Monthly Post

The Secret of the Sages

Two weeks ago we talked about the way that life throughout the modern industrial world has fallen into the grip of lenocracy—that is, a system in which pimping of one kind or another is the most common feature of economic life, or in less idiosyncratic language, a system in which every economic exchange is exploited by interests that contribute nothing to the transaction but must be paid off before the transaction can take place.  Lenocracy is a feature of all complex human societies, for much the same reason that every animal species has parasites:  whenever freeloading on someone else’s labor and resources instead of doing the work yourself is an option, someone or something will be found to fill that niche.

A handful of bloodsucking leeches. I’ll let you figure out why I’ve included this picture.

Yet societies vary in the amount of lenocracy they tolerate. In particular, when markets are relatively free from the double-headed monster of huge business monopolies and metastatic government bureaucracy, people who don’t want to put up with the exactions of lenocrats can quite often do an end run around them, and this puts an upper limit on how far lenocracy can run amok. On the other hand, once they reach a certain degree of bloat, it rarely takes long for big business and big government to figure out that they can both prosper by supporting each other’s lenocratic habits at the expense of everyone else.

Once this takes place, the balancing factor just described goes out the window. Lenocrats in the private sector can demand more and more out of every transaction, knowing that lenocrats in the government sector will throw up barriers in the way of any attempt to get by without them.  Business profits increase and so does the number of bureaucrats, while the costs are shoved off on the rest of society.  The only limit to the process is the one that the United States is running up against right now—the point at which the sheer burden of lenocracy becomes so vast that it’s impossible for either the public or the private sector to cope with its problems, much less solve them. Under such conditions, nations collapse and civilizations fall; it really is as simple as that.

A US Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). It cost $500 million to build, and it can’t accomplish any of its missions; the sailors who have to run the thing call it the Little Crappy Ship.

Here again, the United States is a relevant example. One of the unwelcome lessons of the Ukraine war is that it’s been decades since we’ve produced a weapons system that can actually stand up to the rigors of combat against a well-armed enemy. The Abrams tank has proved to be a dud; most of the Navy’s recent ships have been overpriced flops; the F-35, our frontline fighter, is called the Penguin by Air Force pilots because it flies like one.  At this point our once-mighty defense industry can’t even produce enough 155mm cannon shells to keep the Ukrainian army supplied for a one-front war, much less stockpile munitions for the kind of multifront war we could be facing, and we haven’t yet been able to field a working hypersonic missile—unlike the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, and now the North Koreans, who all have them in service.

A nation so deeply mired in lenocracy that it can’t even provide for its own defense is in no condition to swagger around the planet demanding that everyone else kowtow to whatever notions its leadership happens to favor this week. A nation in that condition needs instead to ask serious questions about how long it will survive intact. I tried to raise such questions a decade ago in my novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming, in which the US gets beaten in a proxy war, setting off a death spiral that ends in the dissolution of the United States and its partition into half a dozen smaller nations. More than once over the last two years, I’ve commented that I meant that novel to be a warning, not a manual to be followed!  Still, there’s only so much a fringe intellectual like me can do to notify a smug and clueless elite class that their actions are sawing away merrily at the branch on which they’re perched, and it’s a long, long, long way down.

Empty shelves are becoming common; substandard products at inflated prices are even more common. Welcome to lenocracy.

While we wait to see whether our current leadership, such as it is, can muster enough of a basic sense of self-preservation to back away from the edge of that well-marked abyss, certain other questions might reasonably be asked and answered. One of the most necessary is also one of the simplest:  how might ordinary people get by in such times, when a lenocracy has become fixed in place but hasn’t yet imploded from its own corruption? It’s not just the defense industry, after all, that is having to make do with substandard goods at vastly inflated prices, not to mention a vast army of special interests battening on ordinary economic activities until they grind to a halt. It’s you and me, baby. What should we do?

It so happens that there’s a simple, straightforward, and highly effective answer to that question, one that’s been proven over and over again in circumstances just like the one we’re going through now. It’s scalable—that is to say, you don’t have to go into it whole hog all at once; you can dip your toes into the water, and splash around all you want in the shallow side of the pool while you work up the nerve to go deeper.  It’s also flexible—that is to say, there’s not a single rigid sequence of steps you have to follow, but rather a set of principles that can be adapted as needed to fit your personal situation. What’s more, it also offers one of the few ways to hit the lenocratic system where it hurts.

Excited?  Ready to try it out?  No, you’re not. I’m quite certain that at least half the people reading this will wail like gutshot banshees the moment they realize what I’m getting at, and a good many of them will post angry or plaintive comments loudly insisting that I’m being unfair, unkind, unrealistic, and probably a Blue Meanie as well.

Somewhere on my mother’s side, almost certainly.

Now for all I know I’ve got Blue Meanies somewhere in my pedigree, though whether it’s by way of the Butterfly Stompers or those tall guys who bonk people with giant apples is a point on which I don’t care to speculate. Nonetheless the fact remains that there’s one proven, effective way to mess with lenocracy, and it’something that a great many people are already doing, generally without realizing that they’re undermining the system that’s dealt them out so much grief.  Furthermore, lenocrats themselves realize that this strategy is a threat to their power and privilege; this is demonstrated by the frantic efforts they’ve made, in this and many other failing civilizations, to coax and bully people into doing everything but the thing I have in mind.

That’s the theme of a remarkable book by historian James Francis, Subversive Virtue: Asceticism and Authority in the Second-Century Pagan World. Francis chronicles one of the odder features of the Roman empire in its heyday.  Amid all the other threats that surrounded it and all the other crises it faced, its leaders repeatedly lashed out against what might sound like one of the most unthreatening groups imaginable:  philosophers.

Now of course that word didn’t mean “academics who specialize in abstract logic-chopping,” as it does today. Philosophies in the classical world were systems of mental and spiritual training that each embodied a distinctive way of life. You could usually figure out that somebody was a philosopher pretty quickly once you met them. If the unfashionably plain and inexpensive clothing and the general air of unobtrusive but unyielding self-control didn’t clue you in, all you had to do was ask whether they’d be at the orgy at Clodius’s on the Calends or ask what they thought of the gladiatorial games on the Ides, and they’d comment mildly that they weren’t planning to go to the one and hadn’t watched the other.

“Sorry, I’ve got other things to do that day.” (That’s Alec Guinness playing Marcus Aurelius, btw.)

That’s the thing that set philosophers apart in those days: they practiced moral virtue. (That was as true, by the way, of the Epicureans, who believed that happiness was the proper goal of life, as it was of their Stoic, Platonic, and Aristotelian rivals.  Epicurus and his followers had the good common sense to notice that keeping your pleasures from becoming addictions is essential if you want to be as happy as possible.)  Philosophers practiced moderation, self-control, and a certain modest degree of austerity. They didn’t necessarily fit anybody’s definition of heroic virtue, but then Roman culture in its decadence set a very, very low bar when it came to virtue of any kind; casual vice was practiced there to a degree you have to go to Hollywood to find reliably these days. Yet these quiet, self-controlled, reflective men and women—yes, there were female philosophers in classical times—were treated by the imperial authorities as such a threat that on several occasions they were driven en masse out of Rome.

The imperial authories weren’t simply paranoid, either. Like most decadent societies, the Roman empire dominated the subject peoples on its periphery through savage violence but preferred to control those in the imperial core using less disruptive means. Bribery was the most important of these. Cooperate with the Roman system, and the system kept you supplied with whatever you craved. The imperial government thus had a vested interest in encouraging ordinary Romans to wallow in whatever vices appealed to them, since those vices were so many levers of control by which they could be manipulated at will.

Philosophers didn’t play along. They didn’t leave themselves open to manipulation the way most Romans did. Worse, by the simple force of example, they reminded other people that there could be more to life than the mindless pursuit of biological cravings. That made them a threat to an increasingly brittle system. The same was true, of course, of that annoying little sect called Christians.  Unlike the philosophers, who mostly came from the middle and upper classes, Christians in those days were mostly working people and slaves, but they routinely embarrassed their supposed betters by displaying the kind of self-control and idealism that Roman patricians used to practice in the grand days of the Republic but had abandoned completely later on. Of course they came in for an even greater share of harsh treatment.

It’s worth noting that this same thing happens, in one form or another, in every decadent society. Controlling people by catering to their cravings seems to be a universal habit of corrupt and failing civilizations. Equally universal is the countermove: the cultivation of a thoughtful refusal to take part in whatever gimmick the ruling elite uses to lure people into compliance. In every such age there are wise people who simply turn and walk away.  This is the secret of the sages:  the only way to win is not to play.

The consumer society of its day.

Now let’s step back and reframe this discussion in terms of our current predicament. Am I seriously suggesting moral virtue as a way to counter the modern American lenocracy? In a certain sense, yes. Our self-anointed overlords and their corporate flacks don’t rely quite so heavily on raw biological cravings as their Roman equivalents did, though pornography and the endless, dreary simulation of violence in media have their roles to play. The lever that our lenocrats use to control people is the craving to own stuff. The way to mess with lenocracy, in turn, is to refuse to participate, when and where you can, in little ways and in big ones. Of course that’s going to require giving up some things—and it’s when this gets mentioned, or even hinted, that the screaming starts.

Granted, there are ways in which you can’t avoid dealing with lenocracy. Those vary from person to person—remember what I said about flexibility?  The options available to a mildly autistic sixty-something geek like me are going to differ significantly from those open to someone much younger or, for that matter, someone who has the social skills I lack.  Nonetheless it’s true that a great deal of today’s lenocracy is voluntary.  Various baits are dangled in front of you to get you to step into the trap, and tolerably often those same baits are used to keep you there. Refuse the bait and you walk safely past the trap.

Now of course the entire manufactured pseudoculture being pumped out of various corporate orifices and shoveled at you by the mass media pushes you in the opposite direction. That’s not accidental.  Billions upon billions of dollars a year are being spent to convince you that the only thing you can do with even the most pallid and pointless craving is run right out to the nearest available store, online or off, and waste money trying to satisfy it.  It’s essential to the scam that what you buy never actually satisfies the desire, or at best does so only for a very short time  To keep the system from imploding, you and everyone else have to be kept in a perpetual state of frustrated craving, forever buying things that don’t do what their marketing claims they will do.

Utterly phony then, utterly phony now.

From the point of view of the system, this isn’t optional. The consumer economy as it now exists was a desperate expedient installed right after the Second World War to keep the US economy from churning out more goods than people would buy, and slumping back into the same sort of overproduction crisis that brought on the Great Depression. Like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, it’s had to keep running faster and faster ever since just to stay in the same place; the offshoring of American industry to sweatshops in the Global South and the accelerating crapification of consumer products are two of many gimmicks employed to keep the game going.

Advertising plays a central role in all this. The point of advertising is to whip up artificial desires, and then shroud some shoddy piece of consumer trash with a fog of delusions that insist that it and it alone can satisfy those desires.  That’s why websites have become so frantic about trying to force you to look at their ads; it’s not just that the internet depends on advertising revenue for its very survival, it’s that the entire system depends on keeping you stuck in that trance of frustrated craving, spending money you don’t have on things you don’t want, to fulfill desires that were never yours in the first place. That’s how the consumer economy has become the most important factor keeping millions of people pinned down in lives of misery, frustration, and boredom.

No other society in history has made an industry out of renting places for people to store their excess junk.

It can therefore be a useful experience to go through all the stuff you own and note down how much of it has been sitting unused for at least a year.  For most Americans, this amounts to at least half their possessions. Figure out as best you can how much each of these items cost, and then compare that to your hourly wage or monthly salary and figure out how many hours of work it took you to earn the money to buy it. (Remember, in doing these calculations, to use your take-home pay, subtracting taxes, health insurance, and so on.)  Weigh the enjoyment you get from having the thing against the misery you had to put up with during that many hours of work. Was the purchase worth it?  In many cases, the answer is no.

Now add up all the money you spent on these things that you haven’t used in a year. Imagine you had that much money sitting free and clear in your bank account, or if you’re underwater financially, that you had that much less debt hanging over you. Think about what your life would be like, what choices you’d have available that are closed to you now, and how you’d feel about the world if that were the case. With that in mind, were the purchases worth it?  For many people, again, the answer is no.

You can take that into account when deciding whether to buy something.  You can also use it as motivation to get the things you need at thrift stores, yard sales, and the like, where most items are available for something a good deal closer to their actual value. You can use it when deciding on big-ticket items, since you can often get these much more cheaply if you avoid the gimmicks that raise the price without adding any real value. Finally, you can weigh all this in the balance when assessing those expenditures that provide no value at all—the experiences that aren’t worth experiencing, the useless trinkets who get an illusion of value by way of dishonest marketing, and so on.  You only have so long to live before the guy with the scythe taps you on the shoulder, you know, and each dollar you have was bought by cashing in so many minutes of your life. Is the thing the lenocracy wants you to buy worth that much of your lifespan?

Get it here and it might almost be worth what you pay for it.

Now of course this is where the screaming mentioned earlier becomes impossible to ignore. There’s a reason for that, dear reader, which is that you’ve spent your entire life being soaked in  propaganda via the corporate media, and a great deal of that propaganda is meant to convince you that thoughts such as the ones I’ve sketched out here are doubleplusungood and must be shouted down as quickly as possible. Let’s discuss a few of the usual objections now.

“But there are things that I need to buy!” Of course there are. That’s why I pointed out that the strategy we’re discussing is flexible and scalable. Nobody’s suggesting that you have to go live in a cave in the mountains somewhere and survive on tree bark. The point is that many, perhaps most, of the things you buy don’t satisfy the desires they claim to fulfill. They don’t make you happy, they don’t make you healthy, they don’t do anything for you at all. All the benefits go to the people who are pushing them on you. Those are the things you can let go of.

“But I’d be so unhappy without all this stuff!” That’s the commercials talking, using your mouth as an amplifier. Talk to people who’ve stopped wasting their money on consumer junk—there are quite a few of us these days, and the number seems to be increasing steadily—and you’ll find that by and large, they’re happier than the people who are still stuck in the consumer trap. Among other things, most of them have money to spend on the things they choose, rather than the things the consumer economy chooses for them. Wouldn’t you like that?

“But people will think that I’m poorer than I am!” Here we reach one of the terrors at the heart of the system. Most Americans live in abject dread of having other people think they don’t have as much money as they do. In a society where your chances in life are very strictly rationed by your income level, that’s understandable. The thing to keep in mind is that between runaway inflation and the crapification of products, you’re already effectively much poorer than you were a few years ago, and it’s only going to get worse. Face that fear, recognize that everyone else is sliding down the same slope you are, and you can learn to shrug off the opinions of the clueless and go on to do something more interesting with your life.

$34 trillion in debt and this is what our infrastructure looks like. That’s not a recipe for the survival of the system.

“But this won’t actually accomplish anything against the system!”  I mentioned already that we were discussing ways to get by between the time that lenocracy seizes control of a society and the time that it collapses of its own dead weight. That said, the system in which we’re interned is extremely brittle; you can gauge that from the increasingly frantic use of short-term gimmicks like runaway deficit spending to try to hold things together a little longer. It’s quite possible that if any significant fraction of people follow the advice I’ve sketched out here, that in itself could destabilize the system enough to tip it into runaway collapse.

“But there are other ways to undermine lenocracy!” Now you’re talking. There are indeed other options, and most of them focus on a different weak point in the lenocratic system. We’ll talk about those two weeks from now.


  1. Thanks for including the storage locker rental industry in this article. I decided it is the “canary-in-the-mine” indicator for serious long-term economic contraction several years ago.

  2. The entire consumer world of “technology” ( computers, cellphones, pads, video games etc.) has been the biggest gift ever to excessive consumption ever ( with the exception of the automobile). I compare my wife and I’s experience of cleaning out the living quarters of my grandmother when she passed away in 1988 with cleaning out the quarters of my wife’s brother last month. My Grandmother had some kitchen items, wooden furniture, books, a record player, some LP’s and an old Electrolux vacuum ( that we still use). My brother in law ( though he was disabled and on a limited income, had multiple old computers, phones and pads. But the stunning thing was the shear volume of connection cords, chargers, batteries, hubs, and electronic gizmos of all kinds. Most of them useless or obsolete. Nearly everything from my grandmothers apartment of 35 years ago ( before the internet and cell phones) could be put back to use, while most of this unorganized and un documented electronic stuff has no other practical path but to be taken to the local “electronics recycler”.
    I am justs touching on a singe aspect of the “Technology” based consumer culture, while there are even more significant ones such as the power of “shop from home” to gratify the impulses in a way never before possible.

  3. From just reading the start of this post, I envisioned a massive snowball riding a downslope directly into the Inferno. OTH and possibly OT: a recent Pocket headline noted that more and more “Generation Z” are going into the trades these days. My oldest grandson is learning firefighting, with his mother’s approval. That’s my younger daughter Sarah, the stay-at-home mom, high school volunteer track coach; they refused a holiday present, and her sister told me “They’re minimalists.” That’s new.
    Now cranking up an old song with a new word, “Straws in the wind….all they are are straws in the wind….”

  4. Another great essay, John. Guy Debord came to my mind as I came to the end of reading it, and I thought I’d share a few quotes from him, to help people get further in the mood to disentangle themselves from the spectacle and spectre of this lenocratic society.

    The first one is short and sweet, but perhaps the best: “The more you consume the less you live.”

    “The first stage of the economy’s domination of social life brought about an evident degradation of being into having — human fulfillment was no longer equated with what one was, but with what one possessed. The present stage, in which social life has become completely dominated by the accumulated productions of the economy, is bringing about a general shift from having to appearing — all “having” must now derive its immediate prestige and its ultimate purpose from appearances. At the same time all individual reality has become social, in the sense that it is shaped by social forces and is directly dependent on them. Individual reality is allowed to appear only if it is not actually real.”

    “The more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him.”

    “The reigning economic system is a vicious circle of isolation. Its technologies are based on isolation, and they contribute to that same isolation. From automobiles to television, the goods that the spectacular system chooses to produce also serve it as weapons for constantly reinforcing the conditions that engender “lonely crowds.”

  5. I don’t know who reconstructed that face of Marcus Aurelius, but it’s unintentionally hilarious! He looks like Alec Guinness in a A New Hope talking about the clone wars while having the thousand-yard stare.

    Great essay! While reading it I constantly had Tyler Durden in my head “We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like”. Remembering Gillete and BudLight, this secret of the sages could also be called “boycott”, that time when two big companies lost billions in days because people stopped consuming. Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” The way forward is refusing to participate in the system, and not only that, but also to undermine the system, like hidden Turkish sappers planting bombs under Vienna’s walls.

  6. Maybe a cliche now but Gandi’s comment about ‘Enough resources in the world for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed. ‘
    Also Small is Beautiful! What became of those ideas?

  7. Thank you for this insightful essay—my family and I are well down the slope of “collapsing now before the rush” (though the rush seems to be catching up with us) and we live very simply. I won’t say we’ve got it figured out, because we don’t, but the fact is we are not at all following the approved routes to the American nightmare. This brings up all sorts of feelings for me, where I get to see just how ridiculous my ego really is. It would have me doing all the consumerist machinations just to avoid other people’s opinions, regardless of how questionable those opinions are. It takes all the rigor of my spiritual training to avoid being sucked into such habitual fears and desires. I’ve had to look some fairly well-entrenched nonsense right in the face and refuse to budge even though my ego is screaming. So it’s no wonder to me that people stay stuck in the status quo—the pull to fit in and be accepted is, at least for me, a surprisingly strong tug. I blush to admit HOW strong. It requires a strong commitment to spiritual training and much perseverance to deal with the fear, inadequacy, and various screeching banshee emotions that come up when I don’t do the “normal” thing. Oh well! I have to remember that nothing is necessarily going wrong because my ego is feeling uncomfortable. Let ’er screech.

