Political and Economic Organization

Folk Tales, Foreign Policy, and the Value of Systems Thinking

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

In the tale of the boy who cried wolf, a boy who is tending sheep and serving as a lookout for wolves seeks to relieve his boredom and gain attention by crying wolf when in fact there is no wolf. This decision/policy succeeds for a while, then it no longer works. A systems thinking [...]

The Future of Industrial Society: “Progress”, A Microscopic Scientific Paradigm, and Blowback

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Nothing is more important to understanding the behavior of a large social entity than awareness of its collective worldview. Usually that worldview is so deeply embedded and taken for granted that its inhabitants rarely know that it exists and shapes their individual and collective behavior in many ways. A common parallel is fish who do [...]

The Interdependence of Phantom Financial Wealth, Phantom Carrying Capacity and Phantom Democratic Power

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Capitalism is a total social system in which most land and other capital assets can be privately owned. Over time this allows profit, wealth and power to concentrate in the hands of a minority. As a result, that minority makes or indirectly controls all the major decisions that shape US society and the [...]

Why Trying to Save Industrial Civilization with Alternatives to Fossil Fuels Only Makes Things Worse

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

A recent Cornell report on how to convert New York state energy consumption to alternative fuels perpetuates the nonsense that in a declining economy we can convert NY or anywhere else to “clean” wind and solar energy, maybe dimming the lights a bit, and thus continue the party (industrial civilization and the US way of [...]

Scenarios of Political Response to Energy Descent Crises

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

A number of students of the energy descent have concluded that the new era will include tipping points where key economic and political institutions suddenly go into crisis[1]. Charles Hugh Smith, for example, describes “snapback” points[2] when increasing divergence between “phantom wealth” and real wealth collapses. In The Case for a Disorderly Descent I described [...]

Cities and Suburbs in the Energy Descent: Thinking in Scenarios

Monday, October 8th, 2012

This article was originally reviewed, edited and published by Tompkins County Relocalization, a group in upstate New York that is researching various aspects of energy descent.
“A city could be defined, almost, as a human ecosystem that grossly exceeds the carrying capacity of its local environment.” – William Catton

The vulnerability of cities and suburbs in [...]

Reductionist Science and the Rise of Capitalism: Implications for a New Educational Program of Agricultural Science

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The thesis of this essay is that there is a way of doing science that is characteristic of scientific inquiry under capitalism because its methods provide the kind of “irresponsible knowledge” that a profit-at-whatever-cost social system like capitalism requires. As my title implies, I will argue that as capitalism evolved to become an ever more [...]

An Outline of Benefits from a Lower Energy Civilization

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The Premises
The universe ultimately runs on an energy economy, not a market economy as the dominant economic ideology claims. Ecological damage is tied to energy use of any kind in our peculiar type of economy where the operating rules of the system require maximization of profits at any cost. Unrestrained profit maximization in turn impels [...]

Implications for Agriculture of Peak Cheap Energy

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

By way of introduction to what I have to say, let me explain the evolution of my thinking. As a farmer for 30 years, I have been an active participant in the movement to develop alternatives to Industrial Agriculture. As you may know, much of the motivation for that movement was a growing awareness of [...]

Gleanings for an Understanding of the Endgame

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

This essay takes as its premise the energy descent future described in an earlier essay, Invisible Ships and Boiling Frogs: The End of Industrial Affluence. As the endgame of this future deepens and the mass media and government remain stubbornly opposed to enlightening the general public, the internet blogosphere has become an excellent alternative knowledge [...]

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