Monthly Post

Dancing on the Brink

Back when I was sketching out posts for the first half of this year, I planned to go on this week to talk further about enchantment, exploring the way that the ebb and flow of enchantment seems to track the rise and fall of civilizations and sketching out a tentative hypothesis about why that is. The core project of this blog, like its predecessor The Archdruid Report, is the quest for ways to lead a meaningful human life in harmony with nature during the decline and fall of a vast and profoundly unnatural civilization. Our discussion of enchantment in recent months has a great deal to offer that project.  Just at the moment, though, it’s necessary to set that aside and glance at current events, because the decline and fall looks as though it’s nearing an inflection point of considerable importance.

“All empires fall eventually. It is the way of things.” – Erin Morgenstern

I covered the background to the impending mess back in the days of The Archdruid Report, but that was quite a while ago—almost a decade, in fact. With that in mind, it’s probably helpful to take a moment to review some important points. (Those who have a copy of my book Decline and Fall can find the details there, with footnotes.)

Let’s start with the basics.  Roughly five per cent of the human race currently live in the United States of America. That very small fraction of humanity, until quite recently, got to enjoy about a third of the world’s energy resources and manufactured products and about a quarter of its raw materials. That didn’t happen because nobody else wanted these things, or because the United States manufactured and sold something so enticing that the rest of the world eagerly handed over its wealth in exchange. It happened because as the world’s dominant nation, the United States imposed unbalanced patterns of exchange on the rest of the world, and these funneled a disproportionate share of the planet’s wealth to this one nation.

A contemporary image of Mansa Musa, emperor of Mali. His net worth, extracted from the lucrative trade flows across the Sahara, works out to $400 billion in today’s money.

There’s nothing new about that sort of arrangement. The British Empire in its day controlled an even larger share of the planet’s wealth, and the Spanish Empire played a comparable role further back. Before then there were other empires, though limits to transport technologies meant that their reach wasn’t as large. Nor, by the way, was any of this an invention of people with light-colored skins. Mighty empires flourished in Asia and Africa when the peoples of Europe lived in thatched huts. Empires rise whenever a nation becomes powerful enough to dominate other nations and drain them of wealth. They’ve thrived as far back as records go and they’ll doubtless thrive as far into the future as human civilizations exist.

America’s empire came into being in the wake of the collapse of the British Empire during the fratricidal European wars of the early twentieth century.  During those bitter years the role of global hegemon was up for grabs, and by 1930 or so it was pretty clear that Germany, the Soviet Union, or the United States would end up taking the prize.  In the usual way, two contenders joined forces to squeeze out the third, and then the victors went at each other, carving out competing spheres of influence until one collapsed. When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the United States emerged as the last empire standing.

Cuauhtemoc, the last emperor of the Aztecs.

Neocon intellectual Francis Fukuyama insisted in a once-famous 1989 essay that having won the top slot, the United States was destined to stay there forever. He was of course wrong, but then he was a Hegelian and couldn’t help it. (If a follower of Hegel tells you the sky is blue, go look.) The ascendancy of one empire simply guarantees that other aspirants for the same status will begin sharpening their knives.  They’ll get to use them, too, because empires invariably wreck themselves: over time, the economic and social consequences of empire destroy the conditions that make empire possible. That can happen quickly or slowly, depending on the mechanism that each empire uses to extract wealth from its subject nations.

The mechanism the United States used for this latter purpose was ingenious but even more short-term than most. In simple terms, the US imposed a series of arrangements on most other nations that guaranteed that the lion’s share of international trade would use US dollars as the medium of exchange, and saw to it that an ever-expanding share of world economic activity required international trade. (That’s what all that gabble about “globalization” meant in practice.) This allowed the US government to manufacture dollars out of thin air by way of gargantuan budget deficits, so that US interests could use those dollars to buy up vast amounts of the world’s wealth.  Since the excess dollars got scooped up by overseas central banks and business firms, which needed them for their own foreign trade, inflation stayed under control while the wealthy classes in the US profited mightily from the scheme.

And in the final crisis of American empire, this is what we have in the way of leadership.

The problem with this scheme is the same difficulty faced by all Ponzi schemes, which is that sooner or later you run out of suckers to draw in. That happened not long after the turn of the millennium, and along with other factors—notably the peaking of global conventional petroleum production—it led to the financial crisis of 2008-2010. I don’t imagine it’s escaped the attention of my readers that since 2010 the United States has been lurching from one crisis to another.  That’s not accidental. The wealth pump that kept the United States at the top of the global pyramid has been sputtering as a growing number of nations have found ways to keep a larger share of their own wealth. The one question left, as I noted back in the day, is how soon the pump would start to fail altogether.

Fast forward to last year. When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the United States and its allies responded not with military force but with punitive economic sanctions, which were expected to cripple the Russian economy and force Russia to its knees. Apparently nobody in Washington DC considered the possibility that other nations with an interest in undercutting the US empire might have something to say about that. Of course that’s what happened. China, which has the largest economy on Earth in purchasing-power terms, extended a middle finger in the direction of Washington DC and upped its imports of Russian oil,  gas, grain, and other products. So did India, currently the third largest economy on Earth in the same terms; so did more than a hundred other countries.

A street scene in Tehran. It’s astonishing how many Americans think that Iranians live in mud huts.

Then there’s Iran. Most Americans are impressively stupid about Iran, so it’s probably necessary to cover some details here. Iran is the seventeenth largest nation in the world, more than twice the size of Texas and even more richly stocked with oil and natural gas. It’s also a booming industrial power. It has a thriving automobile industry, for example, and builds and launches its own orbital satellites. It’s been dealing with severe US sanctions since not long after the Shah fell in 1978, so it’s a safe bet that the Iranian government and industrial sector know every imaginable trick for getting around those sanctions.

Right after the start of the Ukraine war, Russia and Iran suddenly started inking trade deals right and left, to Iran’s great benefit. Pretty clearly one part of the quid pro quo was that the Iranians passed on their hard-earned knowledge about how to dodge sanctions to an attentive audience of Russian officials. With a little help from China, India, and most of the rest of humanity, the total failure of the sanctions followed in short order. At this point the sanctions are hurting the United States and Europe, not Russia, but the US leadership has wedged itself into a position from which it can’t back down. This may go a long way toward explaining why the Russian campaign in Ukraine has been so leisurely. The Russians have no reason to hurry. They know that time is not on the side of the United States.

The Khodro Samand, one of the best-selling Iranian autos these days. You can buy it in plenty of countries – just not this one.

For many decades now, the threat of being cut out of international trade by US sanctions was the big stick Washington DC used to threaten unruly nations that weren’t small enough for a US invasion or fragile enough for a CIA-backed regime change operation. Over the last year, that big stick turned out to be made of balsa wood, and snapped off in Joe Biden’s hand.  As a result, all over the world, nations that thought they had no choice but to use dollars in their foreign trade are switching over to their own currencies, or to the currencies of rising powers.  The US dollar’s day as the global medium of exchange is thus ending.

It’s been interesting to watch economic pundits reacting to this. As you might expect, quite a few of them simply deny that it’s happening—after all, economic statistics from previous years don’t show it yet!  Some others have pointed out that no other currency is ready to take on the dollar’s role; this is true, but irrelevant. When the British pound lost a similar role in the early years of the Great Depression, no other currency was ready to take on its role either.  It wasn’t until 1970 or so that the US dollar finished settling into place as the currency of global trade. In the interval, international trade lurched along awkwardly using whatever currencies or commodity swaps the trading partners could settle on: that is to say, the same situation that’s taking shape around us in the free-for-all of global trade that will define the post-dollar era.

More than half of humanity lives inside the green circle. That’s been true for many millennia.

One of the interesting consequences of the shift now under way is a reversion to the mean of global wealth distribution. Until the era of European global empire, the economic heart of the world was in east and south Asia.  India and China were the richest countries on the planet, and a glittering necklace of other wealthy states from Iran to Japan filled in the picture.  To this day the majority of human population is found in the same part of the world. The great age of European conquest temporarily diverted much of that wealth to Europe, impoverishing Asia in the process.  That condition began to break down with the collapse of European colonial empires in the decade following the Second World War, but some of the same arrangements were propped up by the United States thereafter.  Now those are coming apart, and Asia is rising. By next year, four of the five largest economies on the planet will be Asian. The fifth is the United States, and it may not be in that list for much longer.

Changes in the size of world economies over time. Notice the rise of Asia and the decline of Europe.

A good-sized book could be written about the causes and consequences of these shifts. The short form?  The United States of America is bankrupt. Our governments from the federal level on down, our big corporations, and a very large number of our well-off citizens have run up gargantuan debts, which can only be serviced given direct or indirect access to the flows of unearned wealth the United States extracted from the rest of the planet. Those debts cannot be paid off, and many of them can’t even be serviced for much longer. The only options are defaulting on them or inflating them out of existence, and in either case, arrangements based on familiar levels of expenditure will no longer be possible. Since the arrangements in question include most of what counts as an ordinary lifestyle in today’s United States, the impact of their dissolution will be one for the record books.

In effect, the five per cent of us in this country are going to have to go back to living on about five per cent of the planet’s wealth, the way we did before 1945. If we still had the factories, the trained work force, the abundant natural resources, and the thrifty habits we had back then, that would have been a wrenching transition but not a debacle. The difficulty, of course, is that we don’t have those things any more. The factories got shut down in the offshoring craze of the 1970s and 1980s, when the imperial economy slammed into overdrive, and the trained work force was handed over to malign neglect after that.

Sure, but it’s not going to be easy.

We’ve still got some of the natural resources, but nothing like what we once had.  The thrifty habits?  Those went whistling down the wind a long time ago. In the late stages of an empire, exploiting flows of unearned wealth from abroad is much more profitable than trying to produce wealth here at home, and most people direct their efforts accordingly.  That’s how you end up with the typical late imperial economy, with a governing class that flaunts fantastic levels of paper wealth, a parasite class of hangers-on that thrive by catering to the very rich or staffing the baroque bureaucratic systems that permeate public and private life, and the vast majority of the population impoverished, sullen, and unwilling to lift a finger to save their soi-disant betters from the consequences of their own actions.

The good news is that there’s a solution to all this. The bad news is that it’s going to take a couple of decades of serious turmoil to get there. The solution is that the US economy will retool itself to produce earned wealth in the form of real goods and nonfinancial services. That’ll happen inevitably as the flows of unearned wealth falter, foreign goods become unaffordable to most Americans, and it becomes profitable to produce things here in the United States again.  The difficulty, of course, is that most of a century of economic and political choices meant to support our former imperial project are going to have to be undone.

Most of these jobs are going away forever.

The most obvious example?  The metastatic bloat of government, corporate, and nonprofit managerial jobs in American life. That’s a sensible move in an age of empire, as it funnels money into the consumer economy, which provides what jobs exist for the impoverished classes.  Thus public and private offices alike teem with legions of office workers whose labor contributes nothing to national prosperity but whose paychecks prop up the consumer sector. That bubble is already losing air. It’s indicative that Elon Musk, after his takeover of Twitter, fired some 80% of that company’s staff; according to people I know who use Twitter, the quality of service hasn’t been affected in the least. Other huge internet combines are pruning their work force in the same way, though not yet to the same degree.

The recent hullaballoo about artificial intelligence is helping to amplify the same trend. Behind the chatbots are programs called large language models (LLMs), which are very good at imitating the more predictable uses of human language. A very large number of office jobs these days spend most of their time producing texts that fall into that category:  contracts, legal briefs, press releases, media stories, and the list goes on. Those jobs are going away.  Computer coding is even more amenable to LLM production, so you can kiss a great many software jobs goodbye as well. Any other form of economic activity that involves assembling predictable sequences of symbols is facing the same crunch. A recent paper by Goldman Sachs estimates that something like 300 million jobs across the industrial world will be wholly or party replaced by LLMs in the years immediately ahead.

This isn’t a human being. It’s also a lot cheaper than one.

Another technology with similar results is CGI image creation. Levi’s announced not long ago that all its future catalogs and advertising will use CGI images instead of highly paid models and photographers. Expect the same thing to spread generally. Oh, and Hollywood’s next.  We’re not too far from the point at which a program can harvest all the footage of Marilyn Monroe from her films, and use that to generate new Marilyn Monroe movies for a tiny fraction of what it costs to hire living actors, camera crews, and the rest. The result will be a drastic decrease in high-paying jobs across a broad swath of the economy.

The outcome of all this?  Well, dear reader, you know as well as I do that one lot of pundits will insist at the top of their lungs that nothing will change in any way that matters, and another lot will start shrieking that the apocalypse is upon us. Those are the only two options our collective imagination can process these days. Of course neither of those things will actually happen.

Coming soon to an upscale office building near you.

What will happen instead is that the middle and upper middle classes in the United States, and in many other countries, will face the same kind of slow demolition that swept over the working classes of those same countries in the late twentieth century. Layoffs, corporate bankruptcies, declining salaries and benefits, and the latest high-tech version of NO HELP WANTED signs will follow one another at irregular intervals.  All the businesses that make money catering to these same classes will lose their incomes as well, a piece at a time. Communities will hollow out the way the factory towns of America’s Rust Belt and the English Midlands did half a century ago, but this time it will be the turn of upscale suburbs and fashionable urban neighborhoods to collapse as the income streams that supported them go away.

I want to stress that this is not going to be a fast process.  The US dollar is losing its place as the universal medium of foreign trade, but it will still be used by some countries for years to come. The unraveling of the arrangements that direct unearned wealth to the United States will go a little faster, but that will still take time.  The collapse of the cubicle class and the gutting of the suburbs will unfold over decades.  That’s the way changes of this kind play out.

Coming soon to an upscale suburb near you.

As for what people can do in response this late in the game, those of my readers who’ve been following me for a while may recall a post I made on The Archdruid Report back in 2012 titled “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush.”  In that post I pointed out that the unraveling of the American economy, and of the broader project of industrial civilization, was picking up speed around us, and those who wanted to get ready for it really did need to start preparing soon. I’m glad to say that some people did, but a great many others rolled their eyes, or made earnest resolutions to do something as soon as things were more convenient, which they never were.

Over the years that followed I repeated that warning and then went on to other themes, since there really wasn’t much point to harping on the issue when the time to act had slipped away. Those who made preparations in time will weather the approaching mess as well as anyone can. Those who didn’t?  The rush is here.  I’m sorry to say that whatever you try, it’s likely that there’ll be plenty of other frantic people trying to do the same thing.  You might still get lucky, but it’s going to be a hard row to hoe.

Coming soon to an upscale mall near you. (If it’s not there already.)

Mind you, I expect some people to take a different tack. In the months before a prediction of mine comes true, I reliably field a flurry of comments insisting that I’m too rigid and dogmatic in my views about the future, that I need to be more openminded about alternative possibilities, that wonderful futures are still in reach, and so on. I got that in 2008 just before the real estate bubble started to go bust, as I’d predicted, and I also got it in 2010 just before the price of oil peaked and started to slide, as I’d also predicted, taking the peak oil movement with it. I’ve started to field the same sort of criticism again—which is one reason I’m posting this discussion just now.

We are dancing, we Americans, on the brink of a long slippery slope into an unwelcome new reality. I’d encourage my readers in this country and its close allies to brace themselves for a couple of decades of wrenching economic, social, and political turmoil.  Those elsewhere will have an easier time of it, but it’s still going to be a wild ride before the rubble stops bouncing, and new social, economic, and political arrangements get patched together out of the wreckage.


  1. It’s a pity we don’t have a functional government, which could employ many people to do critically needed infrastructure repair.

  2. Greetings JMG,

    I find this post insightful and a good reminder warning of what is happening.

    What do you think will happen to people over 55 who cannot work as much as they get older?
    Are their families going to help?

    With high inflation, I think one would need really high savings to face the coming two decades.

  3. A clip of yourself comes to mind from a gathering where someone had asked for evidence of decline and you said “look around.” It’s absolutely everywhere and the delusion is very strong.

    I am in a difficult place with these developments, in my early 30s, in these LLM targeted areas trying to plan viable alternatives has been an extremely interesting challenge. I don’t know if for those older than me, if it was possible to actually create a mental image of 5-10 years forward, but I certainly would like to see even 2-3 years forward and plan accordingly.

    On the other hand, personal plans can develop and I am thankful for perspectives like this which help provide that reminder and emphasis through honest observation. One goal I am looking to carry through this year is to either build and create a social group myself or do work I am paid for directly separate from my workplace. I feel that by following these paths I will either move towards what is needed, or at the very least better connect with like minded individuals who can make things happen.

    I keep feeling that the path through this is to simplicity and thrift, to start to build more appeal among those in my circle who are trapped in cycles of desires begetting more desires. Who knows how long this will take, after all, this forum and its host are the fringes.

  4. Agreed entirely. Been saying similar for years, but New Agers and lovers of all things ‘Progress’ are incapable of hearing. Optimism is, in these times, cowardice. Yet, collapse brings all sorts of previously hidden opportunities….

  5. I am equally concerned by the psychological meltdown of Americans as the material consequences you’ve laid out so eloquently. If 20% of what you predict comes to pass, the second and third order effects from the loss in collective identity may be as detrimental as any tangible impacts.

  6. I completely agree. Things look the same to me.
    To relate personal story – I recently reconnected with old friends. It’s obvious we share little in common interest or worldview. A lot of what you say here resonance with what I saw. They laugh at Iran as a joke. (That the Russians are buying drones from Iran is a joke that shows how close to collapse Russia is). They are concerned about the de-dollarization of the economy, but don’t see any large-scale shift happening. Your advice to beat the rush was fantastic a decade ago. From experience it will be a hard row to hoe no doubt. I am still trying to figure my part out. I am grateful that I have had ten years of mixed results on this path to learn from so I have a chance to get it right in time. Sort of wish I had ten more before. But yeah, it will be a crapshoot regardless.

    Following the points you laid down and in the lens of considering 4th Turning + the Yugic cycle you referenced in the past – what do you think of the idea that in the coming age that may have just dawned may be more similar to colonial America than the previous 3 eras (Empire, post civil war, post revolutionary war)? I guess that would be a return to states rights, blocs of state interests, and the widespread practice of law and medicine by lay persons.

  7. Russia, China, Iran – all the leading opponents of the American empire are truly horrible regimes. That doesn’t justify empire but it puts things in perspective. Of course historically Americans were happy to turn a blind eye to the crimes of client dictators as long as they weren’t communist. Still I don’t think the world would be a better place if the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation states were able to replace American hegemony with their own.

  8. A while back some of you may remember me raving about a game called Half-Earth Socialism From early January to late March I played it obsessively. It’s one of the most addictive and satisfying games I’ve ever played.

    I emailed one of the designers with a question about the underlying system, and we got talking about strategies and whether there was such a thing as a perfect strategy. He said I’d probably done more with the game than anyone else and I should write it up and post it. So this is everything I came up with:

    Have have a go and see if you can manage the transition to a sustainable economy before the climate explodes or the resources run out. (it’s free and you don’t have to download anything). If anyone comes up with a different or better strategy than me, I want to know about it. 🙂

  9. Living in Scotland, I have been thinking that the UK looks as if it’s taking the “collapse now and avoid the rush” advice quite seriously. So much going on at once, but the main outline is most of us are watching impotently while a governing class shamelessly fills its collective pockets and empties them into offshore accounts. The people that do a lot of the work that makes the UK in general and England in particular operate effectively (teachers, civil servants, doctors, nurses, ambulance crews, junior barristers! for heaven’s sake, to list only some of the striking public servants) are fighting to preserve what is precious: an NHS free at the point of delivery, independent civil service and judiciary, an education system that allows teachers to teach and educate rather than firefight social problems. (If you have to purchase food for your students to eat so they can concentrate enough to learn, as is the case in some places, something is very, very wrong.)

    Scotland is not immune to these pressures, but has so far found accommodation with most of these groups — by finding extra money from a fixed budget. Meaning, of course, that other things will get kicked into the long grass. Those are the choices, and it won’t end well. Our own little local political difficulties regarding SNP party finance investigation (£600K) is being dealt with rather more robustly (police and procurator fiscal involvement; a history of prosecution of high-profile individuals) than the approximately £15+billion lost to fraud and incompetence by the UK Conservative administration during Covid (crickets). I hope this step down the far side of the catabolic collapse hillside will stand Scotland in good stead in the future.

    Oh, and if anyone on your side of the Atlantic is interested, Scotland will be an independent nation again, one way or another. It doesn’t depend on a single party, it depends on the people and circumstances, which keep getting worse and worse. Just like the USSR, the UK is going to shake itself to pieces. I mean, even Wales (Wales!) is getting uppity, so clearly, anything might happen. With luck, relatively peacefully.

  10. I downloaded a copy of Henley’s Formulas for Home and Workshop. I want to make copies for friends and family. While not a panacea for softening what John has painted, it does increase the knowledge of how products were created before the consolidations of industrial companies and the disappearance of smaller companies. Who would be able to take a file and convert it into book form with acid free pages? Any other suggestions?

    As an aside, I once walked the downtown area of Albany New York and saw a number of once vibrant shops from eye ware to cobblers to millinery shops, etc. While these shops are not longer there, their signs and placards are still hanging there in one form or another. I wonder if this is what we will see gain?

  11. I have numbers of friends and relatives already in their next incarnations, if the pace of these things follows teachings discussed here. I have, since childhood (age 5 or so) been in the position of Cassandra, not unlike you, JMG, although your active engagement with “Apollo” may have begun a bit later. It’s not really all that satisfying to have one’s dire predictions come true, now is it? Except maybe in a wry kind of way.

    That said, based on other current sources of information I follow (e.g., Martin Armstrong, Clif High, the Durans, Judge Andrew Napolitano and the guests he has on his channel) what our esteemed host has said is entirely up to date and in my view objectively verifiable for those who care to explore the facts. As many have said, facts don’t care about your feelings. Neither (for WOTH enthusiasts) do the Elder Gods. Truth, (another category of knowledge) is, for those who hold to the idea, also uninterested in how devastating it might be to our ideas, notions and feelings.

    Oh, and the value of having a culture based on offering genuine help to others, often unasked as a gift, (there’s a name for that which I’m forgetting just now) will gradually become evident, and we Aspbergians who don’t do scheming and fancy role-playing games well, will once again resume being more or less regular citizens instead of completely oddball outcasts who don’t/can’t do the high-school lunchroom b.s. that currently dominates how our society runs itself. Although a few more of us may yet be sacrificed to the fires of an auto-da-fe along the way. Politically incorrect and somewhat reclusive folk often are.

    On the one hand I’m eager to engage in a world where actual facts matter once more. On the other, I’ve lived a fairly long and comfortable life on the fringes of society and will miss many of the comforts and amenities that make day-to-day life considerably more bearable.

    My guess, for myself, is that I’ll be well into my immediate next incarnation in the next few decades, assuming all goes “normally” before the full effects of the REAL reset takes hold. Still, I’m sending prayers, rituals and energy to help all who can be helped through this time.

    White-water rafting, anyone? Taking an “attitude of gratitude,” trite sounding though that is, is a survival skill. Adventuring can be fun, once you strip away the cobwebs and engage with what’s going on. According to some teachings, we volunteered to be present during this time. I’ve resisted that kind of talk, but whatever is the case, we’re here. I remember Gandalf telling Frodo that, basically, we may not have preferred to live in these times, but here we are, and we have a role to play that cannot be played by anyone else.

  12. Well said:

    I suppose this isn’t a comment to you John, but rather a reminder to the other readers.

    I think that the phrase in the last paragraph is key to the whole article.

    “to brace themselves for a couple of decades of wrenching economic, social,
    and political turmoil.”

    We have quite a bit of time to address the S%$#show on a purely individual and local basis. It is my guess that the denouement of this particular spot of bother will be around the 2045 mark. The plans and the controlled individual readjustments to an unwelcome reality will need to be adjusted to fit a scenario of decades. The changes will probably need to be in the nature of sequential small changes executed over the course of years.

    Bravo Mr. Greer. I have to thank you for providing the seed years ago in the “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush” post on your old Blogger account. Your advice is sound. My only reminder to everyone involved is the simple pact that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  13. For those looking for hope… just think of what we are losing and what we are gaining:

    The return to importance of local art.
    Jobs and professions that are actually valued. Including a lot of caring work that is seen as useless by our current parasitic overlords.
    The final death of a lot of highly negative ideologies (scientific racism, for example, was part of the same larger meme-plex that contains the idea of ‘progress’. Same with extremely rigid ideas regarding sex and gender: these are a product of modernity, not our past).
    Rest. Yes, rest. We spend so much of our lives in constant, never ceasing, anxiety spirals. Peasants didn’t do this, and we are still going to be a long way from that.

    We are very clever, and we are not going to lose that. A lot of the knowledge we have gained will stick around for a long time. We’ll have less toys, true, and some space age medical therapies will be unsustainable, but it’s not going to hopeless or joyless. Maybe we will even gain some wisdom.

    There is hope. There is warmth.

  14. “That bubble is already losing air. It’s indicative that Elon Musk, after his takeover of Twitter, fired some 80% of that company’s staff; according to people I know who use Twitter, the quality of service hasn’t been affected in the least. Other huge internet combines are pruning their work force in the same way, though not yet to the same degree.”

    My sister works for IBM, which is in the process of firing plenty of people as well. She’s noted, somewhat darkly, that one of the people they just got rid of is responsible for maintaining some of the equipment in the office she works at, most of which runs just fine 99% of the time, and will likely be able to keep running just fine for a few months, or even years, before it needs attention from the person being fired.

    The risk I see here is that it may not be possible to tell, until things go very, very wrong indeed, who is essential to have long term, and who isn’t; but the short term benefits that incur from firing people will be so great that a lot of people the companies will wish they’d kept in a few years will be thrown out the door before it becomes clear they were important.

  15. The movie Looker is looking pretty prescient right now. Digitize the models, then kill them to avoid the royalties. The CGI is almost good enough to avoid the “uncanny valley” now, it will get there soon.

    ChatGPT mixes lies with truth with seamless effort and has been sued for doing so. How do you apply libel laws to a computer program? Do you sue the programmer or the entity that hired the machine?

    And an artist refused an award for a photograph because his winning entry was not a photograph. He told an AI to generate an image of a subject in the style of a photograph. It wasn’t art that moved me, it wasn’t nearly as good as Waterhouse’s Lady of Shallot ( the one with the boat and the three candles) but it did qualify as art. It took a specific series of instructions to the computer to produce the output. So what category of art is it?

    As for reindustrializing, people can be retrained in a few years, but they will have to get off the drugs. Machines have no moral objections to removing body parts. Factories can be built in three to five years if you have the money. Thrifty habits are still common in much of the country.

    Resources are an issue, where we have them is also landscapes the PMC sees as their vacation land. They fight desperately to stop any mining development. And yet they want all this material intensive renewable energy. Something is going to have to give there. How much longer will Zaire be willing to trade cobalt for comic book movies?

  16. Do you have an inkling about the likelihood of nuclear war? I feel our ruling elites are of such poor quality that they might just stumble us into it.

  17. Thank you for this. Always great checking in with you on timing and the senses of impending dooms, so I don’t ever feel like the lone crazy guy any more.

    You’re like the Bigfoot-hunting buddy I can look to and ask “did you see/hear that too?” every time we get buzzed by a glowing orb.

    Yet you’re not like all the other jerks who run off into the woods chasing will o’ the wisps, UFOs, angels or demons and every dang thing that happens to make a close flyby.

    I appreciate you, as they say out here in the country where I’ve taken refuge- perhaps a scoundrel’s refuge and my last.

    Anyway, been feeling this post coming and looking forward to the particular details as you have a talent for pointing out things that broaden and deepen my own perception of various phenomena.

    Having collapsed long ago and beaten the rush, I’m eternally grateful to you. Meanwhile, looking forward to the infamous Dutch Disease of Deindustrialization and the notorious Resource Curse of academic “international relations”…

    I have a magical little bracelet that says “WWCD”

    What Would Conan Do?

    Your latest post made me look at it and smile. Get ready for a wild slide into eternity!

  18. I want to thank you for this essay and all the ones on this topic over the years. My partner and I took your “Collapse now and avoid the rush” seriously 10 years ago. We were both raised upper middle class and it was initially hard to imagine a different life. And 10 years of effort still show us the many things we need to do. And some of the things we prepared for may not even happen in our life time. But it was and continues to be all worthwhile.

    By living with collapse in mind we made choices to downshift every time we had a choice. One practical thing was that we ended up buying a small house instead of a big one (much smaller than our friends and family) and we paid it off early instead of buying fancy furniture and big cars because we saw the future of the economy.

    When 2021 happened, our years of collapse-early choices meant we were in a situation where we were able to say no to employer medical mandates and weather a year of unemployment. We were able to walk away instead of bending the knee and now we know that we have power. Collapsing early has been a gift, not the burden we thought it was in the early days. We know ourselves better and have had the opportunity to live with integrity. Your writings over the years and advice on collapsing early were key and we’re very grateful. There is still much work to be done and our minds and hearts are in the right place to do it. Thank you.

  19. I fully expect events will accelerate after the collapse of the Ukrainian army once it’s much-anticipated “counter offensive” fails spectactularly. That’ll reverberate around the world at a magnitude far greater than the Afghanistan debacle. The end of NATO is nigh, and then it’s all downhill for the globalists.

  20. One thing I’m wondering is what is going to happen to those of the working classes working in the consumer economy, like retail for example, when the middle and upper classes lose a lot of their wealth and don’t have so much excess to spend.

    Will jobs open up involved in making things, enough so that massive job losses and an influx of former upper and middle class people don’t make the situation of the working classes much worse? There do seem to be jobs right now for those able and willing, but will that last when the USA’s imperial economy is in the process of shattering? And the inflation is hitting people on low incomes who have no fat to cut in a big way right now, even with the jobs available.

    Because losing cushy well-paid positions is one thing, but being unable to afford a roof or food is quite another.

  21. Any predictions as to when the things you are talking about will finally become topics of polite conversation? McLuahn pointed out that he was not prophetic, but was just willing to undergo the discomfort of making observations of the here and now.

  22. Wow. Well, well. Yes indeed, it is here, isn’t it? I’m half prepared. I paid off my mortgage, and started gardening, beekeeping, buying older tools, collecting books, brewing, and other related sundries. But I can still see that it is going to be not a pleasant time of it, not at all. At some point, it won’t be worth my while to pay the gas bill driving to the job, assuming it is still there. This was a tour de force article, great sir, a lovely firework show, on the eve of the quest. Many, many thanks, and exceedingly well done. It’s hard to believe the short sightedness with which it was all done, but it happened, and centuries of contemplation will not likely unravel the half of it. As I see it, shelter, security, water, food, and medicine will be prime concerns, followed by arts and education, provided they are opposite to those that exist now. All of these require some law and order that is functional, at least, or not openly dysfunctional. The governments at all levels are comprehensively broke (Kunstler), and little help will come from them. It’s impossible to see a human path through, not involving untold catastrophes, so the gods and the God are perhaps, in the end, the best resource.

  23. As far as preparations for the average person, what is suggested? Already live relatively frugally with “slack”. Only debt is a mortgage on a home with significant equity. Are we talking going off the grid & getting acreage? If one has an EMail job, what skill set to get into?

  24. I had seen an interesting video that detailed part of the reason why companies like Twitter could afford to fire 80% of their workforce. The big tech companies essentially have the opposite hiring process of what you’d normally expect: instead of a job opening being posted by HR when a new employee is needed, they just snap up as many employees as possible and worry about giving them something to do later, to get the best minds and deny them to any competitors. An adaptive strategy when there’s plenty of money and cheap abundant energy to go around… but once environmental conditions change, businesses that don’t fire these excess employees for survival may soon find themselves extinct. I myself had been planning to get into the tech industry, but judging by the state of the economy and AI replacement of workers, it may be best to leave it as a potential “side hustle” while I consider other options…

  25. Hi JMG,

    But, aren’t the LLMs themselves the product of America’s imperial wealth, e.g. cheap energy and large flows of debt-backed investment dollars? I know you’ve written before about cheap energy made it temporarily more economical to produce things by automation that were previously made by hand, and that the end of cheap energy means a return to an economy of hand-made products and craftsmanship. Why wouldn’t that same trend hold true for LLMs? Or do you think the managerial-class jobs (writers, photographers, programmers, etc.) get wiped out first, and then return at a much later point when the “AI” infrastructure becomes too costly to maintain?


  26. I agree with the broad swath of this post, with one exception.

    I have a suspicion that as AI replaces white-collar jobs, corporations and/or the government may just create bull**** jobs or use UBI to keep the consumer economy afloat and prevent the middle class from revolting. If they straight up fire a bunch of workers, they are also impoverishing the consumers that they need to buy their products. But maybe they aren’t forward-thinking enough to realize this.

    Not saying I think UBI is a good idea, I think it’s just naked bread and circuses. It would be better instead to break up the big corporations, incentivize worker-owned cooperatives, and stop punishing small businesses.

  27. What’s even more entertaining than the fact that four out of the five largest economies are now in Asia is that according to that chart of the world’s largest economies, Russia is now number six, having passed up all the economies of Europe. Western sanctions really have turned into an own goal, haven’t they?

  28. Dear JMG,

    Thank you for the quick sum up. I’m curious about the opportunities and necessity to rebuild our civic infrastructure. A return to federalism will likely be in the cards along with more states rights and a healthier dose of local autonomy. And charity will literally begin at home for a lot of us. You didn’t say much about military matters this time but your past writings show your facility with that. The Monroe Doctrine might become a pretty high bar for our national security efforts in a few years. The way Americans think about the world will be different and maybe we will become less belligerent when the majority have to really focus on keeping body and soul together.

  29. Years ago when I was writing comment notes in the margins of my dog eared copy of The Long Descent I was, in theory, worth millions. Took it to heart and after the four kids were safely out in the world pulled the plug. Now? A very modest nestegg and pension covers my overhead costs. Paid for old sailboat with serious offshore upgrades as a liveaboard home. As a post Pandemic police state stress reduction project I’m studying blues guitar and classical oil painting. Which is bearing fruit with my first 3 paintings sold for a decent sum.
    Point I’m labouring to make is I’m much happier – mentally, spiritually, and emotionally without all that bloody stuff (and a vampire squid spouse). So y’all no need to panic after reading John’s post. Find a way to earn enough to keep the wolf from the door and develop the skills that are a pleasure to your soul.

  30. Hi John & commentariat,

    What you say about the entertainment industry is really interesting:

    I had a dream that you were in last night, and you were telling people to start insulating their houses. Yet people were trying to use tin foil for insulation. Then there was a young person who had inerited an abandoned motion picture company and factory. You were busy pounding away a typewriter with ink and dirt on your fingers.

    My interpretation. Well, for one, I thought a deindustrial story featuring someone who does inherit an old film company might be interesting as a setting and theme. Beyond that it told me the “dream projections” of our mass society are soon to be gathering dust.

    The tin foil I thought was in reference to how some people (from the mainstream) would take your ideas to be the tin foil kind. Yet the people in the dream still needed to insulate themselves from what is to come.

    On ChatGPT and chatbots, during some research of my own, I found this short interesting article by Bell Labs scientist John R. Pierce in his book “Science, Art, Communication” while working on my own writing. I’ve uploaded it here.

    It’s about a rudimentary AI made by Nazi scientists whose secret was brought over to here during Operation Paperclip by one Dr. Hagen Krankheit.

    This evily-evil Krankheit told of how this use of randomizing texts could be used to generate propaganda, of all things. Thus the Müllabfuhrwortmaschine could produce page after page of meaningless messages, that would never the less still be effective as propaganda, such as these:

    “Capitalist warmonger is a weak link in atomic security,” and “Atomic scientist is said to be associated with certain religious and racial groups.”

    It was suggested that this machine fell into the hands of the communists. Now, finally we have caught up to them, with the generous and kind hearted help of the folks at OpenAI and co.

    This piece by Pierce is called Washington, Dateline btw…
    …and apparently was based on some stuff Claude Shannon used to joke about.

    All that said, I still can see this being used as a way to easily and effortlessly generate propaganda, despite the fictive nature Dr. Krankheit (and not to dismiss the very real Operation Paperclip).

  31. When you, as you sometimes do, refer to the U.S.’ inner circle of European allies, which specific countries do you have in mind, exactly? I just want to make sure I don’t accidentally happen to be living in one of them… 😉

  32. ‘quality of [Twitter’s] service hasn’t been affected in the least.’ That’s about right, I’m still shadow banned.

  33. Learning old-fashioned skills is and will be ome even more important. I picked up crocheting as a hobby some years back; I’m in the process of making myself a bedspread. It’s not something I could “make a living” doing, but as a supplement? Certainly.

  34. Re the AI nightmare: if you’ve ever had to order clothes online, you know that trying to divine whether some raincoat will look half-good on you using an actual human model as a reference is bad enough.

  35. I’m shocked how, as everything falls apart around us, there’s less agreement on an alternative path forward. Unless I’m missing something huge it seems like China would want to try to position themselves as the rational actors in the room and create their own wealth pump. Instead they are competing with the rest of the world in who can make the dumbest decisions in the face of crisis. I find myself agreeing with Zeihans thesis: things will be bad all around, but at least we have a continent to ourselves where we’ll be left to our own devices as we play out our insanity.

    Perhaps you could draw parallels to past empires. Ray Dalio likes to see a progression of empires: Amsterdam to London to New York to Shanghai. But the fall of Rome or Han China didn’t correspond with a rise in the Persian Empire. Things just got messy in different ways for those in vs on the periphery of the empire.

  36. A friend of my family, a retired single woman, bought about 10 acres in Amish country about 15 years ago and has spent those years cultivating relationships with her Amish neighbors, raising small livestock and vegetables. I think she’s in an enviable position for what lies ahead. The only problem I see is her age; like me and my siblings, she’s 70-plus. The question becomes one of staying healthy and able as long as possible.

  37. “…staying healthy and able as long as possible.” I forgot to add, and then trying to die a “good death” when that becomes inevitable.

  38. @ JMG – If I recall correctly, the term ‘collapse now and avoid the rush’ came about as an exchange between you and someone in the audience at the 2012 sustainability event at Four Quarters. My wife and I were there. At last, I get to say I heard of it first…

    On a more serious note, I do wonder about the automation trend. While I certainly take the point that automation could render redundant many office jobs, I’m not so sure that will happen. And even if it does, the trend may not last long. And for many of the reasons you lay out, actually. My reasoning is two fold:

    1 – As trade reverts to a multi-polar world, economic blocs led by countries with both large economies and stable currencies. Side note, I’m far from confident that either China or the US qualify, thought for different reasons. Either way, when the ‘global economy’ fragments into a number of ‘continental economies,’ that will reduce the consumption of raw materials here in the US, and boost it in other countries. BUT, it will not completely eliminate the US from taking some share of global trade, and it will not reverse the downward trend of the overall amount of raw materials. If that turns out to be the case, and I see no reason why it won’t be the case, that will almost certainly drive up the cost of servers, the price of the electricity to run server farms, and drive up the cost of AI and LLMs. Thus, the price of the end products of AI and LLMs will rise. That’s not to say some of those office jobs won’t be automated out of existence, but pretty soon (50 years), employing people may again be cheaper that employing machines. Didn’t you write a post once entitled “Mentats Wanted”?

    2 – For North America as a whole (as opposed to the United States as a political entity), I don’t think the near to medium term future is actually quite that bad. For starters, North America is relatively under-populated compared to Eurasia and Africa, especially when one looks and food exporters versus importers. Iran may have a lot of natural gas, but it, and most of the Middle East, is a huge food importer. And right now, it’s not at all clear Russian can make up the loss of Ukrainian exports to the region.
    Further, our (North American) continental population has been below replacement level for at least twenty years. North America is a net food exporter, and geographically isolated from the entire eastern hemisphere, and, to a large degree, even from South America, which, by the way, is either at or below replacement levels in terms of total fertility. South America isn’t in quite as good a position in terms of agriculture, but a collapse of the US empire would almost certainly help them by ending US-backed corporate meddling in their affairs. I’m not saying this means a future of fluffy puppies and endless cotton candy, but right now, I’d bet that the Americas are a ‘safer’ place, in a very general sense, than anywhere in the eastern hemisphere for the next few decades.

    3 – On a somewhat related note: have you considered that the Russian assault on Ukraine is proceeding slowly because their military hierarchy is just as corrupt and incompetent as our own military-industrial establishment? If anything, I’m starting to see the Ukraine War less as a showcase of what future wars will look like, and more as two old, out-of-shape heavyweights that should have hung up their gloves years ago, slapping away at each other in bout increasingly defined by exhaustion and sclerosis.

  39. I’ve spent the last couple of years “collapsing now,” and so I’ve got gardening, sewing, and a few other skills under my belt. My home is paid off. All I have left are some student loans. Manageable, I think, though I have some contingency plans to fall back on. Meanwhile, I watch family and friends take out new mortgages, buy new cars, go on extravagant vacations, daydream about growing assets and stock investments, etc. The pain will be severe, I think.

    I was once quite afraid of all this. Now, I’m almost indifferent. As of late, I’ve found some Buddhist practices helpful. In particular, some meditations and exercises related to anattā. That is, it has been helpful in relieving fear and developing a more Stoic approach to all this. What will come, will come.

  40. Greetings JMG: Yes, it seems we have finally entered the most interesting and terrifying inflection of this transitional arc. I have no idea how long it will last. Will our ‘decision-making’ classes pull their heads of their keesters before things get really, really hairy? What I’ve seen so far does not inspire much hope in me, but my powers of perception in this regard are negligible. Perhaps the gods will humor us just one more time and let us through the strait gate.

    Regarding the whole AI thing, I do feel sympathy for visual artists. It’s no fun seeing that a well-prompted session of Midjourney can produce that which, to the eyes of any average consumer, might have taken a very talented and very capable artist weeks to produce (okay, AI can’t seem to ‘understand’ that humans have only 5 fingers—that includes the thumb—on each hand,or that when the iris in one eye is wildly different from the iris in the other eye, it suggests a stroke has happened…), but it’s logical, and sweetly ironic somehow, that ‘creatives’ are going to be inundated by the same flood that has claimed cottage industries and craftsmen and tradesmen (and craftswomen! and tradeswomen!). It is terrible, and sad… and until the inevitable maths of energy and costs solve themselves, that rising flood is just gonna keep on climbing up the ladder… Those Luddites don’t seem so backwards now, do they. Progress! Progress!

    Or maybe I’m wrong. I’m one stout into the afternoon, so I can’t be sure…

  41. Your Kittenship, functional governments are among the things that get misplaced when a nation goes in for empire. We’ll have to rebuild those, too.

    Tony, depends on their families, of course. Those old people who’ve maintained good relations with their families and are willing to contribute by babysitting or the like will probably do well. Those who have “We’re spending our children’s inheritance” bumper stickers on their RVs will be left twisting in the wind. As for savings, you can’t save your way out of an inflationary collapse. These are children in 1920s Germany; they’ve made a kite out of money, since it was cheaper than any other form of paper…

    Ynu8ipbnxu, another thing to consider is what skills you can develop that can’t be done by a LLM program, and that no one you know has learned how to do. Don’t delay, though — it’s already very late to get to that.

    Richard, oh, granted. Some people will prosper during the impending mess, including people who’ve gotten the short end of the stick for quite a while now. But it’s going to be messy.

    Bipbop500, of course. We’re going to see meltdowns, tantrums, and psychological implosions on the truly grand scale. It wouldn’t surprise me to get some in response to this post, in fact.

    Jastin, I think that a reversion to a more decentralized economy and society here in the US is one of the most likely outcomes. It’ll be fought tooth and nail by those who profit from centralized control, but the pressures in that direction are already building.

    Robert C., did you think I was saying the world will be a better place? The delusion of progress — the notion that human affairs inevitably move over time from worse to better — is a fairy tale best outgrown.

    Yorkshire, I’ll leave this to the computer gamers, thanks.

    Endrickwater, I hope you’re right, but Scotland’s going to have to get by on a small fraction of the gross domestic product it’s had in recent years. Back when it was independent, it was proud but poor; I hope today’s Scots can handle the same conditions.

    PeterEV, excellent! Henley’s is a great source; of course I also recommend 1970s-era appropriate tech and back-to-the-land literature, which includes a lot of details on how to get by with less. I’ll be interested to see if anyone comes up with a file-to-book arrangement. As for the old main street businesses, yes, all those — or as many of them as are still possible — will be coming back; once the imperial wealth pump breaks down, economies of scale run the other direction.

    Clarke, Gandalf’s advice is always good. Yeah, I didn’t start playing Cassandra’s role until my teens, when I read Isaac Asimov’s essay The Nightmare Life Without Fuel and started doing research on my own. (The short form? Asimov was wrong about the time frame.)

    Degringolade, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Allie001, good! Yes, and these are valid points. Paying attention to them will help with the psychological impact of the end of our empire.