  8. One of the most controversial things a person can do in modern Western society is to engage in what the Taoists would call Wu Wei, or non-action. To decline to take a side, or have an opinion on something. To engage in asceticism, no matter how small (even if it’s something like not drinking coffee anymore). To just go with flow, and work with what you have and what you know.

    As you explain in your post, society purposely makes it very, very hard to do this, by eliminating any kind of alternatives that either already existed or pop up later. Anything that reduces dependence on the system, whether it be physical or philosophical, must be eliminated or minimized.

    To do nothing is the most powerful tool the laypeople have. Which is why the powers that be will do everything to prevent it.

    Who knew doing nothing was so hard? Maybe this Laotzi guy was on to something.

  9. John –
    “The system in which we’re intered is extremely brittle”
    Where I live in the PNW, just south of Portland, spring is in full glorious bloom. The dogwoods, flowering cherries, and redbuds are shouting hosannas to the skies, my tomatoes put on 6” yesterday, and the air is full of promise.
    Except for one thing.
    Where are the birds?
    I’ve been watching as the bird population has been declining for years now. Where I used to have a flock of 50 – 75 swallows over my back pasture, this year there are none. One song sparrow where there were a dozen. Likewise finches, siskins, grosbeaks, and juncos. Nothing has brought home to me the horror of what we’ve done, to ourselves and to the world, like the disappearance of the birds.
    I liked your essay today. I’ve been trying to get free of the lenocracy (great word) for a long time now, but I feel a great sense of mourning now for what we’ve lost. I take some small comfort from the fact that, if the insect and bird populations have crashed, this idiot lenocratic culture can’t be far behind.

  10. I retierd a few months ago. Before I left I was able to pass along some advice. I told the young guys to turn down as much OT as possible. I told them that by the time they were my age they,d no longer have whatever they bought with their OT pay , or it would be taking up space in a corner of their garage with other cast off junk. I told to spend their time with their wives and children. Not sure my advice registered – I hope so.

  11. Everything on the internet is an advertisement.
    I’ve been actively practicing minimalism for just over a year. Before I buy anything I don’t eat, I consider how I am going to remove the item from my life. Books are easy things to remove – I drop them off at a neighborhood “free library.” Other stuff, I’ve “reverse shopped” – walking to Goodwill and letting them take care of disposal.

  12. Vespasian banished the philosophers as early as 69AD, and he was, by all accounts, a close man with a denarius and relatively plain-living by choice. But, yes, people who thought for themselves could easily cause problems for the established order, and if you have to ride that tiger, too bad for them. Nobody ever said he wasn’t an utmost pragmatist, either.

  13. I’ve often thought we could mine those storage units for years of goods if the apocalypse shuts down Amazon and The Dollar Store. Zero Hedge sez that consumerism is buying things you don’t want with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like.

  14. Another way to not spend money and be dependent on the lenocracy is to just be poor!! My husband and I were poor as church mice when we were raising our kids, and still are, though not as badly now as no kids at home! I made everything we ate and sewed and knit a lot of their clothes, saves $$$ and I don’t have to put up with some salesperson’s BS. A win win!! Great post, esteemed Archdruid!!

  15. John, this post is great. It articulates something that’s been simmering in my mind for a while. The only way to win is to not play! I think this post also demonstrates the power of occult philosophy. Much like the other philosophers you’ve discussed in this post, occult philosophy is about cultivating will and virtue. Unfortunately many New Agers and so-called occultists have warped it into a consumer spirituality about trying to serve base cravings. Authentic spirituality is about self-transformation. Transform yourself and then you can transform the world.

    I’ve been working through your book Learning Ritual Magic for a while now. I’ve definitely been taking longer than the lessons require. Usually they ask for 2 weeks of practice but I always end up doing around 4. But this process has already began transforming my life and reaping fruit. When I first began, I decided that I needed to abandon my wasteful habit- playing video games. Once I abandoned video games, I suddenly found that I had all the time in the world to do the things that I had convinced myself I didn’t have time for. I’ve spent more time with neighbors, been planting a garden, going to the gym, doing my occult exercises every day, and I feel so much better! My mental focus almost immediately improved. I used to have great difficulty meditating but now I am making steady progress.

  16. Although, Paul, “shop from home” is a blessing to near-shut-ins, especially at mandatory gift-giving times. But yes, it can lead to serious over-indulgence, especially when you add “…and if I don’t like it, I can just return it.”

  17. I did a shopping fast ten years ago: Nothing new for one year. The experience altered me permanently. I no longer wander aimlessly in shops looking to fill some ineffable lack. When I sense there is something I need I look first to see if I already have it, second to see if I can borrow it, third to see if I can get it second hand. I repair as an act of rebellion and wear evidence of my tinkering like a blazon. If I must buy new, I enter the store or online shop with purpose and leave with what I came for—and nothing else. I resonate with philosophers you describe—to every characteristic I sound aye, aye, aye.

  18. There are existing alternative cultures in America today, with their own internal economies. I’m thinking of religious orders such as the Amish, as well as Mennonite and other subgroups. Other traditional and Orthodox sects fit here, although perhaps are not quite so visible.

    The Amish and related orders “went Galt” hundreds of years ago. Although they interact with the surrounding popular cultures, they retain their essential apartness through simplicity and thriftiness. Their separate status is maintained by speaking an in-group language, having a strong religious/spiritual foundation to their beliefs, maintaining firm control over social behaviors (such as male-female interactions and contact with out-groups), and a public “uniform” that identifies their identity (dull colors and no buttons!).

    And they don’t waste money on status items, frivolous vanity gear, fancy appliances or electronics. Their religion strongly counteracts the consumerist cravings — which makes them targets of some industrial giants. Witness the attacks on successful Amish farmers who don’t pay homage to “the system”.

    So, there’s a price beyond tossing our old junk and avoiding worthless “wants”. But as more people choose or are compelled into thrifty lifestyles, the flailing and panic of The System will be heeded less and less …

  19. Your analysis is pretty much on the money here, the phenomenon of “planned obsolescence” shows just how desperate many large corporations are to continue overconsumption despite many people realizing that they actually don’t need to buy a new phone every year or two. The newer products don’t even last as long as the old ones, my IPhone 5 lasted me almost 8 years and I would still be using it if Apple hadn’t killed service support for it. Continuing to buy into the consumerist rat race is just going to lead to more and more spending on less and less quality products. The only winning move is not to play, to the extent that we can.

  20. A person can live on the stuff that we dispose of in our wasteful society. There is such a surfeit of fine used furniture available in most towns and cities that you can have a home furnished with fine wood furniture nearly for free, and a wardrobe of nice clothes that aren’t even out of style, for a tiny fraction of what you’d pay for them new. Most people not only don’t “need” the stuff cluttering up their houses but would be much better off without it, which we know from the proliferation of storage facilities that blight our cities and suburbs these days. Why pay $1200 – $5,000 yearly or even more to stash things you haven’t even looked at in five years? Then there are those most egregious money-and-space guzzlers of all, motor vehicles. If you are a childless city dweller in a city with good public transit, like NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, or Boston, you not only have no need of a car but would greatly improve your financial situation and quality of life by disposing of it. Why commit anywhere from $10,000 for a minimal used car to $40,000 or more for a 3,500 lb money pit that will cost you $100 a month for a place to park in addition to repairs, routine maintenance, and elevated urban insurance rates, when Instacart will deliver from almost any store for a flat $10 a month and the buses and trains run every 10-15 minutes throughout the day and often all night? And do you really want to pay for an eight-room house with so much unused room that it serves mostly as a repository for all the “stuff” you never even wanted to begin with?

  21. Hi JMG,
    Thank you for this serie which is strongly relevant considering the current situation in the West. I feel that we are living like the Russians in the 80s until the collapse of the Soviet Union. I read and wait eagerly for the serie’s future articles.
    I would like to add a note on leeches. My neighbour got one of his elbows badly hurt while working. After trying several pain killers with temporary and limited success, he went for a session of bloodletting by leeches. He was impressed how fast the pain went away following by a fast recovery of his elbow.
    I wonder if those guys in the Corporates and Governmental bureaucracy could contribute in anyways like the leeches do.
    Kind regards

  22. A Tour de Force brother John, my compliments.

    I have found that I too overindulge a bit. I’m not proud of it. I found that my hobbies used to be very prone to over consumption. I corrected course when I realized that this preoccupation with the THIINGS associated with the fun activity were robbing me of the enjoyment of the activity itself. With me it was all part of maturing into an adult. Now I tend to buy very good quality but sparingly, take excellent care of it, and do my best to wear it out doing the things I love.

    That seems to fit my personality much better. You mention advertising and I have to wholeheartedly agree. I think we underestimate how much we need to guard ourselves against it to remain mentally healthy.


  23. A reconstruction of Marcus Aurelius’ face you say? I wonder if the artist who made the reconstruction had 1964’s The Fall of the Roman Empire playing in the background while they worked. Or if Sir Alec Guinness would have been shocked to see a Roman Emperor in his 23 & Me results!

    I have recently discovered the joy of junking stuff since I am preparing for a big cross-country move. I’m lucky my wife and I were on the same page about getting rid of anything we hadn’t used in a while or felt more than a slight attachment to because the house now feels much less cluttered both physically and spiritually and we both feel much lighter in general. Far from minimalism, that simple act of Turbo Spring Cleaning ahead of the move has confirmed for both of us the importance of time and collective experiences vs collecting junk.

  24. Growing, gathering or killing at least half of what I eat is part of the way I go about it. Most of the money I spend now is on tools and books. That and I sold my house at the peak of the market and moved in with my elderly folks to take care of them, which has the added benefit of not spending $2000 a month on housing. I’ve also radically reduced my alcohol, cannabis and tobacco consumption. Learning the guitar I don’t burn up time watching media. That and reading, writing and meditation.

    I find myself much happier and at ease now.

  25. I walked away first chance I got, 29 years ago, at a young age.
    Facing the abyss of a life of solitude was all it took.
    I was pretty sure at the time that noone else around me would do as I did.

    However, while the roulette tables behind my back are still continuing to make their lulling noises, they finally seem to be hemorrhaging punters at a solid rate.
    29 years ago, I’d have expected this to take even longer.

  26. Speaking of “the screaming”, I encounter that regularly, even from friends and close relatives, for my audacity to not carry nor ever owning a cell phone of any kind, or now in the last couple of years not having owned a television as well. They will invariably cite the “inconvenience” that I must suffer as a result, not to mention the “inconvenience” that I inflict ON THEM for daring to make them endure the pains of having to plan ahead to meet me somewhere, rather than change plans half a dozen times on the fly. But I think the real reason that I get these negative and berating comments on my life choices is because it may, however briefly, force those others to examine and question their own life choices.

    And as regards the putative “convenience” of these devices, I can only respond with my own updated version of the classic saying: “The road to Hell is paved with (putative) convenience”.

  27. i have stated to think of you as the most dangerous intellectual in America today. (thank the gods that you had the wisdom to disguise yourself as a harmless excentric,)

    Having grown up catholic i am starting to think that there are seven virtuous weapons that we can all use to free yourself and help hasten the end of The Machine (or banish the Wendigo)
    Seven virtuous weapons to defeat seven deadly traps laid by The Machine
    Humility to combat Pride
    Patience to combat Wrath
    Kindness to combat Envy
    Diligence to combat Sloth
    Charity to combat Avarice
    Temperance to combat Gluttony
    Chasity to combat Lust

  28. Hi JMG,
    Great article! We read, “Your Money or Your Life, more than 20 years ago and have been living in the fashion you describe since then. We own our own small farm outright, we have an old, paid-off car, we have no debts and some savings. Yesterday was a big spending day for us; we bought two Bing cherry trees and I paid for a cello lesson. My cello is being lent to me by the man who bought it and never played it. The cello sat in a hard case for ten years until he lent it to me for which I am deeply grateful.
    Life is pretty good out here in Frugalityland.

  29. Excited about this series of essays, JMG! The acronym LESS comes to mind, and my family and I have been putting that into practice in our own small way.
    I’m looking forward to see what other ways we can stick to the leeches!

  30. This is, to me, your most important post in a long time. I have been thinking about this issue most of my life, and pondering how to explain my “bizarre” choices in lifestyle for a long time. I’m much older than you, and I have officially given up. One of the things that the capitalist system is so good at is that it can co-opt any venture, anything that people think, create, or do. Even religion, which in many places has become a big money maker (although not all.) Sometimes I just think about what the world would be like if we all had enough to be healthy and productive, but no more. If we lived in communities that were much more self-reliant, and if we followed a radically more simple lifestyle. But when I view my grandchildren, they are going in the other direction, and they are swimming in debt, very stressed out about how to live, and it scares me to think what the future holds.
    The only thing we older folks can do is to model what the good possibilities are and hope that some of them notice. I saw a little quote the other day that said “don’t buy anything that you can make yourself.” I like it. Thanks again for your wonderful articles.

  31. This is a fortuitous post for me today. This past year I’ve really had to curb my spending in order to pay for some very necessary (and expensive) repairs on the house. To make it easier on myself, I’ve turned it into a game. The “How Much Can I Get Away Without Spending” game. And some amazing resources have surfaced! Such as local free-food events in my neighborhood, and my local Buy Nothing group on FacePlant.

    I’ve gotten back into baking my own bread (which I used to do when I was a kid back in the ’70s and ’80s. And instead of buying new books, I’ve been reading some of the ones that my ex left behind. (That’s how I discovered Tiffany Thayer, Thorne Smith, and James Branch Cabell.) I’m finally learning how to make a decent batch of black-eyed peas. I haven’t bought any CDs or downloads lately, but I’ve been writing my own songs — and even had a couple opportunities this past year to perform them at local sci-fi cons. I can do this (and it feels good).

  32. Ok. Ranting and Raving now. This brings up the topic of Shopaholic, a mental deficiency (?) in many people I know. One of the biggest Shopaholics I know used to always brag that “no one can out shop me”. Now, years later that she and her third husband are divorced and her adult children are totally messed up she finds that nothing can make her happy. I found her to be very shallow and could barely stand to be around her (she’s an ex-relative). Thankfully I didn’t have to spend much time with her because she always had to go shopping.
    And debt. I have another family member who’s head over heels in debt and is taking a second job to be able to buy more stuff.
    As for me, I find the less I have the happier I am. What I do have is either necessary (i.e. no TV) or has personal meaning to me.

  33. I feel moved to comment – I think because this is something I wrestle with and often feel called to make decisions that are so-not-supported by mainstream thinking that I also need to navigate self-doubt, and the real thoughts of, “Maybe I AM missing something.” Right now, because I can both see with my own eyes and believe in JMG’s forecasts, I’m on the brink of cashing out my retirement (I’m 35) and using it to pay down my mortgage. (Also wrapping my head around how exactly $ is made in retirement accounts and what I’m passively supporting.) Right now we (my partner and I) live on take-home $USD 33,000, but I’m leaving my job in two months and this will drop to +/- 20,000. All I can think about is slashing our overhead (much of it tangled up in lenocracy, I think). It’s taken awhile, but I think my partner is ready to forego paying for internet access, the biggest bill after our mortgage. We’ll be moving from 2 to 1 cars soon. I’m almost done “The Origin of Capitalism” by Ellen Meiksins Wood, and I don’t know why, but my fears around scarcity (and then the impulse to hoard/accumulate – i.e. retirement, 5k savings for emergencies) has softened and dissipated to such an except that it all feels like a big game of Monopoly money. Up until now, even with all my so-called frugality and alternative perspective on many things, capitalist logic has been playing a much bigger role in my life than I realized. This is all to say, somewhat on topic and somewhat not I’m afraid, that I’m with you.

  34. Thanks JMG, excellent advice. Years ago I learned that life was way less stressful when I lived well within my means and accumulated savings. Now, the last 15 or so years of ZIRP made those savings worth less than they could have been, but I also have no debt.

    Also, I learned to never, ever, put a charge on a credit card unless I had the money to pay the balance at the end of the month. Credit card companies call me a deadbeat and I am proud of it.

  35. I’m 70 and in a way have been battling against the UK lenocracy for >50 years.

    Some ‘consumer goods’ which have become almost essential now almost defeat me. My first mobile phone worked reliably for 18 years from 1998 to 2016. Newer ones are now electronic crap and don’t function for more than a few years. In retaliation for this crapification, I’m seriously considering whether to carry a mobile at all. As for a tracking device, sorry a ‘smartphone’ . . . no thank you.

    I heard a comment on BBC Radio 4 that electronic data storage is becoming more fragile with every ‘improvement’. To remain readable it has to be transferred to the next emerging storage technology at an ever-increasing frequency. Well, good luck with that in a society of declining net energy availability and growing resource scarcity.

    N.B. R4 became intolerable during ‘the COVID period’ due to the blatant propaganda and I stopped listening altogether. Quite a few programmes have now become listenable again but I listen only 20-25% as much as I did 20 years ago. I think you may have had similar issues with your NPR.

    Luckily ‘real’ books don’t become unreadable within a few years. They endure.

  36. I’m afraid my comment became ‘de-formatted’.

    All the line and para. breaks disappeared.

    Maybe an ‘edit’ function could be added?

  37. After getting eviscerated in the divorce war I had very few possessions remaining. Heckuva garage sale. Adapted to a modest lifestyle on my old sailboat that guaranteed you think twice before buying stuff and where ya gonna put it. Secure racks for the sword collection. Ditto for my 3 guitars. Confess I’ve a storage locker for my 8’x 10’wall of books. Watching the local PMC in the multimillion float homes next door freak as three levels of govt busybodies stop the very necessary dredging of silt buildup. Had two combat ninjas in swat attire from Natural Resources pounce and ban the small tugboat prop washing our area. Folk have done this for decades but we now have way more bureaucratic stazi. So the posh homes are sitting tilted on sand bars at king low tide.

  38. @elkriver

    You describing the Amish reminded me of the Mormons. They too have their own internal economy and their communities are very cohesive, but unlike the Amish, they still rely on current technology, although, they can probably adapt pretty quickly to a post-Industrial world. I wonder how intertwined their system is with THE system.


    Are the Mormons in your books about Dark Age America? They look like they could form an independent state of their own, when the administrative body in DC finally kicks the bucket.

  39. For one reason or another, maybe because of the rather dominant position of Saturn in my natal chart, i’ve spent my whole life doing precisely this, and my wife is just like me.(She also has a strong Saturn, in case anyone wonders)

    We never buy something new when we can borrow or buy second hand. It’s incredible, but if you are patient very often you end up getting what you need without paying. We need a car, but we have one that is 25 years old.

    However, i must say that i have always faced serious social retaliation because of my ways. I was bullied at school for wearing clothes that were to “plain”, and my old car seems to arouse suspicion, hatred and contempt. You need to get used to it, but it pays in many ways.

    I remember when we we’re younger, a close acquaintance comented astonished: But how you two manage to survive with so little money?!

  40. Ah, you’ve exemplified the reunion of politics and economics into political economy! Well played. “But, but, but….can’t we finish this video game? It’s so close…I’m about to win!” I guess I’m black pilled. I’m convinced that all the winners are going to end up on a trash heap for their trouble, in some way or other, and that doesn’t sound appealing to me anymore. I’ve learned this week you can make your own charcoal!

  41. I cannot be the only one who imagined our system as the Yellow sunmarine’s Suckophant:

    It sucked up the movie’s entire background, and then sucked itself out of existence.
    Perhaps our lenocracy will have to consume their own narrative, before they erase themselves.
    Eating their lies, while simultaneously feeding their lies, must be quite a talent. Anyone know the historical/world record for this phenomenon?

    Reminds me of a quote I found online by Frank Zappa:
    “The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.”

    I think the theater show has long since been exposed, but people are still seeing the cognitive afterimages. No one wants to say the show is over, and no one wants to admit the brick wall is what we had all along. I think people are awake enough to admit there is a brick wall, but not the following conclusion: that is all there was.

