It’s hard, in this age that Paul Krugman is calling the Lesser Depression, to shake the economic optimism that we see in the news media reports — jobs are up, Wall Street is recovering, and all other sorts of signs that the economy is improving.
BUT. As a Druid, and a long-time reader of John Michael Greer, and as someone who looked around his 1980s suburban Connecticut town and said, “this can’t possibly last,” I feel it’s necessary to inject a note of caution. Call it a minority report: I don’t think it’s possible for the United States to continue on a trajectory of slow but indefinite growth on a finite planet. Neither can India, nor China. This isn’t going to be able to continue indefinitely, because it can’t. Even if the world is full of luminous beings of Light, what Gordon calls “the neighbors” in a wonderful rant, life on earth is inherently limited. That’s the point of incarnation, as well as of good design — there are always boundaries and barriers placed on who you are and what you can do. The images of the deep tunnel under construction beneath Manhattan notwithstanding, it’s not possible for us to mine or pump 100% of the planet’s fossil fuels, and certainly not 150%. Sooner or later, this particular party called post-industrial civilization will end, and probably not very prettily.
It also will end more choppily than it arrived. The Roman poet and statesman Seneca observed that ruin is far more easily achieved than success, and usually in a shorter period of time. Around here, where getting to groceries and food and services like doctors more or less requires a car, it’s not hard to imagine that the rising gas prices will cause economic disruption for a lot of people.