lucrative new uses for their combat skills on the home front. Road Warriors will fight pitched battles with rival gangs and the remains of organized authority for control of oil refineries, wells and petrol stations. Other vital supplies will be obtained by looting any lightly guarded truck convoys, stores or farms they happen to come across.

We can get a little preview of the Road Warrior lifestyle from some of the more violent North American biker gangs, like the Mexican mafia affiliated one that recently bombed a police station in southern California. Urban gangs can also be expected to get in on the action once there is nothing left to loot in the burned-out cities. In response to this possibility, groups like Project Exodus in rural Louisiana are already forming heavily armed posses, complete with machine gun-equipped "war wagons", to combat the homegrown terrorist chaos they apparently think is imminent. Of course in more anarchic parts of the world like Somalia, Road Warriors are already non-fiction.


For the less violent nomads among you, those more inclined to be Deadheads than Hell’s Angels, forming eco-caravans may be an attractive option. These mobile communities will settle in hospitable areas for a season or two, tending their herds and practicing guerrilla gardening wherever soil, water and climate conditions permit. They will be equipped with many green technologies scavenged from the industrial economy, such as solar panels and wind generators, which will provide well water and off-grid electronic conveniences in even the most remote locations. They’ll be well provisioned with heirloom seeds, bulk foods, livestock and ammunition, both for their own use and to barter with other nomads they encounter on their travels.

Yurts: the nomad McMansions? The Mongols once built history’s largest empire from portable huts like these!

These new wagon trains are already starting to form in places like the American southwest, where outlaw RV communities migrate to the sunny climes and live totally off-grid year round. As climate changes and socioeconomic shifts intensify, these eco-nomads will have little difficulty folding up their solar panels and rambling on to more hospitable regions. Unfortunately, they will also be popular targets for the Road Warriors, so when the time comes they’ll have to circle their wagons Old West-style and employ their sizable defensive arsenal to fend off the marauders. Road Warrior was quite realistic in this regard in my opinion — sieges like the one Lord Humungus and his barbarian band laid upon the settlers will be a common scene in the post-industrial wasteland coming soon to the real world near you.

Sea Peoples / Neo-Vikings / Pirates

During the Bronze Age Collapse circa 1200 B.C., the so-called "Sea Peoples" were the scourge of the eastern Mediterranean, attacking coastal cities with impunity and preying upon ships of the Egyptian, Greek and Syrian kingdoms. Some even blame these seafaring raiders for the collapse of Mycenaean civilization, but they may have been more a symptom of the widespread disorder than the cause. And of course the Vikings terrorized the coasts of the British Isles and Northern Europe for several centuries during the last Dark Age, plundering the softer settled folk in grand barbarian style.

Today we’re seeing a resurgence of piracy in places like the Horn of Africa and the Malacca Straits that continues unabated despite a significant naval presence by the industrial powers. Sea Barbarians haven’t yet re-emerged in a big way in traditional haunts like the Barbary Coast, the Caribbean and Northern Europe, but that’s probably just a matter of time. When you start to hear of major acts of piracy or coastal raiding in these regions, consider it a strong indication that the new Dark Age has begun in earnest. Most of North America isn’t particularly well suited to piracy, but up here in my neck of the woods in the Pacific Northwest there are some excellent opportunities for Sea Barbarians along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and throughout the Puget Sound, as well as some great potential hideouts along the Inside Passage of British Columbia. If things get bad enough I might even hoist the black flag and start trawling for booty myself — it sure beats the hell out of standing in soup lines or waiting for the zombies to arrive!

Sea Nomads

One can also imagine a less aggressive brand of Sea People who will travel in fleets of sailing ships for security. These fleets might travel long distances down coasts or across blue water in search of safe and hospitable lands to settle post-Collapse. I can easily envision "doomer fleets" full of Dmitry Orlov-types sailing to places like the Pacific coast of Central America, where a relatively idyllic life far from shipping lanes and population centers might still be possible. If the "mutant zombie bikers" find you, unload your AK-47’s and RPG’s and simply head out to sea. There would again be the problem that the Sea Nomads will be tempting targets for the Pirates; safety in numbers, remoteness and a good arsenal are your best defenses here.