  42. This kind of selective use of purchasing power to starve superfluous industries doubtless works well for those with some level of disposable income. But for a great many others it’s a matter of considerable difficulty just to afford the overpriced basics of life, however crappy their quality.

  43. Other ways to get away from lenocracy… I’d imagine doing or making things for yourself, or bartering such things for the work of others are high on the list, as well as being careful about what you buy and only buying what you need or genuinely want.

    Like most people in this society, I tend to accrete stuff. In my case, quite a lot of supplies for various hobbies from art and music to reptile keeping, astronomy, gardening and textiles. I do try and make sure I use a high proportion of what I buy though, and a significant amount is second-hand. I tend to keep it even if I don’t use it for a long time, because I know I will likely come back to it and if I get rid of it I will be kicking myself and end up buying another one, which is stupid.

    It’s getting harder to buy stuff second hand here though. Two of my local thrift stores disappeared in the past couple of years, and the Value Village is much less pleasant to use and more expensive than it used to be.

  44. Ecosophy Enjoyer at #15:

    Hang in there! It took me 18 months to work through all of LRM. I prioritized mastering the material over meeting the time table, well worth the effort for me.

  45. Dear Mr. Greer,
    As a 50-something, mildly autistic female Gen-X-er I am DELIGHTED by this week’s post as it is something I have been practicing ever since I made note of two very different things: the saying “if you learn to be subservient to the king you do not have to eat lentils” with the reply “If you learn to love lentils you need never be subservient to the king” and Burt Reynold’s throwaway line in Deliverance about not buying insurance. Those two things, along with a heavy dose of Little House on the Prairie books growing up have shaped my life in ways big and small, culminating in last summer when I up and quit my lucrative, full time office job (which I loathed), sold my 800 sq ft house, divested myself of every official life admin bit of lenocracy: all insurances, medications and memberships and about 75% of my belongings. I moved into a bedroom and bathroom in an elderly family member’s home so I can be of help to them, and maintain a 9 year old subaru that I consider my last ever vehicle (there is a bicycle standing by for when ol’ Betsy the Subaru finally crosses the automotive rainbow bridge. I work part time as a cashier in a local, independent grocery store and walk to a nearby yoga studio for instruction. I have no monthly bills, or debt, and I am eyeing more of my possessions to be donated/redistributed. My income is untaxed federally and locally because I live in NH and work only enough hours to keep me untaxable by the feds. I stopped as many of the vices I had kept going for years while a wage slave: drinking, impulse shopping, buying $9 sprouts at Whole Foods, and cannabis. I also weaned myself off all meds previously prescribed for the depression that my mainstream life was causing. I’ve eschewed all social media for years now as its obviously badly fragmenting people and bringing out the worst of our species. I can walk to work if needs be, to groceries, the library and my precious yoga place.
    When I told people I was doing all this, they all balked and said I was “so brave”. I dont know about that but I can say I am “so” fed up. I worked my whole life without a gap and contributed to social security that will not be available to me. My solution? Stop paying taxes.
    I refuse to participate in the medical/insurance industries and people just blink at me when I remind them that insurance is a financial product, not a service. It’s a scam. But everyone I know lives only from a place of fear. It is disheartening but perhaps my example will light the way for someone. I can only think of that line in the bible when a young man asks jesus how he can be part of his gang and jesus says get rid of your crap and the guy “went away sad for he had many possessions”.
    I read actual books and very little for what passes for “news”. It really has almost nothing relevant to my life. But, in the off chance it one day does? My passport is up to date and I am only a few hours from the Canadian border.
    Perhaps I sound extreme but I have so much peace now. Life is so SO much better. One day I may even try my hand at gardening (though I’d rather make friends with a gardener instead. 😏) Thank you for your writing. I look forward to it every week!

  46. Great article! I have been shedding lots of stuff lately. One of things I noticed was that 90% of it were things I had bought on impulse. That was a huge eye-opener. Also, since I have fewer things overall, it’s much easier to locate items since I don’t have to dig out a layer to find them. I recently found an excellent seamstress to repair my beloved old jeans. Decent jeans at a good price are hard to find. I’m clinging to my old pants and fixing the holes. Viva la Levi’s!

  47. Unfortunately the greedy fingers of lenocracy have have gotten hold of thrift stores as well, at least in my area. Grift stores is more like it. Clothes can be purchased for cheaper at Walmart. Same goes for military surplus. I imagine the powers that be will figure out a way to wet their beaks from garage sales before long.

  48. One of your best articles. Your list of screaming objections could be expanded to include the rebuke that frantic consumption is a kind of moral duty and we’ve got to keep at it so as to keep the economy afloat… And with that in mind I wonder, JMG, if you have read Pohl and Kornbluth’s 1953 satire “The Space Merchants”, a brilliant send-up of the lenocracy though of course not using that term. Coincidentally I re-read this satire a few days ago and would recommend it to anyone – apart from being hilarious (I love the way the gung-ho promoters of a Venus colony play down the fact that the place is completely uninhabitable) it’s also an exciting story.

  49. Thank you, JMG, for a lovely essay and a good reminder.
    The marketing targeted at children is so intense, and the number of pay-to-play traps just keeps increasing – get your next pack of pokemon cards GOTTA CATCH EM ALL!! * facepalm * I recently joked to my children that before they could buy anything else, they’d have to inventory their existing possessions and anything worth over $5, they’d have to look up the new price and what it’s worth now. … Now I’m thinking that’s not a joke, it’s going to be an actual assignment; and I’ll join them in it – it’s been too long since I took stock, and though I’ve shifted from entertainment to tools of various types of production, I can see that there are just as many traps laid there (drill even better with our new brushless, cordless, etc., etc.).

    A few techniques that have helped me and my household:
    1. Limit your possessions based on your spaces and what you can store with good organization. This helped with kids particularly – rather than placing an arbitrary limit on toys and books, we gave each a bookshelf and a trunk and said they could keep what fit.

    2. Wait to buy until you actually cannot do something. Many of the tools that I do not use were purchased because they were on sale and I could imagine I would need them for whatever project I was buying materials for. If I waited until I actually needed those tools, I’d have quite a chunk of change.

    3. When you feel the urge to get something new, shop for what you already have. It is so easy now to shop for something new – reviews and comparisons abound for every possible purchase. If you are excited about something new, go search for something already in your possession and read the positive reviews about it. I’ve done this with camera lenses to great effect.

    Wishing you all well.

  50. Thank you for this timely essay. I’ve been contemplating some home improvement/redecorating projects. I took a step back this morning and though about each one and asked myself, “is this a want or a need”. Turns out they’re all wants not needs so no need to do any of them.

  51. JMG
    After reading this post I started out congratulating myself over how much time I have spent in thrift stores, and the fact that I haven’t bought a new computer since ‘92. Of course I have an iPhone.
    Here I am doomscrolling X and the tubes…

    I’ve been reading Isaacson’s biography of Elon Musk. An interesting point is made concerning the vertical integration of manufacturing in both SpaceX and Tesla. Manufacturing things in house has the dual advantages of working properly and costing a tenth as much. They talk about government cost-plus contracts where companies have no incentive to deliver on time or budget… I realize that I have a career because of this.

    Thank you for the neologism. It provides some perspective. I need to clean up my basement.

  52. Paul, it occurred to me twenty-odd years ago, while taking the bus past a self-storage facility three stories tall filling a whole city block, that we have bigger houses on average than any other people in history — including our own recent ancestors! — and yet so many people have so much junk that gargantuan facilities have to be built just to hold it all. Of all the signs of our collective dysfunction, that’s one of the most striking.

    Clay, ah, but there’s another side of the coin. I have never owned a new computer; I get all mine dirt cheap or free by the simple expedient of getting “obsolete” gear, and they work just fine for my purposes. So, yes, there’s a vast amount of waste — and that’s another angle that those who need to use electronics can exploit to undercut the lenocracy.

    Patricia M, delighted to hear this!

    Justin, excellent! I’ll be talking about the Situationists as we proceed, but these are great introductions.

    Rafael, well, here’s a comparison shot with a contemporary image:

    I had Durden’s comment in mind, of course, though not the apostle’s.

    Eric, excellent! I should probably circle around to Schumacher again sometime soon. As to what happened to those ideas, why, they were systematically buried at the end of the Seventies in a frantic attempt to keep the current system afloat. It’s high time that they be brought back up for discussion.

    Erica, and of course that’s a major factor too. We’re all going to have to put up with a lot of that screeching in the years ahead. What’s the poor ego going to do when it can’t keep up the facade?

    Atr, good. Very good. You’re right, too, that Taoism is another important resource here. I may have to dust off a very, very old manuscript of mine and take a look at it again.

    Bill, that’s ghastly to hear. I’m glad to say that’s not the case here in Rhode Island — at least in my part of this little state, bird populations seem to be holding their own. I wonder what’s driving ecological collapse in your part of Oregon.

    Christopher, well, you’ve passed on your advice to my readers — I hope they’re listening.

    Geoff, glad to hear it. I’ve had a lot of practice at the same thing recently — my late wife hoarded a lot of things. There were powerful emotional reasons for that, founded on a lot of ghastly experiences in her childhood, so I made room for it at the time; now that she’s gone, though, I’ve had a lot of stuff to take to the local thrift store or donate to other charities.

    Patricia M, oh, granted. Hitler was an occultist, and banned every occult organization in Germany shortly after he took power. There’s such a thing as wanting to keep anyone else from realizing the basis of your power…

    Steve, I hope postapocalypse fiction authors have had fun with that!

    Heather, agreed! Sara and I were dirt poor for the first decade of our marriage — I had a writer’s usual income curve, that is, next to nothing for years, until I had enough books in print to matter — and that taught us both lessons that stood us in very good stead ever after. Most middle class people in this country are terrified of poverty; what they don’t know is that being poor for a while can be an extraordinarily liberating experience.

    Enjoyer, thank you! It’s been a while since I’ve handed out gold stars, but you’ve just earned one, for getting the point of occult training. That’s just it — most of the crap that’s pushed on all of us is there to eat up our time and our attention so we don’t have enough of either to do anything but consume.

    Brandi, consider me intrigued. How did you handle food and other consumables during your shopping fast?

    Elkriver, it cheers me to notice that more and more people are talking about the Amish these days. That sort of alternative may be the wave of the future.

    Sam, exactly. For exactly the same reason I don’t have a cell phone, and do without a lot of other shoddy technogimmicks.

    Laura, well, as a childless city dweller in a town with decent public transit, I can only agree. I’ve never owned a car, and I’ve lived in towns with fairly poor public transit and still gotten by quite comfortably. (And this was before Instacart…)

    Foxhands, back in the heyday of the peak oil movement, Dmitry Orlov used to go around telling audiences that the US was following exactly the same trajectory as the Soviet Union, and would crash and burn the same way. Of course he was right. As for bloodsucking leeches, granted — in their place, carefully controlled and limited, they can do quite a bit of good. The same is true of bankers!

    Bro. Will, thank you. Yes, we’ll be talking about advertising as this nascent sequence of posts continues.

    StarNinja, yes, I noted the resemblance. As for clearing away crap, no argument there.

    William, everyone I know who’s broken out of the consumer trap and gone minimalist is much, much happier as a result. It really is that simple: the more you consume, the more miserable you are.

    Michaelz, I know the feeling. It was a long lonely road to walk, but things seem to be coming apart in a hurry at this point.

    Alan, oh holy gods, yes. I talked about that sort of weird pushback in a post back in the Archdruid Report:

    Dobbs, that’s exactly why I made a beeline for the fringe, and maintain my status as an irrelevant oddball by posting regularly on ceremonial magic and equally absurd topics. The Taoist philosopher Chuang Tsu pointed out a couple of millennia ago that such maneuvers are effective camouflage for anyone who wants to speak unwelcome truths in a dark time.

    Maxine, I’ve been delighted to hear each of the progress reports you’ve posted on your journey into frugality. You’re another of the people I think of when I mention that everyone I know who’s abandoned the consumer lifestyle is happier for it.

    Matthew, hmm! He does a good job of it.

    Tim, unsurprisingly enough, LESS is one of the things I plan on bringing up again as we proceed.

    Materia, a fine and elegant summary.

    Katherine, I haven’t given up, because I’ve found that it’s possible for me to get certain ideas into circulation in ways that the system doesn’t appear to be able to hijack. Of course that’s partly a matter of timing; the system is running very low on resilience just now. But we’ll see.

  53. Thank you JMG,
    This is great and although I do not recall exactly why I started making decisions leaning in the direction you describe here some 20 or so years ago, I now know why I was and am not mistaken to continue. Down with the Lenocracy! Like that word, too.

  54. I had thought that this week’s essay might be about the upcoming Jupiter-Uranus conjunction (I’m looking forward to reading your delineation as I’m not at all confident analyzing these outer planet events) as it relates to a possible forthcoming shake-up of the lenocracy. Your remarks on the state of the weaponry currently provided to the military is related to your delineation of the recent Mars-Saturn conjunction, but I don’t see this tying in with Jupiter/Uranus. Anyway, I’ll surely find out soon.

    PS Since you explained the etymology of lenocracy I can no longer think of Jay Leno in quite the same light!

  55. My tendency to keep hobby supplies etc around has the side effect of discouraging me from buying new stuff, because I’d have to find a place to put it… there is some stuff I should probably get rid of. Like the open hole I have from back when I was a teenager – I can’t play it without hurting myself, and most likely will never be able to again. It’s ergonomics are even worse for me than the average flute. It makes far more sense to sell it than keep it. Or the reptile food I bought that was the wrong, for a species of lizard I don’t have. It’s still good, just useless to me.

  56. @Bill,
    how are the insect populations, especially those of flying insects, where you are? There’s been a major global decline in flying insect populations, which affects the birds. Especially swallows, since flying insects is pretty much their whole diet.

    I’m over the border in BC, and there are fewer swallows and fewer flying insects here than I remember from my childhood too.

    I suspect pesticides and too many bright lights at night are factors in the insect decline. There may be others too.

  57. Hello JMG,
    You mention runaway deficit spending and the idea that this may be reaching the end of the line is beginning to seep into the MSM in the UK. In the last 3-4 days there have been two articles in the Daily Telegraph on this issue. The one yesterday was by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard who sometimes has interesting things to say even though he writes nonsense on energy matters. Apart from raising the unsustainabilty of America’s debt, he discussed how the price of gold is being bid up – now about $2400 – due to huge purchases by unidentified actors and speculated this might be due to so-called big beasts bailing out of dollar-denominated assets. China and possibly also Russia might be doing at least a large part of this through third parties. He also seemed to imply an implosion of the present money-and-stuff society in the West could be on the cards quite soon.

  58. >buy and consume less

    I’d say that’s sound advice. If you own too many things, the things end up owning you, as they used to say. The only legitimate reason to rent a storage locker is if you’re moving. Otherwise throw the stuff away or sell it off.


    It’s the endless search to find people willing to go into debt that actually keeps the Fractional Ponzi(tm) going, I would claim. That’s why you’ve seen all these recent bubbles as they try to trick people into debt. Cynically, I’d say the biggest of what I’d call “debt sponges” are incompetent small business owners. Watch one of these “business in trouble turnaround TV shows” and they’ve all got just massive amounts of debt. Except since the C*vid K**kiness, they effectively killed off a good chunk of those “debt sponges” forever.

    Basically, gun, meet foot.

  59. I grew up watching TV and listening to the radio in the 80s. This made me grow to hate commercials, which led to me ditching my TV and living quite frugally throughout my entire adult life. Even now, I only watch commercial-free content and use ad blockers. I live quite comfortably with minimal high quality clothes and a 20-year old car (which I only bought recently after riding a bike or walking for 30 years.) My only real vice is that I have spent a fair amount on books and education for a profession that is locked behind a lenocracy, Traditional Chinese Medicine aka acupuncture. Of course there are parts of my training that can be done without a license (herbal medicine, Qigong/Taiji, and lifestyle coaching) and places outside the US where I can practice without a license (Latin American), although getting supplies is difficult. I am always looking for ways to avoid the parasites and am looking forward to the next instalment of this conversation.

  60. Before I go on, a bit of synchronicity: Don Henley’s song Gimme What You Got, which is about this very theme, is playing right now on my CD player…

    Materia, sometimes opportunity comes in the form of adversity. Glad to hear that you’ve made the most of yours.

    Annette, I know the type. It’s astonishing, and not in a good way, to watch people like that making themselves more and more miserable while boasting about the very habit that’s dragging them deeper and deeper into the void.

    SR, it’s a challenge, no question. Glad to hear that you’re rising to meet it.

    Raymond, that’s one of the changes I’ve made since my wife passed away. She ran up credit card balances, though fortunately not large ones. I’ve zeroed them out and will be keeping them that way. Deadbeat? And proud of it. 😉

    David, that’s why — or part of why — I don’t have a television (the boys with the detector trucks would be all over my block of the street!) and mostly read books by dead people! As for the formatting issue, fortunately not — there’s a glitch in the WordPress software that makes the preview look like it’s erased all the paragraph breaks, but they’re still there.

    Longsword, there’ll be more of that before long. Infrastructure upkeep? Yeah, I remember that…

    Rafael, no, but then the book was covering basic themes rather than specific groups. It’s a valid point, if the LDS manage to keep their traditions intact for the next century or so.

    Guillem, Sara and I had the same experience — and yes, I have and she had Saturn very strongly placed in our respective natal charts!

    Celadon, excellent! People used to make a living doing that, you know.

    Eruption, is that the vacuum monster’s real name?

    I think a lot of people have been staring at the brick wall for a long time, but they don’t want to admit that that’s what they’re seeing.

    Kevin, yes, and that’s a good reason for those who have disposable income to back away from consumerism, so those who don’t have enough have a better chance of getting something. (For what it’s worth, even for the poor, there are ways to avoid getting trapped into overspending; having been poor, I can testify to this.)

    Pygmycory, I’m sorry to hear about Value Village! When I lived on the left coast, that was a favorite chain of mine. Oh well.

    Dana, congratulations on your escape from the rodent maze! I’m not surprised that you’re much happier.

    Elizabeth, thank you for this — stories like this are very cheering to me.

    Douglas, good heavens. I’m glad to say that’s not true where I live.

    Robert G, I have indeed! The Space Merchants and Gladiator-at-Law are both brilliant books, and prescient — the latter was the first thing I ever read that sketched out what was going to happen to the suburbs in due time, and it was dead right. (The suburb where I spent the second half of my childhood is now a slum district with a remarkable resemblance to Belly Rave.) And yes, the attitude of “we must all consume to show our loyalty to the system!” is out there, and powerful, at least among the privileged.

    Hearthculture, do it! Your kids will learn a lot from it, and so quite possibly will you.

    Julie, excellent! Knowing how to make that distinction is a crucial skill.

    Piper, there’s always more to learn. I discovered, while clearing out Sara’s stuff, was that I’d managed to accumulate a fair amount of junk myself. Most of it’s gone and the rest is going.

    Gaia, thanks for this.

    Hankshaw, maybe it was plain old-fashioned common sense.

    Reloaded, well, we know exactly what some of his paternal ancestors did for a living…

    Pygmycory, I know the feeling. Can you find someone who would value those things, and do some giving? We’ll be talking about the gift economy as things proceed.

    Lew, true, but then that simply requires us to allow less space to it.

    Robert M, I’m glad to hear that. Once enough people start to worry about whether the current charade can continue, that in itself can bring things crashing down.

    Other Owen, oh, yes. I’ll be talking at some length about the way that the Covid circus turned into a spectacular series of own goals inflicted by the elites on themselves. That’s one that hadn’t occurred to me, but of course you’re quote correct.