    Kevin, oh, granted. A smart company would keep the people who know how to make things run, and ditch the ones who are dependent on them — but we already know there aren’t many smart companies out there.

    Siliconguy, and that’s exactly why this is going to take decades. Building the factories is easy. Getting a capable work force is harder. Changing attitudes from the top of society to the bottom, so that available resources go to factories and work force training rather than being siphoned off by kleptocrats or squandered by those who’ve gotten used to a society that doesn’t value their work — that’s very, very hard.

    Douglas, whisper this: it’s by no means certain that the US nuclear arsenal is still usable. After generations of fantastic corruption and incompetence in our military procurement system, it’s far from sure that our nukes are any better than our fighter planes — and you’ll notice that the US government has gone far, far out of its way to make sure that the F-35s don’t actually have to face combat…

    Malleus, ha! What he would do, of course, is crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and hear the lamentations of the media. That is to say, you’re most welcome.

    Gratefulcollapser, I’m delighted to hear this! You’re welcome, of course, and thank you also.

    TJ, that’s one possibility. There are many others. Don’t get stuck on a single scenario — especially the kind that requires a fast collapse!

    Pygmycory, that’s part of what makes this situation so messy. It’s much faster to lay people off than it is to create new jobs, and so there’s going to be a lot of misery going all the way down to the bottom of the income pyramid.

    Bradley, oh, about a year after it’s all over and done with. The worse it gets, the more you can be sure that what’s left of the chattering classes will insist at the top of their lungs that everything’s going to go back to “normal” any day now.

    Celadon, and a fine summary! You’re most welcome and thank you.

    Rusty, it’s between five and ten years too late to ask those questions. No, you don’t have the time to move off the grid and start farming, even if you knew how to farm — and that’s not easy work. If you’re not already equipped with skills that will allow you to provide goods and services that ordinary people want and need, get some, and if you can manage your mortgage debt until inflation gets rid of it, that would also help. Other than that? You’re going to be scrambling for survival along with millions of others.

  42. Hi John,

    What a great post!

    I was playing around with ChatGBT today as part of my research project for my white collar work. Whilst its not at the stage that it can replace my work, it can certainly do around 80% of my drafting so clearly a big risk to my career.

    Now, I don’t think its an imminent risk but, in time, and factoring in wider issues like the unravelling of the global economy in the 2nd half of the 2020s going into the 2030s, at some point I will be made permanently redundant.

    The good news is I’ve been quietly collapsing now for over a decade. Nearly paid off the mortgage, no personal debts, will have solar panels soon and growing my own food among other things.

    As you say this is a process not a event so time to carry on developing my skills and alternative income streams.

  43. Thank you, JMG, for yet another wonderful post.

    I was one of those who read “Collapse now and avoid the rush” when it was first published. I read it multiple times since then, to keep me on the right path.

    Took me a while to fully embrace the meaning for me personally, but I feel that I’m well on my way to be able to take a significant cut in income and still be able to continue living comfortably. This cut in income might appear just as much as price inflation than being paid less.

    I’ve been working to reduce debt since I first started reading your blog. I have the possibility of moving in with another household if required. I have prepared a plan to share the ownership of a vehicle in the years ahead with said other household. Current house isn’t entirely paid off, but it is much more affordable than any other housing options around, but I’m getting ready to sell it if I must.

    I tend to worry more about the working classes of today, who are already barely making it, yet face an exaggerated increase in the cost of living not matched by their income. There are already a lot of people sinking down further without much opportunity to escape. There are 19th and early 20th century books that talk about poverty in London and other cities to remind us just how poor people could get and still mostly go on with living, and there is little reason why things couldn’t eventually end up like that again. And there are those like my Irish husband who grew up in poverty in the 80s who actually know what it’s like to go without new clothes (and only hand me downs from the neighbours), central heating, electronics, etc., who would do well to remind us of how one can live frugally and still have a fulfilling life.

    Interesting years ahead, for sure.

  44. @JMG and @ALL interested in this issue

    Thanks for your reply.

    On a point related to the difficulties of the long descent, my view has been for some years that arguing – which is different than healthy debating or discussing – is a waste of time and unless there is really something to argue , why not just do what we are here to do in a simple and pleasant manner.

    Sometimes these days even when I go to the local stores, the bank, the admin office , it looks like they are ready to have passive aggression and they are ready to argue about which bills they will give me for change , and which corner of the paper I should sign,
    or they ask me to repeat the same thing three times – and I don’t even mention the business place and workplace which can have more complex and intense versions of this .

    I find this exhausting. Isn’t all that passive aggression and tension a big waste of time and energy? Does anyone know what I am talking about, and how do you handle it well in every day life?

  45. Hi John, this one article of yours is worth a small library of geopolitical books! What is your opinion on: 1) the probability large-scale wars using tactical nukes or worse; and 2) the impact of the COVID vaccines?

  46. That expression on Biden’s face….it sums up the USG’s approach just so perfectly. Before that it was this face 😡 when Trump was in office.

    A professor I know posted that his public university department is slashing their budget by 10% for next year. I’m hoping these places don’t make their enrollment numbers again for this fall and the cut is more like 20%. The way professors and admins talk about the students they teach and the country as a whole….well the cuts should be 100%. Just close them down.

  47. Well Mr. Greer, my dancing to a different tune kinda hit a wall when my significant other decided to call ‘us’ quits, necessitating an abrupt change in my ‘collapse now and avoid the rush’ strategy that I’ve pursued the last decade. I now reside in a tiny upstairs unit (essentially a studio over a garage), brought over a few container blueberries plus some empty containers to plant tomatoes or somesuch.. but no chickens for eggs, nor honeybees/ hives.. none of the space that gave me the flexibility that I hoped would help weather harder times. So I rent for the foreseeable future, having 1/2 the proceeds from the sale of our former abode, whilst I ponder what direction I take towards a path of regaining some of what was previously lost, minus for now a mate to share it with. I live in Washington State – aka California’s up-and-coming northern twin! I wish to disassociate myself from the building craycraywokeness Olympia is fosting on upon everyone within her purview … I just haven’t yet considered where to make tracks to..

  48. Something that has been jarring for me of late is my sense of bewilderment at the pace of events. The acceleration has been breathtaking! I have been reading your work on these subjects since about 2006 and have largely been in agreement with your analysis and interpretation of events and the general trajectory. I have found your advice about how to prepare to be wise and well considered, and I have take much of it to heart. To me, these developments were to be expected and yet I am still feeling a sense of astonishment and anxiety at an intensity that I did not expect. I imagine that people who are suddenly confronted with the specter of the collapse of our empire must be entering a state of high anxiety. How do you see the reactions of American society to the collapse-in-progress differing based on the speed of the decline?

  49. I can’t believe I missed this until now, but for some reason reading Robert C’s comment and your response put something in place, and finally one of the oddities of our time makes perfect, perfect sense. The insistence that if someone says they expect something to happen, they must want it to happen has a very simple root: it’s a case of shadow projection!

    What, after all, do believers in Progress, who make up an enormous fraction of the people in modern society, do literally all the time? Insist that the future must be what they want it to be. Which means, of course, that anyone doing anything differently becomes a threat, and when the intellectual quirk is as essential to people’s image of reality as Progress is, well, any threat to it is a major psychological issue.

    Meanwhile, dealing with the future as a physical reality instead of a mythic reality (for lack of a better way to put it), as you do, one that can be reasoned about, poses an extra strong threat to the self image of the Progressives, for it challenges both Progress and their image of logical, rational people! No wonder so many people meltdown when someone suggests a realistic future: at least the apocalypse crowd sticks with mythic images, and so doesn’t challenge their self image. Hmm….

  50. endrickwater @ 9 I have been watching youtube videos about restoration of Scotland’s wild lands with great admiration. Also similar things in England, the bringing in of beavers and so on. A question: do you think an independent Scotland will revive the Auld Alliance with France (EU), or will instead become effectively a part of Scandinavia, as I believe it was in the distant past.

  51. @ Jack # 35 – I’ve gone down a bit of a rabbit hole with Zeihan’s writings, and I think he’s (mostly) correct. I think he misses the degree to which peak oil and climate change are and will continue to hammer industrial civilization, but on the nuts and bolts of today, I think he’s largely correct. Things will be a mess everywhere, but at least North America will keep most of the messiness in-house. Hopefully.

    Fun side note, I fat-fingered ‘industrial’ and spelled it ‘undustrial’ which seems pretty fitting.

  52. I’ve been researching some of these topics a lot lately.

    I recommend “Trade Wars are Class Wars” by Michael Pettis. His writing + his twitter feed has helped me clarify how the imbalances in the global trade system have created an extremely distorted wealth distribution scheme.

    What I didn’t understand before, and I do now, is that it isn’t just an American elite/capital class policy of supply side economics/globalisation that has led to this, but actually a symbiotic relationship with the elites of foreign nations such as China, Germany, who run mercantilist trade policies, which allows both parties to extract wealth and rob their own middle/working classes of income (In america via making local production non-viable, and China etc by suppressing wages and not allowing their own currencies to appreciate via foreign reserves, thus hurting household incomes and local consumption massively).

    So the irony of what is a bit of meme-ish idea of dedollarization is that it will be great for America to reduce the usage of the dollar as a reserve and allow trade flows to balance themselves, exchange rates to fix themselves, and return production to America, and stop foreign elites from looking their constituencies via foreign asset purchases and subsidising exports.

    This requires a sea-change in American culture, including turning off the insane levels of deficit spending (issuance of US treasuries that are used as a dollar-like asset), reduction in the role of the financial sector from 8% to sub 4% of the GDP, allowing market price discovery to return by reducing balance sheet shenanigans by the fed, massive capital investment, and many other things.

    Will the boomers allow it? Well, whether you believe in the 4th turning theory, or the skies of the next decade, it’s a wild ride ahead.

    People should also check out this prescient piece by Russell Napier that suggests how the debt will be dealt with (read: inflation of 6% for decades):

    Also, this thread by Izabella Kaminska on Christine Lagarde’s latest speech at the ECB on what the portends are:

  53. Ethan L., yep. I’d say don’t even worry about tech as a side hustle; there will be several million people trying that. Find things you can do that nobody else is doing.

    Balowulf, I see the second as far more likely. Once you have LLMs, it’s a lot cheaper to pay for them than to hire human workers to do the same things. Down the road, as energy and resource limits keep biting deeper and deeper, the LLMs will begin to fail — and by then nobody living will still know how to do the jobs they’ve taken over. Fun times!

    Enjoyer, er, and where are the corporations and governments going to get the money to throw around so freely? That’s the heart of the problem the US and its close allies face: the free ride on borrowed dollars is ending, and it won’t be possible to keep on covering the costs of critical systems, much less come up with all the additional funds to keep paying people to do nothing. All those daydreams of UBI were dependent, without realizing it, on the imperial wealth pump — just as Rome could no longer fund bread and circuses once the empire came apart.

    Platypus, the NATO sanctions against Russia are going to go down in the books as one of history’s supreme examples of self-inflicted catastrophe. I don’t think we’ve even begun to see the full impact yet.

    Daniel, the United States will have to struggle to maintain control of its own territory in the years to come, with political collapse and partition a real possibility. The Monroe Doctrine? As dead as the Dred Scott decision. A return to federalism is very nearly the only option that will enable the national government to put its remaining resources into essentials such as national defense and interstate transport; we’ll see if that occurs to enough people in time.

    Longsword, thanks for this!

    Justin, I’ve got a typewriter already, and a garden’s a good way to get dirt on my fingers, so I’ll take that as a good omen. Thanks for the article; I’ll get to it when I have two spare minutes to rub together. 😉

    S. Eriksen, if you’re in NATO, you’re close enough.

    Pholiate, which demonstrates that Twitter didn’t even need that many people to run its censorship system.

    DavidBTL, that’s a very good point. Money is not the only option; making or doing things yourself, or making and doing things you can give to neighbors and help get a culture of reciprocity going again, are very effective moves just now.

    Pholiate, I know. Phone trees will get worse, too, when it’s all AI.

    Jack, there are no adults in the room. That’s just it. It’s crucial to get past the notion that there is an alternative path “forward” — the direction in which we’ve been going for all these years leads nowhere. If you think the US will be left to its own devices, btw, you really need to get out more; mass migration from the south is already a significant factor, and it’s by no means impossible — or even unlikely — that the US will break up in the years ahead, in which case alliances between some of the successor states and rising powers overseas are all but inevitable.

    Phutatorius, in a situation like that, bringing in younger relatives or close friends is the traditional approach.

    Ben, you do indeed recall correctly! With regard to LLM and the like, in the middle to long run those will fail, but we’re not dealing with the middle to long run yet. Fifty years from now, yes, human beings will be cheaper; that won’t pay the salaries of the managerial classes now. With regard to Russia, yes, I’ve included that in my analysis. That’s why they’ve replaced quite a few commanders after some embarrassing defeats, and had to do some fumbling to find weapons systems that worked. Ever since they finished the big mobilization, though, they’ve had ample troops on hand, the vast majority of which are being held in reserve. That bespeaks caution, not incompetence.

    Brenainn, glad to hear it. Yes, mental and spiritual preparations are as important as the material kind — more important, really.

    Casey, there’s a rich and bitter irony in the way the last hurrah of the industrial revolution is playing out, because it’s precisely those creative (or pseudocreative) types who cheered the destruction of the working classes who are getting it in the teeth now. Do you remember “Learn to code”? Now the software jockeys are losing their jobs — Meta has just announced another 10,000 layoffs, for example — and it’s not as though they have any skills that a LLM can’t duplicate for much less money. A wild ride indeed.

  54. Nice synchronicity! A week ago, I wrote an essay for a clubzine in my university, about Fukuyama’s “end of history” baloney and the decline of the imperialist-capitalist system.

  55. JMG, I’m a recovering mediaevalist — actually not so recovering, as it’s endlessly useful in the cyclical way history often is when examining our current predicament, as you have often pointed out.

    Scotland was indeed almost always poor in relation to England and the Mediterranean world, but not so different to Scandinavia, interestingly. You are correct when you say that people here are going to have to get a grip of that truth as the situation changes. I’m particularly excited by the gains made by land reformers (land ownership has always been a source of contention), of which the purchase of the island of Eigg and various estates in Assynt are excellent examples. However, the Scots also have a particular pride in their assumption that everyone is ultimately of the same worth — we’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns. This, along with strong communities, ownership of the land and a blossoming spiritual awareness, will help as we go forward into whatever future we find ourselves confronting. But yup, it’s going to be very hard, no doubt about it.

  56. Some reflections.

    It struck me that even if the US and the EU defeats Russia in Ukraine, exactly the same scenario could unfold anyway. China and India might still become the new great powers. Indeed, China might simply gobble up half of Russia´s economic resources if that country would collapse! Or the West might be forced to form a kind of protectionist or quasi-isolationist “Late Empire” which only controls, say, one-third or one-quarter of the globe.

    As for AI, as an office worker myself, I can absolutely confirm that most things you´re supposed to write can be taken over by a computer. In fact, there are already advanced computer programs for book-keeping (accounting) which makes it possible to replace the clerks at the economy department, and AI seems frankly *less* advanced than that. However, if the world economy unravels, maybe AI would become more rare (and so will smart phones or the Internet itself), and that would make office clerks great again…until, of course, a further unraveling of the economy will make most “white collars” redundant anyway.

    Climate change might upset some of the apple carts, too. The article below (from 2021) argues that the Taiwanese microchip industry (which is globally important) might be in crisis due to changed weather patterns in the region. Yes, really! The short story is that they need a lot of water to clean the chips, and that water supplies might get more scarce due to climate change, indeed, this is already under way. Not sure how this impacts mainland China, though.

  57. “I reliably field a flurry of comments insisting that I’m too rigid and dogmatic in my views about the future, that I need to be more openminded about alternative possibilities, that wonderful futures are still in reach, and so on.”

    A few days ago I got into a quarrel with a friend over the situation in eastern Europe. She insisted (among other things) that it was impossible to know in advance that a war was imminent and that even the best experts in the fields were caught by surprise (they were, which is no surprise…). I asked her how is it possible then, that I already knew in early December and that it was obvious for many years that something like this was about to happen in the not too-distant future.

    You do a very good job in providing your readers with a decent mental toolkit that allows to analyze a situation and act accordingly. But it is the same as with any toolkit, you need to put it to work to derive value from it. That’s maybe why C.G. Jung, for example, doesn’t play any significant role in today’s psychology. It’s a lot of work to derive value out of his works. It’ll pay off, but you need patience which few are willing to muster.

    And regarding LLMs and software development – i currently work on a little project – sparked from the CosDoc and a few small conversations we had – to explore the Mandelbrot set from a CosDoc-angle. It’s fun and involves a lot of programming to create the images and animations that I need. I doubt that I could ask an LLM to do the job for me nor would I want to, since that would basically mean asking “could you express my thoughts for me”. But that’s were I personally see the real dangers of this technology – many questions and tasks that will be assigned to LLMs will be requests to express one’s own thoughts in disguise. And many will confuse what they are presented with their own thoughts. Many if not most already have this problem because they are constantly fed by tv and mediastreams but this technology seems to have the potential to put it into overdrive.


  58. Re: JMG
    You’re right, that’s a huge oversight on my part. A declining empire doesn’t have the time or resources to waste on appeasing a useless middle class.

  59. @Rusty John #23: I only began “collapsing now” a couple of years ago. I doubt that I am anywhere near as well prepared as many others here. Playing catch up with impending crisis at the door is hard. But I’d recommend that you 1) identify all the skills you have, 2) begin raising as large a garden as you can handle, and 3) look to network with people in your community.

    Go to farmers’ markets, community gardens, even local historical reenactments, etc., and meet people. Get to know them, form partnerships and friendships. Identifying all your skills can help you find something of practical value that you already know how to do, and might be able to use as a trade in very bad economic times. I knew how to sew, thanks in large part to my late father. So, I quickly acquired all the equipment I’d need for a sewing business, and now have a side income as a result. If things get really bad, I expect a lot more business.

    If you really don’t know anything like that, then now is the time to learn. ASAP. As JMG has already told you, we’re well past the point where there’s time to get prepared in advance. I empathize with your situation, as I’m not really that far past the starting point in preparation, either. Do what you can now, and if you worship any gods, then seek out their help through prayer and ritual.

  60. For creative types thinking about the AI threat, specifically musicians:
    I suggest that focusing on things AI can’t do.

    In the case of music, people want to learn how to, or want to be in music groups for fun. Getting skilled and known to be skilled at teaching, leading and conducting amateur musicians seems like it has interesting possibilities – and AI can’t replace an in-person teacher correcting hand position or giving you feedback on articulation and musical interpretation. Can’t direct an in-person group of musicians, either.

    That still requires people to have a little time and money to put into learning music, though, and at the outset you may not be paid. Learning an instrument to a high level is also a major time and money investment, especially if you are going classical.

    Sometimes you may be paid in kind rather than in money when starting out. I teach one person recorder, they teach me knitting, I substitute teach the easy recorder band when your orchestra rehersal interferes, I get a free recorder lesson… I’ll admit I haven’t been fully tithing to church on grounds of the money I paid for the harp I bought specifically for hauling to and from church plus the large amounts of sweat equity I’m putting in running the worship team, and the fact I’m about to start taking singing lessons since I’m effectively trying to run a tiny choir and would like to do a decent job.

    Learning an instrument to a high level is a major time and money investment, especially if you are going classical. I don’t recommend starting out from zero with the plan to make money any time soon. It will be a money pit for years. This is more, if you can already play well and would like to do something with this skill, or are obsessed with music and want to make it your life’s work by any means you can and don’t really care if people try to tell you no.

    In some ways I’m lucky with the recorder, as it is an instrument fairly popular with amateurs that tends to get ignored by the universities, and most professional and aspiring professional musicians. So the fact I lack a music degree may prove less important than the fact I can play well and am getting better, and am in the process of getting experience teaching and running music groups.

  61. Ethan, and All

    I work as a software engineer and even at the most technical levels it’s been a seriously bloody massacre, several people I know lost their jobs. With the field not only being flooded with recently laid-off talent desperately looking for jobs saturating the market to the brim –triggering such things as advertisements that say, in a very PMC ironically kind of way, “recently laid off? Pursue a career change with an MBA”– I don’t expect tech side hustles to be a thing for much longer. Tech as the last iteration of “the dream” is dead and I expect only the bare essentials to remain in the future and those basically require a masters or PhD to enter and survive in it. Project Mangers? gone, small systems that support engineering systems? Gone. Fancy moonshots or colorful projects that never take off? Bye bye. At this point the only fields I see hiring are intensive core systems design and AI/ML, and the latter won’t survive after the hype only to see to the same fate later on.

    As for your point on hiring, there’s that, and also the over hiring when things look good, like when the whole planet depended on the internet, and then the ruthless firing of all the people that helped companies make godzillions… I do not recommend. I myself am looking how to get out of it just because of the morals.

  62. The focus of the solar eclipse of 19/20 April will be on the Valeriepieris circle, the presumed beneficiaries of the balancing scales.

    I was one who read your suggestion to “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush” in 2012. I was a few years into a conscious process of “deleveraging” my life, and those words felt as important confirmation of choices made, and encouragement to keep going.

  63. @Mary Bennett #50
    What interesting question.
    In Scotland, there is rewilding and there is “rewilding”, by which I mean there are people who have bought land with the intention of doing the right thing by restoring peatlands, re-storing forests and so forth in conjunction with local people as opposed to speculative investors buying up of huge acreages and planting trees in order to flog off their CO2 carbon credits through a futures market, usually with no input from local communities. You know, meet the new boss, same as the old boss (I’m looking at you, Brew Dog). Yes, there is some spectacularly good restoration being done (eg The Flow Country, which we hope will become a World Heritage Site). Parts of the west and north of Scotland include the remains of a temperate rainforest, and work is being done to extend and link these.

    Scotland was never part of Scandinavia (which is a geographical construct, really), although various Scandinavian countries occupied bits of Scotland, particularly parts of Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, and many of the Hebridean islands, most notably Lewis in the Viking era. I would hope that an independent Scotland would first look north to Scandinavia, and that trade group, rather than south as we have traditionally done. Norway, Denmark and even Sweden, the most populous, are small countries, too. There is certainly a group which would like an independent Scotland to rejoin the EU (Scotland rejected Brexit in 2016). Not sure the Auld Alliance ever did much for us (kinda like the Romans) — they were never there when we really needed them; we, however, were always a useful counterweight for them in their quarrels with their English cousins. Suspect it might be the same if we rejoined the EU. Another example of history being cyclical…?

  64. Hello all,

    As a high school teacher, I’m wondering about how I am going to weather this upcoming storm. Before 1945, most people finished their schooling when they were done with 8th grade. I’m middle-aged and there’s a teacher shortage in my state (particularly in science and math), so I’m hoping I can ride the tide for a couple more decades.

    I had a house with a large backyard, but I gave it up during my divorce a couple of years ago. I was getting good at growing stuff, too. I now have an apartment, but at least I am closer to work.

    I’m reduced to working on improving my health (which is going well), growing a couple of plants in my apartment’s balcony during the warmer months, dabbling in Golden Dawn, and hoping that the culling of the middle class might spare me for a few decades.

  65. Dear JMG,

    I have been rather pleasantly surprised that my state has suddenly begun holding “Workforce Development” fairs for high schoolers and anyone else 18 or older who wants job training. And those fairs are packed with trade union reps, offering immediate placement in paid employment along with free union-sponsored classes at night to gain skills and certifications. Sheet metal, HVAC, plumbing, electricians, welding, heavy equipment, construction, heavy duty sewing, jet engine mechanics, marine jobs…almost any trade you can imagine is recruiting young people at these fairs.

    Connecticut was once a manufacturing and shipping powerhouse, and it looks like it will be again. I don’t think the government has a master plan–more like the Great Resignation and the baby boomer retirement hit, the state realized it has a serious worker shortage, and the trade unions took advantage of the moment to pitch a plan to revitalize their memberships.

    Frankly for those of us with high school age children who are questioning the value of a college degree and eager to get some real skills, it’s the answer to a prayer. And a sign of the times.

    –Ms Krieger

  66. Hi JMG – I am hopeful this process will bring out the best in America. A re-tooling of US manufacturing, de-financialization of your economy and a retreat from the business of Empire sounds like something many of your citizens could unite behind.

    East Asia remains perilously dependent on Persian Gulf and Russian oil and gas with no real alternative available. The traffic jam of tankers from the Gulf to the South China Sea is protected by the US navy. So I would expect the US to use that particular leverage point for as long as possible.

    Russian oil and gas is delivered by pipeline. Above ground pipes are stationary targets that don’t require divers to reach them (ahem!).

    Here in Australia we will continue selling rocks of various kinds. We will attempt to pump the economy with mass immigration and pray the housing price bubble doesn’t burst (it will, eventually). We too are massively dependent on imported oil and petroleum. As the arm wrestle for Mid East oil ramps up, Australia may well find ourselves inking supply deals with the US.

    I have been reading your posts since the Decline and Fall series all those years ago. Thank you for your map of this terrain. It has been enormously beneficial.


  67. JMG ~ Thank you for the years of insight and vision. I took your advice to collapse early and avoided the rush and brought my kids and husband along. We farm in a northern, inhospitable, beautiful part of the prairie. My kids, all in college for practical fields like nursing, grew up gardening, splitting wood, raising and butchering chickens, handling cattle, planting trees, preserving food, and being a part of community by working in the nursing home or small town businesses. I’m sitting here with a few books for organic apple orcharding, having finished an apple tree grafting class and learning how to prune. My years of planting fruit trees that I hoped would “thrive on neglect” are over. Those trees need TLC and my goal is to raise apple trees that will grow the next 100 years. I’m planting 15 more this year.

    I met with a group of back to the land farmers a few weeks ago and one of them took me aside and said that what I had said resonated with him and he wondered why people weren’t more concerned about collapse. He said he considered himself a “scout” and that he saw a different way into the future. He thought that I was a fellow scout. I think it’s my nature, but you gave me the substance and form. Thank you.

    One issue I don’t think you’ve addressed is firearms. What is your stance on firearms as part of collapsing now and avoiding the rush? We have shotguns and 22s for practical purposes, like killing the rabid skunk on our front porch a few days ago or the literal fox in my henhouse and hunting. I consider myself a calm, competent, fearless person, BUT I took a 12 hour handgun safety and handling course a couple weeks ago and then froze on the firing range. Shaking and paralyzed. That shocked me about myself, but is insightful that having a handgun doesn’t seem to be the path for me.

  68. Well JMG, this farmer, for one, is very grateful for your “collapse now, avoid the rush” advice. 12 years since leaving the office behind, it’s still the steepest learning curve I’ve ever encountered. Whoda thunk the transition from “Technical Director” to “Lifter Of Heavy Things” would be so technically challenging?
    I’d hate to be starting now…

  69. It continues to amaze me, though it really shouldn’t, how the US and its closest allies/satellites have continued to double down on their failed policy of sanctioning Russia and then threatening China after seeing how counterproductive it is. The insanity of Biden first threatening Saudi, then crawling to them, then being outraged when China brokered a Saudi/Iran peace deal and arranged to buy oil in Yuan is almost on the level of a Monty Python skit. I wonder if the impending Ukrainian collapse will even wake them up. I guess the myth of American supremacy is so deeply ingrained that they can’t believe that it is a myth. With neocons Nulan, Blinken and Sullivan and the demented warmonger Biden running the country, they seem incapable of realizing they are losing. What used to be considered a free press seems to have just become government propaganda organs.
    I don’t even know if a change of government in the next US election will change the country’s direction. I will certainly vote against Biden, whomever that means voting for. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that a deeply split government may render them even more ineffective. I fear the military/industrial/intelligence community has such a financial grip on the congress that war spending is the only thing they all agree on.
    Sometimes the American thinking seems akin to that of the British army in WWI
    Wow! interesting late imperial times

  70. Forecasting, good. I find that it’s not actually that hard to prepare for this sort of thing, given adequate lead time — and I tried to give people that.

    Poseidon, that’s a major issue, of course. A lot of people low down on the income pyramid are going to be clobbered by this. Learning how to get by with very little money, and teaching those who are willing to learn, may help.

    Tony, of course it’s a waste of time and energy, but when people are under immense stress for reasons they’re not willing to talk or even think about, that’s what you’re going to see.

    Greg, thank you. With regard to nukes, we got through the fall of the Soviet Union without any mushroom clouds, and I think it’s fairly likely we’ll get through the fall of the United States the same way. As for the Covid vaccines, that’s impossible to gauge until their long term effects are understood — and of course the necessary testing was never done. If the surge in excess deaths we’ve seen in heavily vaccinated countries peaks and declines, the vaccines won’t have much effect. If it keeps on rising — or, in a worst case scenario, if some very large fraction of the people who got them die from acquired immune deficiency, as some researchers are suggesting — then Katy bar the door; it’s going to be a world-class mess.

    Denis, the American university system as it now exists is doomed. Its sole reason for being — well, other than pushing predatory loans on unwary kids — is to turn out vast numbers of graduates who can get office jobs. Since most of the office jobs in the US are going away in the years immediately ahead, the vast majority of university departments and a very large number of universities will shut down. The end of federally insured student loans will play a large part in that, so will the fact that a soaring number of young people these days know that a university degree isn’t worth the snotwipe it’s printed on, and of course so will the collapse of budgets and of endowment funds as the economy runs off the rails. Stay tuned.

    Polecat, I’m sorry to hear this! That happened to my birth family, for what it’s worth; my dad had some rough times in the immediate aftermath but recovered and did very well thereafter. That small upstairs unit was a good choice — minimizing costs is crucial — and I hope you get out of Washington state before the last of the moving trucks get taken elsewhere, never to return. My wife and I haven’t regretted for a minute our decision to leave the west coast behind.

    Selkirk, I know the feeling! After all these years tracking slow shifts, it’s quite something to watch the fall of an empire in real time. Even for those who know what’s coming, it’s a rough ride; for those who have no clue, it’s going to be unbelievably traumatic, since nearly everything they’ve been told to believe about the world is going to be disproved in front of their eyes. Expect to see some truly florid mental breakdowns as a result.

    Anonymous, good heavens. You’re right, of course, and that never occurred to me. Thank you.

    Daedalus, interesting. Thanks for these.

    Minervaphilos, thanks for doing this. The more people giggle at Fukuyama’s Folly, the fewer will be tempted to fall into similar mistakes of their own.

    Endrickwater, Scotland and the Scandinavian countries have much the same ecology, of course, so it’s not surprising they had similar experiences in the medieval and Renaissance periods. My paternal ancestors are Scots — Greer is a Clan Gregor sept — so I’ve watched events on the northern end of the island with quite some interest for a while now. I hope things work out well.

    Jeff, it’s been fascinating to see a certain awareness of all this seep through the crawlspaces of late.

    Tidlösa, funny — is that supposed to be Corona-chan? As for your more serious reflections, granted — it’s a complex, messy situation and all manner of things could spin out of control.

    David BTL, thanks for this. No surprises there!

    Nachtgurke, a good point and one that I’ve fretted about over the years. There’s the old saying about leading the horse to water…

    Pygmycory, that strikes me as very good advice. Thank you.

    Brazzart, yes, though it also affects Australia. It’ll be interesting to see who takes the brunt of it.

    Ray the Second, you might look into the employment opportunities in private or charter schools, which are much more likely to keep their doors open. Other than that, you might work on learning astrology; a lot of occultists got through the Great Depression in good shape by casting horoscopes.

    Ms. Krieger, they’re doing that in Connecticut? That’s very, very good news. The more young people get into productive, non-paper-pushing jobs now, the less disruptive the changeover will be. Hmm — I may drop a letter to somebody in Rhode Island to see if a similar program can get going here; RI also used to be a surprisingly big manufacturing state.

    Darren, keep in mind that the Chinese navy these days is larger than the US navy — it doesn’t have as many aircraft carriers yet, but it’s got hypersonic missiles, which we don’t. Australian may be facing some very difficult geopolitics in the years ahead.

    Sunlight, glad to hear this! As for firearms, it really varies from person to person and from region to region. A firearm is a tool, and in some situations — for example, rabid skunks — it’s the best tool for the job. But whether to own, and what to own, depends on where you are, what you expect to do, and what choices you’re prepared to make.

    Les, delighted to hear it!

    Stephen, that’s a very good comparison. The US political class, like the upper echelons of the early 20th century British army, is so class-ridden that its inmates spend their entire careers being sheltered from the consequences of their actions; that makes it impossible for them to learn from their mistakes, or to be replaced by those who will. The results are always disastrous — and in our case, there’s nobody to bail us out at the last minute the way we bailed out Britain in 1918 and 1942.

  71. Well, I wouldn’t want to be part of that flurry of objections, and I’ve been very grateful for your predictions for many years now. But I think my mileage varies here. My intuition and all the circumstances of my life are sending me into a particular area in government which I suspect will prosper for many years yet. Can’t help thinking I’m being sent to my post like a soldier. To do what? I don’t know. After that – well, maybe provide assets and less physical labour to help the young hands with the subsistence farming.

  72. Some positive news. Wolf Richter is showing that new businesses are still surging three years after the boom during Covid. I do think people see the handwriting on the wall and are doing what they can to make their own income. Admittedly, many of these professions will disappear in the future.

    There is a lot of talk too about a parallel economy and that will contribute to new businesses. A lot of people are just tired of everything and are looking for an exit. My hope is that a strong network of grassroots businesses will absorb the shock of a failing corporate/government run system.

  73. You might be interested to know that St. Louis’ newspaper of record, the Post-Dispatch, published an editorial last weekend calling on Biden to resign for the good of his legacy, the Democratic Party, and the country. The P-D is politically like most big city newspapers, so I was quite surprised to see this. I’d link to it, but I don’t subscribe so I can’t do anything more than read the headline.

  74. Nachtgurke (#60)

    I’ve sometimes wondered of late if handing thinking over to the machines isn’t what’s driven an awful lot of the weirdness of the last few years. The kicker though is that we wouldn’t even necessarily notice we’ve done it: all that’s needed is a filter that’s run by an algorithm; that filter controls the inputs into our minds, and since we can only think with the tools on hand, by allowing it that kind of control, we’ve handed it a real degree of control over our minds.

    Notice then that all that’s required is, say, a biased search engine, and people who are unwilling, or unable, to gather intellectual sources from outside of the filter. Having genuinely new ideas is surprisingly hard: even noticing logical consequences of information already at hand can be surprisingly tricky (see, for example, that I’ve wondered for close to a decade why people would often insist that I wanted any future I expected that sits outside the normal narratives; despite having known about projection for most of that time, the link only struck me today, and it apparently never struck anyone else who comments here, despite many of us knowing Jung inside and out.)

    So, control what goes into a human mind, and you can quite effectively control what kinds of things that mind can think about. Given that certain weird trends went into overdrive with the development of algorithms sophisticated enough to target what kind of messages people got, I think it’s worth considering we’re already living in a society where a very large fraction of the populace has handed their thinking over to the machines without noticing it.

  75. @endrickwater. Eigg is an ongoing disaster that is plagued with bitter in-fighting between small minded shareholders. Shetland and Orkney are still legally part of Norway and their land ownership is still fundamentally Scandinavian. Nicola Sturgeon and her husband are involved in corruption that extends far beyond the missing six hundred thousand. England will not surrender Scotland without considerable bloodshed.

    @JMG I agree with absolutely everything that you have written, except to add that Russia survived the sanctions largely because it is self sufficient in most sectors, and not so much because it was aided by its foreign trading partners.
    In my opinion extreme weather events will be one of the main issues facing mankind in the future (including rainstorms that are capable of inundating entire nations).

  76. On Twitter:

    As a synchronicity, I just listened today to an interview to Elon Musk on Fox News. What I took about his comments on the Big Firing is that the great engineering effort required to make that platform a reality happened very early in the lifecycle of the company, and that from a technology point of view they were not doing anything interesting as of lately. So, the bulk of the positions let go were presumably sinecures handed out to people of proper ideological bent and/or high numbers on the “oppression axis” front. To the degree these employees did something, it had mainly to do with both internal and external policing and censorship. But from a pure business perspective, it would take much less labor to handle the stewardship of their mature infrastructure; it is just a cash cow, and the new administration is motivated to treat it as such.

  77. “Greg, thank you. With regard to nukes, we got through the fall of the Soviet Union without any mushroom clouds, and I think it’s fairly likely we’ll get through the fall of the United States the same way. As for the Covid vaccines, that’s impossible to gauge until their long term effects are understood — and of course the necessary testing was never done. If the surge in excess deaths we’ve seen in heavily vaccinated countries peaks and declines, the vaccines won’t have much effect. If it keeps on rising — or, in a worst case scenario, if some very large fraction of the people who got them die from acquired immune deficiency, as some researchers are suggesting — then Katy bar the door; it’s going to be a world-class mess.”

    Frankly, a straight out mass death scenario may turn out to be easier to deal with that if it turns out some large fraction of the vaccinated acquire some sort of debilitating condition, such as dementia, before they die….

  78. JMG ~ I know you don’t take with the fast collapse scenario, but…. I’ve been looking at solar storms (like the 1859 Carrington Event) and how it would disrupt modern agriculture. I’ve found that it doesn’t even need to be as large as the 1859 event now that farmers are reliant on GPS and remote sensing, etc… New John Deere seeders need to get a GPS lock before it will release seed.

    I think that it is possible we might have another solar event that destroys the electric grid, which would be catastrophic for people in the US and elsewhere. Have you looked into this scenario?

  79. Hi John Michael,

    Gosh darn it! Robert E Howard is a good author. 🙂 Few authors have held my attention, and the quotes are a hoot.

    After many years working at the top end of town, and meeting folks you critique, I changed direction. Ghân-buri-Ghân called it correctly. Incidentally I watched on with dismay as such folks off-shored manufacturing, as earlier on I worked in that area. Hmm.

    Changing direction is very hard. The profession most certainly appears not to want anyone with my background to work with small business. The hoops man, the hoops. My income was arbitrarily limited to $25k (before business expenses) for 3 years. Few could weather that storm. It takes a lot of skill to be poor, but been there, done that.

    Nowadays, with few if any folks from a business background offering services to small businesses, I’m busy. Hardly surprising.

    Tell ya what you’re up against though. Many years ago I had to fill out a very complicated form. It took a couple of hours to complete, and a client paid for that work. I sent the form in. Got a call from the nice folks who were meant to process it, and apparently I’d accidentally neglected to fill out a single box. From memory, the box had to have the number 1 written in it. I’d fortunately kept a copy of the completed form, and sure enough the bloke was right. The box was empty. I asked him to just write the number in there. He chose to throw the form out. Wouldn’t even return it. And I could almost hear the smirk. Mate, it’s not a good use of taxpayers money to pay for folks like that. Had to re-do the form all over again.

    What did Norm say in the series Cheers? Bureaucrats, can’t live with ’em, pass the beer nuts. 😉



  80. What I have seen under hypnosis is a smaller, much more local, but better world, free from the social lunacy now being pushed by our Rulers…Which I will not live to see, and likely even our children may not live to see..But I will experience in my next life, perhaps….The US empire has descended to very evil depths in the last 40 years, and deserves to die…

  81. One of the things that concerns me with regard to the oncoming collapse is the huge number of people in America who are medicated for “anxiety” or other similar issues. I now know of at least 3 in my newly extended family ( via sons marriage). I have heard such people number in the tens of millions. If they can barely handle American when we are harvesting 25% of the worlds bounty how will they get along when we only get 5%. I realize that much of this is caused by the “crazyness” of the modern world but I am not sure that a drop to a much poorer, simpler but perhaps more chaotic world will help much with these folks mental outlook. Do you think this will add to the chaos of the long decline or is it self correcting?

  82. Technology does seem to throw some curveballs into collapse preparations. For example, if I had spent the last five years learning to be an accountant and building up my own small business, thinking that accountants would always be needed by small and medium sized businesses, I’d feel pretty bitter now that LLMs are going to render accountants obsolete.

    An LLM could theoretically offer a similar experience to an astrology consultation, and an always-available AI astrologer is much cheaper than an astrologer’s consultation fee. Even if AI and a real astrologer work in totally different ways.

    Medical AI, if it ends up being any good, could also cause trouble for homeopaths and herbalists on the diagnostic end of things, especially if LLMs are trained with the literature in those fields.

  83. JMG, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve followed your blog(s) since 2010, I doubt that our small house would be paid off, our old paid-for car would be slated to be our last, and our pantry would be nothing like as deep as it is. Husband and I are both retired and are classic introverts, but I make it a point to be in touch with a handful of friends and family because it makes life interesting, and also because we may all need each other in the times ahead.

    A datapoint for you: The Public Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) routinely updates its pensioners that this isn’t the 1980s (they actually said that last winter!), those days won’t return, and forget about anything more than a 1% COLA in the years ahead. Even that 1% is burdensome. It worked out to about another ten bucks a month for me, but multiply “me” across tens of thousands of retirees, some with much larger pensions, and yes, it’s burdensome. I fully expect, at the very least, that COLA will go away in my lifetime.

    They stress that this system must work for those who paid into it, as well as those who currently are. And of course they are right. I hope they can make it work. For as long as possible.


  84. JMG,

    You a braver man than me for warning as many as you have for as long as you have.

    I dont warn anyone anymore, it’s too riksy.

    Nothing makes a someone hate you like being right after warning them. They resent the hell out of you for not successfully convincing them to change course.

  85. Ms. Krieger,

    That’s the second nudge I get that makes look Connecticut like a good state to move to! In June I’ll be touring New England, so I have added it to the list, thank you.

    Today I was thinking about this, the value of education, and one of the things that I found endlessly confusing while studying is why on Earth am I getting all these classes that I don’t care about to go to somewhere that I am not really eager into going? The answer to that was, basically, that it was because those are “filler” classes and the reason was that education institutions are not about education at all, but about what the market seems to care. It is not even that they care about the subject itself, it is that they care about having a paper that says you passed a filter and that’s about it. Education these days is mainly about being filters for talent, not really about skills… Basically a bootcamp/test to supply industry. Sigh…

    It is revealing and kind of sad that the place where you are supposed to find passionate people about learning and teaching is a place to make money for the institution on one hand and to supply the endless machinery with well behaved cogs on the other 🙁

  86. Leonie, I hope it works well for you.

    Jon G, it’s good news, no question, and it’s another sign of the implosion of the managerial system. Forcing economic activity into the hands of big corporations has been a central element of US economic policy for decades now, but the big corporations these days are hopelessly dysfunctional at providing goods and services to consumers, so the little mammals are scampering around having a good time while the dinosaurs stare blankly at meteor tracks in the sky.

    SLClaire, at this point a great many Democrats are desperate to get rid of Biden and Harris so they can run a candidate who has a chance of winning. My guess is they’ll manage it — though the party doesn’t have a lot of potential candidates just now.

    Tengu, Russia’s self-sufficiency was certainly an important factor, but a steady flow of currency from sales of oil, gas, grain, and other Russian products was also crucial to the failure of the sanctions — and it’s having a much broader effect, as it’s shown more trade-dependent countries that they don’t have to fear being cut off from

    CR, that makes a great deal of sense.

    Anonymous, I know. If we get that kind of scenario — well, as I said, it’s going to be a world-class mess.

    Sunlight, there are an infinite number of scenarios that could bring about a fast collapse. None of them ever happen, in case you haven’t noticed. Thus I don’t concern myself with them.

    Chris, oh, granted. The whole point of that is to give bureaucrats a chance to do favors for their friends in big business and squeeze out small businesses. All very cozy!

    Pyrrhus, so noted.

    Clay, anxiety is a normal human experience in difficult times. The pharmaceutical industry has capitalized on that, getting physicians to insist that this normal experience is pathological, and can only be dealt with by taking drugs with a galaxy of nasty side effects. My take is that most of the people who are being medicated for anxiety would be better off without the drugs anyway. But we’ll see!

    Jbucks, yes, I’m quite aware of the potential for LLM astrology! Things of that sort have been in process for years, of course, and you can make money having a machine assemble prewritten paragraphs into a computerized astrology report. That’s one of the reasons I don’t rely on that income stream.

    Ottergirl, thanks for this — and thank you for the data point. The fact that they can only cover a 1% COLA adjustment when inflation is far above that figure is, I think, telltale.

    GlassHammer, I know. One of the reasons I pass out my warnings online is that if somebody gets offended that I was right and starts screaming, or sniping, or being a jerk in some other way, I can delete them. I don’t try to warn people in person!

  87. @JMG in response to Daniel re: #28 about federalism –

    It strikes me that after Rome fell and especially after the Ostrogoths were defeated, the Italian peninsula remained divided for over 1,300 years. Germany too after Charlemagne, depending on how united you want to consider the Holy Roman Empire. Note that in neither case were they “taken over” by some external expanding empire the way e.g. the Greeks were.

  88. I always learn from your writing. The type of collapse I fear most is slow erosion, especially of natural systems. The age of agriculture is an example.

