Not "THE" Collapse, But Just "A" Collapse

  • Posted on: 8 December 2021
  • By: David Trammel

If you've been following the news articles and/or social media lately, you may have caught the latest,


Inflation is rising, food is disappearing. Workers are just GONE, no matter what wages are being offered. Toys may or may not be in the store for Christmas, depending on who you ask about the supply chain. Stock Market is in the Stratosphere. Politicians are posting Christmas cards holding guns and asking Santa for ammo. While half the population is getting ready for civil war, the other half is hiding under the blanket from Omicron. My prepper FB groups are bugging out, while solar power systems that were $40K a few months ago are being quoted at $94K (if you can get them). Toilet paper is still on the shelf though. Britney is free and I have two kittens in my office looking for someone to adopt them.

Yeap, Hell is headed to a hand basket near you, so just bend over, stick your head between your knees and kiss your ass good bye Folks.

Of course, if you're a reader of John Michael Greer or a regular here on Green Wizards you know the hype might be just a tad over blown, lol. There is a bit of truth in it though. The global civilization IS collapsing, it has been since the 1970s in fact. It's just not something which is happening quickly, nor happening all over the World at the same time. As much as that will disappoint Hollywood movie executives and hard core survivalists. No lights that flicker then go out. No flash in the sky then a rumble of the ground. Just a drop here, a stumble there.

Its something you'll want to understand if you keep reading the posts here on Green Wizards, the nature of the Collapse that WE speak of is a slow one.

Until its not...

Have I confused all of the new people yet.?

Ok let's step back a bit and look at some graphs. Here's one:

This graph and others like it were first published by the "Club of Rome", and their 1972 report "The Limits of Growth". That report basically said, "You can't have infinite growth, on a finite planet". It made predictions as to how the various economic, ecological and industrial trends would continue as resources, like oil, got harder to find. It wasn't a promising set of predictions.

Their report, and subsequent updates, along with past research and books on the cyclic nature of Empires and civilizations' downfalls lead John Michael Greer to write "How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse" which forms the basis of Green Wizardry and future we prepare for here.

The thing that is unfortunate for in the above graph is how smooth the curves are presented, when the decline that's going to happen will be anything but smooth.

Its worth taking a few minutes and reading this blog post on "The Archdruid Report" from September 7th, 2006 titled "Climbing Down the Ladder". In it John Michael Greer talks about HOW the Collapse will take place.

"History reminds us, though, that this isn’t a quick process, or a linear one. Civilizations fall in a stepwise fashion, with periods of crisis and contraction followed by periods of stability and partial recovery. The theory of catabolic collapse explains this as, basically, a matter of supply and demand; each crisis brings about a sharp decrease in the amount of capital (physical, human, social, and intellectual) that has to be maintained, and this frees up enough resources to allow effective crisis management, at least for a time. This same sequence is likely to repeat itself many times over the next few centuries, as industrial civilization slides down the slope of its own decline and fall."

That paragraph is key, civilizations (and countries, regions, empires) collapse in a series of downward steps. A crisis, be it resource driven like a problem with the oil supply, ecological through climate related disasters, political or economic cause a period of decline. The actions of the crisis cause the civilization to contract. This contraction frees up resources. These extra resources provide some breathing room for the civilization to reestablish stability and partially recover. After a time another crisis happens and the cycle repeats.

Each crisis leaves a little less resources available to face the next one.

The big thing to remember though is, the process of collapse is not spread evenly across the civilization.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that its quite possible for a local city or state region to undergo a collapse and not have it significantly affect the larger country. Look at last year's collapse of the Texas electric grid. It caused massive disruptions and not a few deaths, and if you looked at communities in Texas I would bet that their citizens are still dealing with its affects.

Or look at the Covid Pandemic. First World countries like the US have had a variety of large scale economic, political and social disruptions which are still being dealt with today, while Third World countries have faced a wide range of different disruptions that they are dealing with. Or look to the issues with the World supply chain that have dominated the news these last few months. They are hug. The changes in the dynamic between employer and employee in the American economy has contributed to the disruptions, and it too is a collapse crisis. Efforts to deal with both events, by governmental and business, are going to affect the American Economy for a while.