    Clark, understood — I also have to restrict what I can offer other people in order to stay out of the claws of the lenocracy. It’s one of those necessary maneuvers Taoists, among others, have been practicing assiduously for the last two and a half millennia.

  61. Thanks for a dose of sanity. The wife and I have been doing Dave Ramsey (about as good a cult as any other in the personal finance area.) for about five years. One of the realizations has been that just buying stuff and going into debt to get it, is modern day bondage. The herd really is completely brain washed. Debt is so normalized, that you just can’t see the extent and depth of the illness until you are out of it. Part of this particular cult is to be outrageously generous, which is far more satisfying long term than buying the latest smart phone, which you will despise in two or three years.

  62. “maintain my status as an irrelevant oddball by posting regularly on ceremonial magic and equally absurd topics. ”

    That statement is just soo funny, because “the powers that be” have such a combination of arrogance and ignorance that they can’t even imagine the dangers that someone who teaches people magic ( how to change their conciseness in accordance with their will ) poses to them.

    I imagine them setting around joking about how the stupids are planning on throwing fireballs while simultaneously wondering why nobody believes the economy is great. I mean look at the statistics the economy is great!!!

  63. JMG
    I will concur with Bill on the collapse of both bird populations and insect populations here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. I grew up on a farm only a few miles from where I live now, and back then the Starling flocks alone would scare Alfred Hitchcock. We had so many insects that outdoor dining at restaurants was almost unheard of. The first time my ” now wife” came to visit when I was still living with my parents on the farm she was horrified by the giant industrial strength ” bug zapper” on the wall in the kitchen and the fly swatters hung from neat little hooks by every chair at the dining room table.
    Now one can eat on the back porch every day with nary an insect to disturb you , and the birds are few and far in-between.
    I chalk this up ( as well as the difference between here and R.I.) to be the industrial use of pesticides in agriculture. The Willamette Valley is still heavy agricultural with with many of the large scale farms that over-use these toxic chemicals. R.I. ( to the best of my. knowledge) has very little large scale agriculture so it has been spared the collapse we and I am assuming other industrial agriculture areas have faced.
    The other trend that is nationwide is the monthly “treatment” by the Orkin* man. These types of exterminators play on the average suburbanites fear of insects and property value degradation to convince people to buy a plan ( everyone wants a tollbooth business) that pays for the “knowledgeable professional” to come by once a month and spray down your house and property with poison so no nasty bugs will show up to scare your or ruin your property value. We live in a new subdivision and I have had at least a half dozen ( from different companies) show up at my front door to convince me it is good idea to soak down my house and yard with ” EPA approved control agents” as a prudent preventative measure. I expect the cumulative effect of all the homeowners doing this to be very bad on the insect populations.

  64. Thanks, JMG, I do enjoy it when you annoy the Lenocrats and give legitimacy to what I am already doing. I enjoy reading Marcus Aurelius.
    Thanks for all your efforts

  65. Say “NO” to the things that don’t matter so you can say “YES” to the things that do.
    Back in the 1990’s Amy Dacyczyn of The Tightwad Gazette and Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin of Your Money or Your Life made the same comparisons.
    And these thoughts go so much further back!

    Do yo recall the 1990 book “The Decline of Thrift in America: Our Cultural Shift from Saving to Spending” by David M. Tucker? I do because I’ve got a review copy. Dr. Tucker, a professor of history, wrote a remarkable book about all that we used to have (a woman saving her family via thrift was a recognized and popular genre in novels!) and no longer do.

    It’s well worth reading but get it via the interlibrary loan.

  66. Thank you for this excellent post! We have been on the ‘collapse now and avoid the rush’ path for the better part of 2 decades now. I have joked that the only things (non-consumable) I refuse to buy used are socks and underwear.

    I took a look around my house after reading this and would add kitchen and bath towels to that list (I know how gross they get after a year so not willing to find those secondhand) but really struggled to think of anything else I absolutely had to buy new. I only came up with glasses/contacts and canning lids (I do know there are resuable ones but I haven’t gotten there yet.) Certainly, we have bought new things when we lacked the skills or time to DIY or secondhand shop but we try to DIY first. Last weekend we made a compost sifter out of scrap wood and a small amount of new hardware cloth. This week we start fixing up the old chicken coop with leftover construction materials instead of buying a new one to prep for new chickens. Thanks again.

  67. I think about this ALL the time as I walk around Hershey. The trash I see, every week, is amazing.
    People buy entire households of stuff, leave it behind when they want something new or they move, and then complain they have no money.
    It’s amazing how much stuff people have.
    We’re the richest society in history and our trash heaps prove it.
    But it doesn’t deliver satisfaction.

  68. My own experience: I’ve always wanted a flagship Samsung phone. Being a Brazilian that means a lot of money since our money is funny money and our taxes makes the biblical publicans look good. And once I bought I felt that I wasted good money on something that is just marginally better them a midrange Chinese phone. Being a top smartphone brings nothing useful to table – it is still a crippled supercomputer that can only consume content, not produce. You can’t program in a smartphone even if the hardware is good enough. They want you to buy a workstation for that. It was then that I learned that stuff, beyond nice food and wine to fill the belly, a house outside the slums and an air conditioner, suffer from severe diminishing returns in relation to the happiness they bring.

    Also the push to buy crap reached its apotheosis in the gaming scene: people pay big bucks for cosmetic changes to their characters, better virtual guns, that kind of thing. It’s crazy: one day the servers will shut down or you will say something online that some stupid moderator dislikes and then you’ll lose all those overpriced cosmetics, will have nothing to show for the money spent.

    It’s actually quite easy for middle class young and 30ish people to practice some of these ascetic virtues: stop paying for games. Stop paying for skins, guns, cosmetics – they won’t make you play better. Stop paying for onlyfans when the internet is filled to the brim with naked people pictures. Stop ordering food – learn to cook, it isn’t that hard to cook rice or pasta and fry a beef on butter with garlic.

    A 30ish middle class man can easily burn up to 1000 dollars/month on these easy money traps.

  69. Already practice a lot of this. I buy books and games and not much else. I definitely enjoy both, so they stay, though I am discriminating about both. (Books, less so.)

    Recently dropped my food budget significantly, less as a philosophical matter than a money saving issue. But mostly it’s been fine, the food is as good and as filling, just a lot less varied. When finances allow I’ll expand the budget a bit, but I’m not going to take it all the way back even when I can afford to: eating more carefully is proving to be rewarding.

    Aside: as someone who’s studied most of the modern Eastern enlightenment systems when I looked at the classical philosophies I immediately recognized that done properly and taken far enough, they could lead all the way. Most people, especially modern “stoics” don’t, they don’t even understand what they’re trying to practice (though it’s still good for them), but the bones of real spirituality are there.

    Haven’t commented much recently, but I read everything you write. Disagree with some, agree with most, think on all.

  70. Thank you for the great essay, JMG. The sages are great. For those of us who are not sages the books of James C. Scott provide great inspiration and many practical examples. My favorite ones are The Art of Not Being Governed and Two Cheers for Anarchism. Here is a nice quote, “More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish democracy”, the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguard or rioting mobs.” It’s comforting to know that each of us in this virtual gathering is adding some effort to the millions of others.

  71. Thanks for the post John. I am a long time follower of your blog (finding the Archdruid report in 2007) but haven’t commented until now. I just thought other people may find Mr Money Mustache’s blog helpful. It covers some of the same ideas you are suggesting in this post and also pointed. me to Stoicism, which I have been practicing for a few years.

  72. Doesn’t sound like you are getting the pushback that you expected. That could be taken as another sign of the times.
    Just wanted to say that I’m grateful for your previous advice that preppers are just panic shoppers doubling down on ritual consumerism. Ever since then I’ve tried to focus on the goal of homesteading rather than adopting the typical survival bunker mentality. Still looking for land where I can scale up my growing operation without interference, but as my Better Half points out we have too much crap to move if even if we manage to find something in this insane market. I just fixed up an old beater dump truck and now she’s hassling me to haul things away. Told her that you wrote this article today and she rolled her eyes that I have to wait for the Wizard to take action on advice that she’s been giving me for years. Fair point, but it also works both ways.

  73. JMG – I’m afraid that one response to those of us who opt-out of Traditional American Consumerism is to open the borders to people eager to try TAC for themselves (after seeing it on TV for years, but being barred from participation by geography).

    A big part of the housing crash back in 2008, in my area (central Maryland), was the immigrant population that just had to “sign here” to get a mortgage for their Very Own House.
    “Don’t worry about the numbers; you’ll be fine.”
    “Nobody ever gets prosecuted for optimistic income statements.”
    “We have a Special Deal for traditionally-underserved demographics.”

    Yeah. Sure you do. It’s called Affinity Marketing and Predatory Finance. (Affinity Marketing is when someone of your own faith or ethnic (etc.) subculture persuades you to participate.)

  74. @Piper At The Gates (#53)
    *Here I am doomscrolling X and the tubes…*
    “X and the Tubes” is the name of my new punk band. 😀

  75. While I’d love to see my own and the collective American ego hop on the next hot air balloon back to Kansas, it seems more likely to continue doing impressions of Trump’s political career and keep coming back for just a LITTLE more greatness. Much more screeching in store, I suspect! 😉

  76. “To do nothing is the most powerful tool the laypeople have.”

    In China “lay flat” has evolved to “let it rot.”

    As to birds, the local population here in central Washington is still fine. The local neighborhood has acquired a downy woodpecker that must have blown in on some storm.

    As for cell phones I had to get one partially because the local land line monopoly refused to repair the lines, and partially because of two factor authentication.

    Yet another blessing on living in the relative sticks is that they turned off the analog TV stations twenty years ago, and contrary to promises they never put up new translators for the digital TV. By the time streaming was a thing the habit was broken.

  77. >which led to me ditching my TV

    I’ve always maintained if you want to change the world, get rid of all your TVs and either RO filter your water or steam distill it. I’m amused and saddened at all the pushback I’ve gotten over the years over just getting rid of the TV.

    These days, I’d also add the smartphone to that list of things to minimize or avoid. In another 10 years, it’ll probably be the personal robot assitant as well.

  78. One other big option: in a lot of cases, it makes a lot more sense to rent things when needed than to own them. I’ll use an example on my mind right now, since this has become a point of contention between me and some of my family members: scuba equipment. A lot of people don’t get into scuba because a lot of the equipment is quite expensive (a good dry suit costs a few thousand dollars; a BCD usually is a few hundred; and so on), but it’s a lot less expensive to rent most gear from a scuba shop (the shop I rent from is $100 a weekend). This is even before the costs of storage and maintenance are taken into account; some of which requires some extremely specialized skills and equipment that few divers are likely to have, such as the tools needed to check the inside of air tanks for rust.

    There’s some equipment it makes sense to buy, such as a good mask (given how individual the fit is), but most of it it makes much more sense to rent unless you’re diving every single day; and even then, I’m not sure it would be that much less expensive once maintenance and storage is taken into account.

    What is really irritating though is that I have to fend off people wanting to get me this gear for birthday presents; most of my family simply cannot accept that I crunched the numbers and decided it’s better to rent the equipment when I need it. I’ve had someone freak out about how I’m willing to regularly hand money over to a local dive shop, who simply cannot understand that even if I bought the equipment, I’d still need to regularly pay them for the maintenance, and it wouldn’t even save me any money. The various mental blocks people have about renting is fascinating, albeit annoying.

  79. The Early Retirement Extreme movement (people who downsize, keep earning, and save the difference) contemplates this question every so often: “What if lots of people joined us? Wouldn’t the consumer economy collapse?” The usual answer is, “Yes it would, but deliberately using less is a fringe hobby practiced by wackos, so don’t worry about it.”

    Book recommendation: William Leach’s “Land of Desire” documents the rise of the modern consumer culture – though he places it 1890 – 1930 with the rise of the modern department store in the US. Turns out the ‘customer is king’ philosophy was deliberately nurtured during the 1920s as a response to worker unrest. The devil’s bargain offered to the American retail worker was that they couldn’t unionize, but they could walk into a department store and be treated handsomely as long as they were buying. It worked beautifully to undermine union solidarity, damn them all.

  80. Bradley, if you’re being very generous, you’re ahead of the curve. In a dark age, generosity is one of the two most important of the virtues — that and courage, accompanied by a little bit of luck, is what makes kings.

    Dobbs, and the great thing is that I can talk about it in so many words, and only those who are ready to hear it will hear it. Heh heh heh…

    Clay, that’s appalling. We’ve had a modest decrease in bug populations here — not quite so many flying ants and stink bugs as before, but I still see plenty of bumblebees, and there’s no shortage of flies!

    Mac, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Teresa, no, I don’t recall that one. I’ll see if there’s one in the state library system.

    PrayerGardens, delighted to hear it. I usually buy slacks new because I’m an odd size and thrift stores don’t usually have anything, but other than that and the items you’ve noted? Used is better, not least because the older something is, the better its quality usually is.

    Teresa, and that last bit is the secret. All you have to do is grasp that, and you walk straight through the prison walls into sunlight and clean air.

    Luciano, I’m fairly sure the gaming scene is one of the things that keeps the lenocrats frantically trying to monetize virtual reality, since that would allow them to charge ever-rising prices for nothing more than arrangements of pixels. (Btw, I deleted a reference to an illegal activity — something like that could land this blog in legal trouble, you know.)

    Ian, that’s the great secret of the old philosophies. They really are exact analogues of Asian systems of enlightenment, complete with their own meditative practices. I’m hoping that the modern resurgence of Stoicism eventually finds its way back to those.

    Kirsten, thanks for this. “Irish democracy” is a great turn of phrase; of course the Irish backed it up back in the day with what the English papers used to call “agrarian outrages,” which usually involved burning a landlord alive in his house. I certainly don’t recommend that!

    JH, thanks for this.

    KVD, if it follows the usual pattern, the screaming will start tomorrow. For some reason pushback seems to take a day to get organized. You know, now that you have a working dump truck, you might talk to your neighbors and see if they have stuff they’d like to have hauled away. Could be a nice little second income…

    Lathechuck, sure. Once the US economy crashes, though, I expect a lot of those people to deal with their financial situation by blowing town and resurfacing in their home towns in Guatemala or what have you; in the meantime, I can help those who are ready to be helped, knowing that the predatory lenders will end up hoist by the same petard that hoisted so many of them in 2008.

    Erica, of course. Charles Mackay’s comment is apropos: “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

    Siliconguy, glad to hear about the birds. Ellensburg used to be full of birds when I was there in the 1970s, killing time while my mother did summer school.

    Other Owen, sounds like good advice to me.

    Taylor, interesting. That makes a great deal of sense — and it doesn’t surprise me at all that people would get freaky about it.

    Kfish, thanks for both these.

  81. One way you can tell when times are hard is traditional publishing touts thrift books as though they have never before been considered as worth publishing.
    Back in the ’90s, when Bill and I had gotten married and I got serious about thrift, I made up a bibliography of thrift books available at the time.
    Sadly, it vanished when a computer ate it.

    What I recall though, is thrifty living goes in and out of fashion and the publishing industry follows suit with how-tos. The advice, whether from the ’30s or the ’70s, usually comes down to:

    Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Or do without.

    Interestingly, they also reflect their times. Old thrifty living books, like old cookbooks, assume you have a home bar and need to manage one on a tiny income! Nobody writes about thrifty home bars anymore.

  82. I spent 30 years of my life working in advertising. Max Headroom for Coca Cola? I did that. Introducing the Saturn Car? I did that. Levi’s, Clorox and BMW? Guilty as charged.

    At first I didn’t question any of it. That’s just how things were. Advertising was part of the culture. How could things continue without it? And even though I’d been raised to question all that, I was seduced by the money and the opportunity to travel and meet a lot of (supposedly) interesting people, eat at the finest restaurants and blah blah blah.

    Now I’m busy unlading all the crap I accumulated in my life, 99% of which is utterly useless. Both in a functional sense as well as a spiritual sense. Indeed, the more of it I get rid of the freer I feel. I don’t have to store it, insure it, or think about it. Because it’s gone.

    I know all the tricks to get people to buy stuff they don’t need. Interestingly though, that doesn’t mean that I’m immune to those seductive messages. What really helps is to look back on my childhood, being raised by my mother who grew up during the depression and brought the frugality she learned during that time with her wherever she went. She almost never bought anything new. She repurposed things. Made do. Sewed and knitted and cooked and worked part time so she had time to be with my sister and me. All this in the city of San Francisco. Oddly, even though we didn’t have a car and didn’t get a lot of new stuff I never felt deprived. I look back on that time with great fondness.

    And I now realize that how I grew up is a great model for how I’ve been successful getting old. I almost never buy anything new. I’m happy to live simply. And it’s easy to unload stuff online and actually make some money in the process. I’m in the process now of weaning myself off of streaming television. Now that I’m 70 I no longer labor under the illusion that I’m immortal. I’m in the 8th or 9th inning and my time is more valuable than ever. Why squander it on crappy television? Or even “good” television?

    Real, actual life, with real, actual people and animals and plants is out there with more than enough going on to keep me occupied until my time is up. Really, those are the things that matter.

  83. JMG, you are being unfair, unkind, unrealistic, and you are probably a Blue Meanie. That is my impression after reading first 4 paragraphs of your post.

    Now it is time to finish the rest and figure out why I am cursing you 🙂

  84. Greetings all!

    Just a heads up, as of April 1st I am now following the guidelines I announced at beginning of the year, and no older prayers are grandfathered in any longer. Which is to say, I’ve removed any unupdated prayers older than three months from the list. If anyone should notice themselves removed from the list, and wish to be included again, it is a simple matter to leave a comment or private message me, and I will be happy to re-include your prayer for another three month cycle.


    At this link is the full list of all of the requests for prayer that have recently appeared at and, as well as in the comments of the prayer list posts. Please feel free to add any or all of the requests to your own prayers.

    If I missed anybody, 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.

    * * *
    This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May Pierre’s wife, Julie, and their gestating baby be healthy and safe.

    May Erika’s partner James, who passed away on April 4th after a battle with cancer, be blessed, soothed, and lent courage in his soul’s onward journey; may Erika be blessed with the support she needs in this difficult time, and be granted the strength and self-understanding to avoid unhealthy levels of darkness and despair.

    Jay (SDI) and his family are being seriously impacted by an increase in chemical use in their area; may circumstances come together for Jay, Liz, and their children to relocate swiftly, and that they are well enough to manage until then.

    Tyler A’s wife Monika’s pregnancy is high risk; may Mother and child be blessed with good health and a smooth delivery, and be soothed and healed from their recent pains and discomfort in a manner that supports a positive outcome to the pregnancy.

    May Deathcap’s friend Mike, who has begun a 5 week course of radiation treatment after a nearly fatal surgery for a malignant tumor on his leg, be healed of his cancer and return to full health quickly and as completely as possible.

    May new mother Molly M recover quickly and completely from her recent stroke and the lingering loss of vision and slurred speech that ensued, and may newborn Lela and husband Austin be comforted and strengthened through this difficult time.

    May John Michael Greer’s wife Sara Greer, who passed away on February 20th, be blessed and soothed as she moves into the next stage of her spirit’s journey. And may John Michael Greer be blessed and lent strength in this most difficult time.

    May Frank Rudolf Hartman of Altadena California (picture), who is receiving chemotherapy, be completely cured of the lymphoma that is afflicting him, and may he return to full health.

    May Just Another Green Rage Monster‘s father, who is dealing with Stage 4 Lymphoma, and mother, who is primary caregiver, be blessed, protected and healed.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    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.

    * * *
    Guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ.

    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.

  85. Thanks for the dump run business idea. Here’s something you might find interesting. In meditation The Devil card from the Knapp/Hall deck came up today and the various connections it had to your article made me shudder. But then there’s also a great deal of hope if I’m willing to do the work.