  89. Various notes; starting with our favorite Lardbucket, I was saving this until next week, but it fits here,

    “Maintenance is a key concern for America’s latest fighter jet, given the Pentagon’s struggles to keep the aircraft in service. [Air Force Lieutenant General Michael Schmidt] acknowledged last week that on any given day in February, an average of just 29% of the US F-35 fleet was “fully mission capable.” Just last month, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office ordered a global recall for the aircraft to fix an engine problem linked to at least one crash. US lawmakers have estimated that it will cost $1.3 trillion to sustain the nation’s F-35 fleet, partly because of poor reliability.”

    As for making a book from a PDF, archival grade paper is available at $35 a ream. A black and white laser printer is not very expensive either. Binding it is a different issue, but do you need to? Three ring binders are a thing, as are the reinforcing rings for the holes.

    As for firearms, semiautomatics are in ill-repute at the moment. If you have a shotgun and a 22 rimfire rifle you are good. Handguns take a lot of practice to become and stay proficient. For the shotgun a 12 gauge is standard, but it kicks hard. I use a 20 gauge. Ammunition is common, unlike 16 or 28 gauge. A selection of shot sizes is a necessity. And don’t forget slugs for large stubborn targets.

    If you want a deer rifle any bolt action chambered in 308 Winchester will do. It will also shoot 7.62 by 51 military ammunition as well.

    And as for college, the boys are taking a look at the verbal abuse from the Woke professors and dropping out or not going. The trades pay just as well and you get paid while being trained. This is causing a boy shortage on campus, and a good many of the girls are leaving too. Administration shocked, film at 11.

    If the government wants to fully electrify the country with renewable sources then they need a lot of electricians. If they want to install a vast number of heat pumps they need HVAC people. So young ladies, if you want to meet eligible guys, you know where to look. 😉 The pay is good too, and it’s by the hour and by scale. No wage gap.

    By the way, the same fine motor skills that give women an edge in sewing also can give them an edge in welding.

    Now, if I could only figure out a way to get Western Washington to agree to divorce Eastern Washington all would be well, or at least better. But they are not done asset stripping us yet.

  90. “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation” was once said. So, yes, it will be a rocky, painful but not a quick collapse of our present system. Quick in a historical sense looking back on it, decades, but not a mere few years. Though part of me is open to this era being what precedes the Second Coming of Jesus which is supposed to happen after a convulsive 7 year or 3.5 year period.

  91. On LLMs and software:

    I used ChatGPT4 to give me a function that does linear regression (an early undergraduate level statistical calculation). It was wrong the first time but got it the second time. This was pretty cool (if disturbing, considering what I do for a living). Coworkers have done similar things, finding that they needed to treat the AI with a serious degree of skepticism, but noting that the AI-enhanced process was 2-3x faster than before. Even without future improvements to the technology, this is pretty huge. However, in real life, just because some subtasks are done 200-300% faster does not mean that the same deliverable results can be accomplished with 1/3 to 1/2 of the workforce.

    While I ain’t arguing about the broad shape of the future, right now we are in the peak of the hype cycle with respect to LLMs replacing software developers. Right now entrepreneurs in that space are staking their hopes on Python scripts that attempt to marshal large numbers of GPT3.5 or GPT4 agents together into something capable of doing complex tasks. Currently, GPT4 has a 4096 token limit in its input and output, corresponding to around 4500 words in English. A rough estimate of the total body of work that my software job involves which would not be part of ChatGPT’s training data is 500,000 words (or more as you zoom out into the larger context that the company operates in), with no clear linkages between many of the documents, whether in English or a variety of programming languages.

    While the LLMs will get both bigger and better, there is a long way to go from “labor saving tools that will kill entry-level opportunity and make the absurd salaries of the 2007-2022 tech bubble a thing of the past” to “eliminating 90% of jobs”. In the 90s it was said that the Western software industry was going to go away due to competition from Indian outsourcing firms who paid their workers less than 5% of what Western workers got. The problem was requirements hell – the Indian firms were cost focused, communication loops were slow and language barriers were real – and so they might deliver something that technically fulfilled their contract, but wasn’t fit for purpose. A ChatGPT agent inside a python script trying to fulfil prompts it got from other ChatGPT agents is not a reliable worker, even if it is very cheap.

    In any case, software is about defining requirements and verifying that those requirements are fulfilled. Actually fulfilling requirements is relatively easy – e-Teddy Ruxpin can do it already, poorly – but figuring out the actual requirements is another matter. Anyway, I am not here to argue about the future of my profession, but rather to share my perspective on its decline and why I think the curve will be shaped a little differently than you do.

    Sunlight, if I may, farmers are not dependent on GPS. Some have GPS guided tractors to save on labor costs – the models with GPS steering still have cabins and steering wheels. If the GPS went away, someone would have to drive. That’s all.

  92. The Western Roman Empire in the late 300’s considered itself viable and a going concern and in one life time it was gone. Same for the USA.

  93. JMG, thanks for the reply up-thread about decentralization. Interesting. I think America will stay intact, I know you see it fracturing up into a European patch like work. Idk, my thought is just I think America has some of that China like glue to it as a contiguous whole – I think the federation of the states will remain intact even if it becomes a toothless body relative to bloc states. I could also see it going the other way, and the United States and Mexico becoming more integrated and entangled as a mono-American economic state. Just spit-balling. agree to me it’s a range of outcomes and relative probability at this point. the shift has already happened. the events are big enough now that a lot of mainstream commenters are calling attention to them. I see your note about concise comments so I’ll leave at that. cheers!

  94. I heard that Brookfield and PIMCO defaulted on commercial real estate mortgages. Business pundits say that higher mortgage rates are biting. They say that a lot of office space is no longer needed with work-from-home arrangements. And it could be true.

    But the laptop class should know that if work can be done from home it can be done from India and for a lot less money.

    In any case, I agree, the encrustation of laptoppers is nowhere near as necessary as the laptoppers imagine. I’ve seen them in action. A lot of work is done to give the impression to outside observers (ie auditors) of analysis and process and control and oversight and stewardship. But a lot of reports don’t get read, and if they get read they’re not understood or acted on. It’s window-dressing in other words.

    But never mind what I think, Musk showed ’em. The economy-wide armies of censors, consultants, commissars, thought police, analysts, managers, directors of this and coordinators of that had better take note.

    With these higher interest rates come a lot of changes. I think that a lot of owners of long duration bonds will be up the creek. I think that real estate developers had better revisit their models. Same with banks. And shareholders too.

    They had better give some thought to this unworthy question: are statistical agencies deceiving us? Why is it that inflation looks to my lying eyes closer to 20% than to 10%?

    Regardless, the world looks a lot different financially now than it did a few years ago. And this ain’t nearly over. A lot of unworkable arrangements need to be unwound and it is just starting.

  95. An interesting data point on the collapse:

    I was recently at my Grandfather and Grandmother’s graves at Mount Zion Cemetery in Arkansas. After paying my respects to both grandparents, I took a look around and noticed a couple of gravesites where the body had been buried three-four years ago and no tombstone had been placed at the gravesite. One gravesite had a guy who evidently lived out of state and had some family nearby willing to purchase the plot for him, but there was a lady whose family was buried nearby that didn’t have a gravestone.

    Her family had had four deaths from 2010 to 2020, with the lady’s death being the last.

    I can’t help but wonder how rough the times much have been for a family to just give up with the tombstones, especially when you consider it was Mother, Father and two daughters (the parents lived 70-80 years, the daughters only lived 52-54 years). (And if you’re wondering, the parents and the daughter who died in 2016 have tombstones, it’s the daughter who died in 2020 whose grave doesn’t have a tombstone.)

  96. Wow, JMG, this one really hits home for me. The media has barely reported on this, and when it does, it reports on it irrelevantly: The tech crash I’m seeing is huge enough to put a near-end to a business I’ve run successfully for seven years (writing and designing stories for mobile games). AV (my husband and frequent commenter here) and I laid off our 3 FT employees last month, after so many of our clients canceled projects and laid off the teams with which we’d been working. Several clients scrambled to pay our invoices after having to move their accounts out of SVB.

    One of the few queries we’ve received here in 2023 was from an engineer from a “super-large investment firm” who wanted to pay us for only 1-2 hours’ time so we could basically teach his AI linked to a game engine how to in real time do what we do… craft dialogue for the game. We turned him down, not wanting to get that noxious jam on ourselves, and for peanuts besides.

    Our vibrant small business is being reduced to a “side hustle” that might shrink to a singularity inside a black hole. I’ve always joked that our livelihood is earned off the crumbs that fall from the tables of elites, and now this particular spread has been albeit consumed. We’re a couple of mice down here, picking over what’s left.

    So in our 50s, we’re looking at a career pivot. Luckily, AV has been under your influence for a long time, and my own realizations dovetailed perfectly, so since we met and married, we’ve been taking the right steps to retire debt and learn homesteading skills. We’re also exploring a new business idea that’s much more blue-collar than anything we’ve done before, but there’s risk in that, due to our age and capabilities. I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of hard physical work, and how our society seems positively allergic to it.

    It’s not just in tech that we’re seeing job losses. My two brothers, in the automotive/transportation industries, have both seen their shops close over the past 4 months.

    BTW, just last week, I made that same observation to my gearhead bro, that elite journalists used to crow about how guys like him should “learn to code,” and now they should all be told to just “learn to fix something.”

    I can’t help wondering what you think about AI/LLMs’ capabilities to replace writers. Obviously, we’re already seeing this in entertainment, and you mentioned Hollywood actors replaced by endless AI generations of Marilyn Monroe. But those scriptwriters could also be replaced. I’ve read of writers playing around with asking AI to draft articles in their style and tone and feeling freaked out by the quality of the results. What are your thoughts? Does this worry you? Could a future AI scan your oeuvre and then produce something compelling, let alone readable? Two months ago, I would have answered this myself with an emphatic, “No.” Now, I’m not so sure.

  97. Well there you go! Even you said it! Australia and a big country starting with C, huge diaspora terrified for family at home, secret police stations, control of universities, and the clueless anglo-celtic legazens whose politicians sell everything in sight. The homestead has to wait.

  98. Another point about AI replacing white collar workers: while I agree, in the long term, it will be significant, the early adopters are going to get burned by hucksters with a mediocre product. Once the hucksters ship their defective product and a few big names get burned by AIs that only sort of work, the hype cycle will be dead and the slow work of replacing email jobs with extraordinarily expensive GPUs will begin for real.

    Of course, one could imagine the US salting the earth in Taiwan as a low key alternative to nukes, which would be a pretty big wrinkle. Try buying A100s when the fab that made them is a heap of rubble, and if the US is extra ruthless, the people who knew how to make them are in that pile of rubble.

  99. Brendhelm, exactly. One of the great lessons of history is that nations can go away forever.

    Randy, slow erosion is always happening. The best we can hope for is to balance it with slow improvement.

    Siliconguy, thanks for all these. I’m glad to hear about the boy shortage on campus — those young men are doing the smart thing and building the foundations for a future for themselves.

    Moose, there have been a lot of convulsive seven year periods in history…

    Justin, I’ve heard very mixed reports from people in the software industry. I get the impression that the current applicability of LLM to software varies depending on the details. But then I didn’t suggest that 90% of the jobs in software would go away soon — again, this is something that will unfold over decades, and LLMs are only one of the factors at work.

    Moose, the Assyrian Empire is another good example. It was founded around 1300 by Adad-Nirari I and expanded to conquer Babylon and ultimately Egypt as well. In 631 BC, the year its last great emperor Ashurbanipal died, Assyria was one of the world powers of its day. In 626 its Babylonian subjects revolted, in 615 the Medes invaded from the east, and in 609 the last Assyrian monarch, Ashur-Uballit II, died fighting. That was the end of Assyria; the Assyrian people still exist but they haven’t had an independent nation since.

    Jastin, I’d like to see the United States remain intact; I’m just far from sure it will manage that.

    Smith, I’ve been watching the commercial real estate market closely; a world-class mess is shaping up there, among other places. More generally? You’re right — the process of unraveling is just getting started.

    Godozo, interesting. Thanks for the data point!

    Brunette, trust me, I’m concerned about that, and there’s been a fair amount of discussion about it in some venues. The consensus is that a lot of popular fiction and the blander end of nonfiction could be produced by LLMs right now. The writing jobs that can’t be replaced are the ones that rely on personal knowledge and don’t follow a formula; those are the keynotes of my work, but I’m aware that there are risks. I have other potential income streams lined up in case publishing stops being viable, for what it’s worth.

    Leonie, and you’re going to work for government in those conditions?

    Justin, I’ve heard from freelance writers who’ve already lost their jobs to LLMs. Sure, there are hucksters who will oversell the product, but I think you’re underestimating its impact.

    William, a sensible thing to do.

  100. How many people in the USA took note that three weeks ago, Brazil and China set up an arrangement to start conducting trade in Yuan? China has been Brazil’s largest trading partner since 2009, but up till now, all trade between them was exclusively in dollars.

    Lula actually visited the US first, in February, but was not even promised, much less given substantial investments or any kind of mutually beneficial arrangement. He then went to China and signed contracts over 50 billion dollars of investment, while former president Dilma, ousted with the help of CIA-trained judge Moro, now directs the BRICS bank. To top it off, Lula accused the US of promoting war, not peace in Ukraine.

    To me, this sounds quite earth-shattering because as recently as 2020, Brazil was an American vassal. I had planned on posting it this week if I could somehow make it fit with the week’s essay…

  101. I have had to realize over the last few years that there are many people, some of them quite dear to me that i just don’t talk to about certain subjects, sadly more and more people and more and more subjects. One just ends up arguing and no one is convinced of anything and friendships are lost. Covid was probably the classic case, but geopolitics, especially about the war and current global realignments is now high on the list as well. A lot of people think I have moved to the right politically and socially, but I feel I am in the same position i was and the lines have shifted around me. I find I spend more and more time keeping my mouth shut, which probably does the world a service. I have seen so many friendships broken over these same last few years, even within families. I guess I got used to it with people who were ” on the other side of the fence” from me, but now the fence seems to run every which way. I feel like I am standing in another field altogether. Interesting times.

  102. To those who are interested, here are all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared across the Ecosophia community. Please feel free to add any or all of them to your prayers.

    If I missed anybody on the full list, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below and/or at the prayer list page.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to a few prayer requests.

    To those who are interested, here are all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared across the Ecosophia community. Please feel free to add any or all of them to your prayers.

    If I missed anybody on the full list, or if you would like to add a prayer request for yourself or anyone who has given you consent (or for whom a relevant person holds power of consent) to the list, please feel free to leave a comment below and/or at the prayer list page.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to a few prayer requests.

    Nichole Cardillo has a cancerous tumor in her duodenum (in her small intestine) and she’s going into surgery on May 1st to try to remove it; for a successful surgery that completely removes the cancer, and for blessings, protection, and a full return to health.

    Patricia Mathew’s friend Al (Alison Kulp) is in the hospital with a nasty life-threatening MRSA infection; please play for her to be blessed, protected, and completely healed as soon as is possible. (Update here.)

    Luke Dodson’s friend B, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and is still in serious condition though she’s already had surgery; for blessing, protection, healing, and a full return to health.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all. The situation is still developing, but the reasonable possibility exists that this is an environmental disaster on par with the worst America has ever seen. (Lp9 gives updates here and also here)

    * * *
    Finally, if there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  103. Regarding AI, courtesy of AstralCodexTen:
    “Apparently OpenAI at one point trained and ran a model with sign-flipped reward due to a coding bug . . . the result was a model which optimized for negative sentiment while preserving natural language. Since our instructions told humans to give very low ratings to continuations with sexually explicit text, the model quickly learned to output only content of this form . . . the authors were asleep during the training process, so the problem was noticed only once training had finished.”

    Do not be surprised if the principal use of AI becomes generating porn.

  104. JMG,

    Great post.

    This isn’t a practical “what can we do” question. Looking at your map showing Asia as the wealthiest part of the globe before European colonialism I wondered where the Americas stood in comparison. We know that Mexico, Peru and perhaps areas of the Amazon had large empires and civilizations in pre-conquest days. Despite the amount of gold that the Aztecs and Incas possessed they apparently didn’t use it as a medium of exchange so that doesn’t seem like a practical measure of their wealth. I’m aware that the Incas were basically socialistic–but there were empires in other parts of the world in which everything “belonged” to the god/king and was merely being administered by nobles or a priesthood or combination of those. How does one define wealth in a way that allows one to compare India or China with the Incan or Aztec empires?


  105. I enjoy posts like these. You add color to a perspective that I already hold to be true, but more importantly, you explain incredibly complex matters in a way that is enjoyable and easy for an average person to comprehend.

    My question, if you’d be interested in expanding on the topic — The USA has the most powerful and expansive military in the world, and its contractors have dominance over Western armaments. What happens with that firepower and and those 800 bases scattered around the globe when the country reaches its final stages of decline? I can’t imagine it just folds up shop and retreats to its corner. Can we expect America to go on a war spree in a last desperate grasp on power?

  106. JMG,

    As usual, I couldn’t have put it better myself. 😉

    I am currently writing a shorter essay on the US foreign policy establishment, which is right now hardening into a sort of consensus on China that the US needs to go for a policy of “aggressive defense” or “forward defense” of Taiwan, which is the last, best chance to prevent the rise of China and it eventually returning to the regional hegemon role in Asia.

    All of this is like a sad parody of Japan’s kantai kessen (“decisive battle”) doctrine in WW2. The japanese knew they were outmatched in both number of ships, domestic population, and industrial capacity, but figured that if they could just get one or two really good tactical victories going their way, those strategic deficits wouldn’t matter. The Americans would somehow – nobody really knew the details – just decide to abandon the war and leave Japan in peace to build its empire in the east. Of course, when the Americans decided to just *not* surrender, and instead relied on their quite literally insurmountable advantages in men, materiel and industry, the Japanese were done.

    You see this same sort of mania from the US foreign policy establishment today, with the big difference that 1) the Japanese actually had some tactical advantages (short supply lines on defense, a modern navy with combat experience) that are instead huge disadvantages in the context of an US defense of Taiwan, and 2) many hawks – such as Elbridge Colby – are screaming in frustration that the US political establishment is too complacent, senile and sclerotic to even get to the starting line on this completely insane, desperate imperial gambit.

    All of this amounts to a confirmation of your thesis, though I think the US is likely going to blunder into a real Suez moment very soon. As you yourself point out, collapse is a stairstep process – long decline followed by sudden, violent lurches downward. The Ukraine crisis might just go down in history as just a foreshock before the really real, really historical crisis that is brewing in Asia right now.

  107. Thanks to JMG for this thought-provoking post, and to everybody for their insightful and interesting comments!

    One thing I‘m grappling with is timeframes.

    E.g. in terms of a breakdown of the current financial system (whatever form that might take in the end), this could happen this year, or certain people might find some way to kick the wobbly can further down the potholed road for another ten years.

    (The latter doesn‘t strike me as likely, but then a lot of smart people didn‘t expect them to be able to kick the can up to this point either, so I might well be mistaken.)

    I know prediction is hard, especially if it involves the future, but still…JMG, what would you expect to happen within five years? Within 10 or 20? Only within a longer timeframe?

    And the same question to everybody else who would want to wager an educated guess or two: What do you expect to happen in which timeframes, and (if you‘re willing to expand), why?


  108. Gday JMG

    Just as you write this, a series of banks have shuttered, mass layoffs have begun amidst a high interest credit crunch bomb going off amidst an obscene mountain of debt. Well and truly begun the slippery slope ride I think.

    You have outlined in great detail the well advanced social and political collapse, punctuated by desperate attempts to shore things up briefly ala the King in Orange. Social cohesion and common culture has been lost along with control of the borders and the emergence of the draconian bio security surveillance state with militarised police forces.

    The only thing left is the $1 trillion a year military, dangerously deployed all around the globe alongside its vast (un) intelligence apparatus. We are watching a huge beast thrash around the water in real time, screaming in pain from a thousand knife cuts. It seems to be starting to lash out at its enemies and perhaps we should all start hoping it bleeds out and drowns before it causes too much damage, or the newer monsters are forced to forcibly put it put of its misery.

    From here on the periphery, the death of s great empire is both an awesome and a terrifying thing.


  109. @JMG and Justin:

    In the software industry, there’s a saying, which borders on being a joke but really isn’t, that between 50 to 80% of programmers are at best contributing nothing to productivity, and at worst a net drain! And if you can find the right 50-80% of them and fire them on the spot, projects will move faster and produce better quality products.

    The problem in the tech field is the same problem being faced by any field that is peaking in prestige and/or pay: that most of the people who are currently in that field are doing it for the pay and prestige and not because they have the talents or temperament to actually be there.

    As for how LLMs in particular will impact software jobs, no, the LLMs can’t (and any AI ever) find out software requirements. Thing is, most software engineers can’t, either! And the problem with contemporary software jobs is the same one as in administrative, journalism, and in the creative fields – once you’ve figured out the core requirements, at least 80%, and maybe up to 95%, of the work is just boilerplate code. The industry has always sought to reduce or eliminate this boilerplate, with new programming languages, automated tools, standard libraries, and software frameworks. I can see LLMs as being a new powerful tool in the box. I have a couple of guys in my team just addressing the constant software vulnerabilities being found in whatever systems we’re maintaining, and I’d rather they be doing something else, I think LLMs will be very helpful there. There will always be a guy needed to build and maintain things, including software, but the days of hiring big teams to farm out the work (which, again, are mostly repetitive boilerplate) are numbered.

  110. Sunlight #71, handguns are different to long guns. I’m a good shot with a rifle but I’ve never liked pistols. They’re small and feel unsteady in your hands, and it’s a lot easier to accidently shoot yourself or somebody else. There’s a chance you’d feel a lot more comfortable with a submachine gun or an assault rifle, even though they’re much more powerful, just because they feel solid and stable. What are you reading about self defence and combat shooting?

  111. @Tengu 79
    You’ll forgive me if I push back a bit here. Orkney and Shetland are definitely constituent parts of Scotland and the UK. Are you referencing King Christian’s pawning of both sets of islands with the understanding that they could be redeemed for 510k of gold (about £10.3m these days)? He never paid up. Yeah, I suppose the Norwegian government could try, but I don’t think they will.

    Eigg is not a basketcase. The Trust and associated companies which deal with the green energy and with sustainable building undoubtedly have a difficult job balancing the need of local interests and tourism. The population is slowly growing, a positive sign after centuries of depopulation. There are always going to be disagreements between groups, and the islanders are no different. I’d suggest that those on the outside who think that the new Eden had been rediscovered on Eigg 25 years ago were always going to be disappointed when people were, well, just people.

    As for the SNP, we’ll see what we see. I would be very disappointed if the party were a hotbed of fraud and corruption, but independence is bigger than Sturgeon or the Party. I suspect that I won’t now see it in my lifetime (being an old women), which makes me sad. The Westminster govt won’t be able to hold the disparate parts of the UK together for long, once the reunification of Ireland is a political fact, unless it opts for a truly federal system which would include breaking England into manageable pieces. Can’t see that sort of forward thinking myself. Yes, it could get very messy indeed. Wasn’t it JFK who said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable”?

  112. Dear John Michael Greer,

    It has been about a year since I posted a comment on your blog. Silicon Guy made a comment about young men disappearing from college campuses, to which you replied roughly, “good they’re leaning the trades.”

    I think I had an interesting though on that, that men and women are experiencing this collapse or erosion of the US empire very differently.

    (Honestly, I seriously think you need to do a blog post on how men and women are experiencing the collapse differently. I think this difference between the sexes experience of collapse, is also partly what’s driving the political dichotomy in the USA today.)

    In the past here, I have complained about being single for years, and am still single. I have tried the very best I can to become love, empathetic, strong, good energy, etc. I’m not trying to be an alpha asshole, just be a good honest me, and strengthen my own good traits. (You might call this building traits that prepare for the collapse.)

    Since I last commented on your blog, I have started learning French. Je suis American. J’aime les livres de John Michael Greer. Furthermore, I had an epiphany that if I’m going to find a girlfriend, I’ll probably have to leave the United States. I renewed my passport in January and it finally came in the mail two weeks ago.

    I was stood up on a first date about two months ago. We had met exchanged texting information, and talked getting know each other. And through texting it felt like we had much in common. Then why was I stood up? I’ve had many, many, many such stand ups. I’ve just tried to be my best good, honest self. The conclusion I’ve personally reached is that “The Myth of Progress” translates into the female psyche as “bigger better men.”

    Russia is not immune to this. When you consider how many Russian athletes have been caught doping at the Olympics, and how men in Russia tend to be Machismo, bare shirt Putin. It’s like men will try to jump over the unreasonable bar. I’d submit that the Ukraine/Russian war is a result of that imbalance between the sexes. Is my reading of Russia at all justified here?

    I’m 5’7″ and if I’ve bee told I’m short by so many women who are 5’0 that I’d seriously consider doing the leg breaking Gattacca thing (I expect this reference to be lost on JMG… Gattacca is a dystopian story about a guy who broke his legs to be taller.) I’ve been pumping protein to build muscle the last year… and that’s expensive. There is another phenomenon in Russia where men would get artificial muscle implants…. I’ve thought if they can’t afford protein then, yeah the implants would be cheaper.

    This superficiality is global. It feels like a form of witchcraft. No offense to the mages out there.

    I have a wonderful Pen Pal who is all the things I’d want in a partner… but at the end of the day I’m a half inch shorter than her. I have my complaints about her physicality as well but such a shallow flaws don’t rule my opinion of her. She talks about how women need to feel “containment” a Teal Swan term… And “tall guys let women feel that.” Teal Swan is this New Age…. IDK I feel like JMG would have something to say about the magical/spiritual teachings of Teal Swan if he embraced Youtube and could undo the damage…. IDK That’s another blog I’d Love to see JMG do.


    PS lmao I’ve searched every bookstore between here and Boston and Symposium Books in Providence RI. (Maybe that I actually focus on the books I’m browsing, or running that I do. slows me down but… then it’s not genuine to go a bookstore and not focus on the books.) But….

    If there a women reading between the ages of 23-32 (I’m 31) who like hiking, running, gardening, tiny houses (built one contemplating an addition), no tattoos piercings or body mods, reading books, poetry, likes painting, plays a brass or woodwind instrument (I play), is upbeat/positive, I’m tempted to say hit me up. 34″ inch waist or less (The Japanese health care system’s standard.. pay tax if more.)

    lol I don’t expect that last two paragraph is getting past the wise druid. I’m hoping he lets it by as comic relief. I know I probably gotta go overseas to find a relationship. The cluster-&$638 show of male/female relationships in the USA insane. It’s not me.

  113. Dear Mr Greer,

    Last Monday, French president Macron made a 13mn speech to the nation, on TV. Journalists asked an AI to write a speech, on the same issues (retirement age, etc). The speech written by the AI was only 5mn long, said all that Macron said (essentially, hot air…) very clearly and correctly. All in all, a speech at least as good as Macron’s.

    So, what will happen to all those well-paid speech-writers? In my opinion, they’ll continue to write speeches, with “help” from AIs. The time spared they’ll spend “making research” or such things. Think of all those people who had to work from their home during the lockdowns, and who suddenly realized that it would be visible that they didn’t do much… They quickly decided that making lots of Zoom meetings was absolutely necessary.

    One of my sons, a qualified programmer, decided that he didn’t like programming at all, and became a service technician instead. He seems to be quite happy in his new job, for which there is demand in the French region where we live. But not everyone will want, or be able to, leave a cubicle job to a manual one so easily.

    In science-fiction stories I write for a handful of readers (mostly friends of mine), robots are everywhere, and produce everything. Unemployment is almost non-existent, though, because most humans are employed in State-owned gardens where they grow genetically modified vegetables, which is very labor intensive. They earn hardly more than if they were on welfare, but they are under control (being fired means homelessness and starvation) and they keep an appearance of dignity. Maybe our future will look like that…

  114. @JMG, ‘keep in mind that the Chinese navy these days is larger than the US navy “.

    Yes, but from what I understand not a “blue water Navy” capable of projecting power into the north Indian Ocean.

    The Chinese leadership is seemingly aware of this and waging a vigorous peace campaign in the Middle East right now. A conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran would have dire consequences for China. But it now seems the Chinese have successfully brokered a peace deal between the Saudis and the Iranians.

    The speed of change in the political balance in the Middle East has been staggering.

    But still that oil supply line to China is long and exposed. During any full-blown conflict between the US and China the disruption of that supply line represents a checkmate move.

  115. As a few commenters have already said, generosity is a good strategy for hard times, especially with home made or home grown things. The fruit comes in all at once – give some away. Beer and jam are best made in big batches – give some away. If you knit or quilt, you will soon have too many hats or quilts – give some away. Work out who you know that will reciprocate or appreciate your efforts, and cultivate them. The idea that a person can survive totally on their own is going to end with the age of prosperity.

    My grandparents gave away fruit from their household trees to their neighbours for years, saying that in their rural town they had been expected to. Anyone who didn’t was a ‘mean bastard’ and got a bad reputation in their community.

  116. “I’d encourage my readers in this country and its close allies to brace themselves for a couple of decades of wrenching economic, social, and political turmoil.”

    Dear JMG, I agree with your phrase in every sense, except in the word “allies”; instead of it, it would be better to write “minions”, especially in the NATO business…
    Greetings from Spain…

  117. >I’ve heard very mixed reports from people in the software industry

    My take on it is that it will remove any entry-level software job. So how are you supposed to get experience if nobody wants to train you? Basically, the world has all the programmers it’s ever going have, for the most part, no new ones will be trained. Then again, the way the world is going, maybe that’s the right thing after all.

    The AI systems won’t eliminate the need for programmers (because the code they output is always plausible but sometimes not correct) but it will make experienced seasoned programmers more productive. I could see it being folded into the IDE editors, where once it guesses what you are trying to do, it goes ahead and suggests blocks of code for you.

    I mean, something similar happens with Stackoverflow right now, where lazy programmers spend all day copying and pasting. What if you had a system that copied and pasted for you?

    Writing code was never the hard part of programming anyway – it’s reading code that always was. And also the least fun too :P. Guess what AI drives you towards? Reading over writing. Reading and bugfixing. It’s like every time you look at the future, whatever aspect of it, it gets just a little bit worse, doesn’t it?

  118. That makes sense about not relying on astrology as an income stream, and it’s true that online tools have already been moving in that direction for a while now.

    I go back and forth week by week whether LLMs are overhyped or a big deal. I do see people at my job already using it in their day-to-day, including one colleague, who isn’t a good writer, who uses Chat GPT to draft emails. My top skill is probably writing, and so I admit I’m anxious to see the relativeness uniqueness of that skill get levelled out by Chat GPT, and this anxiety colors my perception of the LLM developments.

    Assuming that LLMs live up to the hype in the future, I can guess at a few consequences. People in the middle class who are turfed out of their jobs by technology could develop the same resentment that the working class has had towards technology in the past. Bitterness could ensue as progressives in the middle class who embraced all this “cool” technology are now hit where it hurts; the loss of their income. I wonder if that will cause a crisis of meaning that comes with a backlash in politics.

    Those embittered by the loss of their jobs to technology suddenly could become the ‘enemies’ of tech, but without the political clout that comes with income, but then again maybe this is balanced by the size of their new political bloc. The left has generally embraced the progressive view of technology, and so those who keep their jobs or who will benefit from tech will be pitted against the split-off chunk of the former middle class rendered jobless, but this bloc could be quite large, so that potentially a large chunk of the voting population could be resentful towards technology.

    Obviously there are a number of speculative assumptions in all of this!

    Currently, the right seems about to become “hip”, if this Vanity Fair article is any indication, and generally more ambivalent towards technology, thus forming a potential new home for disaffected former middle class progressives.

    Due to the political polarization and worst excesses of the modern left, unfortunately I would guess that the pendulum will swing quite far over to the other extreme, and social conservatism may end up being a political home for enough of the population that they will get into power politically (and potentially be handed the keys to the AI chatbots). I don’t welcome this change personally, because it may not be a moderate political force due to the laws of the political pendulum.

    On an unrelated note, I don’t understand what is going on with the price of oil. It fluctuates more or less due to demand issues, rather than supply issues, which would imply that oil prices haven’t yet hit the supply side limits they would need to stay permanently high. Also – I wonder if the dollar prices of oil we see are ‘real’? If oil is now being traded in yuan and other currencies, then using dollars as a standard becomes less meaningful. I don’t understand this enough to assess it, but whether inflation will go back up or not will depend in part on the price of oil.

  119. >The trades pay just as well

    My neighbor bragged about his lineman son making 6 figures working a union job in the high desert of CA. I was a bit shocked that CA would be spending anything at all on infrastructure, considering all the news stories that have come from there, and he could’ve been lying to me for all I know, but I’m almost certain the training he got didn’t involve any political correctness at all. And was probably cheaper and quicker to boot.

    From what little I’ve seen it’s really physical work but those 7kV three phase lines – 220 single phase scares me enough. I like low voltage.

  120. All–

    Re employment, for what it is worth, I’d like to make a plug for the utility industry, particularly the municipal and cooperative sectors. Electric power, water, and wastewater treatment are going to be used and needed even as things come apart. Utilities are looking for workers now and many of these jobs don’t require a four-year degree–generally two-year degrees and/or technical training are needed. These are stable, solid, interesting if not necessarily glamorous jobs that allow a certain pride in community and a decent paycheck.


    With re to computer programming, do you see the industry retreating back along the trajectory from whence it came? That is, is mainframe computing going to be a thing again? Should we all brush up on COBOL? That would be something to see!

  121. >It’s a pity we don’t have a functional government, which could employ many people to do critically needed infrastructure repair.

    What makes you think it would care about infrastructure repair, if it were functional?

  122. I’m doing my best to promote “the widespread practice of law and medicine by lay persons” (comment no. 6) by re-inventing the plant based anaesthetics used by the Romans and medieval “cunning folk”. As the US empire declines, there will probably be an overshoot of people with chronic medical conditions such as obesity and diabetes, an increase in people experiencing trauma due to violence and conflict, and a declining availability of medical care. DIY medicine might have to step in to fill the gap.

  123. @JMG

    I’m a software engineer. Or I was until late last year. Having a heck of a time getting a new gig. Luckily, I heeded the warnings, sort of. We have no debt, a rental property, a few chickens, and other “plan B” sort of plans. Good luck to everyone. I have a feeling this isn’t the rehearsal.

  124. John, you advised polecat to get out of Washington state, and that you’ve never regretted leaving the west coast. Care to expand on that? I live about an hour outside of Portland and have always felt that the PNW is a relatively safe place to weather the coming storm. What was your thinking?
    Regards, bill

  125. I don’t know if this has been brought up on this blog before or not, but Clarkesworld and some other SF magazines have gotten flooded with story submissions generated by AI/ChatGPT etc. Shouldn’t the editors at these SF magazines have seen this coming??? ; )

    Yet, they say the AI generated writing is pretty easy to spot but they had to close submissions.

    In a way all this could be seen as an advantage for those of us who want to get dirt and ink on our fingers. The products of the human imagination can’t be mimicked all that well.

    BTW… I did that poetry reading this week, and it went pretty good. One thing I noted was that my poems weren’t “personal” very much. I read two shortish narrative poems I wrote for the occasion. Everyone but me had published poetry books with different presses, and it was really good to see and reconnect with my old creative writing teacher, one of the better poets in the bunch. He writes more about nature, Appalachia (he’s originally from Steubenville -#1 worst air quality in the country at one time) and things like that. Two of the others were really good. Listening to the third, who has several books out, made me feel like I was being flogged by her political views. No so much fun.

    It was fun to hear some of the audiences work during the open mic portion, especially the highschool kids. I figure it might be penance on the one hand, and encouragement to them on the other.

    I do feel encouraged by the response to pen some more narrative poetry. Also what separated my work from the others was 5 out of the seven poems I read rhymed and two of them were using stricter forms. Yet, during the second round of the featured readers poems I did receive some hateful looks from some in the audience -particularly a young woman who had read some of hers during the open mic. Her’s were of the “bad crap happened to me in my life and poetry is my therapy variety.” That kind of cinched it for me to conclude, that while its hard not to draw from life experience while writing, no one wants to hear about my trauma ; ) However, feeding my emotions into more exciting characters, events and dramas in the service to telling a story is a different matter, as is taking inspiration from real life, but putting it on steroids and cranking the amp to 11 and adding some effects pedals to it so it not’s really like “real life” in the end.

    As the old hippies used to say “reality is a crutch” ; )

    Hope everyone here is well.

    I was going to read this poem at the reading, but decided not to also after being flogged by someone else’s political views, and stuck with my “Americana” themed material instead. In the context of this weeks discussion I thought I would share it here. A few of the later stanzas are retooled from something I posted a few months ago on the poetry post.


    ChatGPT endeavours to make us all obsolete
    with intelligence as artificial as a pack of NutraSweet;
    It’s not as good as sugar, this machine imagination
    can it fix the environment, or render null stagflation?

    What about a journalist? Can it from the data sift?
    I chafe to think, and get irate, when I see it automate.
    Will it catch a nuanced gist, or be blown away by my drift?
    It’s just dead matter, not sensate.
    It won’t contribute to Japan’s birth rate.

    Human Resources is a roll the chatbot can fill
    hiring and firing, without mercy, at will
    when the resources its eating are already human
    there’ll be no need for an office, it can just Zoom in.

    All this talk of computers gets me down and depressed
    and I pray for a virus to invade, hack and infest
    the mainframe server farms where the program is housed
    & put an end to these pornbots, all they’ve done is aroused

    the space rocket obsessed minds of bros from Silicon Valley.
    Can we hold them accountable, do we need to have a rally?
    Citizens of the world wide web are being spoonfed like pets
    from a hierarchy controlling with puppet strings, the net.

    The digital drug all around us instilled
    by a cartel of cryptos whose pockets are filled
    by microsoft miners in a virtual matrix
    under the whip of a web dominatrix.

    Upstairs the politicians are still placing their bets
    the Ministry of Truth gets nervous with tics and tourettes.
    Meanwhile the chaos around them does engulf
    while they drink scotch on the green, play another round of golf.

    & Spectacle pimps keep pushing superpowers
    Marvel Mind Control Systems, to while away the hours
    delivered on DC current in shivers and jolts
    burning rivers of coal in exchange for the volts.

    With neural link implants screwed into our skulls
    the colors of life, go blue screen, ever so dull
    enslaved to the Skynet, we need to unplug:
    to surf the waves of this planet, and give a tree a hug.

  126. JMG, I think some of the best advice you have given is that empires descend by way of a multitude of tiny collapses. An individual needs to have a variety of useful skills and the ability to be flexible. One shouldn’t go downtown because you don’t want to get too close to the looters, but you don’t want to leave the city entirely because that’s where the money is.
    Looking back over the last half century, I don’t see a time when things haven’t been interesting.
    Insightful analysis as always.

  127. Since we’re talking about ChatGPT, I’d like to relay something my software development manager told me: basically, ChatGPT was asked to code some services and did weeks or months of developers’ work in 30 minutes. Obviously this is concerning for people in my line of work. But what struck me is what he said next: we wouldn’t need junior developers anymore.

    I replied that may well be the case, but more than a decade and a half after being hired, I’m still one of the youngest in my team: we’ve already mostly given up on hiring juniors in favour of remote and cheaper SE Asia developers. But more importantly, if we don’t have juniors anymore, by extension eventually we won’t have seniors anymore either!

    I’m guessing that as a senior dev, my job is mostly safe. But I’d advise new graduates in my field to lower their expectations in the years ahead!

  128. I felt a general unease at staying in the US ten years ago, so I left. I also focused on developing in my job as a basic research chemist (could become practical research, but probably too old now in my 40s). Not sure that AI can really replace me yet since I don’t know that kind of result I’m going to get when I start a project, and often end up with weird and unexpected things.

    I don’t know… am I okay sitting out the collapse and not prepping here in Asia? Job pays well and the country seems stable, although it is a satrap of the US for now. I really don’t want to buy a small farm. The soil and climate here are very different than back on grandparents’ farm and I don’t think I could handle it. Lost grandfather’s knowledge of building and repairing a rural house. Plus too busy with the job.

    Still, in light of recent events, really glad that I followed my gut feeling and left the US.

  129. This is a timely post for me. There’s always more to do but in the few years that I’ve been reading your work, JMG, I moved our family from a big metropolis to a smaller town, we put down roots into the community and made ourselves useful. No to mention So thank you for the advisories and background over the years, it’s been immensely helpful!

    Just now I’ve taken over the village newspaper. It’s been run rather inexpertly in the last ten years but has a history of almost 60 continuous years of publication. It pays decently for a (part-time, self-employed) job, I’m getting the opportunity to get to know the community here even better and I’m really looking forward to maybe placing a few articles here and there that could change people’s perspective on things.

    Do you, JMG, or others here have ideas on how to broach the topic of decline with a broader audience that is not self-selected like here? We now live in a village in Germany that is part of a city but has very agrarian, down-to-earth roots. As an easy start, I was thinking of tips on saving money in the household, on cooking and shopping simply. Then articles on helpful skills for the future and different interpretations of current events – though I have to be careful here in order not to alienate people – and at some point possibly even my mundane astrology forecasts. 🙂

    Looking forward to your ideas!

  130. JMG,

    Thanks for an update on the global situation. I’m curious if you have any perspective on how the *relative* distribution of wealth in the US is likely to change in the years ahead. Will the elite lose 90+% of their net worth but still own all of the property and force the working classes to spend 30-50% of their income on rent, or will real estate once again become affordable to the masses? I don’t have great insight into this, although my sense is that it will depend on population trends. So far it would seem that the breakdown of the imperial wealth pump has led to a concomitant rise in the domestic wealth pump, and I *really* want to see that disrupted during the upcoming troubles.

    With regard to AI/LLMs, count me among those who feel the impact is overhyped. If your job consists largely of language or math prompts, i.e. “provide this report/code/account summary by this deadline,” then AI can do it, and certainly some jobs will be going away. For the creative pursuits like art/music/fiction writing, my sense is that the artist/author is a significant component of the value proposition, and that outside of mass market kitsch (think hotel wall paintings) very few people will be interested in purchasing AI-made art. Similarly for any job that has a significant human element (e.g. small business accounting), AIs will be ill-suited. I want to be able to hand my accountant a pile of receipts, some of them hand-written and some of them water-stained, and also be able to talk to a real person rather than a machine.

  131. @everyone just need to say how awesome you all are! Pretty much every comment on here is a rare breath of fresh air and something that encourages an intelligent response. such an amazing community!

    @JMG interesting… when I say I think we’ll be left to our own devices I didn’t realize how much I was thinking of the “last war.” What I’m really saying is I don’t think we’ll be Germany post WW2 because we’re not physically stuck between allied powers.

    In reality the current world war had started even before Ukraine. Rising powers are using asymptomatic techniques that we hardly even register as acts of war.

    When you brought up broken up remnants of the US being played off of each other… it finally clicked that that’s the obvious endgame of this form of warfare!

  132. Hi JMG,
    Even when magic is not on the roll your words evoke magic.
    Thank you for sharing your refreshing insights, now and for all these years.

  133. “>As for reindustrializing, people can be retrained in a few years

    Your optimism is breathtaking. I’ll leave this link here.”

    My optimism is based on what I’ve actually seen and experienced.

    My last job could take a burger-flipper and in a few months have them alone in a portion of the chemical plant. A couple years after that they would be in the control room running it.

    Same thing when I worked in mining. That was a pressure oxidation process, much more complicated than most mineral processing jobs.

    Journey-man electrician used to be four years of training, it might be five now, still not that long.

    And then my personal experience in the Navy, two years from the start of boot camp to underway on nuclear power. After another year I was qualified on five watchstations.

    People are trainable and fairly quickly.

    On the other hand I never did get my Professional Engineering license because it it was in the interest of The Board to find excuses I wasn’t eligible to take the test, most likely because they wanted to restrict the supply. To qualify to take the test I had to work for a minimum of three years at a professional engineering firm, my decade plus of previous experience was judged ‘inadequate to provide sufficient breadth of experience.’ (I applied for the PE 12 years after finishing college and completing the EIT exam.)

    So where is the real bottleneck in training people?

  134. I just read an excellent and very even-handed summary of the current geopolitical situation on the UNZ review titled, ” Did the Neocons Save the World from the Thucydides Trap?”. It lays out a fairly grim future for the US as the dominant empire but does hold out the hopeful carrot that our geopolitical relations have been so quickly destroyed by those in power in Washington that war with China is unlikely. This is my greatest hope, that the US can slip away from its role as an imperial power without a Great War. Our future as much poorer and weaker country is baked in to the cake but the biggest question now is how we get there.

  135. >An individual needs to have a variety of useful skills and the ability to be flexible

    The strategy in the Old Era was to be The Best at one thing and bring in specialists to do everything else. In this New Era, that’s a failing strategy. You want to be Just Ok Enough in a bunch of different things, try to do as much as you can for yourself and only grudgingly bring in specialists when you have no other choice.