Dmitry Orlov has written insightfully about his life aboard a sailboat, and his ideas for creating viable seagoing communities post-Collapse. A surprising number of people already live some version of the Sea Nomad lifestyle, but they are constrained by the relative lawfulness of the high seas and the strict enforcement of national borders that still prevails. When those things break down, as they undoubtedly will fairly soon, these folks will be able to get much more adventurous. The Vikings who settled in Greenland and the Polynesians who colonized the South Pacific islands certainly weren’t worried about customs officials when they headed out to sea, and neither will the Sea Nomads!

New Aboriginals

Some intrepid folks will want to really get back to basics as industrial civilization collapses, via nomadic hunter-gathering in the Outback. Like the Australian natives on their walkabouts, these New Aboriginals will bring back the sacred hunts, vision quests and seasonal migrations that prevailed for tens of thousands of years throughout the world, and which persist to this day among a few old school traditionalists. I can easily imagine primitive survivalist groups like Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School becoming the nexus for the New Aboriginals in North America. Brown has written of the skills passed down to him by one of the last true American aboriginals, an Apache he calls "Grandfather", who was able to travel across the continent at will, living off the land and making contact with far-flung tribal communities. This noble nomadic lifestyle, while much more difficult now that America has been systematically stripped of its former natural abundance, may still be possible in the many remote wilderness areas that still exist throughout the continent.

These are just a few ideas for Neo-Barbarians who want to go mobile in the new Dark Age. I haven’t mentioned the Hobo Hordes, New Oakies, Neo Gypsies or New Bedouin, but I’m sure you can fill in those blanks yourself. There is something so natural and appealing about the nomadic lifestyle for human beings that it shouldn’t take too much more collapsing before folks start walking away from their dead-end sedentary dystopias en masse to seek their fortunes on the road.

”My life fades. The vision dims. All that remains are memories. I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called "Max". To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time, when the world was powered by the black fuel, and the desert sprouted great cities of pipe and steel. Gone now, swept away. For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled. The cities exploded. A whirlwind of looting, a firestorm of fear. Men began to feed on men. On the roads it was a white line nightmare. Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice. And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and smashed. Men like Max. The warrior Max. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again...”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Are You a Neo-Barbarian?

Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.
Mongol General: That is good! That is good.

Lately I've become obsessed with visions of a coming Dark Age, and of the kinds of men who will thrive amidst the collapse of the old order. Clearly it won't be the power-possessors of today, the technocrats, financiers and lawyers who have created this Byzantine system of soul-destroying bureaucracy from the safety of their office cubicles. No, the new bosses will be men who lead in a much more visceral way, with sword rather than pen, from the front lines of battle in accordance with the ancient barbarian's creed.

This power shift is already underway in places like Pakistan, where the Western-backed regime is in full retreat before a resurgent sword of Islam. Soon, I expect the West to follow suit, returning to barbarism out of sheer self-preservation. Sarah Palin is a leading harbinger of this trend, with her recent announcement to an excited crowd that America needs a commander-in-chief, not a lawyer. I'm reminded of the lyrics of that old song: "the first one now, will later be last, for the times they are a-changin'" — somehow though, I don't think these are the kinds of changes Bobby D had in mind.

As we begin our descent from the absurd peak of societal complexity that has brought us fuzzy toilet seat covers from China and full body scans at airports, I'd like to begin sketching the outlines of a new cultural movement — one which should grow exponentially as we enter the Great Simplification. The barriers to entry into this tribe are quite low; the only real requirement is that you lose your civilized conditioning. Are you ready to join the Neo-Barbarian horde?

Practical Tips for the Prepared Neo-Barbarian:

The prepared barbarian is proactive in his dealings with the Empire

Remember the scene in the first "Conan" movie where Conan and the Wizard fortify their lair for the arrival of Thulsa Doom’s henchmen? This is the mode you want to go into now: pure barbarian cunning and survival tactics. Here are some practical steps neo-barbarians can take right now to prepare for the coming Dark Age:
  • buy a gun and ammo while it’s still legal
  • buy another gun and more ammo
  • buy a sword or large machete and keep it strapped to your body at all times in case bandits or Imperial thugs surprise you at close range
  • dig a moat around your property and stock it with piranhas and alligators
  • buy the biggest, meanest, scariest-looking dogs you can find. I'm partial to the mastiff breeds, especially Bull, French and Neopolitan.