  86. Just when ‘zero waste’ and ‘plastic free’ social media was going viral, TikTok came along with a new generation of influenzers promoting excessive consumption of made-in-China junk. And who owns TikTok…
    Avoiding social media is so helpful for avoiding the temptation to buy things you don’t need.

  87. Kind Sir

    When I saw the picture my first thought was: “i wonder what is the collective noun for advertising execs?”.
    Then i read the text and realised they are leeches.
    I know it is an easy mistake to make and could have happened to anybody, but i still feel bad about it.
    Here is my sincere apology to all honest, hardworking, bloodsucking leeches. I am terribly sorry for mistaking you for the lowest creatures to ever crawl on the face of this planet.

  88. Its interesting that since the 1970’s so many new ways to gin up consumer demand have been invented. It is not just the advertising but the social and cultural trends ( probably created by advertisers) that contribute greatly to the onslaught of stuff. Elaborate Holiday decorations for everything from 4th of July to Halloween is one thing that has been filling the storage units. The Pet industrial complex with giant super stores filled with a parallel set of products that humans have but for your pets ( clothes, beds, houses, toys etc). The notion that people need “snacks” in every possible location that they might find themselves leads to microwaves, tiny fridges and coffee machines everywhere.
    The backyard entertainment area is another thing invented in the last 4 decades. It used to be a small bbq and a couple of folding chairs was all one needed in the back yard, now you are told you need an outdoor version of your kitchen and living room, except the outdoor setup deteriorates much faster which is much better for the lenocrats.
    I don’t think this will change for most people until the debt creation machine grinds to a halt for all the reasons you have discussed on this blog.

  89. I suspect a decent amount of your readership is already partially on this path. I buy very little in terms of consumer goods. I’m 64 and have never bought a car new off the lot. My latest, a Honda Fit, I got for $2,400. I needed it to comply with child support, but I rarely use it; I live in a small town on the Hudson where I can bicycle or walk to most places.
    I got my last computer for $100 from a systems admin at a local college. He gets all the outdated student Thinkpads and pops in a solid state drive.

    My one big consumer vice is bicycles–or more accurately, bicycle parts. I like to fix up and ride old bikes. I will get many parts off ebay, but I am a tire snob and I spend on good quality there–it makes the biggest difference in ride feel and performance. But I also sell them, so it really pays for itself. Also don’t go on vacations that require air travel or hotels.

    I get most of my clothing second hand, including raiding the brother who is a clothes horse. I used to own an antique store so I know how to buy and sell at flea markets, estates sales, etc. I haven’ purchased a new piece of furniture or really any household goods in over 30 years.

    My biggest expense is rent and utilities. I sold a nice little house when I got married. Not much you can do about that cost, and it is rising. My credit is shot due to a few eye operations where the deductibles and tests and all the auxiliary docs.

    I earn very little but I have squirreled away some cash. My question though, is, if the system is indeed on the brink, how much good will that cash do me, whether in a shoe box or in the bank? I’m not interested in buying gold, and I’m not sure what people will need other than food if the shelves do go bare, plus I have nowhere to store anything large. Any thoughts? I do have a full set of bicycle tools, figure I can make food money with repairs. I do have concerns for the next generation–my son is 14. I am putting in his head best I can not to go to college but to learn some kind of skillset or trade–electric, plumbing, welding. The Gen Z kids will be right in the eye of the storm.

  90. Thank you JMG,
    as we say here, you are preaching to the already converted. In my house we’ve always hold to anti-consumerism. I don’t know if we are being successful, we still need to buy stuff, and sometimes I think that we are still buying more than needed. But we like to buy second-handed, and durable stuff like good iron pans.
    Economist tell us that we are doing no good, since the money we are saving it’s money that is not creating jobs. Do you want jobs? Stop using diesel machines! Manual labor can feed the world, if the world is willing to accept living with less stuff.

    Nature aborrs vaccuum, so before we can live with less stuff we need to fill our souls with something else. Something that we can provide ourselves that fills our hearts with joy. Gardening and the three basic magical practices are filling that niche for me. I’m so glad to have started this path. This water causes no thirst.

  91. What I need to do is take some photos and put them up for sale secondhand for not very much money. That will solve that problem – I just need to get around to doing it and get over my attachment to that instrument which I loved dearly but has been unplayable for me for nearly 20 years now.

    Sometimes it isn’t physical objects that we’re spending time and money on – I’m studying recorder and voice, and finally came to the conclusion this week that I am trying to do way too much music and am burning out and potentially making my health worse, while spending a large portion of my income and accepting a bursary. I have pretty much decided to drop voice once the bursary runs out in the next couple of months and I’ve already dropped church choir because it got sideswiped by health issues and I could no longer make it work. I plan to just focus on the recorder for now. It will be less stressful, easier to handle with the health issues I’m having, and I won’t need the bursary so someone else can have that. Also will leave me time, energy and money to do other things.

    Maybe I’ll come back to studying voice once I’m not actively studying recorder all the time. I do enjoy and value it, and I’ve learned a lot that I now have available to use in all sorts of situations. I am just doing too much all at once.

  92. Good advice. We live in a building that we are a bit ashamed of, since it hasn’t been kept up very well and our neighbours like to dump garbage on the sidewalk, in spite of our efforts. We still pay much more rent than the apartment is worth, but less than most other places, and the localization allows us to live without a car. It is just possible that the difference might one day allow us to buy property and take the middleman out of even more parts of our life. The Bank of Canada has recently estimated that most younger Canadians will never own a house.

    One small quibble: at the beginning of your essay, a first-time or careless reader might be lead to think that a “free market” is the only society-wide remedy against lenocracy, when you have often stated (and even imply later in this essay) that a less monetary economy is even safer from that plague.

    It is a curious synchronicity that you mention ancient philosophers and Christians, since I have just finished reading Candida Moss’ The Myth of Persecution. Her main point is that systematic persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was rare (*) and that derision is not the same thing as persecution. In the course of that argument she does dwell a while on the constant slander about Christian (sexual) licentiousness and depravity. It makes an interesting counterpoint to your remarks about Christian self-control!

    She also discusses the rhetoric strategy of some Christians, such as Justin Martyr, to present Christianity as one more school of philosophy and therefore worthy of admiration rather than prosecution. In light of the book you cite, Justin’s strategy may have been weaker than he thought…

    (*) Prof. Moss clearly knows the sources very well, but the book is also a political pamphlet against the habit of Christian politicians and bishops in the USA and elsewhere to paint themselves as persecuted in the tradition of the early church. I actually agree with her feelings on this. However, she gets carried away by pamphlet-writing and stretches the historical evidence further than it will go, all in order to downplay the evidence for persecution before 250 AD. She also seems to sympathize strongly with the Roman administrators, maybe because they were establishment figures like her.

  93. Hi John Michael,

    One of the best ways to discover how valueless a valued item is, is to try and sell it. A real cold reality slap in the face that one.

    Yes. And that’s a good question which few people seem to want to ask themselves: Whose thoughts are we thinking? And what follows on from there is: Do we have the strength of mind and character to exercise our own will to our own ends? Hmm. A biggererest challenge huh? 🙂

    I’m glad you mentioned porn. If I had one piece of advice to give to the young (male or female), it would be to switch that off, walk away, and demand a higher price be paid for their lives.

    From what I’ve observed, most people seek a higher income. It’s quite rare for a person to comprehend, and then act upon, the option that they could achieve the exact same outcome, with far less work and sacrifice, by spending less. That’s a mystery to me, but then you did write about that.

    The whole problem with lenocracy is that it’s like a snowball tumbling down the mountain picking up material all the way, until it reaches the bottom and smashes a village. The funny thing is that the dark arts required to produce the current outcome, end up reflecting back upon the practitioners until that lot become trapped in a maze of their own making. That’s why it escalates, but eventually the village gets smooshed, don’t you reckon? It’s a weak and dangerous path.

    Speaking of walking away, you do know that is precisely what is going on in many countries now with the US trade and financial system, don’t you? Those other countries have looked at the costs imposed, noted that these exceeded the benefits, retaliation for non compliance was becoming far less likely, and so they’ve walked away. The costs imposed then return to the shores as made ’em. That’s behind the inflation, shoddy products and the empty shelves. It’ll only get worse. Sorry to say. Even now, compromises and agreements could be made to cushion the blow, but those dark arts are very weak, yet the pull the is strong, master.



  94. I tell people I have no car, no TV, no debt, and no worries. I’m in my early 80’s and never had a credit card until I was over 40. I paid the full amount due every month and have never paid any interest on it. My parents went through the Great Depression and I grew up on the stories they told so I learned from an early age to handle money wisely.
    But now I see the debt building up and it worries me. U.S. federal debt is now over US$34 Trillion and rising. That can’t go on much longer. Add the conflict in the Middle East, with the possibility of Iran shutting down the Strait of Hormuz if Israel attacks them, and the resulting rise in the price of oil will probably collapse the global, or at least Western, economy.
    I think we’re in for hard times and the ones who collapsed early will be the lucky ones.

  95. Books and music are the culprits for me. I do weed tbem and donate, or sell my music back to the record store on occasion. I try to buy the books I think will be useful later, and stuff I dont think the library will buy. In the past I got rid of books and music that later webt out of print, and I kind of regretted it, but at the same time I hope someone else is enjoying it now.

    In one of the apprentice modules for the Quareia course, apprentice section, there is a lesson on wants and needs. One of the practical exercises was to take something you cherish, and donate it anonymously to a charity shop. Part of the deeper lesson their is about preparing yourself for the greatet letting go that happens at the end of an incarnation. Josephine McCarthy suggests practicing tjis periodically.

    One of the things I always found thougj, was that when I weeded, it created space, literally and psychically, for new things to flow back in. I guess since Taoism has come up, part of this can be thought of as staying in the flow, and periodically purging. Clutter also seems to collect stagnant etheric energy. Its something I struggle with in terms of papers. Our weekly day for main chores and tidying helps, as does a periodic going through my papers. I do realize the past few years I dont have to print out as many drafts as I used to, which saves space and organizing later.

    One more tbought, my wife and I did a major purge a number of years ago and this lady came and bought all our old shot glasses, coffee cups and other accumulated stuff, in one go. We try to keep it so we dont have to do that as much. My wife always has a spot for things to take to the thrift store, sone of which we already got from there.

  96. When I read essays like this, I nearly kiss the ground of my new home in NH. It took too long to leave Seattle, but I’m here now. Even with a 40% pay cut, I’ve managed so far to eke out enough to get by. Today I spent my free time sketching a beautiful building downtown, just a 15 minute walk from my place. I’m making friends with local farmers. Co-workers are taking me to the range to teach me how to defend myself. It is a good place to thrive in these troubling times.

    I think I am also getting spiritual help here. I needed a suit for the Masons and I found a high-quality one at the Salvation Army that fit me perfectly. It turned out that it was a “half off on green tags” day and I paid $17.00 for it. Just as I was heading to the cashier, a song I love dearly played in the store.

    JMG, I think you will also be pleasantly surprised to hear that two men in their 30s just petitioned. I sense they are hungering for something solid and true. I hope those numbers increase.

  97. Hi John Michael,

    Thought you might get a chuckle from this bit of news: Joint Strike Fighter expansion plan facing axe under government defence reprioritisation

    The take away line for me was: “the government says delaying the planned retirement of Super Hornets means decisions on buying more F-35s can be put off and free up money for other priorities.”

    Not good. I told you the latest Top Gun film was good. The old planes used were probably better. 😉



  98. JMG, I don’t really have anything to comment, other than a most sincere thank you. That was great advice.

  99. I am reminded of the World Controller’s words from Brave New World.

    “There was a thing, as I’ve said before, called Christianity… The ethics and philosopy of underconsumption… So essential where there was underproduction; but in an age of machines and the fixation of nitrogen, positively a crime against society.” This paragraph was intercut with lines from the brainwashing audio that was played to children as they slept: “Ending is better than mending. Ending is better than mending.” and “I love new clothes, I love new clothes, I love…”

    Brave New World was published in 1932. Back then, here in the States at least, Christianity, conservatism and patriotism were increasingly being defined by anticommunism. Especially after WWII, conspicuous consumption, buying as many luxuries as you could and flashing them around, was a way of demonstrating how the vaunted free market provided for ordinary people and therefore was a blow against Godless Communism. Virtually the only elements left of the original Gospel teachings about the Christian lifestyle, aside from actual religious practices, were prudery and a sort of generic obligation to be kind. And both of those shrank to insignificance after the fall of the Soviet Union. Especially in the past 15 years or so, since Big Business has responded to the emptying-out of the churches by opting to switch the demographic they pander to, from the the family values believers to the pro-LGBT+ rights crowd, there are serious Christians swinging around to some degree of anti-consumerist position. Amish romance, a subgenre of Christian fiction, only came into existence in the late 1990s but has flourished to the point where you can find examples for sale in pretty much every superhighway rest stop in the Midwest and the Sunbelt.

    Meanwhile, the anti-consumerist left, distinguished by sexual liberation, bohemian personal style with some green features, and a preference for art over sports, continues to pursue a humble and low-expense lifestyle while some of them get their panties in a twist over the possibility that they might end up with some of these new “traddies” among their followers. There’s one I’ve run across on Tumblr from time to time who puts the word PENIS in big pink or green sparkly letters at the end of their posts about canning or crocheting so the Christians won’t reblog them.

  100. Writing my last comment prompted me to scan my shelves and get rid of 14 boojs, fic and nonfic…

    Marie Condos little book was useful too, but it can ve checked out from library ; )

  101. “….you’re already effectively much poorer than you were a few years ago and it’s only going to get worse.” I’m thankful I’ve reached the mindset where I can read that and go “Yeah, lol.”

  102. Teresa, I wonder if that might be an income source for your publishing firm. A few old thrift books updated a bit for current conditions might find a definite place in the market!

    Arthur, well, better late than never. I wonder if you’d consider writing a book about the gimmicks that are used in the advertising industry to sell useless products; it might help some people figure things out a little sooner.

    A Reader, no doubt. 😉

    Quin, thanks for this as always,

    KVD, a definite synchronicity — not least because in most decks, though not in that one, the two small figures who are chained to the devil’s pedestal are bound so loosely that they could extract themselves if they wanted to. It’s a worthwhile hint.

    Monk, and that’s no accident, of course. Any refusal to consume is a lethal threat to the system.

    DropBear, I’ll pass that on to the next leech I see. 😉

    Clay, yep. That’s the Red Queen’s race I mentioned.

    Markorolo, when the system starts coming unglued the dollar will be among the first things to go; I expect a lot of inflation from here on in, and Weimar-style hyperinflation is a possibility. Your bicycle skills are your strength; if there are any other skills you can add to your knowledge base by spending a little money now, that’s worth doing.

    Abraham, glad to hear it. As for the economists, that’s good to know. They’re always wrong — see how many economists you can find who made an accurate prediction in the last century — so if they say you’re doing no good, why, you must be doing plenty of good.

    Pygmycory, and that’s also an issue. As you point out, one can buy too many experiences too!

    Aldarion, granted, but I didn’t want to start the post with a half dozen explanatory paragraphs about means of exchange, not least because we’ll be talking about that in the future. As for the book by the improbably named Candida Moss, it’s hard to find any recent work of history that isn’t mostly partisan polemic — another reason I mostly read books by dead people.

    Chris, a whole sequence of excellent points! The issue with income is particularly telling, because you’re right — it’s almost always easier to cut your expenditures than it is to increase your income, and the results are the same. It’s the sneaky option. 😉 As for the United States — why, yes. It’s gonna get ugly.

    Annette, that’s exactly why I’ve been urging people to collapse ahead of the rush. Trying to do it while the rush is happening is going to be a real bear.

    Justin, I get that. By and large I only get books that I know I’m going to need sometime soon, but that’s not always an easy discipline for me!

    Jon, that doesn’t surprise me at all, though it’s good to hear. A lot of jurisdictions are having younger guys join for that precise reason.

    Chris, a very sensible move. Now if they can avoid buying the rest of the overpriced military junk the US wants to sell them!

    Bruno, you’re most welcome.

    Joan, the thing that Huxley never realized was that industrialism could only win a temporary victory over scarcity. The machines and the fixation of nitrogen were only possible because of breakneck consumption of irreplaceable fossil fuel reserves, and once those are gone, it’ll be a good 100 million years before any species can do the same thing again. Of course he wasn’t alone — it’s astounding to me how few people still don’t notice that industrialism is simply a way to turn resources into waste at the fastest possible rate!

    Justin, good to hear!

    Croatoan, it’s a good mindset to have, and will be even more helpful as the jaws of our predicament tighten around the industrial system.

  103. “To keep the system from imploding, you and everyone else have to be kept in a perpetual state of frustrated craving, forever buying things that don’t do what their marketing claims they will do.”

    This sounds like a good description of Hell, or at least of its Greek counterpart, Tartarus. In fact, this reminds me a lot of the punishment of King Tantalus, who was forced to stand in water up to his neck and right under the branch of a fruit tree. When he tried to eat some fruit, the boughs would go higher, and the water would flow away when he tried to drink. That’s the consumer economy in a nutshell — temptation without satisfaction.

  104. “The point of advertising is to whip up artificial desires, and then shroud some shoddy piece of consumer trash with a fog of delusions that insist that it and it alone can satisfy those desires.”

    That used to be the point of advertising. In recent years, the only point of advertising is to show us that George Soros is so powerful that, if he wants to spend $36 billion to make it mandatory that black women be in every single commercial and advertisement, he can do it. I quit watching TV a few years ago because I won’t be forced by Soros to look at the endless “women-of-color-mercials.” Nothing against black women, but they are 7% of the US population, not 99%.

  105. Yep, that was pretty much what I expected. Well written.

    Back in 2008, Bruce Sterling wrote “The Last Viridian Note” in which he gave excellent advice on how to de-clutter, what to dispose of, what to keep, and why we should have some things. (And it has a lovely rant on why one should own a multitool). Well worth reading, back then, and still now. I have been following his advice ever since. Especially about beds.
    His was one of a number of writers I’ve read over the years who advise, not hair-shirt poverty, but definitely avoiding becoming enslaved by a need to have stuff. George Carlin had a comedy bit on it, and Seneca wrote about not becoming a slave to having stuff, and in several discourses, Epictetus ridicules the spiritual poverty of rich people who think they need more.
    Your essay is a fine addition to the corpus.

    Timely Data point that ties into this, and last week’s post:
    Last Saturday (13 April), the Globe & Mail had a spread on the ‘growth’ of the federal bureaucracy in Canada. Since 2015, we have gone from just over 7 bureaucrats per 1000 citizens to just over 9/1000. The last time it was this bloated was under Trudeau Sr. Just pure coincidence that this comes out at the same time you are writing these essays, I’m sure.

    Another data point:
    Four School Boards in Ontario are suing the big social media companies because… the kids, lost in their “smart” phones are so hooked on social media that they have become unable to learn.

    Fun factoid:
    Charles F. Kettering, the Vice President of Ford Motor Co. wrote a piece in 1929, “Keeping the Consumer Dissatisfied.” He didn’t mean building bad cars that wore out too quickly (they hadn’t got there yet), he meant creating a craving for a new car every year. It seems in 1919, the company saw sales drop to almost going out of business levels. The found out that, pretty much everyone who was likely to buy a car, had already bought one and didn’t need another. So they introduced the new model every year with a few, mostly cosmetic, changes and a new name, and then got PR flacks like Eddie Bernays to convince the general public that they really needed the newest model and it was so unfashionable to be caught driving a car 5 years old. And thus engaged citizens gradually became mere consumers.


  106. JMG,

    I’m afraid that you are mistaken about Huxley. He certainly did know that progress and industrialization could only win a temporary reprieve against scarcity. From Pount Counterpoint 1928(typos, from the online source) so feel free to edit or not to post, but the full quote is worth reading at least once:

    I ’m not interested in money,’ he now repeated.

