“In the face of the impending crisis, people often ask what they can do to protect themselves. ‘Buy gold? Stockpile canned goods? Build a fortified compound in a remote area? What should I do?’ I would like to suggest a different kind of question: ‘What is the most beautiful thing I can do?’ You see, the gathering crisis presents a tremendous opportunity. Deflation, the destruction of money, is only a categorical evil if the creation of money is a categorical good. However, you can see from the examples I have given that the creation of money has in many ways impoverished us all. Conversely, the destruction of money has the potential to enrich us. It offers the opportunity to reclaim parts of the lost commonwealth from the realm of money and property.
“We see this happening every time there is an economic recession. People can no longer pay for various goods and services, and so have to rely on friends and neighbors instead. Where there is no money to facilitate transactions, gift economies reemerge and new kinds of money are created. Ordinarily, though, people and institutions try to hang on to the old ways as long as possible. The habitual first response to economic crisis is to make and keep more money—to accelerate the conversion of anything you can into money. On a systemic level, the debt surge is generating enormous pressure to extend the commodification of the commonwealth. We can see this happening with the calls to drill for oil in Alaska, commence deep-sea drilling, and so on. The time is here, though, for the reverse process to begin in earnest—to remove things from the realm of goods and services and return them to the realm of gifts, reciprocity, self-sufficiency, and community sharing. Note well: this is going to happen anyway in the wake of a currency collapse, as people lose their jobs or become too poor to buy things. People will help each other, and real communities will reemerge.
“Even if you care mostly about the security of your own future, community is probably the best investment you can make. When the financial system unravels, most investments become mere pieces of paper or electronic data files. They derive value only from the web of social agreements that contains and interprets them. Even physical gold doesn’t provide much security when things get really bad. In times of extreme crisis, governments typically confiscate private gold holdings—Hitler, Lenin, and Roosevelt all did so. If even the government falls apart, then people with guns will come and take your gold or any other store of wealth.
“I sometimes read the financial website Zero Hedge for its remarkable insight into the pretenses and machinations of the financial power elite. In that website’s dim view, no asset class except physical gold and other physical commodities is safe today. I agree with its logic as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. If the system breaks down to the point of hyperinflation, then the institution of property—as much a social convention as money is—will break down too. In times of social turmoil, I can’t imagine anything more dangerous than possessing a few hundred ounces of gold. Really the only security is to be found in community: the gratitude, connections, and support of the people around you. If you have wealth now, I recommend, as your investment advisor, that you use it to enrich the people around you in lasting ways.
“In the meantime, before the collapse of the current system, anything we do to protect some natural or social resource from conversion into money will both hasten the collapse and mitigate its severity. Any forest you save from development, any road you stop, any cooperative playgroup you establish; anyone you teach to heal themselves, or to build their own house, cook their own food, or make their own clothes; any wealth you create or add to the public domain; anything you render off-limits to the world-devouring Machine will help shorten the Machine’s life span. And when the money system collapses, if you already do not depend on money for some portion of life’s necessities and pleasures, then the collapse of money will pose much less of a harsh transition for you. The same applies on the social level. Any form of natural wealth, whether biodiversity, fertile soil, or clean water, and any community or social institution that is not a vehicle for the conversion of life into money, will sustain and enrich life after [the end of] money.” -Charles Eisenstein, from What Comes After Money?
“This moment in history marks the end of a long, sad tale of greed and murder by the white races. It is inevitable that for the final show we vomited a grotesque figure like Trump. Europeans and Americans have spent five centuries conquering, plundering, exploiting and polluting the earth in the name of human progress. They used their technological superiority to create the most efficient killing machines on the planet, directed against anyone and anything, especially indigenous cultures, that stood in their way. They stole and hoarded the planet’s wealth and resources. They believed that this orgy of blood and gold would never end, and they still believe it.”
“We must put our bodies and our lives between the industrial system and life on this planet. We must start to fight back. Those who come after, who inherit whatever’s left of the world once this culture has been stopped—whether through peak oil, economic collapse, ecological collapse, or the efforts of brave women and men resisting in alliance with the natural world—are going to judge us by the health of the landbase, by what we leave behind. They’re not going to care how you or I lived our lives. They’re not going to care how hard we tried. They’re not going to care whether we were nice people. They’re not going to care whether we were nonviolent or violent. They’re not going to care whether we grieved the murder of the planet. They’re not going to care whether we were enlightened or not. They’re not going to care what sort of excuses we had to not act (e.g., “I’m too stressed to think about it,” or “It’s too big and scary,” or “I’m too busy,” or “But those in power will kill us if we effectively act against them,” or “If we fight back, we run the risk of becoming like they are,” or “But I recycled,” or any of a thousand other excuses we’ve all heard too many times). They’re not going to care how simply we lived. They’re not going to care how pure we were in thought or action. They’re not going to care if we became the change we wished to see. They’re not going to care whether we voted Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, or not at all. They’re not going to care if we wrote really big books about it. They’re not going to care whether we had “compassion” for the CEOs and politicians running this deathly economy.
“They’re going to care whether they can breathe the air and drink the water. We can fantasize all we want about some great turning, but if the people (including the nonhuman people) can’t breathe, it doesn’t matter.”
Long, but this is the best thing you’ll see all week.
“I was thinking that heretical thought as I drove through my neighboring countryside, scanning empty cornfields for signs of life, and wondering at the hubris of mankind. When did we decide that we can stake our claim to all of the lands on the Earth, and use every square inch of it for our own purposes and needs?
“About 10,000 years ago, actually, when we invented the idea of agriculture.
“Sadly, in the practice of agriculture as it exists now, it is impossible to refrain from causing endless suffering to many living creatures. One could argue that the most suffering of all is caused by the practice of annual agriculture, which is the cultivation of vegetables, including grains, beans, and rice, that only take one year to grow from seed to food. We displace countless wild animals from their homes and landscapes when we cultivate annual crops. Not only that, we also kill thousands of creatures when we till the soil and pull our harvests from its depths.”
Just a little something to perk you up today.