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Run for the hills

February 21, 2006

I’ve just deleted one of the ‘Related Sites’ links. I won’t make it personal by saying which blog it was but I hadn’t been there for a while and when I visited recently I was hit by this great big advertisement for Bird Flu preparation. Please.

I feel like Bird Flu is the biggest (and most obvious) con I’ve ever seen – maybe I’m missing something. Anyway most everything you need to know about it can be read at Ran’s Crashwatch page. Like he says, I’ll believe it when I see it.

 Except…

An article I’ve read (which I can’t find online) points out that if they decide to make a specific vaccine against bird flu, the first thing scientists will have to do it make a human strain! They have to make a human strain of the flu because without it they can’t make a human-specific vaccine. One of the many, many problems with vaccines is that they actually spread the disease they are meant to prevent, especially if it’s a live vaccine, so this would amount to an act of extreme stupidity the likes of which, well, the likes of which we have seen often before unfortunately.

 As is usually the case there will be no need for a conspiracy to spread bird flu – just stupid humans, devoted to their hierarchy and going about their normal business.

 Run for the hills!!!!!!!!!!

 I was already going off this site anyway as is it was treating ecovillages mostly as a peak oil solution. Maybe for some people it will work out but I’m predicting that a village that has too many people in it who are primarily there to escape the crash is going to have terminal problems.

 Being in a village to escape civilisation is fine, that’s the main reason to go into one but being in it to escape the crash of civilisation is another thing entirely. With the first option it’s possible for the community to have a common vision but with survivalist villagers there will be a very diverse range of visions including those who don’t actually want to escape civilisation and will want to recreate it wherever they are.

 90% of Ecovillage have failed in the past and the main reason has been disagreement over vision. Often the disagreement lurks in the background and no one is even aware of them – they just find they’re having lot’s of disagreements. Just imagine a survivalist ecovillage. Scary. Actually they already exist – run for the city!!!

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One comment

  1. I think an inherent lesson needs to be learned when we see statistics like ones that show how 90% of ecovillages fail.

    First, we need to ask ourselves why we are in this “alternative” movement. Are we in it for ecological sustainability? Are we in it to survive the crash? Because people who are in it for those reasons are not going to be necessarily accepted in this movement.

    Also, are we lifeboats or survivalists? Lifeboats focus on saving lives. Survivalists focus on saving one self, or one’s family.

    Why? Because as I’ve seen, there’s a lot more to this movement than ecological sustainability. We loathe civilization. We want it to go down. Some of us are militant and want to actively destroy infrastructure (or say that we want to). If it’s civilized, it’s evil. This dichotomy (civilized=evil, primitive=good) has obviously driven quite a few people away. But again, this is a completely seperate philosophical issue. Many people use this dichotomy synonymously with “unsustainability.” But just because something is evil doesn’t necessarily make it unsustainable. There are many sustainable and unsustainable evil things. There are many sustainable and unsustainable good things. If hierarchy is evil, then we could say that certain Native American hierarchal societies, like the Tlingit of the Alaskan coast, were evil. They might have been evil, but they were quite ecologically sustainable.

    When you loathe civilization, it’s comforting to find ways you think are scientific to justify that it’s inherently unsustainable. But this works both ways. When you enjoy civilization, you’ll try to comfort yourself by trying to find ways that are scientific to justify its continued existence. Most civilized people don’t know we exist–and for the minority that finds out, they’ll find ways to debunk our arguments. But this is not the same issue as ecological sustainability. Many advocates of ecological sustainability are not anti-civ. They do not see that “civilized=evil, primitive=good” dichotomy. Many ecovillagers want to find a middle ground–the best of both worlds–civilized and primitive. Yet that is inherently incompatible with an ideology that states that civilization is inherently evil. Both are attracted to ecovillages, however.

    Personally, I do not believe that civilization is universally evil. If it were, then you’d be evil, because you still live in civilization regardless of how you loathe it. And also, were artists and musicians like Mozart evil? Was Beethoven evil? Was Rembrandt evil? Was Tchaicovsky evil? I think most dichotomies that believe in good and evil aren’t true. Let’s think subjectively of civilization’s elements, and then realize that those people who bring thsoe “civ” elements are not evil people. They have the same sustainabily goals but have a different philosophy. We need to learn to work with them. And we need to compromise–we can’t just rely on them to change while we don’t adjust to them.