    Illidge, who had approached and was hovering in the
    neighbourhood, waiting for an opportunity to address
    the Old Man, overheard the remark and exploded with
    inward laughter. ‘ These rich ! ’ he thought. * These
    bloody rich ! * They were all the same.

    ‘ But if not for your own sake,’ Webley insisted,
    attacking from another quarter, ‘ for the sake of civiliza-
    tion, of progress.’

    Lord Edward started at the word. It touched a
    trigger, it released a flood of energy. ‘ Progress ! ’ he
    echoed, and the tone of misery and embarrassment was
    exchanged for one of confidence. ‘ Progress ! You
    politicians arc always talking about it. As though it
    were going to last. Indefinitely. More motors, more
    babies, more food, more advertising, more money, more
    everything, for ever. You ought to take a few lessons
    in my subject. Physical biology. Progress, indeed !
    What do you propose to do about phosphorus, for
    example ? ’ His question was a personal accusation.

    ‘ But all this is entirely beside the point,* said Webley

    * On the contrary,* retorted Lord Edward, * it *s the
    only point.* His voice had become loud and severe.
    He spoke with a much more than ordinary degree of
    coherence. Phosphorus had made a new man of him ;
    he felt very strongly about phosphorus and, feeling


    strongly, he was strong. The worried bear had become
    the worrier. ‘ With your intensive agriculture,’ he went
    on, ‘ you ’re simply draining the soil of phosphorus.
    More than half of one per cent, a year. Going clean out
    of circulation. And then the way you throw away
    hundreds of thousands of tons of phosphorus pentoxide
    in your sewage ! Pouring it into the sea. And you call
    that progress. Your modern sewage systems ! ’ His
    tone was witheringly scornful. ‘ You ought to be putting
    it back where it came from. On the land.’ Lord
    Edward shook an admonitory finger and frowned.
    ‘ On the land, I tell you.’

    ‘ But all this has nothing to do with me,’ protested

    ‘ Then it ought to,’ Lord Edward answered sternly.
    * That ’s the trouble with you politicians. You don’t
    even think of the important things. Talking about
    progress and votes and Bolshevism and every year
    allowing a million tons of phosphorus pentoxide to run
    away into the sea. It ’s idiotic, it ’s criminal, it ’s . . .
    it *s fiddling while Rome is burning.’ He saw Webley
    opening his mouth to speak and made haste to anticipate
    what he imagined was going to be his objection. ‘ No
    doubt,’ he said, ‘ you think you can make good the loss
    with phosphate rocks. But what ’ll you do when the
    deposits arc exhausted ? ’ He poked Everard in the
    shirt front. ‘ What then ? Only two hundred years
    and they ’ll be finished. You think we ’re being
    progressive because we ’re living on our capital
    Phosphates, coal, petroleum, nitre — squander them
    all. That ’s your policy. And meanwhile you go
    round trying to make our flesh creep with talk about

    ‘ But damn it all,’ said Webley, half angry, half
    amused, * your phosphorus can wait. This other


    danger imminent. Do you want a political and
    social revolution ? *

    * Will it reduce the population and check production ? *
    asked Lord Edward.

    * Of course/

    * Then certainly I want a revolution.^ The Old Man
    thought in terms of geology and was not afraid of logical
    conclusions. * Certainly/ Illidgc could hardly contain
    his laughter.

    ‘ Well, if that ’s your view . . began Webley ; but
    Lord Edward interrupted him.

    ‘ The only result of your progress,* he said, * will be
    that in a few generations there *11 be a real revolution —
    a natural, cosmic revolution. You *rc upsetting the
    equilibrium. And in the end, nature will restore it.
    And the process will be very uncomfortable for you.
    Your decline will be as quick as your rise. Quicker,
    because you *11 be bankrupt, you *11 have squandered
    your capitaU It takes a rich man a little time to realize
    all his resources. But when they *ve all been rezdized, it
    takes him almost no time to starve.*

  107. A shorter version of the quote, but much more legible:

    … Lord Edward started at the word. It touched a trigger, it released a flood of energy. “Progress!” he echoed and the tone of misery and embarrassment was exchanged for one of confidence. “Progress! You politicians are always talking about it. As though it were going to last. Indefinitely. More motors, more babies, more food, more advertizing, more money, more everything, forever. You ought to take a few lessons in my subject. Physical biology. Progress indeed! What do you propose to do about phosphorus, for example?” His question was a personal accusation.

    “But all this is entirely beside the point,” said Webley impatiently.

    “On the contrary,” retorted Lord Edward, “it’s the only point.” His voice had become loud and severe. He spoke with a much more than ordinary degree of coherence. Phosphorus made a new man of him; he felt very strongly about phosphorus and, feeling strongly, he was strong. The worried bear had become the worrier. “With your intensive agriculture,” he went on, “you’re simply draining the soil of phosphorus. More than half of one per cent a year. Going clean out of circulation. And then the way you throw away hundreds of thousands of tons of phosphorus pentoxide in your sewage! Pouring it into the sea. And you call that progress. Your modern sewage systems!” His tone was witheringly scornful. “You ought to be putting it back where it came from. On the land.” Lord Edward shook an admonitory finger and frowned. “On the land, I tell you.”

    “But all this has nothing to do with me,” progrested Webley.

    “Then it ought to,” Lord Edward answered sternly. “That’s the trouble with you politicians. You don’t even think of the important things. Talking about progress and votes and Bolshevism and every year allowing a million tons of phosphorus pentoxide to run away into the sea. It’s idiotic, it’s criminal. it’s … it’s fiddling while Rome is burning.” He saw Webley opening his mouth to speak and made haste to anticipate what he imagined was going to be his objection. “No doubt,” he said, “you think you can make good the loss with phosphate rocks. But what’ll you do when the deposits are exhausted?” He poked Everard in the shirt front. “What then? Only two hundred years and they’ll be finished. You think we’re being progressive because we’re living on our capital. Phosphates, coal, petroleum, nitre – squander them all. That’s your policy. And meanwhile you go round trying to make our flesh creep with talk about revolutions.”

  108. Ecosophian, yep. And people go there willingly.

    Jay, what’s happened is that the powerful have forgotten the point of the levers by which they used to exercise their power. Soros’s manipulation of the system is a display of embarrassing incompetence, and it’s not alone — that’s why so many people are losing all trust in the political and economic institutions of American life.

    Renaissance, thanks for this. The accusation of hair-shirt poverty is one I chuckle at from time to time, not least because my life is rather more comfortable than those of many people who let themselves be lured into slavery to consumerism.

    Team10tim, and yet the whole argument of Brave New World depends on an ignorance of the hard limits to industrialism — which was of course my point.

  109. On the surface I look like an upwardly mobile corporate tech worker. Dig a little deeper and me and my wife have adopted a lot of “alternative” lifestyle choices.

    We practice NFP. A large part of that is we’re (trying to be) good Catholics, but the decreased reliance on the medical system was a nice side benefit. We’re not preachy at all about it, and yet have gotten insensitive and, frankly, insulting remarks from friends and family – I quote, “you can use contraception and be a Good Catholic ™ you know?” I’m like, nobody asked you and it’s none of your business.

    We homeschool. It helps that the movement has recently become somewhat mainstream. Contrary to stereotypes, our motivation for doing so is not religious or cultural. The pandemic hit when our eldest was about to enter preschool, we tried “online class” and found it to be an unmitigated disaster, and then we tried homeschooling which worked way better than we expected. Both my wife and I work full-time jobs, mind you, granted we do the sort of thing that can be done on the computer remotely. And then quickly comes the realization that regular “school” is, to put it very charitably, massively inefficient. We get a lot of questions about how well the kids are socialized if they’re not attending school. There was this one party where my two young daughters stayed at the door and enthusiastically welcomed every person coming inside. The host, my wife’s aunt, is one of those who keep asking us about the socialization. She noticed the girls greeting people and remarked to my wife how friendly they were. My wife said to her, “they’re homeschooled, auntie!”

    I drive a 22-year-old car. Admittedly I’m a bit of a car buff and am not completely immune to the temptation of car advertising. Every now and then I’d see a new minivan and toy with the idea of buying it. I’d spend weeks reading and watching reviews from both professionals and owners. Then, I’d end up *not* buying it. Then the wife will ask why I keep looking into this and not actually making a purchase. The answer is the same, always: “The car still works very well, and I like not having a car payment more than I’m bothered by the old car’s minor rattles and less-optimal fuel consumption especially given that we don’t even drive a lot.”

    At the very least, spending judiciously on a certain class of consumer crap gives me more resources to spend more on other consumer crap I like better, right? Like, spend less on the car, spend more on video games, let’s say. Then again, I have a Playstation 4 and a library of games that’s a hand-me-down from my brother who upgraded to a gaming laptop, and I almost only ever buy used or on-sale, so it’s not like I spend a lot of money on THAT either!

    What really strikes me is how people around me really feel judged by these alternative lifestyle choices. It’s one thing that they’re puzzled or find it strange, but they think I’m not living life well or maybe that I’m even a bad person. And the solution always tends to be… drumroll… live life more like they do and make the same generic consumerist choices.

  110. You are in good company, JMG….“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
    ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

  111. I’ve been lurking since back when this was the Archdruid Report, but this post finally moved me to say something.

    To me, this is a fairly old line of thought, popularized by AdBusters magazine about thirty years ago.

    There’s one thing to criticize in it, which is distilled by an Elizabeth Warren speech back from 2007 ( It argues from government statistics that inflation-adjusted spending on the usual consumerist suspects has actually been dropping. The reason people are earning more but falling out of the middle class is the basics, stuff it is hard to remain employable without, like houses, cars and health care.

    (Warren was the one I cheered for in the last competitive Democratic primary, completely on the strength of that speech. I could only offer cheers as I live in Canada. Pity she was on the old side when she finally ran, so we’ll never see her try again.)

    When I first saw that, I reflected on it and came to a theory that “Anti-consumerism” can actually count as an variation on “opiate of the masses”. Normally when people think of that term, they think of religions that preach that the great suffering of the world is actually a test, and that struggling against it will damn you since it usually pains others further. But there’s another kind of “opiate”, which preaches that one’s suffering now is just one’s recent sins reflected back. By choosing a sin where the victim would rather stop complaining than stop “offending”, it provides a way for evil preachers to stifle the complaints.

    In religion, the sins are usually sexual. In anti-consumerism, the sin is enjoying popular media. The logic is “you can’t balance your budget because you can’t control your spending. You can’t control your spending because you watch ads. You watch ads because you watch TV (and etc.). Until you give up the boob tube (and etc.), your suffering is your own fault!”.

    Although if some conspiracy did deliberately set this up, it has now exploded in their face. Accurately removing ads from old-school television is hard, even with today’s technology. Removing ads from the internet is fairly easy. The chain of guilt is broken because we can now enjoy advertising-supported content without supporting the advertising.

    And because I accept the anti-consumerist argument that advertising is bad for me and bad for the world, it means I feel zero guilt about the impact on media of myself using maximum adblocking all the time. If someone whines about it, I say “What do you assume about the strength of the last-ditch adblock within my brain? If you think I’m bulletproof, then letting the ads through will increase your impressions sold without increasing sales, and advertisers will notice and reduce your pay per impression to compensate, while I suffer pointlessly. If you think I’m susceptible, then you would gain only a sliver of the money I would lose, and third parties will lose also. And sorry, but I don’t love you enough to just hand that sliver over.”

    This weed a conspiracy may have planted in my head has turned into a hedge that loves to prick them.

  112. We must be on the same wavelength as I have recently published some of my thoughts on money. I use Dave Ramsey as an example of how NOT to be — sure, some of his advice is good, but he is the financial advisor version of a televangelist. Basically if the only reason you’re saving money is to become filthy rich like Dave Ramsey or John Paul Getty, you will end up bitten by the Wendigo and it will be an endless chase. I’m not so sure you’ll get pushback on this essay. As you have said, JMG, wind is changing. My adult student went to an open mic last night and he said almost every single musician was doing folk music. Usually it’s all blues and pop with a little rap and has been for 10 years at this particular open mic. Beyoncé’s latest album was in the country genre and it has been doing rather well. I have noticed that it’s not so shameful to come out and say “I have $200 in savings and thousands of dollars in credit card debt that I took on as a matter of survival”. Nobody cares anymore because everyone is pretty much in that boat. It’s quickly becoming more shameful nowadays to be a conspicuous consumer — there are actually influencers going out of their way to appear poorer than they actually are. As we speak, certain celebrities are being cancelled over their clueless elitism. As far as minimalism, I am a fan. Absolutely pare it down, but I would like to warn people not to get rid of their old books, especially non-fiction of a pragmatic nature such as books on philosophy, gardening, old fashioned skills, or sustainability. The publishing industry has already collapsed and libraries are collapsing due to grift and lack of funds. Many books will never make it to eBook form and those that do will always depend on cheap, subsidized internet servers (soon to be a thing of the past) for their distribution.
    Books may seem worthless now but give it 20-40 years. They will be worth their weight in gold and rubies. If worst comes to worst, you can sell them then. Minimize away, but keep your books, especially rare and obscure ones that never hit the mass market or anything with lavish illustrations.

  113. No screaming here. This essay actually made feel good, because for some reason, I’ve been living the life you suggest for a while now.

    I played the credit card debt game in my 20’s. At one point I realized I was paying $300 a month in interest, and I thought, “Man, if I had an extra $300/month!” It was tough, but I pinched every penny for a few years to pay it off and I’m never borrowing money again. Cash on the barrelhead, or I can’t afford it. Of course, you can afford more if that $300 a month is accumulating instead of vanishing.

    Also, I moved here 34 years ago to go to school and I’m still here. Like, in the same small apartment. It didn’t take long to figure out that, even if it’s free, I probably don’t have room for it. It’s sort of like a backpack; everything is needed and has a purpose (although I guess we could argue about all the books I have).

    I feel like I’ve been waiting for the axe to fall my whole life. I never thought about it until just now, but I wonder if maybe in a past life I experienced The Great Depression. That’s what I seem to expect, but still waiting, I guess. Much to think about.

  114. I’d add travel and tourism, and to an extent sports, as a way to keep people distracted from what’s going on and enslaved to the system. It doesn’t feel like “consumerism”, because it’s not “stuff”, but it works according to the same logic and has a similar economic and environmental impact. It also serves the same function of satisfying externally-induced, never ending cravings, and of conspicuous consumption to show off your status to others.
    Also, people that travel a lot usually don’t put as much effort into improving their daily lives and their own communities or into taking care of their families, friends, environment. You have time off and you don’t use it to make the world a better place, but to “see” it for your own enjoyment, no matter the impact.

    The problem with living with less, as suggested here, which is something I personally totally embrace, is that it can make you lonely in a hyper consumerist society. You might be able to find a few like-minded people, but I’ve lost many friends and strained many relationships because I either can’t/won’t keep up with activities that consume a lot of money and resources, or because people feel implicitly judged by my refusal to do so.

  115. JMG,

    I came across this concept of Hedonic Treadmill, or Hedonic Adaptation. It refers to the human tendency to quickly get accustomed to new experiences – good or bad. Whether it is about buying a shiny new gadget, or the loss of a loved one, the intense feeling of happiness or grief does not last forever. It wears off quite soon, and humans tend to return to more or less the same mental state before.

    It does seem that this is a trait humans have evolved to be able to cope with the vagaries of life – wars, disasters, diseases and famines happened all too often in human history. The ability to quickly get up, dust oneself off and carry on with life is key to survival when each day can bring new troubles.

    Unfortunately, while this is a useful adaptation in times of misery, it becomes a danger during good times. Each new, good sensory experience only increases the craving for more, and people become caught up in a vicious spiral. Yesterday’s novelty becomes today’s “New Normal”.

    One antidote to hedonic treadmill is to get off it from time to time. Deprive yourself of the pleasant experiences at intervals. That “resets” our brain to return to the original expectation. That is probably one reason why traditional religions mandated holy periods of fasting or limited diet (Lent, Ramadan, Hindu Vratas etc), abstinence and obligatory pilgrimages even for the lay people. It will keep people grounded and content with what they have, rather than endlessly pursuing novelties.

    Here is some research by a Marketing professor (!) about how “interrupted consumption” intensifies subsequent experience.

  116. This post is oddly well timed in my world, which I suppose isn’t unexpected given the topic. On Magic Monday this week there was a comment about the disordered and conflicting desires that make up most of what most of us “want”.

    That thread hit me hard as I’ve been in existential crisis for the last 4-5 years about this very issue. And it turns out that said crisis is not unrelated to this matter of cancerous intermediation.

    My one consumerist vice is real printed books, but having only so much space in a small home, even that’s tapered off over the last decade. I do feel the sting of that decision in some of the objections you list at the end of this article. But in another way it’s comforting that I’m further along this path of counter-attack, and less bothered by the downsides, than the average bear.

    Your idea about the “pimpocracy” is both hilarious and stone-cold accurate in one blow. I don’t know if this was mentioned or if you’ve seen these already, but two other pieces in this vein came to my attention since you posted two weeks ago:

    One is by Richard Werner concerning the pimps of the central banks:

    The other is a piece in RT about the collapse of empires by way of over-financialization:

    Both seem to be, indirectly and less humorously, discussing parallel ideas.

  117. @Clay Dennis #67: ” EPA approved control agents” as a prudent preventative measure. I expect the cumulative effect of all the homeowners doing this to be very bad on the insect populations.

    Yep but unfortunately it ain’t just insect population that it’s going to be very bad on. Humans are not immune to our own grotesque damage I get that this is a controversial and correlation != causation, but we’re seeing colorectal and other cancers blasting into the stratosphere, blood clots, strokes, endocrine disruption (low testosterone, low male and female fertility), rising various DSM V conditions, etc. I suspect it’s a combination of insectides, all the antibiotics and crap they inject into meat, fertilizer run-off, tire particulates, and micro-nanoplastics causing cumulative impacts. I’ve met way too many people under 45 who’ve had to undergo colorectal cancer treatment (and some who didn’t make it). We’re going to be in for some hellish health crises the coming years.

    But yeah I’ll second that I’ve noticed massive plummeting of insects, birds, and mammals here in California. Very eerie. I used to be waken up to chirping birds at the crack of dawn every day and nary a peep now. Everyone is already very aware of the “windshield effect” where you couldn’t drive across the northwest without having to clean your windshield every gas station, and now nary a splatter. The silent spring is coming, and the ramifications through the food chain are going to be awful.

    Thankfully we have fossil fuels and the haber-bosch processes 😉 Who needs animals when we have mega-mono agriculture after all, the frozen pizzas will flow.

  118. John, thanks for the gold star. It means a lot. The most amazing thing that I’ve discovered upon getting into occult philosophy is how profoundly asleep I was before I got into it. I remember the world being bright and interesting when I was younger but I lost that over time and experienced a ‘brain fog’ for years. When I got into occult philosophy, that brain fog began to dissipate and I feel awake again. Thank you for helping me to wake up.

  119. John Adams said, “The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people, a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations.” Your suggestion is a great way for us to effect changes in our own minds and hearts.

  120. JMG,
    Not directly related to this week’s topic, but it seems we have more Caesar-aspirants releasing trial balloons. The most recent entrant is Jamie Dimon, the billionaire CEO of JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the USA. It is too early to tell, but he seems to be the latest in the elite class who has seen the writing on the wall, and figured out that opportunistically riding the populist movement’s coattails is the safest option. I expect more like him to jump ship and leave the lenocrats twisting in the wind.

    Jamie Dimon says the ‘frayed American dream’ can only be fixed in 2 ways: Bridging the skills gap and paying people more

    Jamie Dimon: Trump was right about key issues and bashing MAGA will hurt Biden

  121. In a kind of coincidence i just finished the book “Early Retirement Extreme” by Jacob Lund Fisker. There is so much overlap to this blogpost. I strongly recommend this (free) webpage to the readers, for some inspiration:
    On the left side you find the “21 days makeover”. That will give you some ideas.