  136. No matter how behind you are in collapsing now, you can still do stuff.

    1) Determine what you *must* have to survive versus what you want.

    2) Once you’ve identified what you can jettison, use that free time to begin your exercise program, learning new skills, and introducing yourself to your neighbors and community. That is, attend your city council meetings and local events.

    3) If you save any $$, no matter how small those savings are, split the cash 50/50 into two metaphorical piggy banks.

    3a) Bank #1 is to pay down debt, starting with the smallest amount you owe. You’re using the debt snowball method here. As you pay off debt, transfer the debt cash to the next larger debt.

    3b) Bank #2 is Emergency Savings. You’ve got to have some for emergencies. More is better.

    You can always choose to do something instead of nothing.

  137. @jastin (and some others.)

    I think the key here is we’re not going to fall apart in a European way (think of the Balkans.) we’re going to find a uniquely American way of doing it!

    And I think we’re already seeing it: our fights are stubbornly not geographic in nature. We’re ideological.

    I’ve mentioned similar thoughts before, but I think this is how North America is shaping us (@jmg brings up Vine Deloria when he makes this point.)

    Imagine a future where two people, one from a blue team and one from a red team, are making their way from North Carolina to Oregon. They might even be neighbors (who both think of the other as “that *** over there”). They both will be able to make the trip and find teammates along the way, but they will have completely different paths. Almost as if each team has their own version of “America:” geographically looks the same, but interpreted differently.

    It might be the stirrings of Tamanous…

  138. Bendith Fawr, congratulations on being able to publish a local newspaper, something which is virtually impossible in the USA–can’t have the proles being informed. IDK about Germany, but here in the USA, the place to start would be basic information. Just info, right, no one could accuse the independently wealthy–which the person would have to be–publisher/editor of bias. How does your city, county, state government work? What positions are elected, and which are appointed and by whom? Pad with lots of what we call “human interest”, such as interviews with local business owners, people with interesting hobbies, etc. Maybe find a decent, retired sports writer to cover local school athletics. Accept no outside funding, from anyone and keep advertising cheap and local, with a clear understanding that advertisers have no say in what you choose to publish.

  139. On the subject of resources for self-care and self-healing: This sort of knowledge was common in my generation (Silent) and earlier generations. One useful resource were the books once published by Joseph Ernest Meyer and his Indiana Herb Garden company. I have put PDFs of three of his books up on for anyone to read or download. Their titles are Nature’s Remedies (1934), The Old Herb Doctor (1941) and Old Tamarack’s Collection (1941). Other people have put up other books by him, too: The Herb Doctor and Medicine Man (1922) and The Herbalist (1934). His The Herbalist and Herb Doctor (1918) can be downloaded from Since that’s somewhat hard to use, I’ll put it up on in a few minutes.

    I seem to remember that Maude Grieve’s A Modern Herbal (2 vols., 1931) can also be found somewhere on the web, but I haven’t looked for it recently.

  140. As far as the AI stuff goes, I can’t say I’ve seen any decrease in business since ChatGPT took the world by storm. Then again, I write erotica, and from what I’ve heard just about all the AIs are designed to not output lewd content, so maybe that’s part of it. Perhaps the strangely prudish ways of the big businesses behind the AIs will make porn and erotica the last refuge of human writers and artists, and society will enter a new golden age of overblown anatomic proportions, campy dialogue, and whole buckets’ worth of four-letter words.

    Anyways, I think people who write or draw directly for their own audiences will tend to fare better than those who get hired by other businesses to write or draw stuff for them (e.g. Brunette Gardens in comment #100 and her writing for mobile games) since in the latter cases the cheapskate companies have already been outsourcing their creative work to humans and outsourcing it to the machine for much cheaper is just the next logical step.

  141. Re: AIs replacing homeopaths etc

    One thing that seems pretty consistent is that AI’s often outperform predicted capabilities in terms of output, so I’m not going to make any predictions that “AI’s couldn’t do that”, because some techie will come along and tell me they’re already doing that and that’s why we need to worry that we’re all going to die any day now, etc etc.

    However, another thing that seems pretty consistent is that humans often lose interest in digital replacements for their favourite things. Pretty quickly, actually.

    Remember when everyone predicted that Kindle readers and e-books would replace paper books? Not so much. People still use them, but the printed word is still alive and well.

    Or the fad for online education? Universities were hyping that when I was a student, a whole decade before the lockdowns. Well, it turns out that nobody really likes it that much. Sure, people still take online courses and get something out of them, but I’ve never met anyone who finds it anywhere near as effective as learning from someone in the same room, with a bunch of other people in the same room.

    Even digital music tech hasn’t exactly eliminated the vinyl record. If anything, it’s helped to keep vinyl alive, because some people prefer the latter.

    So, yeah, you might find that some people will get something useful from a herbalist chatbot or a really, really advanced version of those automatically generated astrological birth charts. But people seem to like interacting with people, when you actually give them the choice. I mean, even if someone does come out with a *really good* JMG chatbot that churns out thought-provoking essays on occultism, ecology, and the long descent, how many of us are gonna stop reading Ecosophia and talk to the DruidGPT instead? Nah, didn’t think so.

  142. Collapse now and avoid the rush is similar to neo-reactionary accelerataonisism ,which is misunderstood by MSM as being a catalyst for the decline,instead of what it is “get out of the way of the falling towers ,they aren’t collapsing on themselves this time.”

  143. “All of this is like a sad parody of Japan’s kantai kessen (“decisive battle”) doctrine in WW2. The japanese knew they were outmatched in both number of ships, domestic population, and industrial capacity, but figured that if they could just get one or two really good tactical victories going their way, those strategic deficits wouldn’t matter. The Americans would somehow – nobody really knew the details – just decide to abandon the war”

    The detail was blatant racism, the round-eyes were weak and dissolute and haven’t the stomach for real war.

    Yamamoto knew better, but followed his orders. He specifically told the diplomats to be sure to deliver the declaration of war before the bombs started falling because nothing was more certain to rile the Americans beyond all reason (and hope of a negotiated settlement) than a sneak attack. But the Japanese PMC, being no more competent than anyone else’s, bungled the timely delivery of the message.

    Colonel Ichiki did not know better and was sure the Marines would break and run at the first banzai charge.

    As Wikipedia says, “Underestimating the strength of Allied forces on Guadalcanal, which at the time numbered about 11,000 personnel, Ichiki’s unit conducted a nighttime frontal assault on Marine positions at Alligator Creek on the east side of the Lunga perimeter. Jacob Vouza, a Coastwatcher scout, warned the Americans of the impending attack minutes before Ichiki’s assault. The Japanese were defeated with heavy losses. The Marines counterattacked Ichiki’s surviving troops after daybreak, killing many more. About 800 of the original 917 of the Ichiki Regiment’s First Element died.”

    The Island of Death and Iron Bottom Sound. The US lost two carriers, a pile of cruisers and a bigger pile of destroyers. The Japanese lost two battleships, a light carrier, a pile of cruisers and a bigger pile of destroyers.

  144. Regarding AI, it cost on the order of $10 million to train ChatGPT, and $100K per day to run. That’s at current levels of functionality, which are impressive, but not there yet to really replace vast quantities of white collar jobs.(Think Wright brothers proof of concept vs. a real commercial aircraft.) In other words, to scale AI up to replace millions of jobs is going to require a massive investment in infrastructure (data centers, etc.) and scale-up of electricity inputs. Is this really feasible? Dunno…, (I read long ago that a human brain consumes roughly the equivalent of a 9 volt battery to run. AI, however — orders of magnitude more than that!)

  145. Hello Toxic Plants,

    How well do the old anesthetics work these days? 21st century plants grow under very different conditions than Roman plants did which might alter their effects, for the better, one hopes.

  146. @ALL interested,

    Regarding Chatgpt and AI, I have learned 4 principles in business and careers over the years

    1*Add perceived value to customers. The word perceived is important
    here because what they see as value may be different than what I see as value
    Here it can mean finding ways to add more value than now with AI

    2*Adapt . Here this means adapt to the new AI environment by finding new ways to add value.

    3*Have mentors, people to learn from and copy. This requires humility but it saves lots of time compared to creating everything oneself

    4*Learn from others who are better at the thing I am offering, spend time with those
    who are at the same level, and teach those who know less . This is the professional social aspect and is also essential as we are social beings.

    So while AI is and will be big shocks to business, it does not change those principles

  147. John, et al.–

    A friend of mine and I are reading & discussing Robert Kagan’s _The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World_. It is rhetoric, pure and simple, and an infuriating read so far, but also a fascinating insight into the mind of an unbridled American Imperialist. It is Marduk-slaying-Tiamat kind of imagery, invoked by selective use of historical facts and distorted interpretation thereof. I recommend it for reading in a know-thy-enemy sense, though you’ll certainly want to throw it across the room in places.

  148. “…because empires invariably wreck themselves: over time, the economic and social consequences of empire destroy the conditions that make empire possible.”

    Not to turn this admirably insightful exoteric post into an esoteric one, but interesting to note the parallel here with the nature of evil, in the deprivation theory of evil, namely: evil, have no substance of itself, generates effects as it tries to incarnate its will (which is deprived of the Good), but ultimately punches itself out, as they say in the boxing business. Just so empires with the extraction business, as they strive to impose their will…


  149. In regards to all the talk about AI replacing jobs, etc. I have just picked up Kurt Vonnegut’s “Player Piano” again. He wrote the book 70 years ago and it really addresses all this… It is the story of a worker in a factory who repairs all the machines there. Almost nobody else works but instead lives off of “government welfare”. The main character plays piano in a bar on the weekends. The title refers to the question: “Can he be replaced by the player piano? Is he just a machine?”

    That’s my recollection of the story from when I last read it probably 25 years ago. I looking forward to reading it again.

  150. Hi JMG

    Many thanks for the post!

    Yes, I think you are right with the trend of the american empire and the fate of the rest of the vassal states.

    About AI I think it will make a lot of disruptions but there are also a lot of limits and problems it will face in the future, some of them:

    a) With the advance of resource and energy scarcity to feed the inmense amount of energy and the hypercomplex infraestructure (communication, access of information, chips, etc…) that requires the kind of AI that can make significant disruptions, I think this trend will be short lived, for example the amount of energy used by the ChatGPT-3 is explained here:

    b) There is many legal implications in many tasks, that is one of the reasons you don´t see autonomous cars everywhere after 15 years huge amount of money wasted in their development. For example, If a driverless car runs over your wife or your son, who would be criminal responsible?: the AI?, the progammer?, the maintainer? Elon Musk?. The same approach will be extended for many tasks and jobs.

    c) Every software will be subject to attack, and a software which the main objective is to make programmers obsolete I do not think is a good way to preserve the integrity of such a software. Soon or later hundreds of very skilled programmed will attack the AI’s, may be in ways that the owners even do not know they are working bad…except at the end when the result could be disastrous for the final user (monkey wrenching). May be we are seen the dawn of a new kind of “Luddites programmers”

    d) As far as I know the “bests” of AI are based on “Deep Learning” but in fact nobody knows really why or how do what it does, so you do not have a “transfer function” to “calibrate” the system, and may be you could have different answers for the same set of questions, you never know; you do not have a “stability theorem” to delimit the trajectory of the system, so as happens with all the complex systems, the instability could propagate and at the end change the outcome seriously; in a similar vein for example of what happens with the “Langton ant automata”, that nobody can predict when it will make a “highway” but seems “it will” in any moment, and you can only explain it “historically”

    e) From the socio-economic-political point of view is a very poor choice for the oligarchy to crush the way of living of the middle class in the midts of the nested crisis we are seeing. It could be the equivalent to star the enclosures in the XVII-XVII century in England wihout the safety valve of the colonies (America, Australia, etc…); I think this could develop in the kinf of peasants revolts that take down the chinese dinasties periodically, because in the case of China they diidn’t have the colonies’ safety valves.

    So I see a lot of disruption in the short term caused by the AI, but a crash of the AI in not too many years when all the factors I mentioned start to hit hard.


  151. @Luke Dodson: I would agree that people seem to prefer human contact, especially considering the examples you cite. Many people I know, including me, dislike Zoom meetings, and there is a definite difference in quality between an in-person meeting and a virtual one.

    If the predictions of imminent job losses are correct, whether caused by LLMs or not, then I’m not sure that that preference will matter due to economics.

    If a herbalist costs, say, $100 for a consultation every 4 to 6 weeks, and HerbsGPT costs $5 a month, and I am struggling to make ends meet but I have health care needs, then I may be forced to use HerbsGPT for most of the time even if it is only 60% as good as seeing a human herbalist.

    I guess it depends on how bad the overall economic picture gets and if enough people still have the incomes to see humans for services rather than use these tools. And whether or not LLMs are good enough to actually handle health care issues or not. There does seem to be assumption that these tools will be eventually universally excellent at all information-based tasks, when perhaps it could be that they will be great in certain areas and less useful in others.

  152. Thank you,thank you. Wonder how 10467 CBDC digital money and OP-1670 will fit in. Going to buy an extra bag of potatoes.

  153. @balowulf @jmg @others re: LLMs you’d be amazed how short sighted many were in tech before and now in the age of LLMs.

    Once a piece of software or any sort of code is written, my experience has been that those who manage it immediately forget humans created it. And are shocked when it fails and no one knows how to fix it.

    The weird reality in my corner of tech is LLMs are blowing up, everyone talks about them being the future, and then we proceed to continue talking about the legacy tech we’re all maintaining.

  154. Hi all, first time poster and long time lurker.

    I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this or even what I’m asking but I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the posters here. I hope the coming influx of AutoChatGPT and chatbots across the net doesn’t degrade the quality of the contributors on this site.

    Firstly dead internet theory seems more and more likely to me. Take what value you can from the internet now if you haven’t already.

    Now, perhaps I’ve missed it somewhere but JMG any thoughts on how you’ll deal with an influx of Chatbots and convincing sounding misinformation if they invade this site over the next few years?

    I can’t help feeling depressed and anxious that art and mainstream culture have/will become automated. I suppose it was always manufactured to some extent but at least there was some chance some humanity could slip in.

    Now they’ve taken that away from us. Now we’re not allowed to live as creators. Why pay a creator when a “prompt engineer” can sample and remix everything online and produce hundreds of products? Algorithms will swamp the culture with shite.

    Growing up my dream was always to have a career as a fiction writer and storyteller. That’s how I wanted to spend my life. I will still write of course and have no interest in consuming synthetic art or synthetic text but the daydream of being a writer gave me a sense of direction and purpose, something to strive for on the material plane .

    It was always a dream but at least it seemed possible however unlikely. Now we’re in competition with machines that could potentially be better than us soon. Human art and culture could become an endangered species or something we preserve in a zoo and go “isn’t that cute” while the lions grabs our attention.

    I would’ve like a life where I could have devoted more time to nurturing my craft and imagination. Not just as a hobby. It’s spiritual for me wading through imagination. Oh well. Collapse. Decline. Still it’s sad.

    Our overlords will not be happy till all we have left is cleaning the shit stains on their toilets and even then they’ll want us gone.

    Pity party time:

    Growing up Gay and different in Catholic Ireland, I dealt with my shame by telling myself stories how I’ll show them all by becoming a great artist. Having worked with many artists over the years this feeling is a common thing. “I’m a special snowflake” syndrome is very dominant in the arts.The fallout of this on narcissists which there are plenty in the creative industries will not be pretty.

    I thought I had dealt with those egoic structures of my mind a long time ago but the rise of AI has brought those old tendencies to the surface again. The purity of the need to express myself has been tainted by ego and the need to be the “best”, “the most celebrated” or this is my “contribution to society” and “what brings me meaning”.

    It’s hard but I know I’ll have to work through those taints of ego.

    I guess those interested in preserving human art and culture will have to find each other. I think more established artists will survive for a time but I worry about new artists being discovered.

    I foresee patronage models becoming even bigger deals but I worry that as the AI steals and becomes more convincing that audiences will be conditioned to only enjoy AI work and humans will not be able to compete as it will assimilate and rip off the style of anyone who breaks the mold.

    I guess I’ve learned a valuable lesson about where one places one’s sense of identity and as someone who practices Buddhism I really should let go ;). But the grief is there even though intellectually I know I should get over it, my body and emotions are still registering it.

    This goal has been deeply embedded in me since a child and I’m in shock.

    Any advice for working with this? For dealing with the the general worry and existential crisis AI is provoking? It’s hard to parse what’s reliable info and of value in this field for a layperson.

    I know it’s a little hysterical and a little spoiled but I am a product of my generation ;). We were propagandized to follow our dreams. But it does feel like my imagination, the realm of the imaginal is under assault. I’m a maladaptive daydreamer and my imagination was what led me down the spiritual path in the first place. My imagination, human creativity itself feels like it’s just been assaulted.

    The past few weeks I feel like I’ve been mourning in and that my sense of worth and a large part of meaning in my life are gone. A dream has died. My ego is in shock. I’ll come back but still.

    I’m writing a genre novel about a post collapse world and awakening but feel very demotivated to finish it even though I’m near the end. I can’t help feeling what’s the point?

    I will strive on of course but I would have liked to have contributed my art to the old ecosystem either online or in the real world. Not this fake new one where there’ll now be the question what “prompts” did you use?The completion of an artistic work feels like a lesser achievement now.

    Still I count my blessings. I’m lucky in the material sense that I grew up on a farm in Ireland and that I have the material resources in land to hopefully survive if things get worse. I’m starting a government job soon that’s not the most interesting but it has a strong union and I’m going to use my time to educate myself about agriculture and living simply.

    The internet has made us sick and will continue to do so. Those early Buddhists may have been onto something about sense restraint ;).

    How are other creatives here dealing with A.I anxiety and being displaced?

    AI anxiety in general?

    Part of me thinks/hopes this goes the way of crypto but unlike Crypto there is an actual product here. Though parsing out what is hype or not is difficult right now. Ugh this is going to be even more annoying and hyped than that old shite.

    Is ChatGpt even a new product or is it just a souped up Chatbot at its core? Is it hopium to question it?

    In my current ignorant layman point of view it feels like Big Tech is just revamping the same old shit we’ve had for decades and giving them more power and fancy graphics. Will most companies fall for tech’s latest fancy bullshit? I don’t see the practical applications for it in most sectors. Will some content creators fall as they put all their eggs in this basket?

    I go from despair to mania when questioning the value of AI. It leaves me with many many questions.

    Is it a game changer or is it just fit to publish on Buzzfeed and CNN?

    I can’t imagine real intellectuals and writers having much use for it in their writing. I discover what I think as I write. I don’t find it by asking something else to think for me.

    Thinking in a way the AI can’t seems to be future for now. Slowing down, taking ones time with one’s thoughts and quality over quantity. Deep work will be more valuable.

    My current opinion is that the real test of its applicability seems to be if the methodologies can be improved to remove it’s tendency to hallucinate.

    Any experts out there to say if that’s likely or not? Or can they just apply bandages or not to fix mistakes when their spotted? Is there a bunch of sweaty guys in a dark room pumping out text every time a prompt goes in?

    We’ve all heard the reports of it passing tests for lawyers and doctors but we don’t know what OpenAi trained ChatGpt as unlike their name, they’ve not been open with how it works? Can we really say than that it’s impressive? How do we know they didn’t pump it with the knowledge needed to pass those tests?

    What’s the real world applicability? If I had wikipedia or the right book in front of me referenced I’m sure I’d do well too ;)?

    Is the most impressive thing about this is that’s its a probability parrot spitting out words and that it makes coding easier? Is there a scandal waiting to be uncovered in a few years about the false promises this tech generates?

    Any person in real life whose not terminally online I’ve talked to only seems to know it “makes stuff up”. Will that reputation stay with the general public? The media/tech/their shills are pushing it hard. Maybe they’ve had the chatbots prepped and ready to promote this stuff ahead of time?

    Some companies will be burned methinks. Is this another fleecing of advertisers by tech? What good will advertising online be if the only thing left online is chatbots as dead internet theory predicts.

    I’m suspicious about this new ideology of “more data, data, data” will solve everything. My intuition tells me no.

    Will “AI” deficiencies be gone in a few months or next year? Will it always be a few months or next year?

    Still it’s fitting that an industry with no real ideas left would drown culture.

    How the development of these products will impact intuitive thinking that flow and creation cultivate in future generations is also sad.

    Most jobs have rote work and art as we have been should can be broken down into patterns and quantified. But the unique responsive capabilities and common sense of a human aren’t there yet in these “products”. Even in art how much of the artist or someone as curator will still be needed to ensure a good end product? Expertise may still be needed and expertise is cultivated by doing and failing.

    Chat GPT writing feels like at it’s core “Could you express my thoughts for me”. Midjourney and Dall E to me feel like the largest copyright theft in history. I hate it all.

    My hopium is these products are ultimately bullshit and artists will fight back to defend their livelihoods. But attacking it also seems like the human ego trying to defend itself.

    We’ll see in a few years its real value and if it goes the way of Crypto at least in some form. Let’s pray that it does.

    Back to my pity party:

    I know the answer is to keep creating, keep cultivating my spiritual practices but I’m struggling with meaning and ego. Culture is on life support. 2024 will make 2016 seem like child’s play.

    I think it’s only now I’m deep down absorbing what JMG has been writing about for years.

    I invested too much of my ego in creation and dreams and the sense of nihilism is real atm. It comes in waves. Perhaps the real lesson I should take from all this is not to cling to anything rather than the perceived degradation of the products of consciousness?

    I will always create but long term I don’t know what to strive for career wise as I’ve always made decisions that emphasized my time to do my art. My shadow side wants to be noticed and I want my art to connect. That feels harder to achieve now. But I’ll strive on and fail better as my fellow Irishman Samuel Beckett would say.

    Apologies for the following rant. I’m a spoiled millennial ;). Posting my ramblings here has helped :).

  155. Leonie, sure, but there are other things and other places as well!

    Aldarion, well, I certainly do. It’s one of the biggest news stories of the year, and of course that means that the US corporate media has been ignoring it completely.

    Stephen, it’s a common experience just now. It took me less than a decade to go from being denounced as a left wing kook to being denounced as a right wing kook without changing my views at all.

    Quin, as always, thanks for this.

    Kerry, well, that was the first thing that ever made a profit for the internet, and it was also instrumental in making photography and movies pay for themselves in the early days of both technologies, so no surprises there!

    Rita, that’s an intricate question in historical economics. There are various ways to do it, but most of them are attempts to assess the total wealth of various societies in terms of some common measure of exchange, whether or not it was in use at the time. The Aztec empire, for example, was pretty wealthy — it had a lot of very rich agricultural land that was intensively used, a great deal of mercantile exchange going on, and of course flows of tribute from its subject kingdoms; if I recall correctly, it was right up there with the more successful African empires, and much wealthier than anything in Europe until the age of explorations started funneling cash back to Spain, Portugal, et al.

    Michael, the US has the most expensive military system in the world; that doesn’t mean it’s the best. (In the same way, and for the same reasons, it has the most expensive health care system in the world, and measured by outcomes, it’s got the worst health care in the industrial world and is worse off than some undeveloped countries.) Most of its weapons systems were created to carry out devastating raids on the US taxpayer, and they’re very good at that, but not much good in combat. It’s also staffed by people who are increasingly poorly trained, poorly motivated, and far from sympathetic with the orders coming down from Washington DC. So I don’t expect to see a war spree — quite the contrary, I expect a lot of scenes like the ones we saw out of Afghanistan not so long ago.

    Tinkzorg/Malcom, thank you for this! I hadn’t thought of the parallel with the kantai kessen strategy, but you’re right — and it comes from much the same source, a tendency to get trapped in familiar narratives at the expense of attention to reality. (Are you at all familiar with The Nobility of Failure by Ivan Morris? If not, it’s an insightful historical study of the way that Japanese culture sets itself up for exactly that kind of mistake.) In the present case — well, as I had my Chinese characters note in Twilight’s Last Gleaming, the great blind spot among American strategists is that it has never occurred to them that they could lose. Thus we get the neocons blundering boldly ahead in the serene conviction that mere military realities don’t matter and the Star-Spangled Banner will inevitably triumph. I hope we can avoid that, as it’s unlikely the US will survive the consequences as a viable nation.

    Milkyway, there’s a good reason I didn’t give any specifics, just a warning that we’re heading into a couple of decades of sustained crisis. The reason, of course, is that at this point the variables are too uncertain and the outcomes too unpredictable to be any more precise.

    Trailer Park, true enough! Watching the fall of an empire in real time is a remarkable experience but not a comfortable one.

    Carlos, of course. Nobody’s saying that all the software employees will be out of work — just a very, very large number of them.

    Lost Austin, there are a galaxy of issues involved in your difficulty, but one of the crucial ones is that both men and women have been sold by the corporate media on a set of beliefs about what they ought to want in a partner, and what the other sex wants in a partner, and these beliefs are guaranteed to maximize misery and failure in romantic settings. Those women who say they want “containment” didn’t come up with that label themselves; they were sold on it by the media. Why? Because miserable, lonely people buy more products. It really is as simple as that. By the way, don’t you think it’s a little hypocritical of you to complain about women wanting a certain standard in height, while you demand a certain standard in waist measurement?

    Horzabky, my guess is that a lot of speechwriters will be laid off, since it only takes one editor and a LLM to do the work of a whole room of speechwriters. But we’ll see.

    Darren, the Chinese navy is in the process of becoming a blue-water navy. They’re building new aircraft carriers and sending fleets all over the world. That agreement between Iran and the Saudis, by the way, opens the door to oil pipelines from the Saudi fields through Iran to Central Asia and from there to China, depriving the US of any advantage its navy might give it.

    Kfish, this is excellent advice.

    Chuaquin, so noted!

    Other Owen, the principle of progress-as-crapification does seem to apply there too, yes.

    Jbucks, good. I expect to see many of these shifts as we proceed. As for the price of oil, there’s an enormous amount of market rigging on all sides messing with price discovery in the oil markets, but you’re right that the petrodollar’s twilight is another crucial force. Arbitrage between currencies will toss another good handful of chaos into the mix!

    Other Owen, I’m sure the infrastructure that provides power to the homes of California politicians gets impeccable maintenance. It’s the rest of the population that has to do without.

    David BTL, no, I don’t expect that. Rather, as things unravel, chips will still be produced — they may not be to current standards but they’ll be a lot more efficient than a room full of vacuum tubes! Eventually it’ll be a matter of legacy systems from many decades being kept running by salvage and assorted kludging, but that’s decades away yet.

    Toxic Plants Blog, yes, and that’s an important point.

    Brian, glad to hear you were ready for it. Consider a new career doing something with your hands.

    Bill, the cost of housing anywhere within an easy bus ride of Seattle or Portland is three or four times what I’m paying here in Rhode Island, and other cost of living measures are not much better. The politics here are considerably less toxic; the police and courts do their jobs; amenities such as public transit and libraries are as good or better than Seattle’s, and the farmers markets are bustling in season. I can have a very comfortable life here on a modest fraction of my current income. Rhode Island deindustrialized decades ago and got used to it, and the next round of economic unraveling will hit much less hard here than it will in places like Portland and Seattle, which have gotten used to living high on the hog. Those are among the many reasons I’m glad to be here — and there are many other places in the eastern third of the country that have the same features.

    Justin, no surprises there. One of the things writers and markets will have to work out is a way to certify stories as genuine human products — I imagine a certification organization like the ones that certify foods as vegan, organic, or what have you. Glad to hear that the poetry reading went well!

    Piper, thank you. That’s exactly it — the fall of an empire is not a Hollywood spectacular, it’s a long parade of little changes, each of which makes a modest difference.

    Poseidon, your job is mostly safe for now. I’d encourage you to learn something else, though…

    Blatnoi, your current home may have a change of overlord but you should be fine. It’ll be a long time before research chemists are no longer needed.

    Bendith Fawr, delighted to hear this! Tips for saving money are always a good place to start. If somebody in the village has old-fashioned skills, consider a feature article on them, talking about the benefits. You might also consider historical articles about the village at different points in its history, and include details like how much food cost and what people did for a living. All that tends to attract interest to older ways.

    Mark, what I expect to see is the rapid impoverishment of the middle and upper middle classes, a significant improvement for the working classes, and a cycle of elite replacement in which today’s failed elites are shoved aside by a new set of elites with different ideas and agendas. That cycle usually improves things for everyone else, since the best way for a new elite class to win popularity is to take less of the national wealth than their predecessors — of course their children and grandchildren will get greedy, which is what turned the heirs of the New Deal replacement cycle into today’s kleptocrats. As for real estate, allowing property values to crash would be a very efficient way to get rid of excess notional dollars, which will be essential in the years ahead, and it will also allow the rising elite class to crush its rivals; thus I expect a property crash on the grand scale, or more likely several crashes amid a long period of ragged decline.

    Jack, it’s true that we’re not wedged between competing powers, but not all great powers end that way. I hope the US can maintain its national unity, as it’ll keep things from getting quite so difficult here.

    Ronald, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Clay, ha! I’ll have to read that when time permits; if so, it’ll be the one good thing the neocons ever did.

  156. >People are trainable and fairly quickly.

    Only if they want to be trained. What I think we’re seeing with the younguns is that not that they don’t know anything, they don’t want to.

  157. I’ve been wondering recently when historians of the future will date the end of the American republic and the beginning of the American Empire. When I’ve looked it up, historians date the end of the Roman republic / beginning of the Roman Empire to (a clean and decisive) 27 BC. I the American case will be harder to pin down.

    I’ve seen 1898 cited as one possible date based on the Spanish-American War and overseas expansion. Before that date, however, there was the continental expansion of the original 13 colonies, which could be considered empire-building. And after that date, of course, there was the “ingenious” mechanism you mention above (I think you’re referring to the Bretton Woods agreement, if I’m not mistaken).

  158. @endrickwater
    In the Hebrides Eigg’s problems are well known. Some selfish suburban folk just don’t suit rural life, and unfortunately on an island they can make everyone’s lives miserable.

    Just as the Scots seek self-determination, so do many Northern islanders, and their legal rights in this regard are no less substantial than those of Scotland as a whole. Their Norse-Scots culture is sufficiently distinct, and moreover they have been decidedly ill used by both London and Edinburgh for generations.

    One of the core missions of the UK intelligence services is to maintain the union. Their methods include election fraud, suborning political parties, and if necessary, military counter-insurgancy. So this is what the Scottish people will have to overcome as they progress inexorably towards independence. Saor Alba.

  159. Luke Dodson, Greetings. I already boycott businesses which won’t take cash and where possible, companies that don’t have actual people answer their phones. I walked out of an ins. office in which the clerk said “We don’t take cash payments.” I suggested maybe she should learn how to count and left.

  160. @ J<G – I assume you mean the current Russian operations in Ukraine are fairly cautious? Wether it was a 'good' idea or not, the initial attempt last February didn't seem particularly cautious to me….

  161. @ Jack # 144 – I’ve had those sorts of experiences, having to work or live next to members of the ‘other’ team, and, with the exception of true blowhards, most Americans are really quite reasonable if you just bother to have an actual dialogue with them. Of course, there are always the exceptions, and that’s just my anecdotal experiences.

  162. Darren @ 120: “But still that oil supply line to China is long and exposed. During any full-blown conflict between the US and China the disruption of that supply line represents a checkmate move.” Which is why India is building a blue water navy. Do you think the time might come when China will be told to disgorge Tibet or have its’ tankers boarded?

    There is a lot of talk about the US being unable to win a war with China, but what I think is the more interesting and pertinent question is can China win against India? Keeping in mind that India would be supported, with materiel if not troops, by Japan, Australia and Canada. I think Canada’s neutrality will last just as long as it takes for the Chinese to lay claim to part of the Arctic.

  163. @William Hunter Duncan – nice to meet a fellow Substack author here. I’ve subscribed to yours. Feel free to check out for commiseration.

    @JMG – ruminating on your post woke us both up in the wee hours this morning, and your response to my question today didn’t assuage the anxiety, but I’ll put this into the “vigilance is good” response category. And thank you; that is good to know about your own writing vs. AI. I’m working on the same, though it’s hard after 30 years as a writer, with my only other income coming from managing or teaching (a good skill for any context). On that note, one thing that’s encouraging me is the turn toward apprenticeships. My longest stint in academia was only 3 years, and that was at a community college, about all I could stomach. But I could imagine teaching small groups of folks with a sincere interest in the topic at hand without the intermediary of a university. That’s definitely the future. It seems like most teachers today are trained for a particular indoctrination instead of building future citizens. I think we no longer produce people like my high school physics teacher, who taught a subject he loved and had an impact despite his flaws (which today would get him canceled). My take here:

    And thanks for nailing the situation perfectly with this post, as hard as it is to read, after what we’ve experienced in 2023.

    @stephen s. pearson – I feel the same way. Elon Musk shared a hilarious meme that captures it perfectly:

    @jbucks – On your point, “People in the middle class who are turfed out of their jobs by technology could develop the same resentment that the working class has had towards technology in the past.” This is already happening, especially with Gen Z, who often feel doomed just as their careers have barely begun. One of the writers I just laid off said, “AI works great if you never move on from Act I.”

    Also, the right is already funnier than the left. I say this as a lifetime leftist up until 3-5 years ago. Since the left can’t meme and has killed humor, it only stands to reason the right is now the new hip.

    And I agree w/ your response to Luke Dodson re: AI replacements. My (human) herbalist switched to Zoom consultations during the pandemic and hasn’t abandoned them. I quizzed her on this, and she said she prefers them, and so do her patients.

    @Brian – I feel your pain.

    @Bendith Fawr – That’s positively inspiring.

  164. I am going to reiterate some financial advise that was given to me long ago, and which I feel is very pertinent in this Long Descent. Keep a hidden shoe box of cash on hand, as much as you are comfortable with (recommended at least a few months worth of expenses).

    When the banking system comes crashing down, the banks will simply not open and it will not matter how big your bank account is, if you cannot access your money. I look back at the debacle that happened in Cypress many years ago as the template they will use. This will only be a temporary stop gap by the powers that be to try and retain their wealth, but it promises to be a painful one for anyone not prepared.

    This will likely be needed to keep yourself/family afloat while the system adjusts. Obviously, having needed skills will still be the best way long term to get yourself through the Long Descent, but for a short time, cash will be king, so make sure you have some.

  165. JMG, If I remember right , a decade or so ago you responded to those who believed a collapse was imminent due to whatever crisis was happening at the time that those in power had many levers to pull to bring the ship of empire ( my phrase) back on course.You were right and the 2008 bust did not send the U.S. empire immediately tumbling down the cliff to ignominy as they still had tricks up there sleeves ( fracking, more money printing, etc.)
    Have we now reached the point in time where there are few or no levers of control left to those in charge, or perhaps the elites have become so senile, deluded and self serving that they would not know how to pull them if they still existed? Am right and that is one of the main reason you are warning us that a big inflection is near?

  166. @JMG,

    Apologies, what I was getting at I wasn’t clear enough; yes, a very, very large number of software jobs will become redundant in the coming years, and I wasn’t trying to reiterate what’s already been said by you and other commenters. What I was trying say is that a very large amount of software jobs are *already* redundant – most folks being a net drain to actual productivity and all – and will be removed just because of a bad economy and declining prestige. “AI” creating redundancy for the most part will be a mere excuse, or at most a catalyst, as opposed to being a substantial cause, of jobs being axed. We’re seeing that now, where some, like Elon Musk as you point out, will be bolder and not wait for that particular excuse to start eliminating them.

    I’m actually wondering how many of those jobs have already been lost, prior to these recent public announcements of hundreds of thousands of them being cut by large corporations. Thinking here specifically of the tech startup boom (bubble?) of the 2010’s where tens of *billions* of dollars where thrown towards the likes of Uber, et. al, by venture capital firms betting on the Next Big Thing. I think that money has moved on now to the likes of fusion and green hydrogen research…

  167. Hi JMG

    I just have asked ChatGPT-4 the following task:

    “Write an essay about the impact of the AI in the society as if you were the author John Michael Greer ”

    And this is the answer:

    “My dear readers, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most transformative and controversial developments of our time. While many hail AI as a technological breakthrough that will transform society for the better, I cannot help but caution that the impact of AI on society is far more complex and potentially problematic than many would like to admit.

    The first and most pressing issue that we must consider is the impact of AI on employment. With the rise of intelligent machines capable of performing tasks once reserved for humans, there is a very real danger that we will see widespread job displacement and economic disruption. As more and more jobs become automated, we must ask ourselves what will happen to the millions of workers who are left without employment or struggling to find work in a rapidly changing job market.

    Furthermore, AI raises profound ethical concerns. Algorithms are only as unbiased as the data that they are trained on, and there is a very real danger that AI systems will perpetuate existing biases and prejudices, leading to discrimination and unequal treatment of certain groups. Additionally, there is a very real possibility that AI could be used to enhance surveillance and control, leading to a dystopian society where privacy and individual freedom are eroded.

    But perhaps the most significant impact of AI on society will be the way it alters our understanding of what it means to be human. As machines become more intelligent and capable, we must ask ourselves what role humans will play in a world where machines can do everything from driving cars to performing complex medical procedures. This could lead to a profound sense of alienation and dislocation, as people struggle to find meaning and purpose in a world where their skills and abilities are no longer needed.

    So, what can we do to mitigate these risks and ensure that AI is harnessed for the benefit of society? First and foremost, we must recognize that AI is not a panacea. It is a tool, and like all tools, it can be used for good or ill. We must approach AI with caution and skepticism, recognizing the potential for unintended consequences and working to minimize the risks.

    We must also invest in education and training programs that will help prepare workers for the changing job market. As certain jobs become obsolete, we must ensure that workers have the skills and knowledge to transition into new roles. This will require a significant investment in education and training, as well as a willingness to embrace lifelong learning and adaptability.

    Additionally, we must prioritize ethical considerations when developing and implementing AI technologies. This means ensuring that algorithms are fair and unbiased, and that privacy concerns are taken seriously. It also means thinking carefully about the potential consequences of AI, and working to mitigate any negative impacts before they occur.

    In conclusion, the rise of AI is one of the most transformative and potentially disruptive developments of our time. While there is no doubt that AI has the potential to improve our lives in countless ways, we must approach this technology with caution and foresight, recognizing the potential risks and working to minimize them while also embracing the incredible potential that AI offers. Only then can we truly harness the power of this remarkable technology for the betterment of society.”

    OK, do you recognize yourself in the text ? 🙂


  168. One thing I noticed is that when people’s jobs become useless because of new technology or a change in the world, they create roadblocks, paperwork, delays so they keep the job and remain necessary. I see that with unnecessary paperwork in banking, corporations (i.e. compared to better ways to transfer money), and in government .

  169. Anonymous #78: Absolutely 100%!!!

    What you are saying has been proven. You don’t have to even manipulate to actual search results at this point only the “automatic drop down suggested search terms”. That alone is enough to control how people think.

    The entire reason I now have a Twitter account is solely for the purpose of using my brain to run Turing tests on any and all other accounts. It is actually much more difficult now then even last year. The bots are a lot “smarter”, or at least a bit better at faking being human. It is kind of fun, but annoying as well.

    See if you can figure out who is real vs bot/ai!

    Funnily enough, many of the bigger or semi big accounts, while having a real person behind them, are really just run by bots or marketing departments. They don’t really interact with people except to always say “Thanks! Emoji!” If they don’t respond to an honest tweet then I will block them after a while.

    I find poems to work for me sometimes as Turing tests because I usually write multiple meanings to all the words, etc.

  170. Personally, what bothers me most inside the current American empire is the jackbooted thugs and secret police who lurk in our top-level agencies and channel our remaining resources into maintaining their power rather than preparing us for a post-industrial future. I confess to a bit of wishing for the collapse to come sooner rather than later in the hopes that this evil (if you don’t mind me calling it so) tyranny will come to an end.

    Do you think that’s just wishful thinking? Looking at the Soviet collapse as an example, Russia doesn’t seem to have experienced an accompanying collapse of secret policing abilities.

  171. Mayath says:
    #164 April 20, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    I get a lot of what you’re saying, as when you said you discover what you think when you write it. Many of us do. I apologize to the commentariat for sending a little thing I wrote today and sent elsewhere, but it seems apropos, if a little difficult to follow. I call it “A little common sense, maybe.” I hope it’s some small comfort to you.

    There is a great conspiracy fomented by people of ill-intent
    Against the “little people.” Except that to say this is to credit
    Such people, who may indeed exist, as being much more able
    To enforce their will on the universe than are more ordinary

    People, albeit those with similar degrees of power due to their
    Positions and wealth. Equals against equals, those at the top
    Are just as limited by the contingencies of reality as all
    The rest of us. Proverbially, no one can completely avoid the

    Depredations of death and taxes. Or the dislocations needed in
    Order to avoid paying taxes (equally inconvenient). Or quoting
    Great Robert Burns: “The best-laid plans of mice and men gang
    Aft agley.” Or, “there’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip.” It’s very

    Comforting in a sick sort of way, to imagine that most evils we
    Conceive or even that we see are the result of such conspiracies.

  172. Teresa, granted, but this late in the game it may not do much good.

    Robert M, thanks for these!

    Writer X, that’s very likely the case — at least for now.

    Mac, you’re most welcome.

    Luke, you may not be aware of this, but sales of vinyl records have been increasing in the US for 17 years in a row, and accounted last year for 43% of all album sales in this country. So you’re quite correct — it’s just a matter of bridging the gap until that happens.

    Hplovecraftsshadow, interesting. That wasn’t my take on NeoRx accelerationism, and I’ve read a fair amount of Nick Land’s writings on the subject. Is there someone else I should be reading?

    Seideman, thanks for this.

    William, in the long run it’s certainly unsustainable. It’s the short run that will govern its impact on the current crisis, however.

    David BTL, so noted. Kagan’s a reliable source of arrogant idiocy. 😉

    Fra’ Lupo, hmm! That’s a good point.

    Orion, thanks for the blast from the past! Vonnegut’s worth reading.

    DFC, oh, granted. One of the consequences of the rush into LLMs is that when it becomes impossible to maintain the technology, no one living will still remember how to do the jobs it took over — and so, in all probability, those jobs won’t get done. That’ll add some interesting features to that stage of the decline!

    Don, buy those potatoes, and see if you can sprout them. Potatoes are easy to grow and they have great yield even in modest acreage.

    Jack, I wish that surprised me at all. Thanks for the data point.

    Mayath, I’ve been dealing with them already for between one and two years. I delete them, and IP ban their senders. Sometimes that requires banning a whole range of IP addresses; I can check the trash file and see if any human beings have been banned, and adjust accordingly. It’s just part of the ordinary maintenance of this site, along with banning trolls, flamebaiters, and corporate flacks pushing products.

  173. DFC comment #178
    This is a perfect example of how AI can’t do voice. Topically, it’s in the range of Greer, but it doesn’t sound like him. He would not start a post with “My dear readers” and he would never have a final paragraph begin with “In conclusion.”

    I had Chat GPT try and write dialogue between the fictional characters of Beth Dutton and Rip Wheeler. These are two characters with very strong voices. It was *awful*. Once again, the things they were talking about were correct, but the tone and voice were way off.

    But there are a ton of things where that doesn’t matter. Chat GPT is super fast. If you need an article on a topic it can spit one out in a fraction of a second. You would still want someone to review it, but think of it like the self checkout at a grocery store. One person can monitor a dozen self-checkouts which (for the time being) is way more efficient then sending a dozen people through a dozen check out lanes with a dozen cashiers.


  174. Anon: I think you are 100% correct about Shadow Projection. Except I prefer to use the term “trickster”! 🙂

    “Jung wrote that if awareness of the projection of the shadow remains repressed, “the projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object—if it has one—or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power”, lending the idea autonomous qualities. These projections insulate and delude individuals in society by acting as a symbolically deployed barrier between the ego and the ego-less Real.”

    Then: Jung again: “The shadow is projected onto one’s social environment as cognitive distortions.”

    “Cognitive distortions are thoughts that cause individuals to perceive reality inaccurately.
    Leading to depression and/or anxiety.”

    (Isn’t that the definition of psychosis? Nothing to see here! ;-))

    Which leads to:

    “Learned helplessness is the behavior exhibited by a subject after enduring repeated aversive stimuli beyond their control.”

    “Aversives are unpleasant stimuli that induce changes in behavior via negative reinforcement or positive punishment.”

    “Aversives can be applied naturally (such as touching a hot stove) or in a contrived manner (such as during torture or behavior modification)”

    “decatastrophizing or decatastrophization is a cognitive restructuring technique to treat cognitive distortions, such as magnification and catastrophizing, commonly seen in psychological disorders like anxiety and psychosis.”

    Do you think “they” (bigtech/gov/”AI”/etc) are using behavior modification on Google? It might be more accurate to call Facebook instead Pavlov’s Dogtreat. See the druling users waiting for their likes! And all, or most, of those companies got rid of the dislike buttons!