    Surviving collapse is instinctual. We have an instinct to survive. I don’t think anyone who learns about collapse will not want to survive. This shows the hypocrisy of die-off advocates. If a die-off is inevitable, not everyone who wants to survive can. So why don’t they accept those ramifications and lay down their lives? Why do they think of themselves as the survivors? This seems to me to be very similar to the myth among civilized people that death happens to others but not themselves, not to mention civ’s numerous efforts to cheat death, just another version of it.

    Many people who want to survive collapse will go to ecovillages, and they aren’t anti-civ or for sustainability. There’s a lesson here–this collapse does not mean the end of unsustainability. To put it blunty, unsustainability does not mean impossible. Things will still arise that are unsustainable. They may not last, but they will still be around. Many unsustainable agrarian societies, for example, could very theoretically survive Peak Oil, but they might still be unsustainable. We just have to realize that our sustainable utopia is not necessarily going to be universal.

    Another argument I have seen is the idea that there is a “universal hidden loathing” toward civilization by all peoples. That everyone is actually miserable and that the desire to bring down civilization is a desire felt by all peoples. This is what I would call blindness by personal feelings. It seems people can be so consumed by their anger that they can only see that in the world. Just because you loathe civilization does not mean that others loathe it. Arguments that it lowers quality of life are subjective–quality of life means different things for different people. Likewise, just because it lowers your quality of life doesn’t mean it lowers everyone else’s. When I leave my house, I see people who are perfectly content with civilization. They would balk at the idea of bringing it down or it collapsing. I thus ask–who are we to impose our emotions and feelings on those people? Many people do not hate civilization, they do not live miserably, and their quality of life is not lowered.

    Anti-civ people forget–they’re the fringe. People are not anti-civ, and do not feel the misery that they feel. Thus, to believe one can impose emotions on other people like that is pure delusion.

    Also–totalitarianism works both ways. We argue that civilization is totalitarian because it forces people to do things against their will. However, most people are not against civilization and are not against their will. Yet many people argue that living their specific way of life is essential for freedom for totalitarianism. This is an inconsistency. Totaliatarianism works both ways. The anti-civ movement feels like they are living in a totaliatarian society. Yet their plans involve forcing people to give up civilization–many of them against their will. They fail to realize that that is totalitarian in itself.

    Arguments that it creates more work fail to realize that work is subjective as well. A hunter may work less hours than a businessman, but time is irrelevant. In reality, it is skills that determine whether or not you are working hard. If you enjoy being a businessman, time is irrelevant. If you hate being a hunter, then those “3 hours” you must spend will be misery. The saying goes, “Time flies when you are having fun.” The inverse is also true. Time creeps when you are not having fun.

    Sustainability is not synonymous with morality. Many sustainable societies had immoral practices. The reality is–arguing whether or not civilization is universally evil is related, but a different argument to its sustainability. Many people who believe that civilization is unsustainable, after all, are not anti-civ, and many people who believe that civilization is evil are not necessarily involved in the sustainability movement.

    Also, one of the things I’ve noticed among numerous people in this movement is the failure to understand their own mistakes. They all believe they are right. They show the flaws in everyone else, and many of those flaws are accurate, but they themselves are flawed. And they have created ways of arguing so that they will never have to change their mind. They even make inconsistent arguments and are unable to see their inconsistencies. One example is the “end of suburbia” argument. Many people in this movement see suburbia as doomed. But as others in this movement have pointed out, that argument is wrong. The car-dependence and sprawl of suburbia is an asset. It provides open space for gardening and water.

    It’s been said that “if you argue correctly, you’re always right.” This can describe many people in the “alternative” movement, including permaculturalists and ecovillages, etc.