    On a personal note: In the spirit of my upcoming midlife-crisis, I realized that I am locked in (house/apartment, credit/mortgage, family, job etc). Why couldn’t I have gotten these ideas 20 years earlier? So my actual challenge is, to break a few spokes out of the hamster wheel without smashing the whole thing (Like: divorce, job loss, etc. all together). On the productive side I stumbled upon baking sourdough bread and fermenting vegetables, and I enjoy it. It does not save much money, but it is a subversive DIY activity. And its tasty.


  122. Another literary reference, this time with regard to your comments about philosophers: Tom Wolfe’s novel “A Man in Full” develops the theme of philosophy-having-an-influence very movingly: a man in prison accidentally gets hold of a book on the Stoics; the ideas in it transform his life and he in turn passes the ideas on…

  123. What a funny coincidence this is. This book turned up in the mail today. The theme couldnt be more appropriate.

    How to Say No: An Ancient Guide to the Art of Cynicism

    My parents always did a good job of highlighting the different between a need and a want. That can be a very good tool for saying “no”. Because of that there has never been much in the way of needless things in the house. It also means life is fairly comfortable despite earning below average. The funniest thing is when folks wonder “How do you live without a car?”. Well Im 40 now and perfectly happy. I guess I just do, just isnt something that I ever really think about. You cannot fall out of bed if you sleep on the floor.

  124. Dear JMG,

    Recently I had to use affirmations to heal a burn. As a long time reader of your works I realized the importance proper wording. I moved past “I will heal quickly and cleanly,” to “I am healing quickly and cleanly.” That is a subtle difference. For the record, it worked.

    “Will” is one of the most over-burdened words in the English language; I have pondered it (meditated, as you put it!) for years. Will as agency, will as intention, will as desire… Whilst I see the importance of Will in your teachings I also see that “willing” (desiring) is very different than “being.”

    “Wanting to heal” is different from actually “healing.” “Wanting to be a rock star” is very different from picking up a guitar and playing, practicing, improving. “Wanting to write the great American novel” is not the same as putting pen to paper. Will (desire) is a present statement of a future target state, and on its own does not achieve that goal.

    This lead me to the realization that the mad drive of wants and desires evidenced in the consumer culture may perhaps be a means used to prevent realization. If everyone merely “wants” (desires) to be happy, healthy, wealthy, loved than they will not take the actual steps necessary, will not make the changes required, will not put in the actual work to “be” happy, healthy, wealthy, lovable.

    Perhaps our one-track minds can only do one thing at a time: we can desire, or we can achieve. If the powers that be keep us merely desiring than we will never break their bonds.

    I know this now and have dared to will it. I guess I better shut up!

    Thank you,

  125. Longtime lurker, first-time commenter. I appreciate the semantic side of the coinage lenocracy, but I keep wanting to change the outward form of the word from lenocracy to mastropocracy, from Greek μαστροπός mastropos ‘pimp, procuress’, so that word is Greek + Greek, and not a chimaera made up of Latin + Greek. And the stem of Latin leno is lenon-, which also makes lenocracy awkward as ‘pimp power-system’. However, lenocracy would be well-formed if from ληνός ‘trough’ (as for livestock), which in a way would be an apposite description of the system it describes… There, now I’ve vented. Thank you for all you do.

  126. My favourite response to climate change hand wringing is to advise folks to
    “Do less, with less”.
    Snappy and to the point. It doesn’t get much love ;-).
    I think the main resistance is down to each person’s ‘less’ requiring some serious introspection. Many are so utterly lost inside modern consumer culture it is hard to find the stars to guide you, or hear that small quiet voice telling you what you value enough to motivate and sustain doing without.
    The other confounding factor is family and friends. If your loved ones aren’t ready to voluntarily simplify you can’t impose the lifestyle change on them, and rational argument won’t do it as I have found to my cost.

  127. I looked at the LCS on the internet out of curiosity, and wow, it really is a shameful story! It occurs to me that they can be fairly called the LITERAL combat sh?!:t 😉

  128. Dear JMG and Kommentariat, after reading this week post, I think I need to check my storeroom as soon as possible…Consumption society in my country exists too, of course, although is weaker than in the USA (I think so). We are consumption slaves.

  129. Dear JMG,

    somewhat off this particular topic perhaps – I saw that you’d written a book titled ‘The Wealth of Nature’ in 2010-2011 and i would like to ask if you’re planning a similar work with all your possible newer insights gathered during the last decade.

    thank you

  130. I heard an item on the radio last week discussing a social media trend, the buy less challenge. Basically only buying essentials for a set period. The guest economist rebuttal boiled down to keep buying stuff or you will destroy the economy and meeting at friends houses isn’t really socialising.
    Cue lots of eye rolling!

  131. >I know all the tricks to get people to buy stuff they don’t need

    It only works if you watch the TV. If you don’t watch it, all those billions go to waste on you. Here’s another way someone else put it a few years ago. A TV show costs what to make? A few million? Divide that by the typical audience size and you’ve got an imputed amount of money that someone is just walking up and handing over to you, if you’re watching the show.

    They’re not doing that out of the goodness of their heart. And they’re hoping to get that money back from you and then some. And they’ve gotten very very good at it.

  132. Just yesterday someone shared a video clip with me of a Congressman (didn’t recognize the name) grilling someone from the DoD in some recent Congressional hearing. The Congressman was holding a bag of steel bushings in his hand and asked the DoD guy if he knew what the military pays for a bag of such bushings. He then answered his own rhetorical question and said it was $90,000 !!

  133. In trying to get rid of belongings, I find the legends of the Great Depression, in which every old shirt and broken lamp is frugally saved and reused, much more of an impediment than the commercial shouts of the hucksters. I’m pretty immune to the appeal of the latest gadget, but I find it awfully hard to throw away a can of old paint.

  134. Mr.Greer
    These last two essays were needed. I felt the same way – however just one small detail. Its not a disagreement. I wholeheartedly agree with the two essays.
    The one part i have contention with is “Our self-anointed overlords and their corporate flacks don’t rely quite so heavily on raw biological cravings as their Roman equivalents did…”
    Not only Lenocracy must rely on such, it is the fundamental basis on how Lenocracy is formed and maintained. “Genuine Desire can not be Negotiated”
    Lenocracy does not allow Desire to be fulfilled – especially when it comes to relationships between the sexes. And whenever their is a Leno there is a donna who runs the whorehouse. 3,000 prostitutes each time the world economic counsel arrives at Davos?

  135. Well in the spirit of decluttering would anyone (in the Continental US) like me to ship them Issues#1-5 of New Maps? All the short stories were great and I’d like to share them with someone who’d be interested rather then have them languish unloved in a free library box or on my bookshelf. Contact me at: garrettp21 1 ((at)) yahoo ([dot]) com

  136. >keep buying stuff or you will destroy the economy

    Not directly. It’s refusal to take on debt (or the inability to borrow) that will destroy the economy. They don’t really care what you’re spending the borrowed money on, as long as you’re borrowing the money. Actually, thinking about it a bit further, it’s probably going to be the destruction of credit through hyperinflation that will do it. It’s going to be another “gun, meet foot” moment.

  137. Hey JMG – as always, a fine post. I lagged well behind the curve in the topic of Decline when it comes to the “people factor”, or cognitive dissonance. This post reminds me of one you made a number of years ago relating the venom and pushback a couple received for simply wanting to dress up like in Victorian age – as if that’s a crime. I thought at the time that was pretty odd, but has turned out to be quite true, as I’ve observed more of that the last decade, and especially during the pandemic. That is, the programming demanding behavior complying to the official narratives. Most don’t even know they’re doing it.

    As for “the only winning move is not to play”, I first recall that from the movie “War Games” back in the 1980s. Apparently those words of wisdom can be applied in other areas beside global thermonuclear war…..

    @SR # 35 – yes, the American dollar sure seems to be evolving into Monopoly money. It’s really difficult to predict what will happen with “wealth” across the globe, but I suspect a partial “Great Reset” of some sort, and a giant deflationary credit collapse to reduce the measured value of many assets. At the same time, real costs of food, energy and other necessities will rise, giving us a weird stagflation. I say weird, as it won’t be the same as what we had in the 1970s. One of the best options is to invest in your own skills, and be flexible to a dynamic system as the economy of consumerism and infinite growth morphs into the economy of frugality and contraction. Best guess is that almost all of us will become poorer in material wealth, but the ones who lose the least and are mentally prepared for it will have a better chance to thrive.

  138. Carlos, I’m beginning to wonder if the reason people get so judgmental about alternative life choices is that they’re miserable in their consumer lifestyles, but they’re constantly being told by the media that those lifestyles are the only way to be happy. That causes cognitive dissonance, and encountering someone who isn’t playing the game makes that dissonance too intense to stand.

    Pyrrhus, I probably got the idea from reading Thoreau many years ago.

    Michael, yes, I’m familiar with that argument. It only works if you assume that “housing,” “cars,” “health care,” et al. are utterly inflexible costs. Au contraire, many people can live in a smaller and cheaper place than they do, many people can drive a cheaper car than they do, and the vast majority of health care expenditure in the US is pure lenocracy — that’s a core reason why so many Americans are abandoning mainstream medical care these days for alternative methods, which are far cheaper and routinely have fewer nasty side effects and better patient outcomes. I note also that you left food out of your list; that’s one I’ve talked about here before, not least because a great many people can eat better on less money, so long as they’re willing to ignore the advice of their soi-disant betters. More broadly, it’s a mistake to divide expenditures into necessities and fripperies, and then assume that there’s no wiggle room in either category; in many cases, you can spend much less on necessities than you do, and in many cases, it’s possible to find ways to have the occasional frippery for little or no money. As for adblockers, I certainly use one, but advertising isn’t the only problem with media-ted experience; I’ll be getting to that in a future post.

    Kimberly, I’m glad to hear that. Wind is changing indeed.

    Slink, thank you for this! I know the feeling, except I’ve known for a very long time that this kind of axe takes a very long time to fall.

    Gaia, agreed on all counts! Travel, tourism, and sports were included in my reference to experiences that aren’t worth experiencing in the post. As for loneliness, I get that; I’ve been wondering for a while now if it’s time to start trying to arrange more non-virtual interactions for those of us on the Ecosophian fringe.

    Ramaraj, hmm! Thank you for this concept; I’d encountered it before but you’re right that it’s crucially important in the current context, and I hadn’t realized that.

    Matt, I get the impression that a lot of people are having such thoughts right now. That fascinates me.

    Enjoyer, you’re most welcome on both accounts. I know the feeling of blinking awake — that’s one of the extraordinary gifts of occultism.

    Greg, thank you for the quote! It’s a fine summary of a crucial issue, which I mean to develop in upcoming posts.

    Anonymuz, fascinating. If Dimon’s a bellwether for the attitudes of the kleptocratic rich, it’s just possible that they may be realizing how enthusiastically they’re running toward their own doom, and make some course corrections. Whether those will be soon enough or significant enough to matter is another question, of course.

    James, I’ll put it through for those who watch videos.

    Parttimedruid, as I noted in the post, this kind of thing is scalable and flexible; if homebaked bread and fermented vegetables are what you can do right now, do them.

    Robert G, hmm! I’ll see if the state library system here has that.

    Michael, oh, I know! There’s no way my late wife and I could have afforded to have me become a full time writer when I did if we’d had a car to pay for, or any of the other moneywasters we did without. People ask me, “But how can you live without a car?” Much more happily…

    Bfp, I see you’re not kidding about spending time meditating on this. Hmm! Much to reflect on here, but I think you’re onto something very important.

    Sam, you’re the third person so far to post an objection to my choice of roots. Curiously, there seems to be no agreement about what Greek word to use! (My Greek dictionary only offered pornoboskos, for whatever that’s worth.) Lenocracy falls more trippingly off the tongue than any of the alternatives, so I plan on sticking to it — though the derivation from lenos is charming, and I thank you for it.

    Jose, thanks for this.

    ArtSmith, granted. I was profoundly fortunate in that my late wife was just as fond of pinching pennies as I am, and so using less with less was something we agreed on. I know many people aren’t so lucky.

    Guillem, ha! Yeah, that’ll do.

    Chuaquin, I think the US holds the world championship in that right now, though we’ll doubtless be surpassed by whoever takes our place as global hegemon.

    PurpleCloud, not at the moment, no — but we’ll see.

    Dormouse, I wonder if the economist realized that a lot of his listeners were thinking, “Destroy the economy? Sounds like a great idea to me!”

    Blue Sun, yes, I heard about that. Congresscritters also cash in on the graft, of course.

    Joel, interesting. So noted.

    Novid, compare the earnings of those 3000 prostitutes with the amount spent on Pokémon items during the same period, and you’ll find that biological cravings aren’t as important as you think. While it may be true that genuine desire cannot be negotiated, that’s beside the point, because the consumer economy has nothing to do with genuine desire. It’s all about manufacturing ersatz pseudodesires and using them to convince people to buy things that they don’t want and don’t need.

    Other Owen, as Charles Fort used to say, one traces a circle beginning anywhere. Debt is one place to begin it, but there are others.

    Drhooves, yes, I was thinking of that post too! In case anyone missed it:

  139. John you are recapitulating Daniel Quinn’s Ismael books. If you don’t like the civilization, withdraw from participating!

  140. Thank you JMG. I was waiting for the gut shot and it was pretty much me where I already am. I have 2 older high mileage vehicles ( one to drive if repair is needed for the other, sadly I cannot, not drive with my work). My possessions would all fit into a small storage unit. I have equipment and knowledge to grow food, to build and repair most things I need, and a 3d printer I’ve been neglecting, but that I have used and will use again. For doomers who have long seen the slow motion train wreck unfolding before us, it could seems as though the forward motion of the wreckage is approaching the moment of final rest, followed by investigation and clean up. But also realizing the shaking may not be the actual impact point. Being a bystander as opposed to jostling over the controls is the point of jumping ship early and as often as needed.

  141. I find it interesting that even major mainstream publications are starting to at least explore this topic. (The economic commitment of climate change)

    At least folks are now starting to talk about it.

    A lot of folks will be screaming “someone needs to do something”.

    But more and more people are starting to realize that the only thing that they can do is cope.

    JMG: Oddly enough, as I was writing this, a quote from one of your books came into my head.

    “everything he saw along Chorazin Road spoke of people who’d always been poor and knew how to cope with it.”

    I was discussing this kind of thing with my older sister, and we both came to the conclusion that the experience gleaned by our growing up as poor white trash will better serve us than our graduate degrees.

  142. Hi John,

    Interesting post as always.

    We certainly live a modest but comfortable lifestyle and are much happier for it. Nearly paid off the mortgage, have substantial savings and investments and very much cook ourselves, grow some food in the back garden, cycle and walk as much as we can and buy at charity shops these days.

    It really is quite amazing what you can find in charity shops! And we have one within a 5 minute walk of our house. I find it is like a 2nd hand shopping mall! We are still very careful to only buy what we need though…

    I would say – with the exception of foreign holidays – we already live in the future everyone else will be living in the decades to come.

  143. I like going into junk/second hand stores to find old tools etc as they are usually of so much better quality. What I have noticed is there used to be aisles of tools, but now there is only a few tools there. Cheap tools remind me of Terry Pratchett’s quote about shoes:

    “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
    Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
    But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
    This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

  144. John –
    I was heartened by your response. Glad to hear your part of the world is holding its own. As for what’s driving our bird and insect apocalypse, I agree with Clay. I live in a rural-ish community south of Portland surrounded by Christmas tree plantations. Several times a year helicopters fly overhead dumping god knows how many tons of chemicals on their precious trees. Multiply that by the whole Willamette Valley and, well, here we are. I would add that we’ve experienced several systemic shocks recently, of a kind we haven’t seen before. The PNW being a temperate rain forest hasn’t had much of a problem with fire historically (there are exceptions – see the Tillamook burn). But beginning with the 36pit fire in 2014 we’ve been hit with the kind of megafires that sweep through SoCal every few years, driven by the Santa Annas. Pygmycory in BC will have some fire memories. I’ve had to evacuate 3 times in the last few years. And speaking of ghastly, you may have heard of the astonishing heat wave that hit us the end of June ‘21. For five days beginning on the 25th we had temps of 94, 108, 112, 118, and 92. It finally dropped to 78 on the 30th. The official death toll in Portland was 96 (who knows what the real count was). I haven’t seen any studies that document the toll on wildlife, but I can tell you that that the flora was badly hurt. The horse chestnuts in town were fried. Our environment may recover from one or two shocks like those, but a whole series . . .?
    Well, so be it. As you and Ian and a few others have said, the collapse of the lenocracy is coming. But I weep for my friends who are raising children now.

  145. Ramaraj,
    there’s a passage in David Foster Wallace’s “A supposedly fun thing I’ll never do again”, which is his chronicle of a fully paid trip on a luxury cruise ship, about that thing you mentioned. At first, he talks about how luxurious everything is, how well catered-to they are – the abundant food, the always clean room, the fresh fruit, etc. After a while, however, he starts noticing little things that could be better – the water in the shower is a little too hot, you have to pay for some drinks, maybe the people on the other cruise ship are having more fun after all… then of course existential dread sets in, but that’s more cause he was depressed.
    I always thought he was brilliant, so aware and self-aware, so compassionate, such a keen observer of the excesses of our society… too bad he suffered so much mentally.

  146. JMG, one particular thought that has been in my mind of late is whether this is not by design, by the powers that be…and by that I mean the higher planes. Suppose we had working and economically viable nuclear fusion or whatever and got limitless energy…that would be really bad for us as a species, you know what I mean? Maybe we’re not supposed to have that kind of power…maybe we’d go mad if we had it. Madder than we are now, I mean.

  147. JMG,
    Here is an interesting analogy to illustrate that having a car is more of a choice than most people realize.
    My son and one of his best friends from High School both got new jobs at a large video game company in Los Angeles at exactly the same time. My son is very frugal and does not own a car and has very few possessions by choice. His friend was already on his way to the standard American Dream with a small house, car and furniture etc.
    My son choose a modest apartment on the train line to work, near the beach and near shopping and food. He paid the price in having a smaller apartment that cost a big more, but since he has none of the expenses of owning a car he is still able to save a significant portion of his income. His friend needed a place where he could park and charge his Tesla, as well as fit all his belongings and furniture. This meant he has to live much further from work, pays nearly the same for a larger place with parking in an inconvenient part of town, and has all the expenses of car ownership.
    His friend is just making end meets, laments he will never afford a new house and wants to be able to work remotely so he can move somewhere cheaper. My son recently moved to an apartment that is 1 minute walk from work that is directly above a new grocery store. It costs a bit more than his old one but now he is close enough to eat most of his meals for free at the office ( one of those tech places with free food 5 days a week) and that saves him much more than the extra rent plus he does not need train fare. He made friends with the folks who run the sit down food counter at the grocery store and they try out their new dishes on him ( for free) on weekends before or after closing. He says he is saving more than ever and he got a raise during the industrey’s recent purge of excess employees because his bosses saw him at the office so much they figure he was extra dedicated while many others were maxing out the work from home allowance.
    So there are many ways to live a frugal life without a car, even in a ridiculous place like Low Angeles.

  148. @JMG,
    Thank you for this essay. It contains some things I needed reminded of badly just now.

    @Renaissance Man #109,
    Do you know if anyone hosts Kettering’s piece online? I’d love to read it, but a quick search didn’t turn it up.
    I admit that I did not realize FoMoCo ended up in such desperate straits, but it makes perfect sense to me. Anyone familiar with the history of the bicycle will remember that there was a “great bicycle boom” in the late-19th C after the invention of the safety bicycle: just as with the Model T, suddenly everyone wanted one. Once everyone had their bike, well… you can imagine what happened. Boom turned to bust, and the survivors made a modest living selling replacement parts and comparatively small numbers of bicycles to young people who didn’t have one yet.