    So, when we have a conversation with someone, anyone, that is in this condition the natural response is to attack us.

    If I had to guess, and based on the percentage of google execs that don’t let their kids near smartphones (which I believe is close to 85% or at least there was a story about it a few years back), I would have to say yes.

    Welcome to the monkey house! (Just to keep on my Vonnegut theme this week.)

  175. AI obliterating tech sector jobs and Hollywood jobs, I can live with. AI obliterating library jobs – that would be upsetting but I think I could deal. (Although I’m expecting the annihilation of the tax base to thoroughly gut the libraries, to be realistic.)

    What I get worried about is what looks like a push to subject us all to an AI-ocracy. I realize it’s probably infeasible, outside of the major urban centers, but all the hype does get to me on an emotional level.

    Although, this raises some questions: Would rule by an unfeeling pseudointelligence be worse than rule by Joe Biden? How would we be able to tell? How do I know that the Joe Biden we see isn’t already a CGI deepfake, an AI-generated WABs* if you will?

    *WABs: Weekend At Bernie’s.

  176. Hi DFC,

    Not a very convincing imposture—not once did it tell readers to meditate on the issue.

  177. Re AI, ChatBox, and the fate of self-enclosed models

    Just my thoughts, but I wonder if we’re not going to see the following: more material produced by cheap AI, which will influence what human production remains, gradual dominance of the input-data used to train the AI by AI-produced information, and the whole model enveloping itself, winding up with some kind of settling into a constant, bland mean.

  178. >Is it a game changer or is it just fit to publish on Buzzfeed

    Funny you should mention them. They just went out of business. They were public about using AI to write some of their articles, I think. Not that they ever put out anything more than high class SEO garbage anyway, something that AI should be able to churn out.

    Still it says something when a company with the best business model case for AI can’t seem to make it. Not sure what that something is though.

  179. You are correct! It’s dreadfully late.

    But if you’re in a hole, you should stop digging it deeper.

    And if you give up, you lose for sure.

  180. Blue Sun, the Roman example is deceptive here in that there was such a hard line between Republic and Empire. If you look at other historical examples, as you’ve noticed, it’s hard to find a specific date. 1898 will do, but it’s merely the point at which we ran out of frontier and started conquering people who weren’t within the borders we already claimed.

    Ben, the Russians initially, and wrongly, assumed that Ukraine would crumple in the face of a determined Russian assault. Once that proved to be wildly inaccurate, they regrouped, and started playing a very cautious game.

    Brunette, you’ve got some very solid writing skills. Why not look at ways in which you can use those outside of the corporate sphere? LLMs will absorb a lot of writing jobs but not all of them — to cite an example that I have in mind, it’s going to be a very long time before chatbots can produce original and thoroughly tested instructional manuals on occultism! As for censorship, depends on how long it lasts; my guess is that it’s going to implode fairly soon, for reasons summed up nicely in the words “get woke, go broke.”

    Trubrujah, thanks for this.

    Clay, partly it’s that they’re running out of levers, partly it’s that the people in power are senile (the Boomer gerontocracy has clung to power for too long), and partly it’s because other nations are fed up with the current system and are increasingly moving to disrupt it.

    Carlos, thank you for the clarification! Yes, that makes a great deal of sense.

    DFC, this doesn’t sound like me at all. It’s not just that I don’t use phrases like “I cannot help but caution” and “we must ask ourselves” — those are vacuous fillers and I edit them out ruthlessly — it’s that the machine ignored all the core themes of my writing and filled the essay instead with typical media blather. “The way it alters our understanding of what it means to be human” — gag me with a bottle of white-out! Where are the references to class conflict, ecological limits, and the myth of progress? What about the concept of decline? That is to say, if this is the best a chatbot can do, I’m less worried than I was.

    Tony C, true, but serious economic crises make that kind of arrangement very difficult to sustain…

    Blue Sun, every society has secret police of one kind or another. That said, competent secret police focus on actual threats rather than wasting their time on ideas and people that annoy a decadent ruling class; it’s the sheer incompetence of the current jackboot brigade that makes them so intrusive and irritating

    Cliff, I don’t think there would be a significant difference between rule by AIs, on the one hand, and rule by corporate flacks on the other. It’s all mindless repetition of talking points while kleptocrats squabble behind the scenes over who gets to rip off how much.

    David BTL, that’s pretty much what’s happened to the publishing industry anyway as all the indy presses got bought up by the big corporate houses. That is to say, I think you’re right.

    Teresa, granted — but I expect to see a lot of people make a few token gestures just before the crisis overwhelms them, and then yell at me. A little shock treatment seemed potentially helpful.

  181. Someone earlier asked about getting old and what to do.

    Based on family experience, I can suggest a few things:

    1) Take care of your health, including careful oral hygiene. Quit the addictions. Exercise. Get down to something approaching a normal weight for your height. Fix deathtraps like the lack of handrails and get rid of those throw rugs.

    2) Be easy to get along with. The more crotchety and unpleasant you are, the less likely it is that some niece, grandchild, or generous neighbor will take you into their own home when you can no longer care for yourself. This is true even if you’ve got mad skills. If you’re toxic, nobody will be willing to put up with you. If you’re merely (merely!) contradictory to everything that’s said to you, and always looking to score points, you might be able to change your behavior. If you’ve got addictions and mental illness on top of your meanness, you’ll die alone.

    3) Live within a few miles of relatives. The harder it is for someone who genuinely cares about you to reach you in an emergency, the less likely they will. If Dear Daughter has to get on a plane to come to your rescue, well, she might not be able to, however much she wants to.

    4) You will die. Do you want to die alone in your own filth and squalor? Or do you want to have your grieving family around you, doing their best to keep you clean and comfortable while you pass? Much of this choice is up to you.

  182. “@JMG, ‘keep in mind that the Chinese navy these days is larger than the US navy “.

    Yes, but from what I understand not a “blue water Navy” capable of projecting power into the north Indian Ocean.”

    Navies are hard, ask the Russians/Soviets. Getting the ships together is one thing, training the enlisted men another, then the senior officers still another. For every Lee there is a Callahan, and the less said about Wright or Bode the better. These were all involved in various actions at Guadalcanal.

    The last time the Chinese had a really good navy the new emperor beached it to make the old emperor look bad. 😉 See Zheng He treasure fleet.

  183. Thank you for your reply, Mr. Greer! I never thought about looking into charter or private schools. I teach in a small-town public school, though. The school seems to be tied into the community better than similar schools in the cities.

  184. This post is truly excellent and I believe ultimately an optimistic reading of the future. The collapse of the American world order will be welcome news to the vast majority of the planet, when one considers just how many wars and governments overthrown the Americans are responsible for. It is very telling that as soon as the Americans withdrew from the Middle East, and China rolled up its sleeves to usher in a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, that the world became a more peaceful place. Thanks to the decline of America and the rise of China, we may yet have a ceasefire in troubled Yemen, who the Americans have been starving to death through US navy enforced blockades. We truly do live in the best of all possible worlds!

  185. @William Zeitler actually it costs MS 700k per day to run chatgpt.

    To put that into perspective, employing a worker at 50k per year costs about 137 dollars per day. The amount of jobs they need to replace to break even. 5109. I don’t think that is a high bar to break even. Sure resouce scarcity will change the economics in future. In the meantime it will be useful to ensure the maximum proportion of those resources go to the top.

  186. One more thought on AI/LLMs, partially echoing Carlos M.:

    This represents a perfect opportunity for the Church of Holy Progress to rebrand a great deal of downsizing and layoffs and bankruptcies (i.e. decline) as the next Great Leap Forward. Which is to say that a great deal of the jobs that are supposedly being replaced by AI are probably jobs that were going away anyway.

    For this reason among others I’m quite skeptical of the AI hype; I suspect it will simply extend the crapification and cheapflation that has already inundated the consumer goods sector to some other sectors of the economy. That’s not to say it won’t have serious impacts on jobs, but I think it will meet with serious resistance outside of big corporations and tech-centric cities where people are craving a re-humanization rather than further de-humanization of the economy.

  187. Outside ecosophia, I guess I see 50 or 100 discussions of AI for one of the end of the dollar dominance. In JMG’s essay, count 17 paragraphs about the end of empires and especially the American one, 2 paragraphs on AI and several more general ones.

    Funny how the discussion seems to try and invert the proportions JMG chose. Maybe because one can discuss the importance of AI, but the dollar sphere is contracting as we write, and there is not much to do about it.

  188. @Blue Sun # 167 and JMG #191 re: “Clean Break” between Roman Republic and Empire

    To be fair, this “clean” date is almost entirely hindsight. Emperors were still claiming to be “merely” holders of a cluster of republican powers that happened to be inherited at least until Diocletian. I suspect that from inside Roman society, you had a lot of folks who expected the republic to “get back to normal” from around the time of Scipio Africanus through to right before Diocletian. Heck, the Senate still technically existed until the high middle ages.

    All of which is to say, it’s possible that future historians will say that the American Democratic Republic was “obviously” over with Jackson/Lincoln/FDR/Trump/Whomever.

  189. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, for sharing a picture of vehicles driving down a city highway in Iran; I cannot tell you how sick I am of the mass media portraying Iran as a despotic nightmare on the brink of collapse.

    Excellent post, JMG! I missed your collapse essays – by far the most interesting pieces.

  190. (JMG, if you think this is at all helpful). I started taking Greer’s advice on collapse 6 years ago. This is the FIRST year I have a good chance of being successful with the majority of my projects. It took 5 years of getting chickens killed by crafty predators, 120 dollar bee swarms absconding, gardens failing, and other sundry stuff, to work out the kinks. Farming is not easy and it is not for dummies. And even then it takes awhile to learn the ropes. Do not let PMC attitudes color your estimation of how long it requires to get decent at something. You will fail 9 times before you reach success (equilibrium). I could give many concrete examples, here is just one: on a rocky north facing slope (all I have), you have to build raised beds of some kind. Hauling in dirt is not enough, it gets swallowed, flattened, tromped, and washed away, despite erosion barriers. Other than raised beds, you will never get the soil workable, from thin top soil, unless you keep farm animals on it for 5-10 years first.And you own a dump truck and someone will give you infinte topsoil for free. So take his advice like solid gold. A lot of people are hoping their debt will be canceled or inflated away. Not so fast. They have lots of ways of getting you, before they go under with a bang. And those of us living within our means are not going to start a revolution with guns, or get shot, to bail them out of their bad debt. Another tip – I finally figured out why so many older men used to keep bees, despite not liking the work. There is only one workable explanation, that I can think of, and that is that it boosts garden and food production on their local plot of land. Something to keep in mind.

  191. JMG, here’s a belated thank you for this column. We have all felt this predicament coming on, and it is almost a relief to have it finally upon us. After three decades of watching in horror as one idiotic foreign policy after another unfolded, as one transparently obviously bad economic decision after another was made, it is weirdly satisfying to finally see the chickens of lean times finally flocking home to roost.

    I am sure however that in a few years that I will long for just one night of uninterrupted sleep and one more chance to eat to my heart’s content. But for the next few years, I will try to observe in quiet satisfaction as things unwind.

  192. ps: I did what little I could to prevent this looming predicament, I warned and helped the few loved ones who would listen to get ready, and I panicked early and have largely avoided the rush. Hopefully I’ll be able to help in the coming future. But oh God, I am tired from all this. I won’t watch the coming unwinding with glee, but is it wrong to quietly observe with modest satisfaction? I promise to keep it to myself.

  193. All this talk of AI and no mention of self driving cars… And I haven’t heard anything in the media, but I don’t really pay attention so…
    Anybody have info?

  194. Sunlight – Re: grid blackout due to solar storm. In a nutshell, a modern grid can disconnect sensitive components, wait for the storm to subside, then gradually re-energize. People who make satellites to predict such storms, and protective equipment, have an interest in making sure that their potential customers know about the danger. I think that the worst-case scenario is probably a week or two without electricity. Bad, but not catastrophic.

  195. JMG- You’ve talked about how a civilization goes though phases of creation, then imitation (performance). ChatGPT seems like automated imitation, and that’s not a good sign.

  196. Ray, the Second, you’re welcome. It was just a thought.

    Augustinian, that’s what people said when the US took over from Britain, you know. The new empire always looks better than the old empire, and indeed it very often behaves better — for a while.

    Mark, oh, granted — all of this is another step in the branding of crapification as progress. My point, again, is that it’s adding some height and heft to the tsunami of job loss and economic implosion that’s about to hit the middle and upper middle classes.

    Aldarion, yeah, I noticed that too. Everyone wants to babble about chatbots, which is a small and derivative feature in the broader landscape of the end of American empire. Maybe I should have left it out — though even then somebody would have brought it up.

    Jeff, a valid point!

    Paul, you’re welcome. As I noted in my post, a lot of Americans are spectacularly stupid about Iran, and I thought a couple of good photos might help.

    Celadon, thanks for this!

    Dr. C, you’re most welcome. Yeah, in a certain sense it’s a relief to see it finally arriving.

    Orion, nope. I also don’t have any info on flying cars, domed cities, or those settlements we were supposed to have on Mars by now.

    Lathechuck, hmm! A valid point: it would be our civilization that would figure out how to push mindless imitation to the ultimate extreme.

  197. Orion, in the near term I’m not so much worried about AI & self-driving cars as AI & self-driving tanks. As discussed recently on Jim Rutt’s podcast (090, with BJ Campbell and Patrick Ryan), it is a much simpler problem if you don’t have to worry about running over the little things – enemy troops, protesters, cars, etc.

    Nasty stuff.

  198. Mr. Greer, if I may, I would like to point out there is still at least one extremely viable way to collapse now and avoid the rush. For anyone interested in doing so, please investigate the situation in manufacturing.

    After reading your book “Dark Age America” in 2017 I found a job working for a farm equipment factory in 2018. I still work there to this day, and I can tell you the number one issue factories are having is the lack of job applicants that stick around. One can easily get a job paying 40k plus per year with zero experience in numerous areas of the country where that still supports a family. I started out at the 40k pay scale and moved up to just under 60k in about 4 years, and that’s before including overtime.

    I assume at some point people will catch on and there will be a rush into this sector, but as for right now most companies will take you as long as you have a high school diploma. They will also train you to be a machinist, welder, industrial painter, or what have you if you can show you’re worth the investment, which usually means showing up everyday on time with a positive attitude. Honestly, its difficult for me to comprehend how there are over a million vacant manufacturing jobs when so many people are struggling.

    In all seriousness, if anyone comes to you asking for help finding a career in this mess please give them my email and tell them to write “Ecosophian looking for work” in the title. We are seriously understaffed right now and desperate for hardworking people.

    For all interested in this approach just make sure you look for work in a reasonably costed area of the country (manufacturing jobs in New Jersey probably won’t pay for an apartment right now…) and look for essential economic sectors (I’m glad I went with farm equipment). If you do those two things you could easily have a safe home with a stable job in less than three months.

  199. JMG
    One thing I notice missing in most discussion of the decline of the American empire and the shift of power to Eurasia is that, ultimately at least, they too will be affected by resource depletion, be it fossil fuel, soil, water, whatever. I am sure that the redistribution of the US’s disproportionate use of resources will allow for somewhat of a boom in much of the rest of the world,” but sooner or later you dance with the reaper” India, for instance, is very overpopulated with depleted soils, deforestation and declining water resources: China, I gather ,the same, though I have never been there.Though overpopulated, the Chinese are trying to raise their population.And ,unfortunately, worldwide everyone likes bling.
    I imagine parts of SE Asia and South America will level off quite well at some stage, as should Russia and Scandinavia, if the latter countries don’t infuriate Russia too much.but i can see India, China, and certainly Japan having a pretty bumpy ride down at some stage, at least until they have a much lower population.
    Thank you so much for this post, as for all your posts.

  200. @Aldarion

    “Funny how the discussion seems to try and invert the proportions JMG chose. Maybe because one can discuss the importance of AI, but the dollar sphere is contracting as we write, and there is not much to do about it.”

    For me the issue is that de-dollarization seems extremely abstract. You can make solid arguments that t-shirts are so cheap at Walmart because China needs dollars to buy oil, and the fact that they’re not using dollars any more means my money is about to lose most of its value. And for the most part I believe it. But at the same time the whole financial system seems incredibly fake and arbitrary and rigged to me, and it’s hard for me to take any “if…then” statements too seriously.

    What *does* make more sense to me is that the USA has managed to concentrate 25% of the world’s resources to 5% of the world’s population, and that this has been achieved through military and (largely as a result) financial dominance, and that this wealth pump is coming to an end. Whether the contraction of the dollar sphere is a cause or effect of the end of empire is not clear to me, nor is the relevance of that particular index to my standard of living.

  201. Augustinian’s observations about China and the collapse of the American Empire are shared by many in my little corner of the political sphere. But the very long-lived Chinese civilization also has a very long history of imperialism. I doubt very much that their current intervention in key hotspots like the Middle East, or their Belt and Road Initiative, is some kind of genuine altruism. A new Chinese Empire is on the rise (well maybe; their demographics don’t seem very promising at the moment). If I lived in Taiwan, I might be rather concerned. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I suppose.

  202. Echoing a few other comments here. I realised just a few weeks ago that it’s the 10th anniversary of beginning my experiment with backyard food production as inspired by the Green Wizard concept.

    For most of that time, I approached it as a hobby with varying amounts of enthusiasm. When corona hit, I got a lot more serious and, given that I’d gotten most of the really dumb mistakes out of my system in the prior years, have managed to ramp up considerably since then. This year I expect to be all but self-sufficient for fruit, nuts and vegetables, I make my own cheese and yoghurt and will shortly start making bread too. It’s surprising how productive a suburban backyard can be once you know what you’re doing.

    For anybody thinking about it, the best time to plant a fruit tree was 10 years ago. The second best time is now.

  203. Thanks, as always, for your work. Your blogs about the future always strike a cord with me – sort of like ‘this feels right, like someone is finally talking sense’.

    I work as a therapist – the type that actually helps people get better and function on their own, not part of the majority that is beholden to the medical/pharmaceutical industry. I’m unconventional in that I help people heal psychogenic physical illnesses that arise from their tangled emotions and past traumas (which happen to be extraordinarily common and are almost always misdiagnosed/mistreated by the medical system). I get people off drugs and functioning better than they have in years. I have worked hard to carve a different path, but people only come to me when they are desperate and have tried everything else to fix their illness.

    I was wondering what your perspective is on this sort of work during the next few decades – Might it be viable? Or is it something that people sacrifice when times are tough? – I note people are already sacrificing doctors and dentists visits. I believe you may have said at one point that therapists will go away with the middle class. While I provide something that few people do, and results are often much better than any mainstream medical treatment, people have to be willing/able to pay for it. It’s a very individualised service that requires the human element – touch, compassion, feeling heard and understood etc. so I have no worries about AI.

    I’ve mostly paid off all my debt, started learning how to grow a few supplementary vegetables and have become quite good at some handicrafts such as knitting to be able to pivot just in case. But I do love this work.

  204. Only Faustian civilization would build a machine to automate the busywork for the sinecures. Ah, the delicious irony.

    And on that note, John Michael, I’m afraid that you are actually guilty of the following:

    “need to be more openminded about alternative possibilities, that wonderful futures are still in reach”

    Chatbots don’t create content from scratch, they mine it from others. Just imagine what will happen when almost all of the humans have thrown in the towel and only you, Glenn Beck, and David Icke are still writing source material for it to mine. I would love to see what the LLMs made of that. It just might be the finest comedy our culture ever produces.

    And further on that note, LLMs may be technically capable of doing decent astrology. Astrology is actually better suited to statistically driven AIs than langue is. But there is serious problem. Where are they going to get the material to train it on? They need millions of source documents that are both sound and informative and what they find on the internet is far more likely to fall into the category of Moon in Libra and what it means for your love life by Crystal Wisdom Astrology and co.

    Anyone that takes astrology seriously enough to shell out real money for it won’t be buying that shale.

  205. It’s a sign of the decrepitude of our culture that so many people evidently suppose it an awesome achievement to produce a robot that can cobble together dubious pastiches from plagiarized bits and pieces. This is the diametric opposite of creativity. It embodies perfectly the Ahrimanic arts of deception and deepfakery that seem to characterize this particular slice of history.

    Such images as I’ve seen produced by AI are always vaguely creepy. The notion of using it to resurrect a long dead actress strikes me as tacitly necrophilic. Will this enhance and deepen our humanity, like attending a good performance of Shakespeare or Chekhov? I don’t fricking think so.

    I’ll be happy to bash this technology some more should I happen to think of some further suitable abuse.

    I was quite startled to see those photos of fashionable Iranian automobiles; I’d no idea they had such an industry. Our “journalists” really do work hard to keep us in the dark, don’t they?

  206. I followed your advice and enrolled in an intensive farming program a few years back and was able to slowly build up a collection of tools and learn how to use them, but land is ridiculously overpriced here. My wife and I found an amazing spot to ride out the virus and spent a lot of time clearing land for a market garden only to have the absentee landlords pull the rug out from underneath us last week. They said they are worried about erosion/neighbor complaints, but the real intention is to jack the rent. They generously offered us the “opportunity” to break the lease because they know we will leave if we cannot continue to grow food here. Fortunately another friend offered to rent his guest house which has significant garden space, but he’s a hardcore liberal and even though I’ve been working to prepare him for what’s coming I’m still worried how he will react when the wealth he is so proud of evaporates. I got the number 19 Generation card when asking about that situation, so it’s a positive sign. Your post finally pushed me over the edge towards accepting help (something I’ve had difficulty with) so thank you for the alarming tone. I feel so behind already and am not sleeping well, but when I consider what’s about to happen to the economic/social class that my current landlords belong to then I’m grateful at least we’re not those guys.

  207. Mayath #164, a reason to finish your novel: karma will screw you if you don’t. It’s always looking for an excuse. That’s one of the few motivations I have left.

    Lathechuck #205, I saw documentary that said the British plan for a solar storm is to turn everything on. That spreads the excess energy over as much of the power grid as possible, preventing any one point from overloading.

  208. @JMG #165,

    “there’s a good reason I didn’t give any specifics, just a warning that we’re heading into a couple of decades of sustained crisis. The reason, of course, is that at this point the variables are too uncertain and the outcomes too unpredictable to be any more precise.”

    You’re right about that, of course. I still feel that reading smart people’s informed and educated guesses (even if they might turn out to be way off) helps me get a feel for how things are developing in other parts of the world, and broadens my own arguments and thinking.

    So I think this kind of mutual exchange is helpful, even if it’s not strictly helpful in a predictive way… 🙂


  209. Princess Cutekitten, it’s still a work in progress, but what anaesthetic plants you can grow depends largely on the climate zone you live in. The Romans’ anaesthetic of choice was a combination of opium and mandrake, which probably was (and still is) pretty effective. But Mediterranean mandrake grows much better in Italy than in the cold and windswept Isle of Man, where I live. On the other hand, white bryony (“English mandrake”) grows well here and looks like an effective substitute.

  210. I’d like to point to a set of prophecies concerning Europe, collected and analyzed by Stephan Berndt in several Books. I have some reading before me.

    Berndt keeps a database for prophecies since 1993, comparing them morphologically. Mainly they are from Europe, with some from the US, Asia and the oriental countries as well.

    Berndt says he does not proclaim the content as absolute truth, but many signs mentioned seem to come true for Europe. He also considers the possibility that content of prophecies may be seen as symbolic.
    the core prophecy, with one example almost one thousand years old from an arab, is the “three days darkness”, followed by the sun setting in the West instead of East. Many recent prophecies speak of the same.

    The major source Berndt however draws from is Alois Irlmaier (died in 1959), a farmer and well builder how started having visions in the end of the 1920s.
    In the 50s the man was also a newspaper phenomenon and much sought out. Allegedly, he was able to predict where bombs would fall in the war, and tell people where their relatives were and whether they were still alive etc. He lived in Freilassing at the border of Salzburg.

    His prophecies are the most detailed and precise, many of them seemingly coming from memories of those who knew him.
    His prediction for Europe is a three months war with Russia, a third world war actually, that will fall short of a real nuclear war, however some nuclear bombs will fall on Russia and the US.

    In Europe however, there will be widescale destruction through other weapons systems, an event followed by natural catastrophes, and in the end the “three days” darkness, where everyone should stay in the house. After that, a good time is predicted ( a low tech future, as well).

    My context with this weeks post is the following: while the slow decline of the long descent is – in hindsight – absolutely spot on, nevertheless history has also had its many cataclysmic events, namely the two big world wars behind us. Did not annihilate the West or East, but was a tectonic shift killing many.

    Irlmaier, apparently in sources published since many decades, predicted wealth like never before, a fall of moral like never before (decadence), then immigration like never before, then inflation like never before, then uprisings and revolutions, and then

    “at a peace conference in the Balkans betwee Russia and the West, a high statesman of the US (IIRC) is killed by his own men to prevent peace, upon which Russia immediately overruns Europem, and heavy fighting begins”

    It is interesting to consider such prophecies in the context of our long descent. Berndt has a very sober methodology, even though as far as I have read up to here, I find many interpretations speculative.
    Apparently, war with russia, mass casualties in Germany and subsequent great catastrophes are found in detailed language in many prophecies of the past few centuries at least.

    But I have read only a small part of all that yet – I will form an opinion when I’m through.

    I just wonder: a long descent does not really exclude the option of cataclysmic events…- all the more when the technological power is waning globally and resource constraints kick in more and more, I could imagine the great powers on the globe to become less risk averse than since 1945 up to here.

  211. @Tengu (168)

    Oh, I know! I live just outside the central belt in the West and it’s very rural. We also have wealthy people come out buying the big houses that have been built around here (usually Weegees, bless ’em) who then complain about the odd cockerel that dares to crow. Afraid we just laugh at them and remind them they chose to live in the country. Those suburban types in Eigg won’t last, in the same say that holiday makers who fall in love with Assynt in July and move there don’t usually stay more than two winters, unless they toughen up. Some do, of course, and new blood can be very welcome.

    Orkney and Shetland have been talking for some time about at least a devolved system that would give local areas more real power. Might be a very good idea. I can see a situation — post oil — when both island groups, but especially Shetland because it’s so far away, would happily be jettisoned by whoever is in power as a drain on the system — a kind of “if Norway wants them back and will pay out of their sovereign fund, they can have them” attitude.

    The core mission of a UK government of any stripe is to keep the union in one piece, and they’ll use any legal tool (and many dodgy ones) to maintain the status quo. Personally, I’d hate to see tanks in George Sq again, but I also understand it could easily come to that. Alba gu bràth.

  212. Commentary on Europe, Energy and Economy:

    Germany has recently shut down three (allegedly still functional without issue) nuclear plants. In the days after analysts have shown how imports of electricity spiked in Germany, to a much higher cost. Countries around Germany are busy building new nuclear plants.

    I don’t pretend to know the economics of nuclear entirely – is burning all that fuel for fission more economical than just burning the invested fossil fuels as is?

    Anyways, German minister Habeck has endorsed Ukraine building and running nuclear plants, stating that “they are safe and there is no problem with this”.
    Many call the greens in Germany “stupid” and incompetent, but I am not so sure about that.

    Next Year, the German government intends to put an overhead cost on house owners and apartment rentiers that 99% of them wont be able to cover, thus really disowning all of them.
    Even the national German television is highly sceptical.

    I cannot escape to notice how the countries around Germany like Poland and France seem to want German industry as a competition to fail.
    I am not sure whether there is a “plan” – but it does appear so.
    Also Austria has, allegedly, had record imports of electricity this winter.

    As I have remarked before, my assessment of how fast collapse comes was yet again wrong the last year, a classic our finite world Tverberg mistake.

    It’s true that German industry is in the process of moving out of Germany – in the process, but obviously not there yet. There are officially supply chain problems with critical medications already. Inflation is grinding on unhindered.

    Meanwhile, a friend from this forum has mentioned to me that, while half a year ago corporate employers were very busy looking for employees, taking in almost everyone, that seems to have ended. Because half a year ago some people took the many vacant job positions as proof of how great our economy is.

    My personal situation is similar to *some* commenters here – I thought about the “collapse and avoid the rush” principles even before I had heard of the concept from John Michael Greer or James Kunstler.

    But my life was a struggle and I just did not make it, to do something out of the box. Was I lacking courage? I certainly did not know about many options when in my twenties. I was in a rush to be employed at all, under immense pressure always.

    Now I am sitting in the corporate complex, otherwise busy taking care of my health and of my old grandmother, and of other domestic things, not knowing any way out of all this.

    Oh, I have feared for this time to come for more then a decade…and everyone thought I was crazy. But I just found no way to go into a radically different direction – I saw to it to escape most of the pitfalls of an academic life where I could, but I ended up there, for lack of any other idea what to do.

    Just kicking my job now, would simply mean I lose income and get into trouble. I have been unemployed twice for a period, I looked at all the possibilities then and found them to be extremely limited.

    Time has passed, I’m in my mid-thirties – I can see no future, for me, really. Maybe that is my Karma – to go under within this society that I have always despised, to wane away together with what I hate.

  213. Regarding the prediction that vast swaths of industrial media production will in the near future be replaced by AI-generated content generated by the unconscious mechanized assembly of symbols, I found myself remembering something I read in a science fiction book, many years ago, in which indeed, if my memory is correct, most of the population of the country the book was set in was provided with machine-made entertainment, the production merely overseen by technicians. _1984_, I think the book was called…

  214. JMG, thanks for the compliment. My sense is that you don’t give those out willy-nilly, so I appreciate it. I was a journalist for 15 years (while also taking turns as a professor) before defecting to the game industry, a move I made in part because it was one of few with a guaranteed income that would pay off hefty student loans. After years of writing fiction, I’ve been taking up non-fiction again and thoroughly enjoying it, even if I haven’t found a replacement income yet. Again, thanks for the encouragement in that regard, and I’ve also been mulling over your past posts on small presses and such.

  215. If I may, I shall piggyback on Mark L’s comment (#137) to try and structure my thoughts on the current use of LLMs. But feel free to comment, this is not intended as a nitpick response, but a conversation starter.

    > If your job consists largely of language or math prompts, i.e. “provide this report/code/account summary by this deadline,” then AI can do it…

    No, it cannot, but that won’t stop people from using them for those purposes because LLMs are very good at “fake it ’till you make it”. They are particularly awful at math, so genuine STEM jobs should be Ok for the time being (software development being not a true STEM… you may notice that software intellectual property has been traditionally protected under Copyrights Law, and that Software Patents are a stinking mess). But again, people do not notice this, so I expect the next 5 years to be punctuated by some quite spectacular crises, triggered by the use of faulty analysis that lazy, subpar engineers delegated to the likes of Chat-GPT and their ilk.

    > For the creative pursuits like art/music/fiction writing, my sense is that the artist/author is a significant component of the value proposition, and that outside of mass market kitsch (think hotel wall paintings) very few people will be interested in purchasing AI-made art.

    In this I think your fears are misplaced, Mark. There are such things called Adversarial and Reinforced Learning. The first means that AIs can compete with one another and generate evolutive pressure, while the second is basically an AI run focus group. You combine the two and you have a team formed by a AI-author that keeps producing works of art and a AI-editor who keeps asking real humans how much they like said works; and they continuously talk to one another and improve over time. It will be a long time before they can mimic any specific author, but in terms of producing viable products that people will pay for with hard cash? I think we are already there. I would not be surprised, either, if some publishers build human/machine teams to ghost-write works that are to be peddled under the pen name of hip best-seller authors.

    > I want to be able to hand my accountant a pile of receipts, some of them hand-written and some of them water-stained, and also be able to talk to a real person rather than a machine

    On this account, it is useful to understand what is within the capabilities of current AIs and what is not. If by “hand … a pile” you literally mean to drop a manila folder in front of the person, yes AI lack sufficiently functional bodies to respond to that. However, if you work for a bureaucratic company, you won’t be able to do so anyways, and they may make you scan your receipts. Once that block is out of the way, Computer Vision is really good at handling unclear images; at least as good as your average human if not more. I know of a diagnostic AI that analyses MRI results and asks for a second opinion to an expert doctor. The AI-doctor team was like 10% better than the same doctor alone at detecting early stage cancer, because the IA was able to tell the clear cut cases on its own and let the doctor focus (and thus, devote more time) to the cases that were not so clear.

    On the same note, “talking to a real person”: we are a long way before some cybernetic organism is able to produce all the non verbal clues in real time so to hold a conversation with a human. Less so if the clues are simulated with CGI, but still far away enough to not be an immediate concern. But if you mean, holding a conversation in natural language… we arguably are already there with written text, and artificial speech will follow in the short term. So what is it you value to talk about with your accountant?

    But then, for all the capabilities I have mentioned so far. The capabilities do exist in the computer realm, but each module is independent to one another, and each uses a technology that is unique to the task at hand. In order to simulate a person (a la Blade Runner), you have to put together all the modules in such a way that they interact with one another in very fast, very subtle ways. I do not foresee this happening anytime soon.

  216. @ Jbucks

    You make excellent points, of course, and even if medical chatbots don’t completely replace humans, human medical practitioners might have to deal with loss of business and a reduction in income.

    Still, AIs can’t participate in the barter economy that will inevitably develop as banks crash, digital currencies are rolled out, access to services is restricted to those willing to bend the knee to the Regime, and so on. Things could get pretty weird in the changeover period.

    My guess is that the next decade or so will see the bulk of economic and social impacts of AI – it’s quite possible that, in the meantime, the backlash against it could trigger a Butlerian Jihad scenario, which would certainly make things interesting. In the 2030s and beyond, my suspicion is that we will have far more immediate and tangible worries than anything computer-related. Of course, if the whole of material reality has been broken down by nanobots to power an evil chatbot, I won’t even need to eat my words. LOL.

  217. When you move fast and break things, things tend to be…well, broken.

    With regards to the US stock market, whose rise in recent months could be seen as an apparent refutation of decline, the entire upward motion since October strikes me as a classic corrective pattern, less vigorous than the decline from January 2022, and one getting rather long in the tooth. The next step down could happen pretty soon, and it could be a doozy.

    @Dagnarus – my understanding is that that 700k/day is at current usage. The more entities who start using it, the more processing power it will require and the more it will cost to run. Granted, I think that calculus still runs in the bot’s favor, but not by as high a margin.

  218. Hi John Michael,

    Yes, it’s not good.

    Dunno whether you’ve heard, but I read an interesting note on China’s use of, what do we call it again, err, international aid? Ah yes, I believe that might be it. Anyway, less nice people might sometimes call them loans. And the number of countries which have been extended this aid, err, maybe loans, looks quite remarkable to me. What’s interesting about it all, is that I read a suggestion that they’re not actively enforcing the loan repayments. And far out, the numbers are big – but then, apparently so were certain foreign denominated treasury holdings and the two were in the ball park. Honestly, the numbers I read touted might be a coincidence. Maybe.

    It was hard not to notice that two of our state premiers recently went over there.

    When the Great White Fleet visited the colony of Victoria all those long years ago, we got them all drunk and showed everyone a good time. Diplomacy, down under style! We also secured an iron clad war ship and placed guns at the head of the bay. Ah, how times have changed.



  219. I appreciate the timely essay; I’ve been enjoying the series on enchantment quite a bit but current events have been pretty wild to say the least. I’ve been working on skills the last couple years (I’m late to the party) but I suppose I’ll be taking it on the chin like a lot of other people, although I do have some important things in the positive column (location, paid off house and the like).

    The main reason I wanted to post today was to say that the pseudo-essay written by faux-JMG was just awful. If I got onto Ecosophia and read that, I’d be flabbergasted. It sounds absolutely nothing like him, or like anything I can imagine him writing.

  220. The thing about the JMG AI essay is, while there is a bland gloss that gives a very pale shadow of JMG (if you look hard enough – no offence meant, JMG 🙂 ), there is none of the humour, subtlety, bite, and… most importantly, *any* new information or perspectives in the article. Anyone reading this blog will learn *nothing” new from that article. But, of course, this will probably perfectly reflect the goals of those creating these machines.

  221. @Sarad: That’s a nice Metallica song. I haven’t listened to them in awhile, but its Fullmetal Friday, so it’s a good listen to start my day!

    I did read you’re dream. It’s pretty wild! I learned a method of dream interpretation where the interpreter acts as if the dream being shared was his or her own. So if your dream were my dream this is how I would interpret it:

    The rain coming through the ceiling near the electric box would make me think of stuff happening that I can’t control, causing disruptions. The insulation I have put in place gets soaked. It isn’t enough for the elemental forces at work. If it were my dream I’d be wondering about Sophie getting kicked out of my daughters bday party for misbehaving. Sophie reminds me of Sophia, which would be wisdom. Perhaps wisdom isn’t toeing the party line, and gets kicked out. Do I need to talk to my daughter about the behavior of her friends? Then taking the elevator down to a subterranean, chthonic place where dummies with devil horns rule the day. In this kind of saloon there is liable to be fights and conflict so I better be pre-prayred. St. Michael seems like a good choice to call on.

    Personally, I haven’t worked with (St.) Michael in the way of votive style prayer. But it is really interesting we both dreamed about insulation in different ways at around the same time. Coincidence? I think not.

    It is interesting what you wrote about Keel. The last article in my Cheap Thrills column for the winter 2023 issue of New Maps was about “Legend Tripping” and how places like Point Pleasant may become sites of pilgrimage in our deindustrial future. I’ve been to the Mothman museum (it is really fun!) and they have an annual Mothman festival in the town. Mothman is good for their economy. Such a festival could take on more overt religious qualities during the long descent.

    Plug for New Maps: [ ] or [ ].

  222. Read a reasonably intelligent, mainstream article recently (Financial Times, by a scientist, I think), which said that the problems with AI were 1) it’s not much good, and 2) hasn’t been regulated well (but let’s not go down that hole, I’m a Scot living in France 🙂 . It certainly seems to me, keeping cigarette advertising away from children’s TV programmes, for example, is a good idea), and therefore that “boat has sailed” (just like with Social Media). He then went on to talk about quantum computing (which looks like it will be around for a while before the slow descent makes it untenable), and was arguing for regulation now (not going to happen, of course). Quantum computing coupled with AI, social media, and computer construction of images and “film” footage makes for terrifying possibilities. There’s a great BBC thriller series, for those that like that sort of thing, called “The Capture”, available on something called Peacock. I suspect most of the technological ideas used in the series are possible now (probably with difficulty and vast amounts of money – but that will change rapidly, I suspect).

  223. Greetings all. As an editor and copywriter myself, I have been wondering about the extent to which AI would encroach on my line of work. I got my first direct experience of this a few weeks ago when – needing an article in a pinch – I turned to one of those online creative talent sites and soon secured an agreement with a young woman to write said article, which was about ecology. A few days later I took delivery of it and found it to be … odd. It was strangely disjointed, it didn’t flow logically, and it was filled with those internet factoids you see when you ask a question of Google. Reading it felt like eating stale, white bread.

    Basically, the article was a total write-off, and when I pursued the writer – a young woman of indistinct ethnicity, with spectacles, a generic sounding name and perfect skin – ‘she’ had disappeared into the ether. I suspect she was merely a front for someone using AI to churn out articles, rather than an actual Blade Runner type robot. Still, once bitten, twice shy – I shall not be using any of those services again.

    On a related note, from what I’ve seen AI language programs are very poor at writing anything with nuance and attention to detail, or in a specific style. I recently wrote a 150-page report for the company I work for, and it went through 14 different iterations over a period of months, with numerous ‘stakeholders’ arguing over the exact messaging it should convey, the tone it is presented in, the legal implications of every word, and how it would be perceived in terms of positioning against rival firms. It’s probably the least efficient process you could ever imagine – the polar opposite of what computer technology promised us.

    I’m not saying the algorithms would never learn how to do these things, but it seems an awful long way off yet. Saying that, for more standard texts it can probably do a better job than the average light/medium weight copywriter, and it’s about 1,000 times cheaper and faster, so we can all guess how this story will end for most of them.

  224. Hello JMG and fellow readers. Off topic request: Can anyone remember and direct me to a post within the last couple of years? That essay included an idea about how our silicon and electrical interconnections are something akin to an emerging daemonic plane, being or beings – helpful and possibly harmful, more than “merely” hardware and software. I’m moved to revisit that essay and discussion in light of recent headlines about LLM AIs like ChatGPT and such. Whatever we call these creations, it seems no one person can fully comprehend the djinn inside the machine. I wonder what doors we’re knocking on, and who’s on the other side. Thank you.

  225. Interesting you say the rush is underway.

    I know it’s not necessarily what you have in mind when you advise to “collapse now,” but I heard 10,000 people left New York for Florida in the first 3 months of this year. (And that’s just based on drivers license swaps between those states. Probably more left New York during that period.)

    Two things struck me when I read the story. One, since it’s already been awhile since the Covid-accelerated decay began, I wondered what took them so long. Two, I read about some people who were planning to move but discovered they didn’t have the funds to go to Florida (because the influx of people over the past few years has driven up real estate prices there). So it seems we’re already seeing some people being squeezed out by “the rush.”

    It will only get tougher as time passes.

  226. My take on your essay –

    You definitely get the sense that Murica is no longer in charge of her own destiny. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent vision from anyone up at the top about where to go or what to do – about anything. The epitome of a rudderless ship. Who’s flying the plane here? Can you give me one name that won’t make half the populace either scream in anger or roll on the floor in laughter?

    Here’s another question – what exactly do Muricans in the 21st century have in common with each other? Is there anything vital or important that unites them? Anything at all? If all that people have in common is they eat junk food and watch TV, that’s not going to be enough to keep things together the way things are going.

  227. @Jeff Russell #199
    I 100% agree. Hindsight’s 20-20. What I think would be fascinating to know for Rome—if it were possible—is how long it took for the general public to become aware that the change had taken place.

  228. I used to have neighbor who was from Iran. He was a white collar state government employee and lived in a nice middle class house in the burbs of the state captitol. He and his wife ( also from Iran) had a daughter who was about 7. One day we were talking over the back fence and the topic of returning to Iran came up. He mentioned that he had a sister there who was a dentist and lived a very posh lifestyle with servants and a big house. But alas ,he said his family could not go back now because his daughter’s American education had left her so hopelessly behind in school she would never catch up if they returned ( and she could speak Farsi) to Iran and she would end up as a scullery maid or something.

  229. One thing that grinds my gears as a South African is how we were robbed of a fair price for our gold by the US, something that seems to have been forgotten.

    For 100 years South Africa produced more gold than any other nation. In 1934 the US fixed the value at $35 per oz, and there it stayed for 37 years except for a brief uptick to $42 per oz. And South Africa had to sell its gold at that artificially low fixed price price. After the ceiling was lifted, the price rapidly rose to well over $100 per oz, giving an indication of how much was sacrificed by our economy to serve US interests.

    FYI the price of gold is now around $2000 per oz, the biggest producers are China and the Russian Federation, and South Africa has slipped to 10th place with its mines nearly exhausted.

    As Henry Kissinger said, “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.”

  230. It is amusing to contemplate that, in decades to come and if the “Butlerian Jihad” idea bruited by Luke Dodson #208 were to come about, that alternative technologies for knowledge work might become commonplace, such as the “Ars Notoria” volumes A and B collated by Dr. Stephen Skinner, which by his report enhance the acquisition of the various kinds of knowledge. They are rather cumbersome to use, also by report, and I expect that use might be limited to specialists, the Mentats of the future.

    In the WOH series, all sorts of arcane technologies flourished more and more, and to extrapolate from that, it’s not at all ridiculous to expect that some of the useful skills people might acquire now and in the future are magical ones. Folk magic and high magic alike, herbal knowledge including magical knowledge, and so on. When considering alternative career options, I don’t think this should be left out of the mix. Then of course, there are all sorts of theurgical spirit-oriented workings (again, some of them quite cumbersome). Can you say “Bene Gesserit?” The future doesn’t have to simply be bleak. I fully expect it to be at least as weird as the present, probably a lot weirder. Wonderously so.

    That aside, the mundane astrology for the May 6 coronation ceremony for King Charles appears to have been selected with malicious foresight by someone or something, to put a spanner in the works of his monarchy and perhaps of the British monarchy altogether. I’ll leave it to more skilled astrologers to comment, but everything I’ve heard makes it seem so. Part of the general crapification of things? I understand Charles has directed that there be some rather unsavory simplifications of the ceremony and has brought in the members of parliament and worthy charity recipients of honors and sent the non-royal dukes packing, there are to be no tiaras and ermine, etc. You’d think a man with the insight to distrust modern architecture might have better sense about (magical) ceremonials!

    Chatbots? Meh.

  231. stephen h. pearson @ 2010 What the Belt and Road project is for, among other things, is to facilitate the spreading out of Chinese population. What I am wondering is will China and other nations see the eventual restriction or even outright banning of immigration by an increasingly isolationist USA as a causus belli?

    I suggest that the turning point in American history was 1913, when the Federal Reserve–privately owned, don’t forget, and not necessarily by Americans–was created.