    Not even science is a guard against mythical, delusional thinking. It is possible to use “scientific” fact to justify false conclusions. How? By only looking at a specific part of scientific fact. Another good quote: The writing is on the wall, but everyone’s only looking at their corner of it. The end of suburbia movement is guilty of looking at one corner of the evidence. Likewise, the people who say humanity is doomed to extinction are looking at the evidence of our ecological destruction but fail to look at the history of humanity’s adaptability. But the people who say that humanity will survive look at history but fail to realize that those times when humanity did adapt were in the context of a healthy ecosystem and abundant wildlife–where are those healthy unaltered ecosystems today? So what if you can survive in a desert as a stone age hunter-gatherer. Does it matter if that desert is devastated? No. The bushmen are not thriving in their ecosystem today–in fact they’re being kicked off the land.

    Besides, just because we see trees standing doesn’t mean the ecosystems are unaltered or healthy. I once drove through huge tracts of wilderness in California. Were they healthy forests? No, because all the trees I had seen were invasive weeds. That was no unaltered ecosystem, not to mention the many animals that might have been extinct, or that many of the animals I did see also were “weedy” because of predator extinctions.

    We need to think critically. To think beyond good and evil. And to learn how to work with people of different mindsets. Then we can see why ecovillages fail.

    Posted by: Jim | 02/21/2006

    Jim, are you saying I am being black and white about ecovillage failure – is that where all that was leading? I intend to say more on this in the future – more than the passing comment I made in this wee posting

    Posted by: Aaron | 02/21/2006

    “Also, one of the things I’ve noticed among numerous people in this movement is the failure to understand their own mistakes. They all believe they are right. They show the flaws in everyone else, and many of those flaws are accurate, but they themselves are flawed. And they have created ways of arguing so that they will never have to change their mind. They even make inconsistent arguments and are unable to see their inconsistencies.”

    Sorry, I just find this paragraph extremely ironic. I thought you had some good things to say, Jim, but I’m not sure what you’re getting at… and this kind of critique where you do not include yourself as being just as fallible is fairly amusing.

    That’s all I really wanted to point out.
    – Devin

    Posted by: Devin | 02/22/2006

    p.s. I did want to say that I am also an ecovillage advocate, and would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on ecovillages, Aaron. It’s a widely known fact that 90% of ecovillages fail, but it is a less widely known fact that 100% of civilizations fail. In my mind it seems 10% is a much greater percentage than 0%. Could you expand some more on this?

    – Devin

    Posted by: Devin | 02/22/2006

    Aaron —

    I was not saying that you were being black-and-white at all.

    Rather, I was pointing out that this “lack of vision” that occurs in ecovillages is because of the differing visions that occur. One of the clashes that occurs frequently among ecovillage movements is the anti-civ ecovillagers and the ecovillagers who are not anti-civ.

    For example, most ecovillage advocates believe that unlimited growth is unsustainable. Not all of them, however, believe that unlimited growth is inherent to civilization, as many anti-civ thinkers do.

    I was also trying to point out the problems that arise from people who try to take their own feelings of anger and loathing and claim that this is what the world feels. There’s nothing wrong with loathing modern society or civilization–but it seems quite crazy to think that somehow you can claim to have the ability to understand how the world feels. I have heard the argument that “people are miserable in civilization” and that “civilization has lowered the standard of living of humanity.” There’s a flaw in these arguments. First, the authors of these claims personally loathe civilization. But they are not “people” or “humanity” any more than civilization is humanity. If people were miserable in civilization, they would have had to interview every person on the earth, every 6.5 billion person on them. That is impossible. So stating that “people” are miserable and traumatized in civilization can only be conjecture. We can’t know what people are feeling, because we aren’t them and can’t know every person on the planet.

    I am interested in permaculture. But I do not believe that “civilization=evil, primitive=good” that many primitivists believe.I also am not totally anti-civ the way many other permaculturalists and ecovillagers are.

    We could argue, “Well, they have been traumatized because they are oppressed, subjugated, enslaved by hierarchy.” Again, is this not an imposing of our emotions on those people? Have we met those people and talked to them? We are the ones who feel oppressed. But many people do not, even people in some “Third World” countries. Look at the hierarchal regimes in the Middle East. Many Arabs like living in hierarchal societies, and want to have the freedom to live in a theocracy. As some commentators have pointed out, the totalitarianism of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was obviously accepted and liked by many Arabs in Iraq because there were little or no suicide bombings in Iraq, but now suicide bombing is rampant in that country.