But there is another layer of collapse, one that is personal and not societal. YOU the individual will experience disruptions and crisis of your own, either during periods of societal crisis or what is often the case, you will have your personal crisis during a period of calm.

Doesn't matter what the Stock Market is doing if YOU lose your job, and because of that your dwelling. These two events, while traumatic do though free up resources for you to respond. Instead of paying a large mortgage, you may end up in a much smaller rental or even living with a family member. This personal collapse then does all the things a larger collapse does, but to just a few people. It may feel just as devastating to you, but to society and the people around you, not so much.

And by the same token, its quite easy to see where a wide societal collapse, with prior planning and some luck on your part, could be weathered rather well, and even made to profit you. That's one of the things we here at Green Wizard hope to teach you, how to make yourself more resilient and able to adapt to the crisis which will be coming.

So stop worrying too much. Read the news articles with a calculating eye to see where you can mitigate the affects external disruptions have on you and your family.

Take another few minutes and read this second post on The Archdruid Report, "Briefing for the Descent" for ways to do just that.

Next week, we'll get back into the basement for more construction...


Nice article.

David Trammel's picture

Every once in a while, I seem to drop out of the groove of writing. I should start writing these a week ahead of time like Greer does.

Copper's picture

Looking at Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell, I've come to the conclusion that having economic depressions may be harmful at the onset, however they're actually much needed and beneficial to the market as it clears away bad investments, bubbles, bad buisnesses, stocks, workers even. A broad societal collapse is no different, it serves as a way to sort out and clear out the bad stuff in the market place. Capitalism without any unnecessary and redundant interventions (a sort of mixed market which does have safety nets in place but should be under a voucher system) and leaving the wellbeing of the economy to the consumers is currently the only system that allows for the natural flexibility to let go of true inefficiency while maintaining efficiency (in the form of choice and resource allocation) as an economy moves on. Right now elites and the like with all these regulations for the sake of the better good are bottle necking people and technology, not that they know a lick about economics or care about anyone else so long as they have the green. All the good economists pointing this out are either blacklisted, dead, and/or retired (like Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, etc.), so of course the preppers and Green Wizards of today are the ones who have to pick up the slack, and I believe successfully so with certain forms of technology such as those used for communication.

David Trammel's picture

Have you read "Retrotopia?" Greer points out how the incentives that we all accept as typical capitalism aren't the only way to go. In his story the government puts incentives on employment and not on equipment purchases or stock bonuses. Recently corporations got the past Administrations (not sure which, but does it matter?) to accelerate the depreciation of equipment. Now corporations can write off their entire purchase that tax year, rather than the multi-year way it used to be. So guess what gets money spent on it? If we made it the opposite, where corporations got tax breaks to employ people at a living wage, then we'd see less of the excesses we see now.

I think basic capitalism is one of the best ways to structure an economy. The incentives that hard work makes you more wealth is a good motivator. What we have now isn't basic capitalism, its a oligarchy which games the system to capture profits while offsourcing costs to the government and uses regulations to protect themselves and form monopolies.

I'd love to see a policy where there was a set national living wage. Where a company could pay less, but would be taxed on the difference plus costs for the social programs needed for the lower wage. Either pay your employees $15 an hour or pay them $12 and pay the government an additional $4 in tax. Walmart and others get away with paying low wages then encourages their employees to apply for government assistance. That needs to stop.

As it is now a company has to game the system to compete. If one company deals with their waste and pollution in a sustainable manner, and another just dumps it in the river, the polluter wins since they don't have the cost. I'm not sure how leaving the economy to the consumer can address that. Boycotts and shaming haven't worked so far. I could handle some regulations if it weren't used to put competitors out of business by the established monopolies.

Ken's picture

Corporate capitalism hasn't turned out to work so well for the planet or the vast majority of the human population. For the global elite however, it has produced obscene amounts of notional wealth. In terms of true wealth: health, social connections, meaningful work, etc. it seems indisputable that whatever you call whatever-the-hell-it-is we have now, it simply isn't working for anyone. Corrections, such as economic recessions/depressions or even collapse of various sectors, don't seem to do much in the long term to fix the underlying problems; at best they buy some time. It seems abundantly clear, to me at least, that we need a new paradigm for our relationship to each other and to our environment. I see our problem as a spiritual/ethical crisis at it's heart, even when it is manifested as economics.