  232. Oh no, AI, not again.
    It must be its third trip round in my lifetime – first as expert systems (my computer was going to be my physician), then as neural networks (software that can think, lol) now as ‘artificial intelligence’ which promised us driverless cars but all we got was some lousy chatbot that can’t even do a decent impersonation of JMG.
    Glory be.
    That is not to say that our ant overlords won’t grasp for it as a way of firing yet more people – of course they will. It will be fun watching them go broke as the promises of AI go unfulfilled and they scramble to re-hire some skillled, intelligent humans, or, more likely, they will have their lunch eaten by a more nimble, adaptable human driven business.

  233. jason heppenstall @ 235, have you considered holding a contest for submissions, with the best to be published with byline? You might be surprised at the unexpected talents you find right in your local area.

    teresa @ 192, about aging. I agree with some of your points. Taking care of health starts with diet and moderate exercise, such as walking. But, we all die when we die, and why burden my relatives with caring for me, and why divert my quite limited resources into industrialized healthcare? As for easy to get along with, some of us still have lingering resentments and, sorry, those are not going away. I live on a street where three single women from three different generations were renting houses. Yes, taking up whole houses with yards for just ourselves. There is me, in my 70s, a middle aged lady and a young woman in her 20s. Not one of us has any visible partner or even dating life. Of course, I know this can’t last for ever and ever, but I intend to enjoy my solitude and self reliant life as long as I can because I durn well earned it. About the WASP men of my generation, all I can say is that they could have been nicer and they weren’t.

  234. Hi JMG,

    I was working in the garden a couple weeks ago, during a rather surprising warm stretch we got, when a group of fairly intimidating looking young men cruised by. They were going the wrong way down a one-way street and got into a very heated exchange with someone who took them to task for it. Since I was mugged a few years ago I’ve tried to err on the side of precaution where these matters are concerned, so I decided to go inside for a bit after they’d left, since I wasn’t quite sure exactly what they were up to in the neighbourhood – most likely they were enjoying the nice weather like myself, in which case I was over reacting, but the downside of that strategy seemed preferable to other downsides I could imagine. At any rate, I mention this because I thought you would be interested to hear they were all on bicycles and scooters.


  235. @Justin: what a great interpretation, thank you!

    I think that a new religion based on the moth man is exactly the right amount of weird for the new age religion, yup…

    Here’s to Full Metal Friday!

  236. “The mechanism the United States used for this latter purpose was ingenious but even more short-term than most. In simple terms, the US imposed a series of arrangements on most other nations that guaranteed that the lion’s share of international trade would use US dollars as the medium of exchange, and saw to it that an ever-expanding share of world economic activity required international trade. (That’s what all that gabble about “globalization” meant in practice.) This allowed the US government to manufacture dollars out of thin air by way of gargantuan budget deficits, so that US interests could use those dollars to buy up vast amounts of the world’s wealth. Since the excess dollars got scooped up by overseas central banks and business firms, which needed them for their own foreign trade, inflation stayed under control while the wealthy classes in the US profited mightily from the scheme.”

    This has some weird implications I’m trying to tease out, but the growth of the new debt needs to be justified somehow. There needs to be some reason to think this won’t end like all other Ponzi Scheme’s inevitably will, especially among the people who are in positions where they have no choice but to engage in the harsh realities of the global political and economic system. While others can flee into banal drivel to avoid dealing with these sorts of realities, the people who run it simply cannot. The people responsible for running the system have to understand how it works, and how to make it keep running; otherwise it will come crashing down in very short order.

    The only three ways to justify the infinite growth of dollars this system requires that I can see are to insist that it doesn’t matter because we’re all going to die soon anyway; that the past has nothing to teach us because the present is unique; or that something new will allow humanity to avoid the consequences of our own bad decisions. Given that all three of these are arguments in bad faith, they’d be remarkably brittle among the people making them to cover their own sense of unease, and given human nature this would encourage people to push them on others; and now I’m wondering how much of the paired myths of Progress and Apocalypse in their current, extreme forms, are the creation of troubled consciences by the elites; and how much of the bravado, the “America is invincible!” attitude that causes so much trouble around the world, is another creation of this same troubled mindset.

    Human nature being what it is, if these are bad faith mechanisms for coping with a troubled conscience and a knowledge of how present actions are destroying the future well being of the nation, then there’d be a powerful pressure to push it on others, and the way that the elite controlled mass media heavily pushes all three would fit. There’d be a powerful pressure for the educated classes to adopt them as well, since anyone who understand history, economics, exponential functions, or any of a huge number of other fields of study would be able to see why this Ponzi Scheme would end very badly. Even worse, although their self image as the thoughtful, intellectual people would preclude them from admitting to it, there’d be a huge pressure to stop thinking about this, and given the huge number of fields implicated here, there’d be a massive pressure to reduce education and media to banal drivel. Given the amount of wealth at stake here, this would have massive support, and most people would find it hard to resist and give it at least passive acquiescence rather than try to fight against it.

    There’d also be a need to prove that these beliefs are real, directly proportional to the psychological consequences of rejecting them. Since one of these factors is how bad things are if they are false, the more likely it is that the American Empire is coming undone the more and more powerful their hold would become on the people who need to face these political and economic realties; and an awful lot of decisions being made on the part of the elites right now, and since 2006 or so, seem to make a lot more sense if they are acting in bad faith, desperately trying to convince themselves in the face of clear and growing evidence to the contrary that they believe in Progress, American Exceptionalism, and/or Apocalypse; when the truth is they see clearly that the current world order is ending, could never have worked long term anyway, and that anyone who thought clearly about it could have seen just how badly it would turn out.

    This is worth a great deal of further thought. Hmm.

  237. John–

    When do you think it will break through to the mainstream American consciousness that the US has become a has-been power?

  238. Age 70 here. I only got through part of this week’s essay.

    It feels like I have been reading JMG for twenty-two years, but don’t know when he started so I could be wrong. A long time. I haven’t been in much of a position to do anything differently except listen.

    JMG mentioned thrifty habits. Frugality is a focus of mine. It isn’t that I have been thrifty, because I haven’t. I know HOW to. I was a product of the 1960s, observing (and resisting) my frugal mother (born 1926; 1930s hard luck) compared to my spendthrift peers born after 1945. I could NOT see the point in being frugal. It seemed wasteful to be frugal.

    Since 2016, my husband and I have been spending like crazy building and outfitting a woodworking shop for him, then slowly putting in capital improvements into the derelict house we bought in Wisconsin. We had lived in Silicon Valley of Northern California for thirty years. What I did get to do in California, was observe Californian culture.

    Three things. (1) California’s culture is greed. (2) California’s poor keeps increasing, and California state government kept raising taxes to us, being part of the “earning” Middle Class, so they could keep giving “unearned” free stuff to the poor. (3) California state government was bankrupt.

    In 2020, we fled California. California did not want to let us go. Into 2022, California kept trying to tax us until finally, even they, realized we were no longer “taxable.” But they tried. We got away. As we drove up the Sierra Mountains from the west towards Reno, I felt a yawning pull, a sort of silent scream — California’s invisible demonic grasping-arms trying to keep us there. The feeling was real. Once we crested the mountains around Donner Pass, the feeling lessened but was not totally gone until reached Nebraska. Through Colorado, I felt trapped in the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.

    Something coalesced in us in 2019 where we knew we had to escape California. We prepared to sell our California house well before COVID.

    Thinking back to the 1930s and earlier, I knew what it felt like, and looked like, when things were made of wood. I was there in the 1950s and 1960s when everyone adopted plastics, and wood-made things faded away and, ultimately, made precious.

    Little by little, we are ridding ourselves of inferior things. We just got rid of satellite TV. DISHWARE network gave the feeling of “one less customer, no big deal.” No love lost there. Except I do miss local TV news.

    Frugality. In days to come, I will be harking back to my mother’s ancient penny-pinching ways, except that, now, pennies are dimes. According to the U.S. Labor statistics inflation calculator, 1¢ in 1965 is now 10¢. The expression “pinch pennies” still has a nice ring to it, so I won’t be saying “pinching dimes.”

    Americans in the three generations since 1945 have bred like rabbits. With the current inflation, people complain to have less ¢ to spend on food — they plead poverty (less food stamps) in regard to their umpteen kids who can no longer have Coca Cola with supper — now they depend on soup kitchens. Push is coming to shove, and the situation (apparently) is going to get worse. People who have always lived on the edge have never heard of pinching pennies because they have never had to do it. I venture they will learn — the alternative is to riot. Industry has stopped, and I look forward to seeing itinerant farm laborers (aka 1930s tramps) because maybe something will actually get done.

    Farmers know how to fix EVERYTHING. Farmers is one thing about Wisconsin: enough traditional family farms have hung on (for dear life), and have opportunity to make substantial come-backs. “Farmers know how.”

    Frugality. I love that word. Immigrants of all eras knew how to be frugal. People born in America will need to — have to — learn frugality. Speaking as a family historian, everyone, I mean, E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E, has ancestors who lived frugal lives. There was little waste. Until 1945, things were made well and used up. Since 1945, things were/are made crappily and thrown out. The American industrial scene since 1945 saw no point in making things well, but that will change. Needs will dictate companies make things that last.

    💨Northwind Grandma😥🪑
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  239. @ JMG, # 191

    I have asked the machine (ChatGPT-4) the following task:

    “Write an essay about the impact of the AI in the society as if you were the author Klaus Schwab”

    This is the result:

    “As the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, I have had the opportunity to witness the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on society. While AI has the potential to transform our world for the better, it also poses significant challenges that we must address.

    One of the most significant impacts of AI is its ability to automate jobs. With the development of AI-powered machines and systems, we are already seeing a shift towards a more automated economy, which will inevitably lead to job displacement. While this may lead to increased efficiency and productivity, it also raises concerns about the impact on the labor market, particularly for low-skilled workers.

    Another impact of AI is its potential to exacerbate existing social inequalities. As AI becomes increasingly integrated into society, those who have access to it will be at a significant advantage. This includes individuals and companies with the financial resources to invest in AI and those with the necessary skills to work with it. This could lead to a widening wealth gap and a further marginalization of already disadvantaged groups.

    Furthermore, there are concerns about the ethical implications of AI. As AI becomes more sophisticated, it raises questions about who will be responsible for decisions made by AI systems. For example, in the case of autonomous vehicles, who is responsible if the AI system makes a mistake that leads to an accident? There are also concerns about the use of AI in surveillance and the potential for abuse by governments and corporations.

    To address these challenges, we must take a comprehensive approach to the development and deployment of AI. This includes investing in education and skills training to ensure that individuals have the skills necessary to work with AI systems. It also includes developing ethical frameworks to guide the development and use of AI and ensuring that these frameworks are adhered to.

    We must also address the impact of AI on the labor market. This includes investing in social safety nets to support those who are displaced by AI-powered automation and exploring new models of work that are better suited to an automated economy.

    In conclusion, the impact of AI on society is complex and multifaceted. While it has the potential to transform our world for the better, it also poses significant challenges that must be addressed. By taking a comprehensive approach to the development and deployment of AI, we can ensure that the benefits of this technology are shared widely and that its potential risks are mitigated.”

    For the machine your ideas and those of Klaus Schwab about this issue are quite similar…

    May be we can see in fact who is behind the machine 🙂


  240. I vote for canning the topic of chatbots and other AI for the time being to talk about the mess we’re in. Though I’d also like a blog post, here or on Dreamwidth, to discuss The Witch of Criswell. And I, who am living here because the chores of daily life were getting to be too much for me, and who, my daughter notes, would have a hard time living in their chaotic and high-energy household (with her forever prodding her sons – “have you done your homework? Have you taken your meds? Eat properly or get away from the table….) would not be happy for me nor for anybody else….and hence, have reconciled myself to the fact that I’m toast, still need to follow this discussion.

    News notes to the point (and not):

    Per: The Gainesville Sun, today. The push is on to admit Ukraine to NATO.

    The latest issue of The Atlantic has a long article called “The Magic Kingdom of Ron DeSantis,” in which a British writer (i.e., she’s civilized) takes on what she calls “America’s Australia,” i.e. the barbarians’ barbarians. Left me wanting to stand up and cheer for the archetypical Florida Man – which sour, respectable DeSantis utterly is NOT.

    Residents of the most expensive building in this top-of-the-line retirement community were bewilderedly, angrily complaining about the price of things and the shoddy quality of what they were getting. My comment to them, with a sigh, “Welcome to the 2020s.”

    DeSantis has proposed the death penalty for child (under 12) rapists. While agreeing that this is the only remedy for them except life imprisonment, it seems to me that when anything but first degree murder carries the death penalty, the door is left wide open for disposing of witnesses gangland-style.

    Pat, decluttering like mad against a proposed move out of my building, due to be torn down due to age and massive maintenance problems, into its mirror-image next door.

    Side issue: Admin, in the person of the go-to person there, when I mentioned the fact that movers are good with inanimate objects, but not with animals, admitted they never thought about that, and then told me I didn’t need to worry about it. I’ve noticed the tendency to, whenever one raises an unaddressed issue, to use that word, :worry.” I asked the two men at lunch with me today if they’d ever had their concerns addressed that way. One hadn’t, not ever. The other had, a few times. Commentariat: how many of you have been accused of “worrying” about such matters, how many have not, and why? Grrrr….

  241. JMG – your note about the Iranian made car led me to look around on Wikipedia, and a few links later came to the Aston Martin Cygnet which was in fact essentially a Toyota iQ just at three times the price.

    The idea behind it was that Aston Martin’s average fuel economy was terrible, so they would sell this small Toyota under the Aston Martin badge to try to bring down their average.

  242. A thing he does sparingly, two days’ ago, my husband blasted me.🧨Tirade. I was toast. Blasted me with everything he had. None of what he blasted me with had much to do with anything to do with me.

    Afterwards, I walked the inside of the house, then walked, as best I could, the outside of the house. It was a delightfully cold, windy, cloudy, dreadful day. I had only a sweatshirt and jeans on.

    I sat down on the driveway, directly on the concrete. I seeped in the cold ground. I let the wind work on me. Within five minutes, the cold wind had cleansed my soul of inner shite.🥾

    I went back inside, and everything was okay. My mind was clear, or more like, had been cleared out. No residue. I brought back nothing from the blasting.

    This is why I adore cold, fearsome winds. Highly recommended.👍🏼(I suspect any bad weather will do.)

    💨Northwind Grandma😥☄️
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  243. JMG,

    Thank you so much for this.

    A couple thoughts about acceleration. A family member worked for FDIC for long term and is very familiar with the programs and practicalities of loss mitigation related to failed banks. In the past, this person worked much overtime when stress times hit, but recently had to retire (or face loss of inflation adjustments to a generous pension on which family depends). Recently, this person was informed that, instead of hiring recent retirees as FDIC routinely did previously, this time they contracted BlackRock to do the job. They had hired out pieces before, now it is more extensive.

    Medical specialists have plenty of work, but most work for others now. Corporates dictate the terms and plenty of delays and cash consuming “requirements” are built into the system. ER docs are highly stressed – instead of caring for patients, they mostly oversee and manage practitioners with less training and experience. Distant overlords (with MBA degrees) determine bonuses, using electronic medical/financial records. Primary care can be different, yet variable. Preventative care is certainly worthwhile.

    AI has had some highly visible and flagrant errors in medicine. To me, it is another tool. These errors will likely slow its uptake. The scientific method worked reasonably well in medicine until BigMed was enabled to both fund and write many of the rules for research (at least those promoted). EHR’s never have functioned particularly well, except a few niches. Initial EHR designs started with the billing codes, then went backwards to fill in the insurer-required medical bullet points. Early EHR studies consistently showed a 20% loss of efficiency for the doctors (at least in the surgical fields). Now the records are so voluminous, few bother to read them. If the AI medical algos are controlled by financiers rather than clinicians, similar results may be anticipated. Alternative medicine may thrive.

    On the flip side. Regenerative agriculture, which provides better nutrition and preventative health for those growing their own and/or seeking better food, and better profits for hands-on farmers than Big Ag, is growing substantially. This is a healthy response that is also encouraging on the environmental side.

    Open access journals allow markedly better access to more balanced research, for ordinary people. Authors pay for these publications, but the cost is currently reasonable. Much is available, and many of the authors can build a reputation using these, then use the resulting friendships and relationships to find a way to make a living. Enough are questioning the reliability of AI that I am hopeful information will continue to flow to those seeking real science.

  244. Stephen D, thanks for this! If that door’s still open, I’d encourage people with a decent work ethic to head for it as fast as possible.

    Stephen P, of course that’s a crucial issue. The point that needs making is that the US will not remain on top of the global pyramid until resource depletion and ecosystem disruption makes the whole thing moot. We’re going down now, and east and south Asia will go down a little later — say, a century or so further down the road. The silver lining to this particular stormcloud is that the US is in a position where it pretty much has to collapse now and avoid the rush — we get to take the hit now, and avoid the bigger impact later on.

    Brenainn, that’s just it. Every time an empire falls, you get people insisting that now everything will be wonderful. It never works out that way — meet the new boss, same as the old boss — but hope springs infernal, or something like that.

    Simon, I’m very pleased to hear this!

    Anthony, excellent! Ir’s good to know that there are still therapists out there doing the old effective methods instead of drugging people into numbness. My take is that this is going to be very viable indeed, because the US medical and pharmaceutical industries are hopelessly unsustainable, and because a great many people are beginning to realize just how corrupt and dysfunctional they are. In order to thrive, you’ll need to be flexible in terms of payment — you can’t depend on the survival of insurance plans, for example, and you may need to be prepared to take barter or make other arrangements; you may also need to assess whether your fees need to decrease (or fail to rise along with inflation) so you don’t price yourself out of the market. But you should be able to manage.

    Team10tim, if you think I see anything wonderful about LLMs, er, think again. But I think you’re forgetting something: LLMs aren’t restricted to the present in terms of resources they could mine. An astrological chatbot could be trained on every astrological text in English from William Lilly through Dane Rudhyar, since they’ve all been digitized.

    Kevin, of course it’s necrophilic. The terror and hatred of life is hardwired into Faustian civilization, so necrodrama is the logical endpoint for our visual media.

    Aloysius, ouch. I wish there was some easy cure for this kind of mess, but no such luck; at least you’ve got the tools and the skills, and when property values start to crash (as they will) you’ll be in a good position to act.

    Grover, yes, I saw that. A resource-backed currency at this point would likely render the US dollar next thing to worthless in no time flat.

    Milkyway, by all means — it’s just not something I’ll be contributing to.

    Curt, so noted. Have you checked to see whether any of the same prophets successfully predicted any of the last half century or so of changes? As for Germany, it’s as though they’ve decided to follow the Morgenthau Plan voluntarily.

    Reese, why, yes. One of my favorite tee shirt slogans these days reads MAKE ORWELL FICTION AGAIN.

    Brunette, you’re welcome and may the new venture prosper!

    Brendhelm, a rigged casino is not the best place to study probability. In the same way, a rigged stock market — and ours is, of course — is not necessarily a valid measure of the economy.

    Chris, better start working on those ironclads again…

    Ari, thank you. I found the pseudo-JMG piece very poorly written, and it’s good to hear that I don’t sound like that to others as well!

    Michael, and that’s the crucial thing about LLMs: since there isn’t any intelligence behind them — just a gimmick for stringing together words in predictable patters — they’re incapable of insight or genuine innovation. (Or, as you point out, genuine humor). That won’t stop them from taking over some forms of writing, where those things aren’t wanted or expected, but that has its limits.

    Jason, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Thanks for the data points!

    AGL, I recall some discussion of that in comments, but not a post on the subject. Anyone else?

    Blue Sun, that’s a major factor. Mass migration away from failing cities is already well under way, and I expect it to accelerate; it’s the same thing that happened to the old Rust Belt, in fact.

    Other Owen, I suspect we have more in common than many of us realize just now, and once the systems put in place to divide us against each other splinter, that may be a potent factor. But we’ll see.

    Clay, thanks for this. No surprises there!

    Martin, that was an essential part of US empire. Every nation that had resources got the same treatment.

    Clarke, good. I had that in mind when I was writing my tentacle novels, of course. Do you happen to know if a time’s been set for Charles III’s coronation?

    Domestic, and I could see that happening as well!

    Johnny, I’ve seen the same thing here in East Providence, and saw a lot of it when I lived in the Appalachians — tough-looking young men zooming down the streets on bicycles. Apparently a lot of young people have looked at the absurdly overinflated costs of owning and driving a car, and decided to do something else.

    Kevin, excellent! You get today’s gold star for perspicacity. Yes, and does that image of the world remind you of anything? 😉

    David BTL, about a century after it’s over and done with. The British still don’t seem to have grasped that they’re just one more little country.

    Northwind, it’s not just California. When my wife and I left the west coast — we’d been living in southern Oregon — we could feel the same clinging force.

    DFC, funny. I wonder what Schwab would say about that.

    Patricia M, hmm! I’ll certainly consider a post on Ariel’s story. As for chatbots, I brought them up here so we could discuss them; I’ll likely rule them off limits in future, until and unless there’s a good reason to include them. Thank you for the data points.

    Mawkernewek, er, I’m not seeing the connection.

    Gardener, thanks for this. Here’s hoping!

  245. Hello JMG,

    All I know is “morning” for the coronation on May 6. The site, only gives the most general itinerary with no exact times. The direct “UKanians” to a site for official television coverage which also is vague. No doubt in part for security reasons. I expect having a live feed and a good watch for the time period the anointing takes place (I believe it’s hidden behind a screen) which is the key element and takes several minutes, will be the best anyone can do. For Traditional astrologers, exact minutes and seconds are not particularly important. I wonder if there are procedures in place for other kinds of astrologers? I expect there are…me, I’d time it to when HMC3 disappears behind the screen, or squares up to face the ABOC if it’s not hidden.

  246. Not really a direct connection, other than I saw on the wiki that the Iranian car manufacturer had some cooperation with Peugeot, and I ended up looking into an article about ‘badge engineering’.
    Its a whole other blog article though about the trend to copy, produce under license, the products of competitors, or even just buying them out, rather than actually create something new.

    I’m sure there is an intersection between this trend with processes of imperial decline though because to do original work requires more real skills than just doing what others are already doing.

    The difference between AI JMG and AI Schwab, is the latter, by the end of its response, is basically saying the onus is on humans to adapt to their new AI overlords.

  247. PeterEV, I just took a scanned copy of “Fundamentals of Mimeographing” – a 1957 publication on the techniques of using a stencil duplicator – cleaned it up in an image-manipulating program (basically whitening and straightening scanned pages and converting the whole thing to a print-ready file), and now have it up for sale on my website, thanks to Lulu’s ( direct-sales option (it can be found here for just a few bucks above the production cost):

    I intend to do the same with other out-of-copyright/public domain texts (this one is orphaned, not public domain, so I’ve taken some liberty to reprint it) when my current round of “collapse [more] now” settles down a bit.

    I won’t lie – it took me a long time to figure out what I was doing with the original and how to improve it to print quality – but now that I’ve done it, others shouldn’t take as long. I support you in your endeavor!

  248. Couldn’t help but notice that Asia is labeled in “alert-red” on the statista graph

  249. @Austin . Interesting share.
    Research shows that the dating market in Western countries is very lopsided now. Women are only interested in what they perceive as the top 10% best men (according to criteria that can vary for each woman ) .

    Check out Paul at Apex mindset , he has good content for mindset and skills to get you there . I found him helpful.

    Just a suggestion, and a respectful post to all who read this .

  250. @Mark L: I am not an expert in financial matters either. The various events I cited are all consequences of the weakening of US dominance over South America, and they will further weaken it. As for personal consequences, I remember JMG’s old suggestion that complete loss of empire and reserve currency status would mean, on average, an 80% income cut for everybody in North America, but of course the timeframe is unclear.

  251. @ Mary Bennett #245

    Exactly. The easier you are to get along with, the more likely you are to have companionship (if you want it). The companionship of spouses, children, extended family, coworkers, friends; people both younger and older.

    Plenty of men are jerks. So are plenty of women. Much of the grief in their lives is self-inflicted, even if they refuse to change their behavior.

  252. “Clarke, good. I had that in mind when I was writing my tentacle novels, of course. Do you happen to know if a time’s been set for Charles III’s coronation?”

    11:00 British Standard Time. Here’s a very important question though, for those of us who have the (mis)fortune to live in Canada: since King Charles is also our head of state, does this coronation chart apply for us as well? If so, is it best cast for Ottawa?

    If that is the case, brace for total chaos: I cannot think of many worse indicators than Uranus in Taurus closely conjunct the ascendant, both opposing the Moon in Scorpio in the seventh; especially when, there’s a mutual reception between the Moon and Mars….

  253. @Justin: LOL, nicely.

    Like the bumper stickers say, “Well- behaved women seldom make history”. But I like to think that cuts both ways.


  254. On further thought, it occurred to me to wonder about the coronation, so I looked into it and found events will be held in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to mark the event; and this chart, impressively, manages to be terrible in all three countries as well as for the UK. This could get very, very interesting indeed….

  255. With regards to ChatGpt and software doing your writing.

    Michael Anderle, founder of 20Booksto50K (a Facebook group for indie writers with 70,000 members worldwide), is a software engineer who became a fast-fiction writer. He wrote (badly) a novel a month.

    He’s become very successful as he’s a genius marketer. He’s a strong proponent of a minimally viable product so make of that what you will.

    He founded his own publishing company, LMBPN, to publish himself and similar-minded writers.

    He just announced on the 20Books Facebook page that — when you boil down the word salad — he’s going to use AI to write his books. He justified this by writing (twice!) that mothers could use this method to supplement their income by writing faster.

    All I can say is the tsunami of swill just got larger.

  256. While still on my China/US thought train: A lot of people seem to think that China will attack Taiwan while the US still has the advantage in submarines and carrier based plane launched missiles. I think they have better sense. Within a couple of years their military alliance with Russia will be more developed and they will have the Kinzhal and other missiles and be in a much better position versus the US. Unless the US starts a war with them out of desperation, it seems they have everything to gain by waiting. They may never have to have an actual war. Why blow up Taiwan if you are eventually going to get it anyhow.

  257. JGM, how likely do you think it is for anti-AI and anti-automation legislation to be passed in the near future? A few years ago, Andrew Yang advocated for similar measures, but they did not gain traction. However, with the increasing threat of automation to the privileged classes, there may be a greater chance for these laws to garner support now.

  258. I think one of the factors leading to the collapse of empire is that at its peak the empire can get most of its actual needs from exploiting other countries leaving most of the folks back home to do office work. The problem with this is not only do you lose the facilities and skills needed to actually make and grow things but create generations of people disconnected from the physical realities of accomplishing things in the material world.This allows those disconnected folks to believe ridiculous things such as we can replace the fossil fuel armature of civilization with a windmill powered electric grid fueling self driving electric cars. If you had approached any of my boyhood neighbors ( farmers) back in the 70’s and told them such a thing they would have rightfully laughed at you. Without a hard attachment to physical reality people become suckers for all kinds of delusional thinking, such as.
    1). We can beat Russia in a country next door to them with our cutting edge
    military technology.
    2). We can go to the moon with a fraction of the budget of the Apollo program ( in
    real dollars), with a much more convoluted scheme and a degraded industrial
    This is one of the reasons (among many) that empires can never adjust and save themselves once the tipping point is reached. Not only has the leadership become senile and self serving, put the population becomes delusional and disconnected from reality.

  259. Clarke, it takes four minutes for a degree to pass the ascendant or any other house cusp, so within a few minutes is close enough for me, too. Thank you!

    Markernewek, I’d have been more impressed by the fake Schwab if it put something in there about eating bugs. 😉

    Augusto, as indeed it should be.

    Anonymoose, no, it’s the same chart for everyone in what’s left of the Commonwealth. Thanks for this; I’ll have something up before the first of the month, and I’m planning on making it a free view on my astrology sites.

    Teresa, exactly. I expect the mass-market romance publishers to go whole hog for LLMs shortly — there’s not much variation in their product anyway — and the same for most of the other low-end mass market firms. Put on your waders, it’s gonna get deep!

    Stephen P, good. Clearly the US wants to pick a quarrel while it still can; it remains to be seen if China can avoid falling in with that.

    Ecosophian, cold day in the Sun’s heliosphere. There’s much too much money to be made from LLMs.

    Clay, that’s an excellent point.

  260. >Other Owen, I suspect we have more in common than many of us realize just now

    But you didn’t enumerate what those, let’s call them “quantum commonalities”, might be when finally measured sometime in the future. I won’t put you on the spot any longer but it says something when nobody I ask seems to have a good answer to that question.

    I’d say even the superficial stuff is going away when people are starting to argue over mass produced light beer. What they’re arguing about doesn’t matter nearly as much as that they’re arguing. What’s next? A pointless divisive kerfuffle over nacho chips? Burgers and fries?

  261. AGL,

    This post?

    With the mineral spiders of terrifying intellect?

    “Steiner, again, was ahead of his time. In a lecture he gave in 1921 he described one of his visions of the future: “And from the earth will well up terrible creations of beings who in their character stand between the mineral kingdom and the plant kingdom as automative beings with a supernatural intellect, an immense intellect. When this development takes hold, the earth will be covered, as with a web, a web of terrible spiders, spiders of enormous wisdom, which however, in their organisation don’t even reach the plant status. Terrible spiders which will interlock with each other, which will imitate in their movements all that which humanity has thought of with their shadowlike intellect.” ”

    And apologies JMG, I thought you find it funny. I’m expecting some hilarious fails from AI, but it is probably more accurate to call it a consolation prize than a wonderful future.

  262. Ben, the Russians initially, and wrongly, assumed that Ukraine would crumple in the face of a determined Russian assault. Once that proved to be wildly inaccurate, they regrouped, and started playing a very cautious game.


    IMHO that’s partly correct. The initial move towards Kiev had two motives… one to try and force Zelensky to the negotiating table and two to pin down most of the Ukraine military in the north while they destroyed the Azov in the south. The first was a gambit that didn’t pay off, but the second was quite successful indeed, so the “feint’ was certainly justified.

    When Zelensky and his NATO backing doubled down Russia settled in for a longer confict and made adjustments as necessary. Too many have focused on territory when Putin has openly stated the goal is one of attrition and they’ve been all too competent in that regard. The recent “leak” has confirmed that Ukraine is essentially running on fumes while the West scrounges about for arms and ammunition. One observer noted it best in that the US in particular now only possesses a “boutique” military incapable of a sustained conflict against a true adversary.

    Per your earlier comment, YES, I’m not all in on any “fast collapse” but events do appear to be unfolding quicker so I’m not above floating potential scenarios. The much-awaited Ukrainian counter-offensive comes down to a rag-tag collection of unwilling and poorly trained conscripts handed a mishmash of NATO hardware with virtually no air support or defense and extremely limited artillery support. The moment any significant attack formation is identified it’ll be annilihated. It very much feels like an extremely poor echo of the “Battle of the Bulge”, especially given that there’s literally no surprise and Russia’s prepared for it.

    When the offensive fails — and I expect it to fail spectacularly — it’ll be obvious that “the king has no clothes”, i.e., NATO’s days are numbered and with it the dollar and Western hegemony. Yes, that will drag out but the direction will be clear and I expect the nations of the world to react accordingly.

  263. A lot of people seem to think that China will attack Taiwan while the US still has the advantage in submarines and carrier based plane launched missiles.

    The supply of non-nuclear missiles we can launch pales to theirs thus we’ll run out of both offensive and defensive missiles long before they do. Not to mention the carriers would be destroyed well before getting within effective launch range of their attack aircraft. Ever read “Red Storm Rising”? A US carrier group gets wrecked precisely due to exhausting their supply of defensive missiles.

    Agreed though that China, like Russia, is playing a longer game. Given that the proxy war in Ukraine is ironically weakening the US & NATO they can afford to wait.

  264. Something that has occurred to me. Even if you manage to maintain your wealth in real terms in the face of the dollar declining, the market around you is shot, so you can’t live the life you used to live even if you had the means, because America isn’t importing/making the stuff you want.
    This doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth trying to maintain your wealth (gold? ex-US stocks? who knows) but it is going to be a while before you can access all the goodies again, unless you leave the US. Some stores may be open, but they won’t have much, and what they do have will be exorbitantly priced – even above whatever percent hyperinflation happens to be at.

    First, minimize your lifestyle, get rid of all the extra goodies and extras and luxuries and expenditures. Learn to be content with the basics.
    I tend to think that the necessities of life will continue to be accessible but at rather meager rations, and any preparation will pay off to supplement that and make you happier. You won’t have to survive on your own fruits and vegetables, but you’ll be better off with them. You won’t have to generate your own electricity, but being able to go without electricity for a while is really important. Can you entertain yourself? Can you maintain your sanity? It surprises me how an extended period of no electricity at all has a negative effect on me. I am working on this. You may also consider having alternate energy and/or battery backup. If your appliances or electronics go out, you might be out of luck for a while… put everything on surge protectors. Constant rolling blackouts are havoc on electronics as the current surges back in when the power comes on again. Catch up on repairs to your house that won’t be able to be done during this time.

    And most importantly, have local close friends and family and get them to prepare also. You’ll need your network, and they’ll need you. I’ve been putting off growing any veggies, and my friend is now planting. I am going to help them so I can learn, and hopefully do it myself. Sometimes the way you and your people help each other is just the moral support.

  265. Teresa @ 264, I am afraid I have respectfully to disagree with you in part. Naturally one must avoid rudeness, interference in the affairs of others, lying, petty, or any, thievery, and other such like reprehensible behaviors, but I do think the emphasis on “getting along” and “nice personality” is very much a mid and late 20thC obsession which will likely disappear. As one writer put it, would you rather live next door to a person with a great personality or someone who can and will fix your car? Personality doesn’t get the meal fixed, the seeds planted or the clothes washed and dried. Never mind ironing. Nice doesn’t pay the bills. Some of us are not gregarious and would rather be go to persons when something serious needs to be done.

    I read many 19thC and early 20thC novels and I am continually astonished by the range of behaviors which seem to have been tolerated in those times which would be considered horribly rude nowadays. Including in Austen’s novels.

    With regard to the US going to war, I think many forget that the neo-cons, Zionists, and other members of the pro war faction don’t consider themselves Americans at all. The MAGA crowd is right about that much. Those war drum beaters are “citizens of the world” if you please. There is a bit of a meme going around about the latest batch of pentagon leaks, via a national guardsman!!!, being the work of “patriots” within govt. who hope to embarrass the war party. The way the LSM has deep sixed the story does give that meme some credibility.

  266. Hi Lost Austin @118
    I know exactly where you’re coming from as I’m a divorced guy back in the dating market who is short; I’m 5’5”, 64 years old.

    Being short is a profound disadvantage for men in online dating. Not only will women typically overlook anyone under 6’, many dating apps and web-sites have filters which can be set so they will never even see your profile, or let you submit a message. On one dating website, I submitted several hundred messages that were ALL blocked by the filter.

    Then there appears to be a sex-based selection strategy: Men most often seek a woman who is ‘good enough’, that is to say a sufficer strategy, while women are looking to find the best match possible, a maximizer strategy. Needless to say, a maximizer excludes vastly more than a sufficer. More insidiously, the maximizer strategy doesn’t have an end-point: how can a woman know whether an even better match might be just around the corner? In online dating, there is the illusion of unlimited selection, so if you just keep looking, you’ll find a perfect match. And men outnumber women online 3:1.

    There is an excellent discussion on this video:
    “Evolution’s Secrets To Understanding Relationships – Dr Andrew Thomas | Modern Wisdom Podcast 601”

    Dr. Thomas, who is 5’11”, mentions his story of meeting his wife online. He typed in his height as 6’0”, later learned she had set her filter at 6’0”, and never would have seen his profile if he’d been precise.

    Dr. Thomas, who’s a sociologist, tells of how he started a dating research project, and posted a few fictional profiles of men and women on a dating website. After several weeks, the female profiles got several thousand responses, with the male ones got zero. He dropped the project because with zero responses, there was no way to make statistical comparisons.

    This is evidence that 1% of the men garner 99% of the women’s attention; those men have a field day, while the women feel rewarded thinking they have a great dating strategy, since they came SO close to snagging a great catch. The 1% get an effortless stream of starry-eyed hook-ups giving away the store.

    Me? After several years online, I eventually did get one date, a 5’9”, 58 year-old woman who was strikingly attractive, feminine, non-woke, very smart, though a bit remote. We chatted for 2 hours over a beer, and hmm…. so we agreed to a second date, a hike in the local mountains. While planning over the phone, she mentioned bringing her dog along, which from our prior conversation, I knew to be a rottweiler with a history of aggression. (I have a phobia about such dogs, as one went for my throat to within an inch, its owner yanking the leash just in time.) My dog anxiety surely came through, and that date never transpired.

    I’m not trying too hard to date these days, as my marginal business takes up a lot of time and provides little income after alimony/child-support.

    To the extent I do try to date, I rely on in-person activities (esp. social dancing), as women will perceive me as a gestalt. In person, a man can project stature metaphysically, and my height doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    If I may Lord Austin, I’d like to suggest you eschew the protein supplements, never-mind implants. If you’re disciplined enough to work-out regularly, you can obtain an ideal physique. Just look at the ancient statues of Greek gods and heroes. To this day they represent ideal male attractiveness. Artificial enhancements look obvious and phony. Do injections of fillers and Botox into women’s faces make them more attractive to you? H*ll, women notice and get turned off by subtly mismatched socks or poorly hemmed pants, never mind scuffed shoes, never mind fillers injected into your pectorals and biceps. Don’t go there.

    I’ll never forget the advice my dad gave me 50 years ago: Wear traditional leather shoes, and keep them polished. I remembered this consciously before I went to the dance where I met my (now former) wife. After we became an item, she mentioned the first thing she noticed was my shoes. I’ve been similarly complimented again at a dance just this year by a lovely woman who was, ‘sigh’… married.

    You can project stature. First, you are not “short”; you are “stocky” or “compact”. I happen to have a Mediterranean appearance (I’m a quarter Spanish), and Mediterranean/Latin cultures do not fetishize male height, so I feel confident that I’m attractive by THAT standard: In my late 20’s I had a 4-year on-again/off-again romance with a lovely ethnic Scottish woman who was 5’9”. Tall fair blonde men were as boring to her as oatmeal. I embodied her idea of the perfect “Latin lover” (her words), we had a great time and she made noises about us getting married, but too much else didn’t work for us, so I ended the relationship.

    It’s easiest to feel confident if you feel confident ABOUT something. So cultivate that something: a skill, an area of expertise, even your clothing style. And work out before you go out. When I go out socially, I consciously dress as if I wanted to look either casually sharp in 1948, or semi-cowboy style. Dressing a couple rungs up with a neck-tie, layers, leather shoes and a blazer or an A2 bomber jacket (or a tanker jacket or an original-cut Eisenhower jacket) will both draw positive attention and make you feel good about how you look. Facial hair, esp. mustache/goatee/mutton-chops makes your face more distinctive and signals you’re not a soy-boy. When I shop for groceries, or in the mall, I dress as if I’m going out socially, and get plenty of compliments and questions from passing men and women on my style. Becoming a skilled dancer (pick from Swing, ballroom, Contra, Country-Western, Cajun, Salsa, the Hustle, [& Scottish Country dance in large urban regions…]) is an uncommon advantage for a man to have, and a source of confidence in its own right. And you get to see the same faces regularly, and become a familiar face yourself… another advantage.

    Getting your mind into the old-school masculine mindset definitely helps. Books such as “No more Mr. Nice Guy” by Robert Glover, “The Way of Men” by Jack Donovan, “The Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida and “The Rational Male” by Rollo Tomassi make explicit the kind of thinking that was simply implicit before 1960 or so. I don’t agree with all of it, but it certainly feels refreshing to reconnect with that sort of thinking.

    My 2 cents.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  267. Lathechuck – Oh! I hope you come back and read this and respond. I’m researching grid vulnerability for a project and also serve on a rural electric coop board. I’m at the northern-most latitude in the US (Alaska not withstanding) and our state has iron ore deposits in the bedrock, meaning the area I live is the most vulnerable in the US to a geomagnetic storm. I talked with a grid resilience engineer who works with one of the major power generation utilities in our state and he said that companies are making decisions and infrastructure investments that are making the system more vulnerable to solar storms instead of less vulnerable. For example, increasing line voltage to 760kV. We also get power from WAPA and they just included an article in their April 2023 magazine on how they are testing solar storm resistant infrastructure in two places on their grid pages 12-13 here

    So it still seems like there are some ambiguities in what impact a Carrington level event would have on our modern infrastructure. I would like to define it really clearly, over time and intensity, with potential impact. Like a matrix.

    JMG ~ You are right, all those fast collapse scenarios never happen. That said, as an agricultural scientist by training and profession I’ve had two unexplainable, mystical experiences while working on this project about the impacts of solar storms on agriculture and food systems. Those mystical experience caught me off guard and had a profound impact on me. They basically made me take this more seriously than I might have otherwise.

  268. Darkest Yorkshire ~ Thank you for your comment about long guns. I am going to give that a try as I have about a dozen of those in our gun safe already. I’ve left all the rabid skunk shooting to my husband and sons and never enjoyed hunting recreationally. Honestly, I haven’t read any more about self defense and combat shooting outside the 12 hour conceal and carry class I took and the book they sent home with me. Obviously with a long gun, it won’t a a conceal situation.

  269. Team10tim, sorry about that — jokes quite often go soaring right over my head, you know.

    TJ, oh, once it became clear that the Ukrainian government wasn’t going to crumple, the Russians shifted gears tolerably well, and did it in a way I don’t think anyone was expecting: dropping right back to World War I-style static trench warfare in order to mess over NATO. I once wrote an essay on military history, focusing on the concept of asymmetric tactical shock — what happens when one side figures out how to monkeywrench the other side’s core warfighting technologies — and the one consistently effective response is to go retro, falling back on an older set of tactics and technologies that the monkeywrenching won’t disable. The Egyptians used that approach to beat the Sea Peoples in 1180 BC and the Russians seem to be using it now. If they follow the same method from here on, once they break the Ukrainian spring offensive, they’ll launch the same kind of assault the Allies used in the Hundred Days Offensive in 1918, pushing forward on a broad front behind a massive artillery bombardment (and glide bombs as well), with the goal of causing a general collapse of the Ukrainian/NATO forces. But we’ll see.

    DT, good. You’re thinking in the right direction.

    Sunlight, it’s certainly not my place to tell you how to interpret your own mystical experiences. Those that I’ve had, however, very often needed to be understood symbolically rather than literally.

  270. @Robert Clayton
    > Russia, China, Iran – all the leading opponents of the American empire are truly horrible regimes.

    That’s what Americans are conditioned to think, after a diet of highly regulated news about those countries (and the rest of the wolrd) that beats anything these countries produce on their own at bias.

    That, and magnifying the voice of westernized dissident minorities (people that “look like us”, which are then feted by the press and as representive the local populations (an even more extreme equivalent of taking a hardcore MAGA or Woke partisan freak, and taking their views as representing “what the average American thinks”).

    Of course every foreign affair concerning those countries is presented with zero political historical background, except from that which can be gleaned through the biased articles and books fit for print in the US, through and through permeated with the US bias, ideologies, and foreign interest angles).

    It’s even more funny when people say those things at the same time the US itself has destabilized, invaded, bombed, pressured and blackmailed, dozens of countries, including assisting dictatorships all around the world, and designing a coup to bring down the democratic leader of Iran back in the Cold War days and install a friendly puppet in power, so that the country can be used as a satellite in the area and be stripped of resources on the cheap.

  271. The Russian do have one big advantage that the allies did not have in 1918. Their arsenal of long range cruise missiles and hypersonic missiles gives them the capability to strike far behind the line of contact in a way that was impossible to consider during wwI. Imagine the First World War if the allies had been able to hit German headquarters in Berlin, or the Germans had been able to hit Allied HQ in Paris when and where they wanted. It is a testament to their self restraint that the Russians have not vaporized Zelensky and the entire Ukrainian Leadership in Kiev months ago. But they realize that they must leave someone to negotiate a truce with one day. I am sure it was somewhat of a turning point in the West’s thinking when the Russians hit a Bunker near the Polish border filled with US and Nato generals with a Kinzal hypersonic missile a few weeks ago. For the first time in 65 years American military leaders found themselves on the sharp end of the War stick. I hope this will trickle up and change the thinking of desk bound warriors in the empire to viewing war has a dangerous enterprise and not a game where only the pawns are sacrificed.

  272. JMG 90

    “SLClaire, at this point a great many Democrats are desperate to get rid of Biden and Harris so they can run a candidate who has a chance of winning. My guess is they’ll manage it — though the party doesn’t have a lot of potential candidates just now.”

    > Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFKJr)

    last week announced he is running for president 2024. I became all a-buzz. Check him out. He is not a copy of any other Kennedy. In fact, many of the Kennedy family scorn him. He doesn’t bend to Kennedy-family-pressure. He has a mind of his own. He is definitely NOT a knee-jerk Democrat. He basically gives the middle finger🖕🏼to the existing Democratic party’s higher-ups (uppers).