    I was also pointing out that while many people loathe modern society because it is unsustainable, whether or not people are miserable in civilization is quite a different discussion than whether or not it is unsustainable. Why? Because many people who understand that modern society is unsustainable are not miserable in civilization. And contrary to what people say, many people are not miserable in civilization, and do not see it as traumatic.

    Ecovillage members need to realize that our loathing of modern society is not universal, and that if they want to succeed, they need to realize that many people who support their efforts for sustainability are not anti-civ. We have to work with people whose visions differ. We don’t have to agree with them, but we have to be willing to “be in the same room” with them. Many ecovillage enthuisasts will likely be driven away by your essays describing civilization as a traumatic experience, despite their agreements that civilization is unsustainable and that an ecovillage is a good idea. Why do I speculate this? Simply because I have talked to people who support the ecovillage idea but are not anti-civ primitivists, and think that primitivists are delusional.

    Devin —

    Probably my example of not including myself proves my point–the human instinct to think of oneself as better and flawless whereas others are fallible. Of course I am likely to be fallible.

    I’m sorry I did not include myself. That was a mistake. My point exactly is that people are fallible, no matter what, and the inability to admit to one’s fallibility is delusion.

    My other point is that this inability to admit to one’s fallibility causes problems in ecovillages when people with differing visions can only understand their vision and drive away everyone else.

    I am fallible. But it is unlikely I will be able to know where I’m fallible myself. Most of the time that’s the way it is–you say something thinking you’re right, and then other people critique you and point out you’re wrong, and you’re either wrong or right.

    Posted by: Jim | 02/22/2006

    Jim wrote: “I have heard the argument that “people are miserable in civilization” and that “civilization has lowered the standard of living of humanity.” There’s a flaw in these arguments. First, the authors of these claims personally loathe civilization. But they are not “people” or “humanity” any more than civilization is humanity. If people were miserable in civilization, they would have had to interview every person on the earth, every 6.5 billion person on them. That is impossible. So stating that “people” are miserable and traumatized in civilization can only be conjecture. We can’t know what people are feeling, because we aren’t them and can’t know every person on the planet.”

    I find that interesting, actually, because I am one of those people who has made the claim that “people are miserable in civilization” — in those exact words. I do not claim to have universal truth, but I do have my personal experience and experience with the people around me. There are statistics on suicide and depression that also lend credence to my argument. If I had said that ALL people were miserable in civilization I would be making a completely different claim and then what you are saying would apply.

    What you are basically saying is that all we have is our own personal experience, and that our truths are subjective. That’s a completely valid argument and you are perfectly right. But this critique applies to every single “subject” in existence, and making any kind of conclusion from this is for the most part useless.

    Any excessively critical philosophy gets on my nerves, as there is always something to criticize. What takes greater strength is to find the good in whatever it is and build from there. That is what I seek to do.

    – Devin

    Posted by: Devin | 02/22/2006

    I didn’t know that you had made that claim, Devin. I wasn’t trying to name names, since that’s an argument made by numerous people. Again, I was not critiquing you or anyone personally, but the argument. I admire your willingness to admit that you do not have universal truth. Then we’re agreed.

    That was precisely the conclusion, that general claims like “people are miserable in civilization” cannot be proven. Yes, you do have evidence to back up your claim with suicide rates and depression, but that does not apply to all of humanity. I’ve heard those statistics used to back up that claim. I have not, however, seen any claim that says that the suicide rate is 100% among civilized people, however.

    You also claim you know people who feel the same way you do. However, I know many people who enjoy living in civilization and do not feel the stress that you and the people you know feel. Suicide rates and stress may exist, but they are not universal to all peoples within civilization.

    Obviously, arguing percentages is a moot point.

    I agree–you need the find the good in whatever there is in and build them there. But that means acknowledging that not all parts of civilization are inherently bad, since it is civilization, after all, that has spawned these alternative movements, and they are not bad movements. What I am criticizing is people who automatically assume “evil” because it is “civilized” (and there are many primitivists out there that do that).