    This Bullmastiff embodies the barbarian spirit — make these dogs of war your allies!

  • Buy the largest supply of non-perishable food you can afford — this, for example. Spend your fiat currency now while it’s still worth something, because, as the old Cree saying goes, "you can’t eat money!"
  • Install a wood stove in your home and buy an assortment of axes. If there are no trees in your neighborhood, chop up abandoned box stores and tanning salons and convert them to firewood.
  • If you can, find a cave somewhere in the wilderness and very quietly move in. Be sure to cover your tracks to make it difficult for feds and zombies to find you. If there are no caves in your area, dig one &mdash with enough hard work, you could even start a Troglodyte community that will last for centuries, like this one in northwestern Iran:

    A perfectly respectable cave home in Persia that has stood for 700 years — the neo-barbarian prefers a troglodyte village to a McMansion subdivision!

Neo-Barbarian Politics:

The new barbarian does not engage in nuanced political discourse; he operates by instinct, threatening and attacking anyone who disagrees with him. Anyone in a suit and tie making fancy promises from faraway capitals is almost certainly a corrupt Imperial servant, and should be given the Arminius treatment if his forces come calling:

The Roman legions were peerless in the field, so the Germans attacked them in the woods. The Germans skirmished, harassed, and ambushed over three days, slowly weakening the Romans. Bad tactics, adverse weather, poor leadership, unfavorable terrain, and simple treachery undid Roman advantages in technology, training, and discipline. The Roman units maintained their cohesion but, worn down, were finally overwhelmed by superior numbers. Those taken prisoner were buried alive, crucified, or offered as live sacrifices to the German gods. Three legions disappeared in the Teutoburg forest. Arminius, the German commander, had the heads of Romans nailed to the trees as a warning to Rome. Roman power never again extended beyond the Rhine.

The perceptive neo-Barbarian knows instinctively that the reign of the soul-dead bureaucrats is ending, that this rather dreadful "revenge of the nerds" chapter of human history is coming to a close, and the next chapter will be titled: "the thugs strike back". In other words, the neo-Barbarian recognizes the coming collapse as a once-in-a-millenium opportunity to convert his animal vitality into worldly wealth and power.

The eminent socialist theorist Rosa Luxemburg once warned that "the choice before humanity is socialism or barbarism", and I couldn't agree more. I certainly know which side I'm putting my money on...

"He did not care any more... life and death... the same. Only that the crowd would be there to greet him with howls of lust and fury. He began to realize his sense of worth... he mattered. In time, his victories could not easily be counted... he was taken to the east, a great prize, where the war masters would teach him the deepest secrets. Language and writing were also made available, the poetry of Khitai, the philosophy of Sung; and he also came to know the pleasures of women, when he was bred to the finest stock. But, always, there remained the discipline of steel."

Further Reading for the Informed Neo-Barbarian:

Rich neo-barbarians preparing for financial collapse:
"The truth is Insiders in the "Happy Conspiracy" elite will follow Biggs' ultra-simple investment strategy: Make massive amounts of money fast using short-term strategies, spout lip service about the "public good." But always act in your own self-interests first, preparing for when anarchy spreads worldwide in an economic pandemic."

Excellent discussion of the military challenge of fighting modern barbarians:

Strategic thinking re: the new Dark Age — there are some serious doomers advising the U.S. government!
From The New Middle Ages To A New Dark Age: The Decline Of The State And U.S. Strategy

If Socialism Fails: The Spectre of 21st Century Barbarism

A bold manifesto for the high-tech, 21st century neo-barbarian:
New Barbarian Manifesto

A highbrow history of modern barbarism:

Great article about the coming Neomedievalism:

Good fighting, happy trails and good luck in the new Dark Age!