    While I don’t agree with him on everything, I do agree with enough things resulting in me making him first choice. I am looking for a place to get RFKJr’s signs and bumper stickers.

    💨Northwind Grandma😥📜
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  273. Siliconguy and others on training; my older cousin, long deceased, left school in the eighth grade. He learned by doing at work. The US army saw fit to use his civilian skills and made him an equipment operator in an engineering battalion during WW2. Learning on the job works too.

  274. TJ 276
    I’m afraid I must disagree with you, though I would probably have agreed a month or so ago. My source of information on naval warfare is Andrei Martynev, a graduate of the Soviet naval academy, and certainly no apologist for the American military. He feels that at the moment the US still has the premier submarine fleet and that their carriers can park out of range of the Chinese missiles, and the planes from those carriers can get within range that their missiles can hit China. This equation will change within about two years as the Chinese receive the Russian Kinzhal missiles and others,so if they can hold the Americans off for another two years, maybe even less, it will be a whole new game. The danger is that the Americans probably realize this, and may attack out of desperation within that time frame. Let us hope not. His website, by the way, is

  275. @JMG #257:

    By the way, I discovered something a bit ago and was considering mentioning it at the next open post, but I realized it’s probably on topic here:
    Insanely, it appears that a substantial fraction of _active duty_ American military personnel are _food insecure_; a search for “united states armed forces food insecurity” turns up multiple sources that seem reliable. So, apparently, things are in fact so incredibly bad that at the same time we’re spending billions for flashy high-tech hardware of highly dubious actual quality from the military-industrial complex, we aren’t even making sure that all of our soldiers _have enough food_. I mean, good grief, the rampant mistreatment of veterans was bad enough, but now we’re doing _this_? And, sure, the government’s apparently working on it… but this shouldn’t be something that gets worked on, this should be something resulting in, as soon as the government notices it, an “Oh !”, following by fixing it asap.

    Just how deluded do you have to be to think it’s a fine idea to starve a large part of your own standing army while simultaneously making it very clear that the resources to feed them do exist, you just don’t care?

  276. Lord Austin: Ouch! My reply came out addressed to you as “Lost Austin”. I meant to type “Lord Austin”, but I must have had a typo, and auto-correct put in “Lost”. I’m so sorry. I did not intend that.

    –Lunar Apprentice

  277. Justin Patrick Moore #255, that was the same link twice, I think this was supposed to be the second one: Also, WTF did I just listen to? 🙂

    Sunlight #282, for reading on self defence the usual starting point is Marc MacYoung’s massive website: Some books of interest:
    On Killing and On Combat by Dave Grossman
    Training at the Speed of Life by Ken Murray
    Surveillance Tradecraft by Peter Jenkins
    The Modern Bodyguard by Peter Consterdine
    The big one for all things combat-related is In Combat from Marshall Cavendish, a weekly collection that built up in ring binders. Although the technological cutoff is early-90s, it’s the most comprehensive source on tactics and equipment I’ve ever seen. Looking it up now, complete second hand sets are for sale from about £45 to £250. If you really wanted to learn war shooting, Max Alexander’s courses are probably the best place: His books are good too, and function kind of like updates to In Combat (more recent gun sights, body armour, load-carrying harnesses, etc.).

  278. JMG and Mary Bennett (#145) and Brunette Gardens (#173): thank you for the ideas and compliments about my local newspaper! Following your suggestions, I already got articles about local history started and got a interview date with one of the few remaining winegrowers, once a thriving industry here. I’ll let you know how things proceed!

  279. @JMG and others, re: Russia’s initial strategy. If it was intended to bring Kiev to the negotiating table, it quite likely succeeded. There have been a lot of reports (on the Duran and elsewhere, iirc) that a peace agreement was in fact reached, or nearly reached, but that it was sabotaged by the west, and the UK in particular. Allegedly, they told Zelensky that if he signed it, he could forget having any future aid or support from the West.

  280. @Lunar Apprentice – I could really like the you that you described. Pity about the 20-year age gap in the wrong direction. As for the dating apps, if they’re that picky, they’re totally worthless except for a tiny handful of the sort of people who, in the novels of 200 years ago, picked their footmen by the looks of their legs. Who needs those picky princesses? (Apologies to working princesses like Kite Middleton.)

    Re: fast collapse/slow collapse, just my $0.02, I think it all depends on where you are. And of course, what you do for a living or a hobby. I wouldn’t have the West Coast on a bet, but know some high desert communities on the other side of the mountains in the West Coast states who are well-positioned to ride out the coming Troubles, except for the crazy weather and long-range certainty of drought. Gainesville, FL, has possibilities except for the huge influx of incomers, resulting in massive conversion of trees to housing all around the edges of town. And so on.

  281. My tips on meeting potential dates are old fashioned, but they’ve worked for a number of friends, and I’ve been married for 25 years (YMMV, obviously.) In essence, find what hobbies/traits you’re interested in and where those people hang out, and go there.

    Women, go wander around the auto parts store until you see someone you’d like to get help from on something like what new rims you should get. Go to a classic car show with a camera phone because you want photos of the gorgeous cars you’re there to learn more about. When I had a 2000 Trans Am sports car I had to literally stop men from following me home… hang out at Home Depot, take a class in woodshop. I went to a machining class and made a candleholder one time. Etc.

    Men, the fiction section of a bookstore with a cafe attached is a gold mine on a Friday night. Ask someone which book your Mom/sister would like. Church groups sponsor evening events, and the bigger the church the more likely they also have a singles group (Catholics do, often.) Take a painting class at one of those places that offers wine and painting events. Those places are full of women.

    And my favorite is Ren Faires, comic book conventions, or historical reenactments, this works for any gender. The key thing though, I think, is you have to be willing to start random conversations and meet almost anyone, which is easier when you stop worrying about whether it leads to a mate, or a great new group of friends, or a conversation with an old lady with an unattached niece, or just an interesting afternoon where you learn something new. Mostly, I think the universe responds when you put out the effort.

  282. In Regards to the Shadow Projection:

    “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.

    In 1984, Huxley added, “people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” – Neil Postman

  283. Hey John and friends,

    Very nice post John! I really enjoyed reading this especially your thoughts on ChatGPT, which is what my post is going to be about.

    This new technology is actually very dangerous. It has been common knowledge for quite some time now it has been acknowledged that if you want to have a good life, you have to work in the IT industry and become a programmer. So all of the plucky young kids have been doing just that over the past two decades. Going into IT in order to live the middle class lifestyle. Yet like I said to my wife about a year ago before I even had heard of ChatGPT, this state of affairs is not going to last forever and very quickly these people will be out of a job, just like people in other countries will be.

    This is where it gets dangerously interesting. What happens when ChatGPT destroys all of these jobs? All of the white collar jobs? Well governments around the world have a solution to that. UBI. Of course UBI isnt a payment that will provide people with a middle class lifestyle. It’s basically a payment to create more welfare rats. Basically that is people sat on a computer with nothing better to do but smoke drugs and play video games all day. No chance to get married, raise a family, provide something worthwhile. Just mere existence.

    I know this for a fact because that is what happened to the UK and many other European countries when the factories disappeared. Under Thatcher and later Blair, mass welfarism was promoted in order to keep the plebs in line. What happened? You had three generations and now a fourth that never have known a parent to go out to work, broken families, lots of drugs, just sat around doing nothing and having to battle at the mercy of the state for their benefits. The state of course uses these benefits to control the people…

    Which is basically what UBI will become. The state will control everything. When you can eat. What you can do. It’s a pretty grim world.

    Yet also there is another problem this time around. Young men. You see, we are now starting to see the Gen Z white male population becoming frustrated and angry because they have no hope. They can’t get girlfriends. They can’t get good jobs. The pandemic gave them an entire opportunity to just sit there and read alt right material on the internet.

    So what happens when you have a more intelligent population (this is the average to upper average IQ former white middle class population) sat around with nothing to do? Unlike the previous blue collars that did not have the intelligence to organise, these people do. So they start to read even more, get more radical and the next thing you know, things start to get very crazy indeed…as an old African proverb goes, give young men nothing to do and they will burn down the village…

    It all reminds me of Tito’s Yugoslavia actually. When Tito was in charge, life was good in Yugoslavia. People from all groups lived side by side in peace. The economy was great. People between the different groups regularly intermarried. It seemed the last place on Earth that everyone would start shooting at each other. Yet as soon as Communism collapsed and people had nothing to do, you had an entire generation of men in each group quickly turn on each other, rallying behind their respective flags and fighting a brutal conflict.

    I could quite easily see Western countries following the same route and ChatGPT is going to accelerate that process. I predict that within 5 years, most of this jobs will be gone. It took Thatcher 10 years to get rid of the factory and coal mining jobs so I expect ChatGPT to be a lot more quicker.

    Of course this all reminds me of that great mutation post you made 3 years ago. I always remember it. “Civilisation will have to retreat to older more reliable technologies.” I think ChatGPT is proof in the pudding of this one. It’s a job destroyer. Aside from maybe being able to create some cool art and improve AI in video games, I can’t really see it being a great benefit to Humanity.

    I think people get this too. For example back in the 90s, I remember my parents being excited about the internet. It was so exciting! You could talk to people in other countries. You could read the news online. It was great!

    Yet this time around, ChatGPT does not share the same level of excitement. Not at all. Infact governments actually want to ban it. Yet like Pandora’s box, it’s now out there and is ready to cause havoc.

    What amazes me is the developers of the programme. They keep saying how scared they are of it yet they can’t help themselves and continue to develop it. Talk about an addiction to evil.

    Well, whatever happens, happens. Yet as with the Long Descent, hope is there to get the balance back on track. It always is.

  284. Ananda Coomaraswamy quotes a Japanese writer in one of his books (the gospel of Buddhism) and the text is interesting:

    “Order or disorder in a nation does not depend upon
    something that falls from the sky or rises from the earth. It is determined by the disposition of the people. The
    pivot on which the public disposition turns is the point where public and private motives separate.
    If the people be influenced chiefly by public considerations, order is assured; if by private, disorder is inevitable. Public considerations are those that prompt the proper observance of duties. . . .Private considerations are those suggested by selfish motives, ….To regard our family affairs with all the interest due to our family and our national affairs with all the interest due to the nation, this is to fitly discharge our duty, and to be guided by public considerations. . . . Selfishness is born in every man; to indulge it freely is to become a beast Therefore it is that Sages preach the principles of duty and propriety, justice and morality, providing restraints for private aims and encouragement for public spirit . . . What we know of Western civilization is that it struggles on through long centuries in a confused condition, and finally attained a state of some order; but that even this order, not being based upon such principles as those of the natural and immutable relations between sovereign and subject, parent and child, with all their corresponding rights and duties, is liable to constant change, according to the growth of human ambitions and human aims. Admirably suited to
    persons whose actions are controlled by selfish ambition, the adoption of this system in Japan is naturally sought by a certain class of politicians. From a superficial point of view, the Occidental form of society is very attractive, inasmuch as being the outcome of a free development of human desires from ancient times, it represents the very extreme of luxury and extravagance. Briefly speaking, the state of things obtaining in the West is based upon the free
    play of human selfishness, and can only be reached by giving full sway to that quality. Social disturbances are
    little heeded in the Occident; yet they are at once the evidences and the factors of the present evil state of affairs. … In the Orient, from ancient times, national
    government has been based on benevolence, and directed to securing the welfare and happiness of the people. No
    political creed has ever held that intellectual strength should be cultivated for the purpose of exploiting inferiority and ignorance. . . . . .Now, to satisfy the
    needs of one luxurious man, the toil of a thousand is needed. Surely it is monstrous that those who owe to labour the pleasures suggested by their civilization should forget what they owe to the labourer, and treat him as if he were not a fellow being. But civilization, according to the Occident, serves only to satisfy men of large desires. It is of no benefit to the masses, but is simply a system under which ambitions compete to establish their aims. . . . That the Occidental system
    is gravely disturbing to the order and peace of a country is seen by men who have eyes, and heard by men who have ears. The future of Japan under such a system fills us with anxiety.A system based on the principle that ethics and religion are made to serve human ambition
    naturally accords with the wishes of selfish individuals; and such theories as those embodied in the modern
    formula of liberty and equality annihilate the established relations of society, and outrage decorum and propriety. . . . Absolute equality and absolute liberty being unattainable, the limits prescribed by right and duty are supposed to be set. But as each person seeks to have
    as much right and to be burdened with as little duty as possible, the results are endless disputes and
    legal contentions. … It is plain that if the mutual rights
    of men and their status are made to depend on degrees of wealth, the majority of the people, being without wealth, must fail to establish their rights ;
    whereas the minority who are wealthy will assert their rights, and, under society’s sanction, will exact oppressive duties from the poor, neglecting the dictates of humanity and benevolence. The adoption of these principles of liberty and equality in Japan would vitiate the good and peaceful customs of our country, render the general disposition of the people harsh and unfeeling, and prove finally a source of calamity to the masses. . . . Though at first sight Occidental civilization presents an attractive appearance, adapted as it is to the gratification of selfish desires, yet, since its basis is the hypothesis that men’s wishes constitute natural laws, it must ultimately end in disappointment and demoralization. . . . Occidental nations have
    become what they are after passing through conflicts and vicissitudes of the most serious kind. . . . Perpetual
    disturbance is their doom. Peaceful equality can never be attained until built up among the ruins of annihilated Western States and the ashes of extinct Western peoples.”

    Greetings 🙂

  285. Asking ChatGPT “Can you write something about eating insects in the style of X?” so far as I can tell everyone on the political spectrum from Gustav Husak to Jacob Rees-Mogg is in favour of eating insects, except Donald Trump.

    Sure, here’s a short text about eating insects in the style of Donald Trump:

    Look, I gotta tell you folks, this whole eating insects thing, I just don’t get it. I mean, we’ve got all these great foods out there, the best foods in the world, and now people want to eat bugs? Disgusting! I don’t care if they’re high in protein, I’m not eating them. I like my steak, my burgers, my pizza. That’s real food. And I think most Americans would agree with me. We don’t need to be eating insects, we need to be eating good, American food.

  286. Justin Patrick Moore #132:

    Love your poem! Thanks for that.

    I have also been attending an open mic poetry reading for the past couple months. And have found the exact same thing! Lot’s of non rhyming non beating not even syncopated political stuff, with few exceptions.

    (When one reader’s poem was over s/he even had to say, not as part of the poem, “In other words I’m gay.” Which is fine and all, but how bout writing something intelligible that we can follow a bit.)

    I started writing in iambic pentameter because I want to have the heartbeat in my poems.
    And I have read about 6 or 7 longish (4-5 minutes) poems over the past 3 months or so.

    Last week an older gentleman came up to me and said, “I’m so glad you are reading your poems. You are the only reason my wife and I are coming to this.”

    Which, of course, was helpful to my ego, but even more important was encouraging for me to continue writing, because it seemed like everyone else was “scared” or ignoring me and my message (which are similar to yours) before that.

    Keep at it, and I will also, and we will continue to find people willing to hear.


  287. This is almost too trivial to register, but maybe just as as one little data point in the direction of possible devaluation of the US and Canadian currencies. In 2022, I noted the food inflation particularly when the price of the three-litre containers of olive oil we use jumped from CAD$20.99 to $29,99. Considering the war in Ukraine and the petroleum sanctions, I started stocking sacks of rice, black beans, canned tomatoes and olive oil canisters (my wife is Brazilian, this is part of what we regularly eat, not some emergency food), as much as I could fit into our kitchen.

    None of the prices I cared about budged a single cent during the cold season, and in parallel, I watched rather surprised how well Germany was wintering the loss of Nord Stream. I thought I had overreacted and started drawing down the stocks.

    Well, two weeks ago the price of the olive oil canister jumped to $41.99 and has stayed there. Now I wish I hadn’t given up so soon on the anti-inflation reserves!

  288. I skimmed an article this last week condemning ‘urban bees’, first for being cruel to honeybees as there aren’t enough flowers in the yards to feed them, and second as bringing in an invasive species and displacing native bees.
    Being rural, I found it risible, but thought I would share with the readers here, as these seem like two lines of probable attack against nearly any species of food producing animal in an urban-suburban environment, and forewarned is forearmed.
    There will always be those who find other folks’ subsistance efforts to be distasteful and would prefer that their neighbors made no attempts to improve their lives, and they are quite likely to have the time and motivation to bother local governing bodies about their position.

  289. @ Northwood Grandma #287

    Re RFK Jr

    I was commenting to a friend just the other day how I’m looking forward to voting for him in Wisconsin’s (open) primary next year, if only to mess with the Party Betters. (Like you, and as with Trump, I don’t agree with him on everything, but enough to make him a better alternative than the incumbent–as low a bar as that is…)

  290. Here in Canada we’ve created a world-leading housing bubble that has metastasized out of our big 5 cities into just about everywhere since the beginning of the covid pandemic. Where I live, housing prices have roughly doubled in value in 3 years. This is partially driven by three phenomena, as far as I can tell: White-collar remote workers cashing in their equity gains from the Ontario or Vancouver bubble and spreading out across the country, investors buying properties to use as rentals, and over a million immigrants in 2022 boosting rents high enough to service the debts the investors have taken on.

    Is the investor class going to be the big winner here as the CAD devalues relative to the energy and materials needed to build more housing while the CAD denominated debts they’ve taken on stays the same?

  291. Reese, the United States aren’t the only country in the world where soldiers go hungry. North Korea is another such country.

    About the subject of this week’s post: I knew fsince quite a while that profound change is afoot; the attrition of Western forces in the Russo-Ukraine war was one thing that brought me to this conclusion, the other, more dramatic developments are the diplomatic initiatives of Chine in the Near East, about which I rea first on Moon of Alabama. These developments are really momentous, because it is the first time since centuries that a situation is in sight where Western nationa aren’t the most powerful imperial powers anymore. If things go as they re seeming to go, we will witness the emergence of non-Western nations as global or at least Eurasian hegemons, something which really hasn’t happened before except in a more localized context.

  292. Hi JMG

    Thank you for this reminder.

    Sheesh, OK: time then for a review of where I am.

    I took your warnings seriously back then, throwing myself into growing food organically (from zero experience) having read your posts in 2010-2012 even prior to the Collapse Now one. I and the family have done other relevant things since then. But overall I think I get perhaps 4 out of 10 in this test.

    Stuff done: We have stayed clear of all debt, managed to save for a small house with large garden whose mortgage was quickly paid off; I’ve gotten good at the garden growing and composting (guilty of a fair weather approach at times, and the weather is rarely fair for long in central Scotland, but when I’ve put the work in I’ve gotten great yields), kept chickens, built a greenhouse, learned to use a brick rocket stove and a fireless cooker. The house is in a village at over 400 feet from sea level with a good community that also has others we know learning homesteading skills, and it’s got quick public transport to larger towns and to Glasgow. Also at a personal “inflection point” in 2021 I ditched my civil service job for a lower paying one with a company involved in organic growing and local food production. A risky move but one I don’t yet regret. We’ve (touch wood) stayed healthy; steered clear of a much overhyped recent medical intervention….

    Stuff not done: For difficult-to-summarise reasons, I’ve never figured out an alternative income stream strategy. If my job were to vanish we’d have savings but I would be scrambling besides. I’ve proven to myself that when I feel the need I’m capable of great energy to learn new things, but I’ve not turned that ability to this issue. I have a lot of personal interests (most dominant ones being reading, writing, spiritual practice) but there’s been a failure of will and imagination on this front.

    I want to believe it’s not too late to prepare of course but who can say? I’m now 40 years old with three kids. I’m pretty flexible but I have never had a highly skilled job (the civil service one was the closest thing to “highly skilled”, involving decision making on pretty complex tax issues). I won’t list all the other jobs I’ve had but TEFLing in Spain and copious customer service are in there…

    I dunno. Perhaps I’ve at least got a good base to make a stab at something that could work. Feedback and encouragement JMG, anybody (or bucket of cold water)…?

    Sorry for all the personal ramblings but it’s an anxious topic!

    Morfran (posts as JH on Ecosophia Dreamwidth).

  293. Hi JMG

    About the demonic nature of AI, the techonology “priest” Elon Musk said in 2014:

    “With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon….

    You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water and he’s like… yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon, [but] it doesn’t work out.”…

    Indeed. Who knows what demonic hellscape could emerge if we ever let artificially intelligent machines get ahold of a Ouija board”.

    More recently Paul Kingsnorth see the AI phenomenon in the same vein:

    …”What if we don’t understand these new ‘intelligences’ because we didn’t create them at all?…

    I say this question is forbidden, but actually, if we phrase it just a little differently, we find that the metaphysical underpinnings of the digital project are hidden in plain sight. When journalist Ezra Klein, for instance, asked a number of AI developers, in a recent piece for the New York Times (via The Convivial Society, which I strongly recommend) why they did their work, they told him straight:

    (Ezra Klein)
    (“I often ask them the same question: If you think calamity so possible, why do this at all? Different people have different things to say, but after a few pushes, I find they often answer from something that sounds like the A.I.’s perspective. Many — not all, but enough that I feel comfortable in this characterization — feel that they have a responsibility to usher this new form of intelligence into the world.”)

    Usher is an interesting choice of verb. The dictionary definition is to show or guide (someone) somewhere.

    Which ‘someone’, exactly, is being ‘ushered in’?

    This new form of intelligence.

    What new form? And where is it coming from?


    Whatever is quite happening, it seems obvious to me that something is indeed being ‘ushered in’. Through our efforts and our absent-minded passions, something is crawling towards the throne. The ruction that is shaping and reshaping everything now, the earthquake born through the wires and towers of the web, through the electric pulses and the touchscreens and the headsets: these are its birth pangs. The Internet is its nervous system. Its body is coalescing in the cobalt and the silicon and in the great glass towers of the creeping yellow cities. Its mind is being built through the steady, 24-hour pouring-forth of your mind and mine and your children’s minds and your countrymen. Nobody has to consent. Nobody has to even know. It happens anyway. The great mind is being built. The world is being readied.

    Something is coming.”

    May be in this post your topics about occultism touch those about civilizational decline.

    Do you think something demonic/supernatural “from the other plane” is being born? or in other words, are the decline of civilizations are also a “supernatural phenomena”? (as the dream of Moctezuma, the aztec emperor, just before the arrival of Cortés)


  294. @Aldarion

    The changes are all devilishly hard to predict…

    Four years ago a basic 4×8 sheet of OSB (chip board, used to build walls and in my case shipping crates) cost me about $15. When covid arrived it dropped to $11, then by spring/summer of 2021 it rose as high as $65. Now it’s back to $11, as it seems no one wants to build houses in this economy.

    It would be interesting to game out what the end of US global hegemony would actually mean in terms of (inflation-adjusted) costs. If I had to guess…

    Obviously anything imported goes way up. Electronics, clothing, appliances, consumer goods, coffee. Many building materials probably drop, though certain ones probably skyrocket or become unavailable. Food generally increases but basic staple crops, cereals, meats, breads probably not so much (unless we start exporting a larger fraction of our agricultural production given the new balance of trade). Housing values drop but so do housing costs which will likely be a smaller % of income for anyone renting. Energy prices rise somewhat but likely tempered by reduced demand.

    If I start to imagine things getting dire, I remind myself that regardless of what the economy does, there will still be the same number of houses. Farmers will still be producing food, and coal/oil/gas production will continue. We in the US and Canada are fairly well stocked with essentials relative to our population, so overall I think we’ll be OK *unless* we start being exploited by someone else’s imperial wealth pump.

  295. In comparison to the, yes, I know imperfect, America of my youth – I turned 25 in 1978, present America to me feels like a half dead, half alive shambling, spastic zombie, with sudden seizures passing for life. Our competitor China, while a more competent imperialistic power, I believe also has its own societal shortcomings. During the dark age after Rome there were vital civilizations elsewhere on the globe, could we be entering a worldwide civilizational dark age for the first time?

  296. Clay, the Germans experimented with that in the First World War by way of zeppelin bombing, and also very large, long range cannon — the Paris Gun, a huge rail-based cannon, shelled Paris from 75 miles away in 1918. You’re right, though, that Russian hypersonic missile, drone, and glide bomb technology adds a new wrinkle to trench warfare; it’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out.

    Northwind, RFK Jr’s campaign is something I’m watching closely. I think it’s quite possible that he might do to the Democratic establishment what Trump did to the GOP establishment in 2016, in which case things could get very wild indeed.

    Reese, that’s quite common in failing empires. Pay for ordinary soldiers drops, since so much wealth is being siphoned off further up the food chain, until the ordinary soldiers are no longer especially interested in fighting and dying for a system that maltreats them so blatantly. You might also look into the parallel crisis in maintenance — a very large share of our “combat” aicraft, for example, are unavailable for combat, because the spare parts budget has been raided so reliably.

    Bendith Fawr, delighted to hear it.

    Bogatyr, yes, but the point still stands — Zelensky may have wanted to negotiate but his bosses didn’t.

    Ksim, your comment is a fine example of the problems that come from treating technological change in isolation, without taking into account the broader picture. Large-scale deployment of UBI isn’t an option in the US or western Europe at this point because the flows of wealth from the rest of the world to the West, which made welfare states possible, are collapsing right and left. That doesn’t mean that the young men you’ve discussed will be keeping their computer jobs — it means that they’ll be losing their jobs when the social safety net is going to pieces and millions of other people are scrambling for survival too. That said, the outcome is pretty much what you’ve suggested, and for an even more inescapable set of reasons: take a very large number of people who thought they’d been promised a comfortable life and plunge them into desperate poverty, and you’ve got a situation in which violent revolution is the most likely outcome.

    Zarbarzun, a very Confucian attitude!

    Aldarion, thanks for this. That’s worth knowing.

    BoysMom, thanks for the data point. Yeah, that kind of mentality is widespread in the Karenocracy.

    Justin, that depends on a lot of factors. Here in the US, the comparable housing bubble is losing air right now; we’ll see how it turns out.

    Booklover, yes, exactly.

    Morfran, it’s a very good start. Now start looking for new income streams!

    DFC, well, that’s one way to think of it, I suppose.

    Moose, well, we had the first global civilization, so the first global dark age would be a logical next step.

  297. Is The Witch of Criswell going to be on Kindle? The paperback is listed as releasing on the 25th but there’s no mention of a Kindle version yet.

  298. I’ll just add these two data points.
    In the corporate world, the managerial class has been heaping administrivia onto administrivia so that resolving a problem that once took a day at most now has dragged on for over a week to get done.
    Meanwhile, my wages have been mostly stagnant for over 15 years while our benefits have been steadily shaved away to ‘save money’ and provide ‘shareholder value’. (Of course the biggest shareholders are the senior executives.)
    In the legal world, my girlfriend reports that cases now drag on in the Ontario courts for months and the legal systems are in a state of decay. Justice is not only delayed, it’s not even happening in many cases.
    This is a timely essay, since the decay of our civilization is becoming obvious to even the most obtuse observers. The proposed “solutions” to the “crisis” proposed by the chattering class, naturally don’t involve eliminating excessive red tape, although that has been the perennial song of the populist politician for decades now.


  299. “By the way, the same fine motor skills that give women an edge in sewing also can give them an edge in welding.”

    That reminds me, I was working in an office in the days before computers, and it was necessary to search trays of information recorded on cards for some project. An elderly lady and myself settled down to the job and I noticed she was zipping through the cards much faster than me, despite being some 30 years older.

    I commented on this and an old chap at the back piped up. “That’s because they have nimble fingers, m’boy. Nimble fingers.”

    He told me he had run a factory in Johannesburg making land mines during WW2, and some of his best welders were women who could do the fine work better than the men.

  300. Congrats on getting this essay at the top of UnHerd this weekend!

    I have to say the comments leave me with some doubts about humanity. Some excerpts…

    “A Druid may fantasise about living in mud huts, worshipping nature, but I think this article is actually backwards, it is the United States who are in a far stronger position than pretty much anyone else.”

    “Seems that the author actually wants these events to take place in some kind of perverse schadenfreude.”

    “I stopped reading after that line as it clearly labels the author as afflicted with the same old retro-socialist economic ignorance as your typical liberal arts college Occupy Wall Street activist. If you don’t understand that free trade is not theft, then you have nothing to share with us.”

    “Druids are not economists is the main lesson of this piece.”

    “Im always sceptical of these articles when you just know the author has a hard on writing it.
    I’ve still got my money on the unprecedented transformative power of American society. That and the most awesome military the world has ever known.”

    “I’m sure that being a druid is a harmless and enjoyable pastime (or was until the Romans invaded Anglesey) but one does have to doubt any supposed rational argument coming from a Grand ArchDruid!”

    “What a hopelessly myopic mixture of Marxist perspective and naivety on how the economy and global power works.”

    “Still I think with WEF / WHO and UN they are probably going to create lots of illness and viruses and utilise vaccines to kill a lot of people. The aim for 1bn people would suggest we will also be fighting for our lives. The are adding in MRNA in our foot and our animals that we eat and drink from. This isn’t conspiracy anymore, those who survive will have lost everything. Zero sum game I’m afraid”

    (I won’t be offended if you don’t post this.)

  301. It’s interesting ( and sad) that U.S. service men ( and women) are getting inadequate food. In his book ” Reinventing Collapse” Dmitry Orlov notes that the surest sign that an empire crossed the tipping point to actual collapse is that members of the military stationed on far flung bases around the world are abandoned and have to figure out how to get home by themselves. This apparently happened when the Soviet Union collapsed and their military empire was much less far flung and extensive than ours.

  302. Jastin 97

    > idk

    I was reading your comment. I asked my husband what “idk” means.

    Him: “I don’t know.”

    Me: “Can you find out?”

    Him: No, idc.

    Me: What does ‘idc’ mean?

    Him: I don’t care.

    Me: First you don’t know, then you don’t care. You are being weird. Can’t I say anything without you giving me a verbal middle finger? Did I do something wrong?

    Him: No. You did nothing wrong.

    Me: Then what? Whad I do? what? what? what?

    Him: Who is on first?⚾️(wiof)

    Laurel and Hardy

    💨Northwind Grandma🥸
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  303. @polecat

    I’m leaving Seattle, too, this summer. I’ve decided on New Hampshire for a variety of reasons. Maine would be my second choice and I may go there later. In both states the coastal area is too expensive for me but the interior is affordable. If you are interested in learning more about NH, feel free to send me an email at betwixttheworlds at dreamwidth dot org

  304. @JMG

    “Ecosophian, cold day in the Sun’s heliosphere. There’s much too much money to be made from LLMs.”

    To counter your point I have to say this:
    1. ChatGPT has been banned in Italy. Temporarily, but still, it’s possible. Of course, the chatterbox is also banned in Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and Syria. But these countries like to ban everything. Besides China and Russia are probably going to develop their own counterparts, if they haven’t already.

    2. What the long term strategy for the AI bosses? They want to siphon all the profits for themselves and not pay their works. But where is money going to come from? If everyone loses their jobs, who will buy their products? Henry Ford knew better than that, he paid his workers well so they could buy his cars.

  305. Been trying to catch up on comments after a three day hiatus.

    @ Robert Mathiesen re # 146

    Maude Grieve’s ‘A Modern Herbal’ is still available at Dover Publications which is where I bought my copies years ago. Right now, I’m half-way through binge-listening to the Plant Cunning Podcast.

  306. I have found recently that people working in stores are often thanking me for being pleasant and not belligerent. I find that somewhat surprising as my response to the “How are you doing?” (Or variations of similar small talk) is to reply “I’ve got lots of whiny complainies (I use this “word” a lot but don’t have a clue as to spelling or if it is even a real word), but nobody wants to hear it. It gets worse, after listening to my whiny complainies I’m expected to listen to theirs but I’m selfish and don’t want to do that. Something about the social contract and I’m not playing that particular game.”

    I have been quietly downsizing for a number of years. No mortgage on my rural home, wheedling other debts down to minimal levels (less than $3000 CDN currently). Since adopting a slower pace I have found my stress levels have plummeted to the point I rarely see or feel negative effects.

    My income has also declined dramatically but with little shopping (removing money) there is no need to pay bills that do not exist. Yes, I’m coasting along with computer tech that is for the most part more than 10 years old.

    But it works for all my needs and there is nothing I need to do that I can’t with current versions of tech I possess. Even able to do almost everything I want without having to buy the latest greatest whatever. For more than 30 years I’ve been self-employed as a computer technician. I’ve known for at least 20 years we are all being lied to about how important the latest greatest whatever is. It isn’t important and in most cases is a more complex and expensive exercise in doing what was manually done throughout history.

    I concur with our host, most of what we are encouraged to covet is either a complete waste of time and energy or making things exponentially worse.

  307. You know Austin, @118, something about your comment lingers with me. I just can’t believe being 5’7” is a real barrier in finding a mate. I wonder if the real issue is existential shame, with height serving as a plausible peg to hang it on. It’s certainly common in the US. Maybe I’m projecting, but here goes:

    I had a shame-based upbringing, being steeped in it before I learned to speak, and wasn’t able to recognize and name it until I was 56. This came about when I was asked to comment in a group setting how I felt about my name. This request alarmed me as if I were a dog about to have his snout rubbed in his own poop.

    This visceral reaction shocked me, and I realized that I always cringed whenever I heard my name. A flood of childhood memories arose, which I fully understood for the first time. My shame-based upbringing had got under my skin and colored everything I saw. I was the proverbial fish who finally noticed the water he was swimming in: shame.

    I immediately adopted a nickname that I like and insist upon, and have since had a legal name change. That was only a start, but already there was no more cringing! Recognizing and naming the shame phenomenon is of course the first step in overcoming it.

    If you are suffering from this Austin, I hope this comment turns on some lights. Please don’t take offense if I’m off base.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  308. I wonder what would happen if you asked ChatGPT to write about X in the style of ChatGPT? I would be highly amused if you got “An error occurred”. Or maybe you would need two levels of indirection, like with Goedel’s Theorem.

    >the first global dark age would be a logical next step

    Actually, it would be the 2nd. The 1st was the Late Bronze Age Collapse.

    >RFK Jr’s campaign is something I’m watching closely

    But at a distance, I’m almost sure. Those Kennedys don’t have a great reputation for survival. What was the name of that punk rock band?

  309. Morfran, if you have built a greenhouse, have you considered nursery stock? Particularly if you could offer something different from what the five closest nurseries all bought from the same wholesaler, I would think your product would be in demand. Ask you gardening friends what plants and varieties they would like, and then see if yuo can find the tomato my grandma used to grow.

    JMG, is there a way to banish the annoying black bubble telling me to “Log in to use details from one of these accounts”. Now, why would I want to do that? I understand that, like me, you use neither faceplant nor tweetie, so why does your tech person think I should use them?

  310. Hi John Michael,

    I’m with you in relation to the maintenance issues. When the economic underpinnings crumple, maintenance quietly gets ditched. Who notices? The other day I read an article on the impact that people skipping regular servicing of their vehicles is having on that repair industry. As an interesting side story, the article mentioned a recommendation from the industry association head for mandating ‘annual road worthy’ checks for all vehicles. Mate, you’ve gotta laugh. The self interest was so transparent, I applaud the bloke. 😉

    The other interesting thing I’m noticing is that the dentist is text and letter bombing me. I have a regular annual check up and clean, no more. They must desist from their enthusiastic pestering. No doubt, next time I go, they’ll be offering additional services. How many times do I need to tell them, I don’t want or need an x-ray? Every time is the answer! I’ve read articles about people skipping on this service too.

    But I reckon the big unseen one will be insurance. Like the other two examples (and I’m sure there are plenty more) it’s a gamble.

    What makes me shake my head in wonder is that the same outcome can be applied to all layers of public infrastructure. It’s a problem and nobody notices.



  311. JMG: “partly it’s that the people in power are senile (the Boomer gerontocracy has clung to power for too long)”
    I would submit that the Brezhnevization of the West is part of a broader phenomenon, the systematic shutting down of feedback mechanisms that could hold to account those with real power (and mostly their elite minions too).
    A major part of this elimination of feedback has been the selection and cultivation of new generations of leaders who are compliant and unoriginal to their core. They may not even realize that there used to be feedback mechanisms that functioned to some degree, but their negative reaction to attempts at feedback is Pavlovian.
    It is like a pilot at the gate at the airport reaching up and switching off every possible alarm on the plane. After over 40 years of this, they even have most of the gauges switched off too and have fired the mechanics who should be checking on these things.
    A major difference between the decaying Soviet Union and the West now is that the Soviets had an alternative type of society (capitalism) that the Soviet elites could jump to and mostly stay on top. That is a major reason why communism could be ended in the Soviet Union comparatively so peacefully.

  312. @Mark L #211
    “You can make solid arguments that t-shirts are so cheap at Walmart because China needs dollars to buy oil, and the fact that they’re not using dollars any more means my money is about to lose most of its value.”
    If your (and my) money is about to lose most of its value, it is not because of the unit of accounting (dollars, yuan, whatever) that the Chinese and Saudis use (mostly on their computers). China can buy oil with yuan because and only because they manufacture so many things that people, including the Saudis, want to buy.
    The de-dollarization of various nations’ reserves will take most of the power of the US sanctions regime away. Notice that to attack China, they are restricting exports to China of things the Chinese need. They didn’t try to seize China’s dollar holdings.
    However, for any currency to function as a trade currency for anything other than bilateral trade with the nation that issues the currency, that nation has to allow the circulation of large enough volumes of its currency around the world. When China used to buy Saudi oil with dollars, it could do that because there were enough dollars floating around.
    This in return requires the nation issuing the global currency to run trade deficits in order to feed its currency out into the world and requires the nation issuing the global currency to allow capital to flow freely in and out of itself. China does not want to do either of these. Wisely so, I believe.
    The dollar will be dethroned when, for example, Colombia is buying oil from the Saudis using yuan.
    By the way, I strongly suspect that any social force that attempts to seriously reindustrialize the US will have to end the role of the dollar as a global currency. They will do this for their own sake. It will also put a wooden stake through the heart of the financial sector, which will also be a necessary step (if the financial sector hasn’t already impaled itself on some wooden stake or another).

  313. @endrickwater(#223)
    Before moving to a glen on the mainland my family lived on a small island, so all of us are boat people. My support for Shetland and Orkney is therefore really about my Hebridean attachment to the history of the Gall-Ghàidheil.
    Many years ago I used to attend the island games on Eigg and dance in the cèilidh afterwards, and I remember it as a very beautiful island. The strength events in the games were usually won by giant red-headed twins from the island of Canna, who one year managed to hold their own against eight men in a tug of war. Such strongmen are not uncommon in the Highlands but they almost never seen in the rest of the British Isles. So if London does eventually decide to send an army of Southern weaklings to occupy Glasgow I don’t think it will end well.

    JMG is right, your Japanese quote isn’t Buddhist it’s entirely Confucian. Ananda Coomaraswarmy was a brilliant geologist and art historian but a terrible comparative religionist. Unfortunately he subscribed to the nineteenth century fantasy of a perennial philosophy which is said to underlie and unite all religions. His analysis of Buddhism was even more suspect, as it is certainly not a branch of Brahminism. In reality all the world religions are quite distinct and separate.

  314. Sunlight – I’m back! First, I need to tell you that I was unable to follow the link to the document that you cited. Apparently that web site uses an archaic version of HTTPS and my up-to-date Firefox just won’t go there.

    That out of the way, you probably know that a geomagnetic storm induces very low frequency (essentially, fluctuating DC) currents through the ground, which create voltage differences at different points on the ground, and any good conductor the connects those points (such as a transmission line connected to a grounded transformer on each end) will experience the same current. When “DC” current flows through an AC transformer winding, it biases the magnetization, so the core is more likely to go into saturation on part of the AC cycle. When the core gets saturated, AC current spikes, the transformer can overheat, the excess heat can damage the insulation, and the transform can be destroyed. I have read that such utility-grade transformers are custom built, with months (at least) of lead-time from order to delivery, under the best of conditions. So, IF these ground-induced currents (GICs) are allowed to flow, you can speculate on all the transmission lines failing, all the transformers needing replacement, and no factories left able to build new transformers. Hilarity ensues. Fresh water stops arriving. Dirty water doesn’t get pumped away. Cooling water stops cooling the things that really need to be kept cool. And so on.

    Or, the grid operators can sense the GICs, open circuit breakers (if they haven’t opened automatically), and wait for the storm to pass. This seems like a sensible thing to do, but bear in mind that we’re expecting someone who’s been trained for one kind of emergency (overload, or line shorted to ground) to handle a different kind of emergency properly. We’re expecting them to manually trigger a regional blackout, or defer recovery from a blackout, just because somebody said it might be a big problem some day. It will take a certain amount of self-confidence to say “Yeah. I shut it down. I thought it was the right thing to do. Sorry about your frozen food, your electric arc furnace, your aluminum smelter, etc. that’s all going to need replacement, but that’s what happened.” If enough people do that, then when the skies clear, they get out their blackstart manual, and start bootstrapping the grid back into operation. I imagine that some people will do that, and others won’t, so damage will be spotty around the world. When the Great Leader says “keep the lights on”, then they’ll probably keep the lights on until the transformers go up in flames, just hoping that it won’t get that bad. (Recall NASA officials asking Thiokol engineers: “Yes, it’s a cold morning, but do you expect us to wait until Spring to launch this Shuttle?” (or words to that effect).)

    There’s no technical reason that big transformers need to be directly connected to the ground. They could be connected through large capacitors, which would block the GICs while passing the 50/60 Hz AC. But a wire to ground is cheaper. We have satellites watching and sensing Coronal Mass Ejections, which would give warning, but they need to be replaced every few years, and they aren’t cheap either. Stories about the Carrington Event seem to coincide with satellite replacement discussions.

  315. @Anthony #214
    Leaving aside the economics, I certainly hope that you are able to continue the work you do. It is a valuable contribution and sorely needed.

  316. On the crappification of healthcare…

    As I see it, the use of AI technology for diagnosis and selection of treatment strategies is just the latest stage of a trend that has been going for some time.

    1) Different medicines have different exposures.

    From my particular corner of the world, I perceive homeopathy to be much more vulnerable from the attack of AI than Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Accupuncture. Homeopathy is information heavy, which means practitioners need to cram thousands upon thousands of trivia into their heads in order to be halfway good at this. Repertorization has been a thing since the 19th century, and it is not clear what is the best algorithm to find the most similar remedy to the patient’s ills. Computer systems, even Expert systems (an old fashioned form of AI) have already been built as aides to the practitioner, so that we can study a case and fine tune the treatment strategy. We remain economically viable because the customer of such system needs a lot of domain knowledge in order to be able to make effective use of it. Even if LLMs have no knowledge themselves, they can be used as front ends for these Expert Systems and just keep asking the patient all the right questions until they provide the inputs the backed system needs to provide an answer. So, homeopaths are replaceable, but primarily the homeopaths that provide no value added to the system (more on this later).

    On the other hand, TCM is not information heavy, but symbol heavy. This has a quality to it, that the same Daoist principles of the Yin and the Yang are constantly reapplied over and over again in different contexts to address different situations. The models that govern treatment with TCM are surprisingly simple and complete. I find them very suitable to fit inside one human mind within a reasonable frame of time. Your journey as a healer depends on you developing your intuition to apply the same principles in an ever expanding range of medical cases. Having studied both, I found TCM to be much more “collapse proof”, because the basics can be learned on the knee of a benevolent grantparent and later developed into a personal art of healing over a decade or so. Homeopathy, as wonderful as it is, requires civilization to be viable. You need the books, you need the schools, and above all you need the leasure time to devote yourself to the act of learning it. I do not see how LLMs can handle that because the subtleties will make them scramble everything and provide the most ridiculous answers.

  317. Clay Dennis- Do you have a citation for that story about US and/or NATO generals being killed by a Khinzal missile in Poland? Maybe an exact date would help me find some details, even.

  318. On the crappification of healthcare…

    2) It’s not that everybody lies, it’s that nobody knows better.

    This last line was a reference to the TV show “Dr. House”, about a tormented genius type physician who dispatches both healing and contempt all over the hospital. Dr. House avoids meeting his patients (he has minion doctors working under him to handle just that) and reaches brilliant diagnoses that nobody else can. He connects the dots of subtle signs that nobody notices or seems to care about. A big theme of the show is that “everybody lies”, on every episode there is some withholding of information that biases the diagnose and keeps the team of doctors chasing after ghosts until the big boss figures something fundamental is wrong.

    I compare this with my real father (who, some of you already know, is an M.D.). He’s no genius, tormented or otherwise, but he knows his trade. We have discussed this and his opinion is that about 1/4 of the information you base your diagnose is the speech the patient tells you. It is not that the patient is actively trying to deceive the doctor, but that they do not notice when something important happens, for them is just part of their normality. So, what you see, what you smell, and touch and hear in the physical examination is paramount to your diagnosis. Heck, in his case it is more so because 1/4 is for adults and he is a pediatrician: children often lack the language to describe what they feel, and often parents will add their own biases, fears and insecurities to the interrogation part of the mix.