    Posted by: Jim | 02/22/2006

    Devin wrote:
    ” I did want to say that I am also an ecovillage advocate, and would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on ecovillages, Aaron. It’s a widely known fact that 90% of ecovillages fail, but it is a less widely known fact that 100% of civilizations fail. In my mind it seems 10% is a much greater percentage than 0%. Could you expand some more on this?”

    Devin

    I just posted an article that sort of covers this but essentially I think the high failure rate of ecovillages is because of the influence of civilsation – the villages that are successful basically seem to have a therapuetic component to their function and since most therapy is to repair people who have been damaged by civilisation it stands to reason that this would be a key to success. I think given this understanding the success rate for villages should start to rise. I will be posting a couple more items about this soon hopefully

    Posted by: Aaron | 02/23/2006

    Right on, Jim.

    Just wondering — are you JimFive from IshCon? I noticed JimFive commenting at Anthropik recently and was wondering if you might be the same person. You write very similarly at least.

    I wrote something about false dichotomies recently, listing everything I could think of that was a false dichotomy. Good vs. evil and primitive vs. modern (or civilization) were definitely on that list, among many others. I could now add “ecovillages vs. tribes” and “permaculture vs. hunting/gathering”.

    It seems many people LOVE to think in black and white terms, because it makes the world more concrete and thus “easier to navigate”. Many primitivists retain this tendency to oversimplify and make civilization=evil the same way civilization makes primitive=savage. Unfortunately, while attempting to make the world “easier to navigate” this kind of simplistic worldview is counter-productive in the long run. So I think we’re all in agreement here.

    Aaron, thanks for your post, I find what you have to say very refreshing.
    – Devin

    Posted by: Devin | 02/24/2006

    You’re clearly not up to speed on the bird flu issue, but if that’s what you take exception to (out of ignorance) that’s you’re choice. My “ad” as it were (funny you should call it that), is to help alleviate what is already happening, gigantic backlogs with people who have decided to take the flu seriously and make some kind of preparations for it. Many of these folks have done the research and understand the potential for pandemic.

    Having been around in this business for over ten years, I know exactly what happens when people panic, like they did most recently during the Katrina disaster. We’ve seen it time and time again. Warning people is simply good advice, its actually what most bloggers are doing in one fashion or another. Why you took exception to that makes no sense at all.

    By the way – I have abandoned the ecovillage concept entirely and withdrawn my proposal and my support. It’s not the solution that people think and it’s certainly not going to be the answer for post-crash living. There are far too many dangerous assumptions being used that the ecovillage “solution” is supposed to fix, while ignoring the root problems.

    Finally – I loathe civilization and have no interest in seeing it survive – in any form. Surviving the crash is going to be difficult enough, without having to worry about how to save a failed civilization.

    Posted by: SurvivalAcres | 02/26/2006

    “Just wondering — are you JimFive from IshCon? I noticed JimFive commenting at Anthropik recently and was wondering if you might be the same person. You write very similarly at least.”

    No, different person. I’m not JimFive.

    “It seems many people LOVE to think in black and white terms, because it makes the world more concrete and thus “easier to navigate”. Many primitivists retain this tendency to oversimplify and make civilization=evil the same way civilization makes primitive=savage. Unfortunately, while attempting to make the world “easier to navigate” this kind of simplistic worldview is counter-productive in the long run. So I think we’re all in agreement here.”

    Exactly. I myself can admit that creating dichotomies and seeing things in black and white is quite simpler–I used to believe many dichotomies myself that I learned were false.

    This, in my opinion, is another way civilization is hardwired in us–civilization is full of dichotomies, and when they appear in primitivism, we’re just reiterating the same ideology, with different ideas, that we learned in civilization–the black-white mentality.

    All I was pointing out is that many people who live in ecovillages, advocate permaculture, are actively involved in hunting and gathering (I have many friends who are hunters and even forage) but do not loathe civilization. I’ve read about these people and I know some of them.

    Posted by: JIM | 03/07/2006



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