    The sensitivity to be an old fashioned physician (even for an “alopath”, which is a terrible label btw) is way outside the capabilities that AI is likely to develop, if not ever at least in the near-to-mid term. The problem is that the new generations of physicians have been trained to never develop that kind of sensitivity in the first place. My father worked in a School-Hospital in the 1980s and was mentoring the freshly grads into that kind of approach to medicine, but his former students are themselves approaching retirement age now. New doctors where sold on “evidence based” medicine and rely on batteries of tests that costs lots of money but are just marginally better than the clinical eye of the old doctors of yesteryear.

    And now these are the people that invented the Zoom consultations. I have smelled the stench of a liver that is just beginning to fail, but how can I tell if the patient is 10 miles away. I cannot even know if their barely yellow skin is actually yellow or it is a cheap, ill calibrated camera!

  319. @Mark L. #310: Yes, I agree it is hard to predict the exact changes, especially over the timespans that most interest us. If median income “drops” (or, more likely, falls way behind actual inflation), then one supposes that at some point, rents and house prices will have to adjust. But recent history (e.g. after 2008) suggests that such an adjustment may take quite a while, and in the meantime, housing costs (rent or mortgage) as part of gross income may increase even further. I find Justin’s question at 306 quite relevant here.

    In the same way, I suppose the price of locally produced food would have to adjust to falling real income. However, during the years of falling median income in Brazil (starting roughly 2015), what has happened is that meat has been exported (to China, among other places) instead of being sold more cheaply to local consumers. Clear-cutting and burning forest for soy and cattle actually increased, while at the same time, Brazilians consumed less and lower-quality meat…

  320. Justin, oof! No, I hadn’t seen that. I gather you’ve got a lot of Chinese investment money coming into your real estate market.

    Yorkshire, you’ll have to ask the publisher about that. I don’t happen to know the answer.

    Curt, I always like to see if a prophet has any successes in the past. Lacking that, how do you know it’s not just another 2012 flop in the making?

    Renaissance, yep. I recall that in France just before the Revolution, it took 40 years of correspondence to get a broken tile mended on a church roof.

    Mark L, yes, inded! I was amused to see the responses. That tells me that the readers grasped the central point — that their jobs, lifestyles, and class privileges are about to go gurgling down the drain — and reacted in classic Kubler-Ross fashion with flat denial. It’s good for them to get started on that process now, so they can get to acceptance sooner rather than later.

    Clay, Dmitry was of course quite correct.

    Ecosophian, if you’ve already made up your mind on the subject, why did you ask me for my opinion?

    Theodore, given how abusive so many people are these days, your comment doubtless comes as a breath of fresh air.

    Other Owen, no, the Late Bronze Age Collapse didn’t have any impact on the New World civilizations, last I checked. By “global” I mean the whole planet.

    Mary, I’ll see what I can do.

    Chris, those are fine examples. Tick tick tick, says the clock as the minutes run out…

    Jessica, yes, that’s also a factor. I’d point out, though, that plenty of countries will come through the approaching mess in fine shape, so if you want examples, why, they’re out there.

    CR, thank you for both of these.

  321. JMG, yep. Until 2020 it was contained to the big five cities and their suburbs. Now it is everywhere with employment opportunities and quite a few places without. We generally have five types of people who come to Canada. The first type is refugees, these days from Ukraine, but in the past from other places like Syria. This is pretty harmless. The second is international students. Some attend traditional universities while paying 3x the tuition of Canadians, others attend fake university shaped institutions in dead strip malls. In both cases the goal is usually points towards permanent residency. A third category is Temporary Foreign Workers. These are slaves we bring in to do shale work for shale pay, in exactly the same spirit various gulf states do the same. A fourth category is “professional” immigrants who are freely admitted to the eastern quarter of Canada, who can then become permanent residents after three years or so. This category crushed most white collar employment where I’m at (the eastern part of Canada). I’ve worked with a lot of smart people on this visa and out of 20 or so 18 will leave for Toronto or other points West when they get their permanent residency. The two I know who stayed got married to this place, in one case a local woman, in another case the land itself. The fifth type of immigrant is rich and rents to the latter 4 categories.

  322. JMG – I stumbled upon some of your writing, when my youngest was a few months old. She is turning 10 next week and your advice to “collapse now and avoid the rush” has been a guiding mantra for me over the last decade. Huge bow of appreciation! Learned tons of skills, bought many tools, and made lots of connections.

    We bought a place with 3 acres and spring-fed creek that’s 3 miles from a small town and 6 miles from the C&O Canal. Plenty of friendly neighbors with animals and good know-how. My husband’s white collar job pays for the mortgage now, while my Nature Connection School for homeschoolers pays for infrastructure and collapse improvements. Once his job goes away, we’ll will hopefully be paying our mortgage with our rabbit and quail raising business and my herbal knowledge.

    We got our first rabbits and quail, nine years ago, while living in a tiny townhouse. Our rabbits THRIVE on eating “invasive” plants like Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese Knotweed, Multi-flora rose, Bamboo (especially in the winter), Autumn Olive, and Kudzu.

    If folks are looking for a collapse income stream…think about selling rabbit trios (2 does and a buck). It’s a great kid-friendly business (an endless supply of adorable baby bunnies to socialize). There is a learning curve with breeding, so get cages, figure out your setup (rabbits do great in the cold but the heat is hard for them), and start now!

    Most people start breeding does at 5 months and a pregnancy last 30-34 days with 4-12 kits per litter. A sustainable breeding schedule is 3-4 litters a year per doe. Rabbit math is pretty impressive and everyone will swear they are eating chicken noodle soup! Remember how hard it was to get seeds and baby chicks at the start of the pandemic? I think we’ll soon be seeing a future with a garden and rabbit hutches in every backyard like during WWII. Best wishes to everyone in the months and years to come!


  323. Aldarion #340 “meat has been exported […] instead of being sold more cheaply to local consumers”

    This has been happening with New Zealand’s agricultural products since time immemorial. The local prices reflect the overseas prices because that is where most of it is sold (e.g. we only consumer about 5% of the milk and dairy products produced here). The privileged access quota to the UK market and its high prices (because of EU protection) back in the 90s actually meant New Zealand prices for the likes of cheese were quite a bit higher then.

    It will be interesting to see how rising shipping prices will indirectly affect the local market over the next few years. Shipping has always been an issue for NZ exporters because the volume leaving NZ tends to greatly exceed the volume of goods being imported, meaning they have to part pay for the trip here to make it worth while and can’t calculate on standard rates like is possible on the major trade routes.

  324. I’m so old I remember when the U.S. was enthusiastically manufacturing things people wanted to buy. My dad worked at a vacuum tube factory. I myself spent a few summers at a factory that wrapped the plastic around cereal-box toys. Knew people who worked at a lawn-chair factory and at one that made plastic bottles.

    I’d like to know of a way to figure out the class status of people committing all these crazy crimes lately, e.g. the guy who killed someone for turning around in his driveway. I fear the white-collar class, or whatever you want to call them, is on its way to completely and violently flipping out.

  325. Well, so far, for Faustian-end-of-life predictions, we have 1. Global expansion followed by global dark age 2. Taking infinity to the limits of insanity on the horizontal planes in rationalizations and over development of the lower intellect 3. Carrying cultural superiority to the point of transcending all cultures via live action role playing, so that you have none of your own to fall back on 4. Diluting yourself to nothing in the expanse towards infinity in any direction whatsoever 5. Confusing the planes vertically so that you dissolve yourself and defeat yourself, ending up as a comet whirling to nowhere. 6. Refusing to think in terms of whole systems. 7 Believing that renaming something changes its essence. Some of these are interrelated. And I know I’m missing some of the really good ones I’ve read in these comments, over the last year. It might be nice to come up with a poster board guide. God knows people will spend time contemplating these things, or going to the inverse and refusing to do so out of disgust, in the times ahead. Too bad Goethe isn’t here, to rewrite the ending. But that would just be wishing for a typical Faustian solution! Am beginning to see the wisdom in the phrase, aptly and happily chosen, “Ecosophia”.

  326. @JMG

    I guess I want to believe that the crapification of life can be stopped at some point. It was an emotion-driven comment. If it was rude, I apologize.

    But you’re right that an AI ban is not going to happen in the US any time soon, since the corporations’ influence is so strong here.

  327. Martin 317
    When I was at Rajneeshpuram, what now seems like a lifetime ago, almost all the heavy equipment operators were women. One reason was that he liked to stir things up a bit, but the main one was that they had a lighter touch and were less apt to break the machinery.
    Austin and whomever else
    All the significant relationships in my life were met doing things that I really cared about Two were though my involvement in skydiving, one hiking, one in a photography class, one traveling, and one the widow of a close friend. I meet lots of people through community gardening, permaculture, bookshops, kayaking, etc, though I am no longer in the romance market. My advice would be to pursue the things you have passion for and see what happens. There seems to me a level of neediness and dishonesty involved in computer dating that tends to bring poor results. I know ,when I have approached women through neediness, it has put them off.
    A contemporary friend of mine, old, but vital, used to go to his local pub where he became friendly with the barmaid. One evening he asked her “do any older women ever come in here that i could talk to ?” She looked at him for a minute and answered ” Yes, my mother” And it worked. Wouldn’t have if he had come in all needy.I love that story.
    Just sayin.

  328. Lost Austin 118

    Thank you for sharing.

    Let me share something. I am female, 70. I would describe myself as plain-looking🤓.

    In high school, no-one paid me any mind, but I didn’t care. I found girls who ingratiated themselves over guys reprehensible.

    After high school, I learned how to meditate. Insight. Vipassana. Simple, beginner stuff. I look back and see that meditation is what stabilized me,— from a wild teenager to a sober adult. During meditations, twice a day, over ten years, I gained ‘perspective’; I saw the long-view. I could “foresee” things, and this cognition gave me a huge advantage. I was no longer adrift. In that year, I knew I was playing the long game. I could visualize some of the long-term effects of my then-bad behaviors, and didn’t like the directions my bad behaviors were leading me towards. I stopped behaviors that I could see would have long-term negative effects.

    A second thing happened in that year or so: instinct told me to take the stance of ignoring males about my age. I don’t know why. I just did it. For some reason — and I will never understand — the stance of ignoring men seemed to attract men, and that *REALLY* was not my intent. Males my age were falling all over me. I have a feeling it had to do that when a male spotted me, I was not looking at HIM — I was looking AWAY. Had he seen me looking at him, (I think) he would have felt like a mark (as in watching him like a hawk) (in the sense of the Shirley Temple film “Little Miss Marker”). Maybe feeling like a mark is some males run from — dunno. After several minutes, I would still be preoccupied with the “something-else,” and not the guy. It was a “made you look,” sort of thing. I was hooked at being interested in people and things. I had acquired an infectious love of life, and finding a mate was LAST thing on my to-do list.

    “Find mate————

    For me, when I looked away, things blossomed and came true. Does that qualify as magic?

    I was interested in other things or people more than I was interested in any guy. Guys could hardly get my attention. Guys were invisible. I think this is a thing, and has some high-falutin name.

    I kept educating myself, going down rabbit holes🕳,making interesting finds. Kind of like Anne in “Anne of Green Gables.” I was hooked on interesting things about people and things. I learned to listen. I got interested in so many things I felt I had been deprived of during my teens. I made up for lost time.

    Listening. Very few people listen. For any ten talkers, there is one listener. I think there will always be a chronic shortage of listeners. Listeners are worth 10¢ and talkers 1¢. To write a good essay, one must first listen. If I had a secret to the sauce, it would be: “listen.” I think JMG is a wonderful listener.

    For me personally, listening has been an invaluable skill. It took decades to get good at. I listen to people’s stories — everyone has a story.

    I must have started listening to guys my own age later because I did date and marry, and my husband is a grand companion.

    May you find all manner of wonderful and beautiful things to get interested in.💐🦅⛰All will be well.

    I will stop here because I will sound preachy, and don’t want to come off like that. I end by humbly saying, “I know nothing🙏.”

    💨Northwind Grandma😌🌻
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  329. @ Stephen #289

    I would entirely agree that we still have the best subs. The combat & strike radius of F/A-18’s vs. Chinese ASBMs is debatable. Ultimately however it comes down to quantity, not quality, as has been amply demonstrated in Ukraine; the Chinese can keep launching missiles long after the fleet’s ammunition has been exhausted.

    Thanks for the link, always looking for more good sources!

  330. I see that the topic of AI and chatbots is on the brink of being banned here, for fear of drowning out anything else. Even JMG’s COVID thread is picking up some of this. I started writing the following over there, and then thought it might be more appropriate over here.
    People lost their businesses or got thrown out of the jobs over the “little pandemic that could,” but now vastly more see an early end to their careers, including me. Thanks to JMG and others who have given me a couple decades to prepare, I’m not surprised by this. A bit surprised at the form it is taking. I can take time in scouting out and developing a new business.
    This development has the potential to be vastly more disruptive to modern society than COVID was with its promise of ending sometime. I recall how hard the end of the Soviet Union was on family breadwinners. A friend of mine shot himself through the skull at his own 40th birthday party. What I want most to say is: The winners in that hard time each had three ways of earning some income, like a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. You had a car? Taxi driver! A spare room? Hosteller! A collection of some kind? Set up a stall at the market. Know how to smoke fish? There’s a market for that. Their wives, I note, also volunteered at projects such as keeping children’s education going.
    Since I knew these times were inevitable, I was an attentive student during my entire time in Russia. It’s not going to be exactly the same here. I fear in some ways it is likely to be vastly harder, but my time in Russia was very grounding, while my sense in Japan up until then had been like flying with no reference to the ground. I began implementing what I learned in Russia in my own life back in Japan and connecting with people, such as through the Arch Druid Report, who were thinking about these things.

  331. @JMG

    Yes, I see the point. But I am not through with these book yet, I will stamp a final verdict on the topic when I am done. Another 2012 lame duck isn’t far off I guess, but we’ll see.

    Many take the Irlmaier prediction of “there will be wealth like never before, moral decay like never before, migration like never before, inflation like never before…:” as indicative, but admittedly those are pretty recurring phenomena in the history of urban civs.

  332. @JMG

    Regarding the current US vs. China rivalry –

    I never thought I’d defend Western governments and establishments, given the psychological warfare they practice against their own populations (what to speak of other countries), but the fact that the Western nations are still functioning democracies allows dissidents like yourself and many others to at least openly criticise your government and take an openly anti-establishment stance using your real name. Some Westerners go a bit further, they are not only openly anti-establishment, but also anti-national, in that they consider their own countries to be their enemy; and yet they are accommodated and tolerated by Western governments and societies (IMO this group is dangerous, and should be dealt with firmly, but your mileage may vary). However, I can’t really think of a similar phenomenon happening in Russia or China – at least not on the same scale and intensity. I have read more or less credible news about Russian dissidents being ‘neutralised’, and anti-Putin politicians and newspapers being subjected to judicial and legal harassment. In the case of China, there’s no harassment, because there are no such newspapers to begin with. Now, I’m well aware of the fact that the vast majority of these news reports have a pro-Western agenda behind them, but that in itself doesn’t necessarily make all of them false – truth can be said with bad intentions behind it, too; so, it’s reasonable to accept that at least 5% of these reports are true.

    For this reason, I think Western democracies need to survive. Maybe you could call it ‘saving democracy from the democrats’ (I use the word ‘democrat’ to refer to the Western establishments in general, and not the US Democrat party in particular). From an Indian perspective, it would be nice to have like-minded allies; plus, it is only in democratic nations that environmental issues (the biggest elephant in the room) are at least adequately talked about. Vulnerable and fragile as it is, democracy in its real-world form is still less amenable to abuse of power as compared to dictatorships, and I’d like to see it survive the long haul, with all its positive and negative points. It is for the same reason that I support close relations with Taiwan, and stronger ties with Japan. As Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts, and Absolute Power corrupts absolutely”.

  333. Bogatyr, yes, but the point still stands — Zelensky may have wanted to negotiate but his bosses didn’t

    I think you’re mixing two different topics here. The original point was that Russia’s initial advance on Kiev was at least partly intended to force the Ukrainians to negotiate a deal, which failed. As my previous post noted, this was actually successful; negotiations were held, and an agreement was very nearly reached. That’s the first topic. The second is that up until this point, both the Kremlin and Kiev seem to have been acting on the basis that the Ukrainians had independent agency and the scope to make their own decisions about their country’s future. It was when peace was about to break out that the west was forced to step in and inform Kiev that this was not acceptable, and that Zelensky’s role was limited to fund-raising, PR, and sending his country’s men to the front. I do wonder what will happen once the shooting stops, and Ukraine’s surviving veterans learn about all of this.

    This is an important discussion to have, because it seems to me that this marked the point where Russia’s war goals shifted. Initially, I think they initially wanted the terms published before the SMO – the rolling back of NATO forces, Ukrainian neutrality, etc. This would have met their security needs, but would essentially have retained the post-Cold War global system. I suggest that it’s when the West revealed its hand that Moscow decided the time had come to bring that global system down, and to replace it with a multipolar world through collaboration with China and Iran. It would have come in time anyway, but my feeling is that it was fast-tracked once Moscow understood they were truly fighting not Ukraine, but the combined west.

    To expand briefly on this, I also note that the Sino-Russian narrative has shifted once again. Where it was about multi-polarity, I’m noticing more and more notes about a *multi-civilisational* global system. We’re being served notice that the west’s post-WWII assertion that its own values (increasingly, the values of the Atlanticist middle classes) are universal, acting as a global norm, is no longer acceptable. The shift that’s now happening at an accelerating rate is not only economic and military, but social and moral as well; Moscow and Beijing are winning the support of the global south not only by presenting a different economic order, but as leaders of a return to, or defence of, traditional social values. Here they are able to ride a powerful wave which was already in motion. I don’t know whether you’ve seen the news that 85% of the world’s Anglican Christians recently broke off relations with the Church of England, meaning that for the first time since Henry VIII the Archbishop of Canterbury is no longer regarded as the head of the world’s Anglicans?

    I suspect this is going to feed into the internal disputes of the West, such as the EU where Poland and Hungary are already being sanctioned to compel them to accept “common European values” in their domestic policies. How it will affect the brewing social divisions within western countries is going to be “interesting”.

    Sorry, that wound up being a much longer comment than I expected. Hopefully of interest, though.

  334. @Brunette Gardens: I’ve also seen some signs that Gen Z’s attitudes are changing, too. That’s true about the lack of humor on the left. It’s almost like certain cultural developments on parts of the right are ‘subcultural’ in nature, and like in the pre-internet days, it has time to develop on its own before reintegrating into the mainstream. The internet seemed to speed up the time for subcultures to join with the mainstream, and/or lessened their importance due to the sheer volume of them, which almost took the wind from their sails early on. But the right wasn’t allowed to reintegrate, and so has been gathering energy in the old pre-internet way. Or at least it seems to me, anyway!

    Best of luck with your pivot due to the changes from LLMs!

    @Luke Dodson: That’s a great point about the barter system, having a non-digital skill that one can use to barter with seems worthwhile for the reasons you suggested. And I agree that the LLM changes would seem to be a temporary thing until greater problems take hold.

    I don’t know the reference to the “Butlerian Jihad”, where does that idea come from?

    @Aldarion: I’m in the same boat as Mark L, I can’t imagine what changes the end of dollar dominance will bring. I’m in Canada and I can guess that dedollarization will cascade up here, but I can’t imagine how that will play out, whereas LLMs seems more immediately ‘real’, even if the effects may not be as important. I should be thinking about those other aspects more.

    @CR Patiño: Thanks very much for your two detailed points about AI and healthcare! I don’t know TCM at all, but the point about it being hard to replace due to it being a symbolic system makes sense. It would seem to me that humoral medicine (Greek medicine) is also a symbolic system of medicine, but not knowing about TCM makes it hard for me to compare.

    Over the last year I’ve been learning herbalism (late in the game, I know, but I’ve made a number of other preparations already), so your posts are relevant and I appreciate your informed view on the subject.

  335. @Mary Bennett

    Thank you very much for the suggestion. My greenhouse is 8 by 10 feet and at present taken up with double-dug beds right on the bare soil. That said, this is the kind of practical tip I need to think about and play with. I’ve often wished that the full meaning of the phrase “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” was explained to me when younger!


  336. @ CR Patiño

    Great to read your thoughts on this, and I think this is really what I was trying to express before, but somehow diverted myself from the point.

    I was speaking to a homeopath and spagyric practitioner recently who said that he didn’t believe the specific healing modality was always as important as the energy of the practitioner – within reason. In other words, if you’re a talented healer, you’ll heal people, whether through herbalism, TCM, energy work, homeopathy, conventional medicine, etc.

  337. @ JMG, Mark L–

    Re the Unherd reposting

    I was supremely disappointed in the comments. It is though they hadn’t even read the essay. And the “America isn’t an empire and never has been” line is just a sad denial of reality.

  338. A further thought, I don’t know if there is a sequence comparable to the 5 stages of grief, but reading Gibbons it seems to me that the late Roman empire and Mediterranean civilization had a sequence of frustration – despair – lassitude that I’m sensing. Gibbons ascribed it to the moral passiveness induced by Christianity that meant so many Romans just gave up caring about their world in which infrastructure duly disintegrated and the political entity collapsed, but I think it may be a multitude of effects: wealth disparity, comfortable middle-class unwillingness to sacrifice, the metastasizing of bureaucracy. At a certain point, the choking miasma of administrative rules and regulations and procedures kills off the will to even try to make an effort.
    For instance, the Ontario Landlord & Tenant board is staffed with amateurs who don’t even know the law, and who will rule against a tenant on one case in the morning and the other way against the landlord on another almost-identical case in the afternoon. Consistency is lacking, and, as I mentioned before, this is typically after months of bureaucratic delay. The same problems can be found in the Ontario Municipal Board, the law courts, social agencies, and civic government. There is no such thing as a simple problem any longer.
    I am quite sure that this deep sense of frustration is driving the demonstrations I have been seeing every time I pass through Shelburne Ontario on Saturdays that started the summer after the “trucker” protest. I have to grudgingly admire their commitment, as they were there yesterday, flags waving, ‘Trudeau must go” and “Freedom” banners and “Stop comunism” [sic] placards decorating downtown core, wearing cammo ponchos and frayed peaked caps even in the pouring rain. (I was glad to see the profanity from the placards is gone!) The protest was centered around the vaccine mandates, but the inchoate and incoherent belligerence of many of the participants says something else is driving a building up of pressure below the surface. This is not the straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back moment, but we seem to be getting near to it. They may angrily blame proximate targets, such as our teenager-in-charge, but the sub-text of frustration at increasing restrictions and regulations in general is real.
    Right now, they still care enough about our existing society (or at least their vision of society) enough to get out and agitate for it. It’s when they give up and walk away that things will really fall apart.


  339. @Horzabky #119
    Just being curious, in terms specific to France if I understood your comment correctly, what kind of training has your son received? Does he work at a small business or at a big retail chain?
    What’s the French translation for the name of his job?

  340. For everyone interested in Solar Storms and a possible “Carrington Event” I would like to add this Loyd’s of London report from 2013 to your reading list. Basically Loyd’s says that it is inevitable and that we, especially here on the east coast of North America, will be in a world of hurt. Not sure if we are more prepared now then 10 years ago, but sounds like there is some work being done along those lines.

  341. Patino and all on healthcare: in the US most doctors are MDs. But about 15-20% are D.O.s (Doctor of Osteopathy). The only difference is that D.O.s have 500 hours of body/bone manipulation training in addition to the other doctor training. That means that they touch their patients. And zoom doctoring means that there is no touching at all. Now, for those still “believing” in “science” I will point out a long and extensive body of work and evidence that health outcomes are much, much, much better when doctors actually just touch their patients vs if they don’t. And the trend, not just with zoom, but also with doctors using laptops and all that has led to a lot less touching of patients. With the interconnected and obvious result of lower health care outcomes. I try to only go to D.O.s for this reason, but even they have become integrated into the system now and the difference between the two has been diminished. I won’t go to a doctor again if they don’t introduce themselves, by first name, and touch me in some way in the first minute they enter the room, (this could be a simple handshake!) Most doctors in this country went to med school for the money and prestige, not because they were called to it.

  342. Lathechuck, The Nato bunker Kinzhal missile attack is an interesting one, like the shootdown of Ayatollah Mike after the US assassination of Iran’s Soleimani. Ayatollah Mike ( Mike DeAndrea) was the head of the CIA’s program in Afghanistan, and flew the skies over that country in a specially equipped, high altitude plane from which he could call out drone strikes on various Taliban leaders and weddings and such. In retaliation Iran supplied the Taliban with a high tech antiaircraft missile system, and they shot down Mike’s plane. Photos of the plane wreck including tail number and various US labeled devices were widely circulated in Iranian media. Of course, after a few quick denials this disappeared from all western media. To this day Mike is shown in Wikipedia as ” retired”. I have friends from college who run in the CIA orbit in Imperial Washington and have told me they can’t confirm the story, but know that Mike Andrea was never seen in Washington again.
    The Kinzhal bunker strike occurred on March 9th and was quietly announced by the Russian M.O.D in a daily briefing. It has since been verified by various on the ground sources and military bloggers but has gotten no official western media recognition. The closest you will find is a couple of short denials in Newsweek and such listing it as a Russian propaganda event. So believing this one comes down to your belief in various non-western sources and assembling a preponderance of evidence in your own mind. You will not find a citation for this that will convince your NYT reading friends that this occurred. Because such a story would lay bare many of the lies we have been told about our involvement in Ukraine and our military superiority it will lie buried until salvagers digging through the wreckage of Langley unearth it as they search for copper wires a few decades from now.

  343. I am like many here. Very thankful to have received “collapse now” advice from these blogs several years ago, and happy to have had the time to act on it without being panicked into same.

    In a reply to Stephen, above, you said: “The US political class… is so class-ridden that its inmates spend their entire careers being sheltered from the consequences of their actions; that makes it impossible for them to learn from their mistakes…”

    The opportunity to learn from the consequences of your actions, is a gift to be treasured, and its loss is a clear tragedy. Those you mention, are deprived of the opportunity to learn by being sheltered, as you point out, from the consequences of *their* actions.

    On the flip side of this coin, though, are all those who are equally deprived of any opportunity to learn, because the consequences they suffer are caused by actions taken by others. And it is equally hard to learn much from suffering a consequence that does not follow any action you yourself took.

    Learning only happens when consequences remain firmly connected to actions. Whichever way.

  344. “A.I” The hydra rears another weird ugly head. The consequences? More digital serfdom. Best to leave the beast alone, big beasts use a lot of energy. That will slowly run out. Connect to your local land and people, get resilient and set deep roots.

  345. @David BTL re: #359 – “And the ‘America isn’t an empire and never has been’ line is just a sad denial of reality.”

    My understanding is that part of the underlying justification myth of the American empire is precisely that it isn’t an empire; empires are an outdated relic of the outmoded past and have no place in modern times, and to define “empire” in such a way that what we are doing isn’t one. This allows us to engage in imperialistic practices while justifying that they are not in fact imperialist – we aren’t taking over their territory and annexing it into ours anymore; we’re “spreading democracy”, “deposing tyrants” and so forth.

  346. Hi Orion!

    I’ve had several osteopaths as my family doctor, always lived in states where they can write prescriptions just like an MD. Not one of those osteopaths ever massaged me or whatever it is they do, oddly enough. Maybe my insurance wouldn’t cover it.

  347. Hello David,

    Maybe they’re afraid if they annoy us they’ll come under Imperial attack. 😊

  348. Alderion @ 340 There are two things which the American upper classes will not tolerate. No way, no how. Those are fall in real estate prices and alliance between black and white working classes.

    I am watching the Kennedy campaign with great interest. So far, he is a great improvement on the opportunist Williamson. One part of his career which the LSM are avoiding, their silence on this matter is deafening, is his principled objection to GMOs and industrialized agriculture. Robert Kennedy, Jr. was willing to lend the prestige of his name and reputation to the Dwayne Lee Johnson lawsuit against Monsanto, now Bayer Monsanto. While not the leader of the team, he was present in the courtroom and blogged throughout the trial, exposing the judge’s blatant bias against Mr. Johnson. BTW, I am happy to report that Mr. Johnson yet lives; he was recently an invited guest at a conference about regenerative agriculture in Brussels.

  349. > ChatGPT

    (1a) Before ChatGPT, say, there is one🗣listener for every 10 talkers (of all mediums):


    (1b) After ChatGPT: ChatGPT exponentially increases the number of talkers, say, to 100 talkers. One🗣listener for every 100 talkers:

    🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣

    Or maybe for every 1,000 talkers:

    🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣 🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣🗣

    After being inundated with talkers, who says that listeners will still be around. ChatGPT may lead listeners to shut off and shut down. People don’t like to be verbally abused and, clearly, even the relatively-low 100 talkers constitutes, and institutionalizes, verbal abuse. People have been able to zip through TV commercials for 25 years, and do (until they pull the plug on all TV). Perhaps people will figure out how to zip through ChatGPT-generated cr_p.

    (2) In the 1980s, my husband attended an East Coast university which had an up-and-coming artificial intelligence (AI) department. He took a number of graduate courses in AI, whereupon he rejected AI as “not worth his time” and “AI didn’t have a future.” The AI department survived only by the fedrul govmint throwing them millions of dollars of free taxpayer money.

    As a seasoned software developer, he thinks AI is a very, very, very expensive fad, and a spectacular waste of resources.

    He feels good that he did NOT take the AI “fork in the road” as a career.

    💨Northwind Grandma😥🗣
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  350. Greetings all!

    JMG wrote: “decline and fall looks as though it’s nearing an inflection point of considerable importance.”

    If I have understood correctly then the next phase in decline could well be hyper inflation in the US and western Europe that would inevitable spill over most of the rest of the world.

    Right now we are seeing spikes in inflation in most countries which appears to be mostly some form of corporate profiteering.

    How long do you think before the first waves of hyper inflation hit the shelves of the consumer economy? In 1 or 3 years maximum, for instance?

    I agree that timing is of the essence and that such predictions can be hazardous, nevertheless the time may have come to risk such a prediction.

    Many thanks and regards…

  351. Crunch time is here. Advice for the latecomers. Mindset, skillset, toolset. Mindset first.

    The collapse now and avoid the rush strategy encompasses a lot of territory, but the biggest single theme is minimizing risks. If you haven’t already started then there are going to risks that you are going to have to run with everyone else. The first risk is giving up.

    In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union a huge number middle aged men committed suicide or drank themselves to death because they lost their sense of self worth, that could be social status or personal meaning or just a failure to cope with a world that no longer makes sense.

    There are some things you can do. First, get used to the idea. Read Dmitry Orlov’s Reinventing Collapse which compares the collapse of the USSR to a potential collapse of the USA and also John Michael Greer’s Twilight’s Last Gleaming for a narrative of to give you a sense of how things play out. You might also read up on the Great Depression, a good one is We Had Everything but Money, or the collapse in Argentina. Get used to the idea that the world is going to change in challenging ways and what is unthinkable today will be inevitable tomorrow. Second, work on yourself. Learn to do something hard like 100 push ups or speaking Chinese. You are going to have to do a great many things that used to be done for you. Get yourself ready for it by doing some of those things now. Pick one and learn to do it. Do it as if it will make the difference between squatting in a shopping mall eating pigeons and living in your own place buying groceries, because it might. Third, do something spiritual. Get your entire being into shape, not just mind and body. Learn magic, become a druid, go to church, or whatever suits you, but whatever it is spend 15-30 minutes a day becoming a whole person. What’s coming is going to test you in ways that our culture has done nothing to prepare you for so getting grounded and preparing to face trials and tribulations is important.

    Skillset and toolset are going to depend on your circumstances so I can’t give you any specific advice. But mindset is the first hurdle so get yourself ready to rise to the challenge. Learn to be that person who takes it on the chin and picks themselves up and teaches themselves a new trade when everyone else is glued to their phones.

  352. Justin, that’s about what I’d heard from friends in BC some years ago. It looks as though Canada is being very accommodating toward its next imperial overlord.

    Caroline, thank you for this! It’s always heartening to hear that someone’s taken the suggestions I’ve offered and done something creative with them.

    Your Kittenship, you may see those days again. As for class status, I’d like to see those stats as well, because yeah, that’s what it looks like to me, too.

    Celadon, good! That’s a succinct summary.

    Ecosophian, oh, AI is self-terminating, since it depends on the survival of fantastically intricate and costly technosystems that in turn depend on the rapid exploitation of nonrenewable resources. The crapification of life will stop when people stop relying on anything but their own efforts and their neighbors for the important things in life — and that’s already beginning to happen.

    Patricia O, thanks for this. This post is still open to AI comments, of course.

    Curt, fair enough! It’s always worth paying attention to prophecies; some prophets are more often right than wrong. It’s just a matter of figuring out which ones!

    Viduraawakened, it happened in Russia more than once — under the tsars, and then again under the Soviet Union and in its aftermath, you had dissidents whose proposed solution to Russia’s problems was that Russia should be defeated and made to behave like a Western nation. But I agree; in my own odd way, I’m an American patriot; I think that our oddball tradition of more-or-less-representative democracy is worth preserving, repairing, and freeing from its current incrustation of parasites; I’d like the US to celebrate its tercentennial in another fifty-odd years, and its quincentennial two centuries further on — and it would be good to have the prime minister of India, whoever he or she may be, present at that latter occasion.

    Bogatyr, duly noted. Yes, I’ve been interested to watch the extent to which European and European-diaspora cultures are being marginalized of late. I wonder how Europe’s going to deal when the US begins actively rejecting western European cultural norms — we’re fairly close to that at this point, of course.

    David BTL, the comments were exactly what I expected. Of course they didn’t respond to what the essay was saying — that’s how I know that they know I’m right. People who are confident of their positions either actively engage with contrary points or roll their eyes and don’t bother posting diatribes.

    Renaissance, that’s an important point. Bureaucratic gridlock and elite incompetence have caused more civilizations to collapse than anything else.

    Scotlyn, an excellent point. It occurs to me that the intention that everyone will have the chance to learn from the consequences of their actions would make for very good magic.

    Seidemann, sound advice. Thank you.

    Northwind, hmm. Yes, that seems about right.

    Karim, I’m not prepared to guess, and it’s by no means certain that we’ll actually get hyperinflation — it may instead take the form of, say, 20% inflation every year for a decade or two.

    Team10tim, nicely summarized.

  353. So found this post in a strange alignment to the present body of work of an ontology have been working on on the last few months. It will go till November presently under the name of the Liminal Pause, . Your collapse now and avoid the rush was what my periphery brought me to your perspective originally ten years or so ago, although found that I seemed to be passing you in the hallway many times before that too. Myself, the collapse that this soul endured was in the early 1990’s. It really has not been till now that I feel it has more merit and have the slow understanding to offer it in some cohesive manner to my fellow humans. So my question is this JMG. Do you think that there are enough people who have what it takes to let go of this illusion of progress, and getting into back to basics reality to carry what will be considered a healthy future. Now understand clearly there is no definitive answer to this but my perspective in the street is one of not really because of the disconnect from the reality you speak of. For quite some time that is all i tried to do is just explain the situation to folks through music and other alternative ways. But in the end it seemed like uphill hike, slow and tiring on the body, so when you get to the top there is really no energy to absorb the vista, night time is going to be there at any moment and its set up for sleep or rush down the mountain to get back home. Would like some input on this for the work that one is putting together now. Thank you for all the work you put out it has helped my collapse feel more like it had positive impact even though it was painful.


    This article makes some good arguments against de-dollarization. It claims that the amount USD debt the world holds is impossible to deleverage in an orderly fashion, and that neither China, Russia, or Brazil can be a reserve currency, because of China’s capital controls, Russia’s lack of democracy/rule of law, and Brazil’s economic and political instability.
    It does allow that a major war resulting in a reshuffling of the world order can bring about the required deleveraging, but sort of hand waves that off. Unfortunately, I think THAT is coming later this decade, either in the form of world war or in the form of the US breaking apart. Or both.
    I also find the charge that Russia is undemocratic with little rule of law wanting. Are they more authoritarian, yes. But even in the US, the “rule of law” is applied how the powers that be want to apply it. How anybody can see the US as a beacon of fair government and laws at this point, I don’t know. Better than other places, yes. Demonstrably superior to Russia or anybody else? Nah. The world is no longer looking to the US as a leader or protector of freedom, that should tell you everything you need to know.

  355. temporaryreality (#260): I’m really interested in the book you’re publishing on mimeographing but apparently the website doesn’t ship to Germany. Do you have any idea how I could make that happen?

  356. Hello JMG,
    At #341 you mention the plight of entitled young professionals in your reply to Mark L. In the UK – and doubtless it’s similar elsewhere – we have another large entitled cohort in those who are in their later years of working life and those already retired. Many of the former group, particularly those from public sector jobs, have the promise of large work-related pensions which go up annually in lockstep with the rate of inflation. State pensions do the same or better, via the triple lock system where they get an increase which is the highest of either the inflation rate, the rate of average pay increase or 2.5%. Particularly with the latter group, no major party seems to be willing to challenge the status quo as they are such a large cohort and – unlike the under 35’s – nearly all of them vote in general elections. In what is nearly a two-party system with first-past-the-post election of MP’s, it is they who basically decide who is going to win most elections.
    If you are right, I can’t see any outcome but the unraveling of this in the next decade or sooner, so they will be another lot of very unhappy people who will see their standard of living going down the plughole. Still, in France, I expect even more fun after seeing riots over changes to pensions much milder than those which caused hardly a murmur in the UK!

  357. “Ecosophian, oh, AI is self-terminating, since it depends on the survival of fantastically intricate and costly technosystems that in turn depend on the rapid exploitation of nonrenewable resources.”

    There’s another issue at play here, that seems to be getting very, very little attention, but that is that AI threatens to destabilize the very systems it relies on. Once it becomes clear that posting your art online means AI will copy it, serious artists will go elsewhere (this is, in fact, already happening), even if it means a cut in pay in the short term; ordinary people will use the internet less once it becomes clear just how much data these AIs are gathering on them, to avoid giving too much data away; while interesting people will move away much faster, since they tend to have more to hide, and more willingness to buck social norms; as these trends build, the backlash against the internet will gather public support, and more options will appear for those who want to avoid using the internet; meanwhile, with all the interesting things happening offline, the internet will become increasingly boring, not because tech companies are trying to make it so, but because the interesting people are leaving.

    This could even be a major problem within the companies, as smart people look at the capabilities of the AIs, and leave for somewhere else. This sort of brain drain, where the people who understand the capabilities of the AI the best leave fastest could make it impossible for the organization to understand what the AI is capable of, or even how it works, even though it could be well within human capacities to do both.

    Further, since the internet’s economic model depends on infinite growth, this will destabilize the entire system. This will likely be made worse by the fact that in order to avoid collapse, the tech companies will have to prioritize short term gains over long term goals, and so they will rapidly have to focus on whatever can be done today to avoid collapse tomorrow. This will include ruthlessly cutting funding for maintenance, aggressively cutting costs and monetizing their offerings, and an aggressive campaign of fakery in order to puff up the internet’s apparent size, with things like botnets creating fake accounts pretending to use twitter playing an increasingly large role.

    Add to this that the option exists to use their data to try to make the internet more addictive; this will, short term, increase their ability to draw funds and resources, since people with serious addictions will sometimes feed the addiction at the expense of their own lives. The more addictive they try to make it, though, the more people will look at the internet and conclude they’re better off cutting it out entirely, no matter the consequences; and the less the people who remain online will be able to contribute to society. However, this is an externality they can afford, at least as long as they can continue to push it off onto society as a whole.

    More funding could be made available from various power centres, and in fact the internet giants will desperately try any trick they can come up with to get their hands on the money they need to survive, but this will place them increasingly at odds with a political establishment that’s already desperate, and that’s not especially interested in bailing them out of the consequences of their own actions. Of course, this will also make the tech companies increasingly sensitive to political forces, and they’re likely to try to cozy up with the powers that be, in the hopes of making major inroads there. One option would be to force people the establishment doesn’t like offline, and point to this as a virtue: this would have the unintended effect of pushing such people into alternative venues and making the internet less interesting, but it would allow the companies to argue they are doing something for the people with power.

    Utilizing their data for a ruthless propaganda campaign to keep people online would also be worth trying, but they’d need to be careful lest it backfire; and of course, they couldn’t very well admit this was what they were doing, because if caught there’d be horrible consequences. The risk of it backfiring and driving a major shift away from the internet would need to be taken into account, although if they were desperate enough, it might be worth the risk; it might even be attempted without any kind of clear exit strategy, if things are close enough to a full scale collapse.

    Hmm. This sounds an awful lot like the present, and I’m wondering now if it’s a coincidence that things started going off the rails so quickly in 2016, given OpenAI was founded in 2015, marking the start of the “AI Arms Race”. If this is the case, things could get very, very weird with the internet in the next few years….

  358. Hi Yorkshire @ 353. Your comment reminds me of the story of crabs caught in a bucket: One tries to escape by climbing. The others pull him back down. They did not live happily ever after.

    Personally, I haven’t found Good Reads to be trustworthy Far from in fact. Of course YMMV.

    —Lunar Apprentice

  359. Hi JMG

    It seems that the main argument used by your critics about your thesis of a more or less close end of the american empire, or in other words the end of the USA capacity ot extract such a huge amount of resources from the rest of the world; is that the economic capacity of USA is based, of course, on the entrepreneurship spirit, creativity, hard work, committment with success, imagination, and all that s**t…
    Those people that believe in the “exceptional capacity” of the US society to outperform the rest is, at the bottom, racism; and they really think the people in USA are more intelligent, imaginative, risk prone, determined, hard workers, etc…than the rest of humanity.

    Pure propaganda.

    May be they should know that “to use dollars”, for example for trade (60-65% of the world trade is in US$), means having an account in a US bank (or in other correspondent bank of the vassals, sorry, “allies” of some western european countries), and this money is used by the US banks and other finantial entities, to make business, and a good chunk of it goes to the US econonomy, that is the reason some investors could give some people in its twenties many million dollars for a start-up, based on vage ideas, so many hundreds of them will never achieve a ROI, but a few of them yes, but you cannot replicate the same strategy in any other country due to lack of finantial muscle not for lack of ideas; or you really think the people in India or Iran or Bangladesh have not ideas, or engieering or math capacity or are lazy and cowards…? .What they do not have, of course, is the opportunities.

    That is the reason you could have companies, like Amazon, losing billions of dollars during 10 or 15 years and still continue to grow with an almost unlimited amount of credit.

    That is the reason is in USA alone where you could have a “shale oil revolution” where the companies lost hundred of billions of US$ and the finantial system did not even blink, that is the reason any country, even with better shale oil fields, couldn`t do the same trick, because nobody can have access to the whole world savings and use it in its own benefits (or waste).

    If you see the great projects of the XX century in US, for example the Manhattan project or the Apollo project, you will see that without the european diaspora it would be impossible to make what they do;if you did nos have Einstein, Szliard, Fermi, Teller, Von Newman, Von Braun, It was not the american “capacity” or “crativity but the US$ that could attratc these people just before, in or after WWII. In fact NASA has not gone to the moon after Von Braun era.

    All of this, I agree, is ending right know.


  360. Update on being toast, but still able to act in one’s old age: I am converting my cash into necessary products like support stockings – bought 4 at one sitting today, which would have seemed extravagant before – and useful garments like a buttoned sweater vest, zip-up sweatshirt jacket, etc. Am also unloading anything not really needed. Hint to unloaders: if you have a reference book you think you don’t need because you have all that stuff memorized – DON’T! You;’l forget something and really wish you had it.

    Data point – the Gainesville sun finally admitted that Florida’s in drought, in its regular one-long-form article, this time about the flash fires of 1998.

    Personal, re: Tiger Mothers – my daughter was at a required Continuing Ed weekend, so it was just me, her husband, and the two grandsons. The youngest of which behaved like a normal boy his age, without monkey business – and nobody was nagging anybody at the breakfast table. His shy older brother and I carried on a meaningful conversation in the car. And yet, she seems to be necessary in the long run, or else it’s “next week we’ve got to get organized” there.

  361. JMG, I know it’s only getting attention now because of the frenzy around LLMs, but have you had the opportunity to research AGI and the spectrum of possible outcomes it could produce if/when it emerges from AI development? Most are dire in the extreme. An interesting wildcard to add to your model which imo is a solid base case future state of affairs.

  362. Mary Bennett 210
    Interesting: i hadn’t thought of the belt and road as a means to disperse the Chinese population. The Chinese diaspora has not always been particularly popular. I suppose if they took closed US borders as a cassus belli, they would lose the home team advantage and be the ones with the long supply lines.
    TJ 350
    I hope you are right and the US has sense enough to not attack them. In two years they will have an even greater advantage.