    Once could imagine without Bernays’ (and others) marketing genius, the same thing happen in the auto industry… what a world that would have been!

    @Patricia Mathews, #16,
    It occurs to me that shop-from-home is not a new thing ; Sears-Roebuck was probably a great boon to shut-ins of the last century, too. I wonder if people grumped back then about impulse buying from mail-order catalogs?

  149. I have no car and no TV, I’ve not been able to stand TV since about the 90s. I think money should be spent strategically. My sewing machine was bought new, in the late 90s, and has cost me around $500. in service, repairs and extra feet since then. I also invested in new garden tools, including British spade and digging fork, Dutch rake, Rogue hoe and ice breaker, and Red Pig hand tools, for a total of around $400-$500. I don’t regret it one minute. About the time when the head of your cheap hoe comes off, flying through the air, narrowly missing the neighbor’s cat, is when you conclude that were tools are concerned, you really do get what you pay for. I figure with the money saved by not buying new clothing I can afford good sewing scissors and cutting mats. For years I bought up old time cast iron whenever I could find it. That collection is now being shared out among daughters and granddaughters.

    ‘Green Meanies’ sounds to me like a really good name for a social movement or even political party. Yes, we are the meanies who want to eat your carrots because those carrots are what might keep you alive and solvent.

    Markorolo, could you perhaps help us with your insights on how to buy and sell at flea markets, etc.?

  150. re: Dimon

    I wondered if anyone would pick up on his essential 180 in policy. It was one of those media stories that seemed to be very tight lipped ran and then it sank like a stone, almost like they didn’t want you paying attention to it. I don’t know whether to be amused or suspicious. For it is essentially the financial equivalent of the Devil announcing that he’s converting to Christianity and accepting Jesus into his heart as Lord and Savior. Which should be Big News(tm) but somehow isn’t. They’re not even excoriating him over it, it’s like they want it to just go away.

    Say what you will about Wall Street, one of their basic jobs, is to front-run the future as best as they can. The better you can do that, the more likely it puts you in charge of some place like, say, JP Morgan. I’ll let you connect the dots with that 180 he did.

    I do deeply question his sincerity on the matter. Although if you told people 40 years ago that Russia would now be a capitalist powerhouse with multiple parties and a parliamentary government, people would’ve been asking you the same thing they’re asking about Dimon – “Are you serious?!”

    Sometimes, weird things happen.

  151. It’s almost as if a magical spell is used by the advertising companies and those of these multinational corporations. It bypasses the mind and any rational thought as you said. It’s desecrated the archetypal world by its use of symbols – one has to wonder the state of some of these inner worlds as the inner reflects the outer. At this point its in rearguard action mode as you say.

    Yes the dream is over, and a lot of people are pissed off. And more to come.

  152. I find it amusingly ironic that the following quote is attributed to one who was perhaps the wealthiest man on the planet at the time:

    The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.

    That being said, there are two items I refuse to compromise on: mattresses, and footwear. I spend all day in my shoes, and all night in my bed – so they better be good. (But not necessarily expensive; some of the best things I ever bought were low-priced purchases.) Anything else I can do frugally, or do without. I took rice and beans for my lunch today – tasty, nutritious, and cheap!

  153. YIKES, that SNL skit is especially unfunny and tone deaf. The actors/creators of this skit are some of the financially well-off people on the planet. It implies anyone carrying debt is spending money entirely on stuff they don’t need (disregarding the onerous expenses of medical bills, taxes, food, transportation, shelter)… really? I guess those indebted people should just eat cake…

  154. Dear JMG,

    Regarding the several linguistic objections to your newly-coined word “lenocracy”, due to it being a hybrid of both Greek and Latin, I see no real objection there at all. In fact, many of the official scientific binomial names for species do this as well — my favorite example being the scientific name for the kinnikinnick plant, “Arctostaphylos uva-ursi”, which translates literally as “Bear berry bear berry” in both Greek and Latin, respectively.

    Hey, if it was good enough for Linnaeus, it should be good enough for John Michael Greer!

  155. Hi John,
    As a fellow Aspie and subject to anxiety I have always had few possessions. Having a lot of stuff tends to overwhelm me. Until I got married, I lived in furnished rooms/furnished apartments and all my possessions could fit inside my car. I much prefer hiking out in Nature to shopping in a store. So I guess that is another benefit to having Aspergers.

  156. Hi JMG,

    I hope things are going well over by you.

    This post hit a nerve. Way before this post, I shame for being such a consumer patsy. My particular shame has paralyzed me for years. I feel responsible for finding a new home for each item, organizing items, playing for time, or whatever. I feel so guilty and stupid for being such a sap/sucker. I feel “had.”

    Over decades, I bought items where I said, “it is for the future,“ but that future never comes. Or even if that future comes, I can’t find the item amidst all the similar junk packed away in cardboard boxes,— or, I no longer care.

    I have major psychological blockages to getting rid of anything. I look at an item, and feel humiliation for ever having purchased it. Why did I do that? Multiply that one item times a hundred items, or a thousand, and my shame cripples me into inaction.

    In meditation-language, I need to be kind to my inner-child, the spirit who is located inside an adult body, who didn’t know better than to think that love would come from “buying that thing.” Even the times when I actually get to the stage of having packed up “things” for donation, I sob — I feel demoralized for my culpability (how could I have been such a sucker?). Each item I give away I first experience as a long, tortured road. I feel nearly as bad knowing the item is still in my home, so I feel like s__t either way. I do eventually feel better weeks after the item is gone, but it leaves a wound.

    I am at the point when looking at a regretted item, I say “I have to get it out of the house‼️,” put the item into a box, add it to other items “that also have to leave the house” into the box, when the box is filled up, walk the box down my long driveway, set the box at the side of the busy road I live on, write a note in big letters, “Free free to take.” I gave up paying people who supposedly do such recycling for a living—I pay them to recycle but find out later they dumped it into a landfull. If I wait to bring the box to a donation shop, I sometimes end up returning the box to the house.

    My frugal mother, a child during the 1930s, is turning in her grave. She didn’t bring me up to be like this.

    I am Smeagol, the gollum in The Lord of the Rings. Each item feels like “my precious.” I feel like what dropBear #91 refers to as “bloodsucking leech… the lowest creature to ever crawl the face of the planet.”

    I can’t talk about it. I am my own worst critic.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨😱🧐😣
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  157. Another angle on “stuff”: My partner, who is quite handy at such things, built a small shed on our property (which has plenty of room for it). I’ve found that if I put clothes that I no longer wear into storage for awhile, then I can go through the stored clothes and I always find some that I feel like meeting an old friend. It is kind of like having one’s own thrift shop. Of course, this only works if one has the space for the storage. But I quite enjoy it.
    As you said, flexibility.

  158. To back up your point about folks being terrified of people thinking they are poorer than they are…
    My wife and I have been living well beneath our means for the last 15 years after getting out of debt and have been committing quite a bit of our income to savings for that length of time, so between that and being extremely lucky and blessed in some real estate sales in the past we have a sizable savings and plenty spending money when we wish. Our home is small and built in the mid 70s and we buy mostly used furniture that my wife and I refurbish.

    A few blocks away is a small development of McMansions. My wife has a small cottage bakery business and some of her regular customers live over there. It never ceases to amaze us how many comments we get from them when they pick up orders about our “starter house” on the one hand, and how much a lot of them like to brag about how much money they make when we barely know them. Of course they are up to their eyeballs in debt, miserable in their jobs, and have no idea that my wife and I are most probably better off financially than they are. They can’t even imagine we would live like we do and don’t spend our money in flashy ways. Funny thing is we are quite comfortable and extremely happy, and they don’t seem to be.

  159. One benefit of cutting back on consuming is the way it allows you to cut way back on earning… 🙂

    And, of course, the other benefit comes as you discover the many [small, but real] powers that you actually have, to produce so much more of what you need to consume than you might have let yourself imagine.

    ** raises a glass to all those who prioritise learning how to eat lentils over learning how to be subservient to the king… **

  160. I saw this ‘more fun less stuff’ bumper sticker on a family members truck recently. It connects to the link below.

    There is power and purpose in the messaging. When people read bumper stickers i think they generally expect a humorous, sarcastic, political, or personal message sometimes involving a threat of some kind. This message ‘more fun less stuff’ is designed to elicit a stress relief response for the mind that is Constantly in threat risk mode over never ending advertisement Pressure.

  161. It probably needs to be said that some aspects of Lenocracy exist because a lot of people would prefer to let “the professionals” handle it rather than do the task themselves. Real estate brokers come to mind for example. People have the ability to handle the sale of their homes themselves, but the vast majority choose to let a broker handle the transaction for “peace of mind” or because they don’t want to take the time to handle the details on their own. I’m sure there are a lot of other situations where this would be the case as well.

  162. Regarding the ‘optional’ ownership of a vehicle, I think that there is a bit more to that option than many here are suggesting.

    Not owning a car is ONLY possible for those who live in cities. And cities are, almost invariably nowadays, the least free, most bureaucratic, most intolerant and most repressive jurisdictions, at least in the USA. I see that here even in Alaska, where Los Anchorage has just within the last decade become a full-blown Marxist-run hellhole, little different except in scale from Portland, Seattle or San Francisco, and continues to descend ever more rapidly into woke, statist insanity. And so living there is NOT a trade-off that I am willing to make, even if I might (marginally) be able to live there without a car.

    Maybe it is different in some locales, such as JMG’s Providence. But living cheek-by-jowl with hordes of mindless, conformist citiots would be, for me, a living Hell.

  163. The first line of my favorite Wendell Berry poem was in my thoughts when I awoke this morning and has been on my mind all day. It seems apropo of the conversation.

    When despair for the world grows in me
    and I wake in the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
    I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

  164. One thing about those storage units is the owners can auction off the contents if the rent goes in arrears. I became aware that there are at least TWO “reality shows” that use the auctioning off of these abandoned lockers as the basis of the show. Think about it. There is enough abandoned “stuff” to support 2 TV shows!!

  165. Yo, Mr. Greer – In an odd coincidence, I picked up a new book from our library, yesterday. It had been on my “hold” list, for awhile. “Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor.” (Robertson, 2024). An easy read, and very interesting. I think I read over half of it, last night. Lew

  166. @ Northwind Grandma – I have similar problems, and found a book that was very helpful. “Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding.” By Colin, Frost & Steketee. I’m no spring chicken (pushing 75), but it helped. Progress, not perfection. Lew

  167. JMG,

    I’m in my 60s, with no children or grandchildren, so my contact with young people is fairly limited. But when the opportunity arises, I tell them this:

    There are two ways to get rich: increase your income, or reduce your desires. Only one of these ways is likely to make you happier.

  168. Hugh, er, not really. I should probably do a critique of Quinn’s ideas someday, because they differ from mine in several important features — notably, Quinn didn’t exactly walk away from civilization himself, you know, and I have yet to meet one of his fans who’s done so either. That raises questions I think need to be discussed.

    Mackenzie, glad to hear it. One suggestion, though — neglecting the 3d printer may be a good idea; one of those is much less useful than a set of good hand tools and some grasp of what raw materials you can get from salvage.

    Degringolade, I’m delighted that you noticed that! Yes, exactly; I didn’t grow up poor but Sara did, and the two of us had plenty of experience being poor during the first decade or so of our marriage. It’s knowledge worth having — thus the sidelong hint (one of several, of course) in my tentacle fiction.

    Forecasting, glad to hear it. I have two very good thrift shops within an easy walk, I’m happy to say, and I do a lot of shopping at both. The fact that you have savings and investments, though, makes me think that you’re not as far into the future as you believe; I’m far from sure that investments and saved currency will be worth much of anything once the global economy tips over into contraction.

    Bill R, I think a lot of people have caught on to the huge difference between old and new tools. It occurs to me that somebody with the necessary skills and a little capital could make a fantastic amount of money by figuring out how to make the kind of high-quality steel found in old tools, and starting to produce tools of comparable quality.

    Bill (non-R), that makes a lot of sense. The way climate belts are shifting, I expect the Pacific Northwest to have the climate of Baja California in the not too distant future; those fires are part of the transition process, and the dieoff of insects and birds is very likely another part of it. We’re also getting climate shift here, of course — the “New England winter” that just ended here had only a few brief snow flurries and a lot of rain — but what’s a thousand miles south of us, and is on its way here, is a good deal less hostile to life. My father and stepmother live in Tacoma WA, btw, so yes, I’ve heard about the heat wave!

    Bruno, that seems entirely plausible to me.

    Clay, thanks for this! A very inspirational example.

    Tyler, you’re most welcome.

    Mary, ha! I rather like “Green Meanies.”

    Other Owen, yep. Watch this space.

    Llewna, there’s no “almost” about it. If, as Dion Fortune put it, magic is the art and science of causing change in consciousness in accordance with will, the consumer economy is imposed and enforced by a tremendous amount of evil sorcery. I talked about that many years ago on the Archdruid Report, my old blog; it may be time to talk about it again.

    Old Steve, so noted! I’ve had good luck with midrange shoes and mattresses, for what it’s worth.

    Alan, thank you! “Bear berry bear berry” sounds like the notes played by a string bass in some old-fashioned folk tunes, which is a plus.

    Peter, that may be part of it! No question, shopping is a chore for me, not a pleasure — well, except for used book stores, which are always a delight. 😉

    Northwind, Sara had similar issues, which is why I’ve had so much stuff to haul to the donation bins over the last month and a half. I don’t know if there’s a way to let go of the blockages, but I hope you can manage it; those don’t do anything to make your life any better — but of course you know that already.

    Jessica, if that works for you, great.

    Dean, I bet! It really does make life easier to live well below your means — but try telling that to those whose egos are entirely built on having the “right” collection of consumer trash!

    Scotlyn, here’s to that! Besides, lentils are tasty. 😉

    Ian, hmm! I like it. Somebody’s good at magic, whether they call it that or not.

    Joshua, granted, but it’s not as though they thought of that all by themselves.

    Alan, notice how you’ve created a fake dichotomy in which the only two options are way out in the country on the one hand, and living in a huge blue-state city on the other. That sort of false binary is one of the most pervasive bad habits of modern thought, and it’s pushed on you by the very system you think you’re rejecting. May I offer you a bit of personal experience? My late wife and I lived without cars for nine years in a pleasant town in the north central Appalachians where the politics were so red they sizzled (the town voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016, for example) and most people objected to the antics of the left just as much as you do. The only reason we left was that it was becoming increasingly hard to get the special diet items and other care that her failing health required, and we settled in East Providence, a working class town where there are almost as many churches as bars, the kind of place wokesters avoid the way you avoid Los Angeles. Be aware also that the car (or, I’ll risk a guess, pickup) on which you’re dependent is available to you only because gargantuan multinational corporations and federal bureaucracies keep the fuel, lubricants, spare parts, and new vehicles flowing your way, and we don’t even have to get into who’s paying for the roads on which you drive. So things are much less rigidly dualistic than you’ve been taught to believe.

    Ken, thanks for this. That’s a vivid and beautiful poem.

    Marlena13, since I’ve never owned a TV, I didn’t know that. That would be sad if it wasn’t so absurd.

    Lew, delighted to hear it.

    Unkarlfarbmanlike, nicely phrased! I may just borrow that.

  169. Dear JMG,

    Oh, I am fully aware of the vast infrastructure that supports my use of a vehicle in order to allow me to live outside the hellhole of Los Anchorage (a little pun that is frequently heard up here by non-citiots), and the limited lifespan of that current lifestyle.

    It may be worth considering, though, that economically, cities are net consumers and not producers, and that they invariably shrink, or are entirely abandoned, during times of financial and economic decline. How many people lived in Rome in 700 AD, vs. the million+ in 100 AD? And look at Constantinople, at its height a city of well over a million inhabitants as well, reduced to a virtual village of a few dozen thousand by 1400 AD, with large stretches of the former urban landscape within the city walls having been reclaimed for farmland.

    I am under no illusions that my current internal-combustion-engine-enabled lifestyle almost certainly has a “Sell By” date stamped on it, but equally so does the city-oriented lifestyle of most others today as well.

  170. Great post. I’m always amused by the fury and contempt certain people have for that great American philosopher (and humorist) Thoreau, more often condemned than read. What I keep running up against are the double binds — if your income doesn’t cover the basics, you accumulate credit card debt. A single car repair wipes out the savings that would get you to a walkable neighborhood. Rent gobbles up what you could spend on land. And those three non-negotiables can easily eat up 60-70% of a paycheck. Needless to say, I’m curious for the next post.

  171. Hi JMG! I just want to ask, how are you doing and make a comment.
    How are you doing? My comment is I like the comforts and mod-cons of the Western world even if there is too much stuff and skimming parasites. I like things that are pretty, clean, well made and neat to make up for the fact that life is just so messy. It’s too bad people in our culture are more oriented in consuming things, rather than beautifying their minds with knowledge. I would love to spend my resources learning a language for a year, then going to the country to become fluent in an immersion situation.

  172. In downsizing your life it is important to accept that it might not be practical to downsize all aspects of your life at once. As discussed here the big three are Transportation ( Cars?) Housing , and food along with other consumables. I don’t think there is much argument on this blog that a good first step to downsizing is giving up your addiction to designer purses or a Swiss watchs. The theoretical goal may be to live in inexpensive housing with no need for a car and grow or trade for simple wholesome food.
    But most of us will have to accept reducing and many of those variables as possible given our skills, desires and circumstances. So in my sons example he could have his dream job and savings too, by spending more on housing while moving his costs for food and transportation to a minimum.
    In Alan’s case, he might be able to fulfill his desire to live the uncrowded wilderness lifestyle by spending a lot of his income on a truck and gas ( while that systems holds together) while living in a cabin and hunting and fishing to minimize both his housing and food needs.

  173. On the subject of defence, the recent launching of drones from Iran towards Israel and their shooting down by air to air missiles was interesting. The Iranian Shahed 136 drone costs about $50k, whilst an air to air missile costs around $1 million which means the Iranians might still be shooting off drones when the US/UK and others have run out of missiles.

  174. Hello, talking about new philosophies I recently found out about Dudeism which is encourages a low key and relaxed life style.
    Wikipedia sums up as, Dudeism’s stated primary objective is to promote a modern form of Chinese Taoism, outlined in Tao Te Ching by Laozi (6th century BCE), blended with concepts from the Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341–270 BCE), and presented in a style as personified by the character of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a fictional character portrayed by Jeff Bridges in the film.
    Dudeism has sometimes been regarded as a mock religion due to its use of comedic film references and occasional criticism of religion in its traditional sense, but its founder and many adherents take the underlying philosophy somewhat (although not overly) seriously.March 6 is the annual sacred high holy day of Dudeism: The Day of the Dude; the same day the film released in the US.
    Come join the slowest-growing religion in the world – Dudeism. An ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh…lost my train of thought there. Anyway, if you’d like to find peace on earth and goodwill, man, we’ll help you get started. Right after a little nap.
    Anyway remember the Dude Abides.

  175. Republishing old thrift manuals is a great idea, particularly because they do NOT assume you’ve got access to a vast wealth of secondhand goods piled high in every secondhand store or yard sale.

    Like old cookbooks and sewing manuals, they assume you’re poor and don’t have resources other than your own and what’s in your local, social network.

    Sadly, time and rights are the issue for us. But if anyone else wants to do it, go for it!
    I KNOW there’s a market for how to save money books. Every time the economy takes a serious dive, the market reappears.

  176. Years ago, I had a storage locker while I was living in student housing. On one visit I found that it had been broken into. Nothing electronic was stolen–I had put my stereo, etc. behind boxes of books. Ironically the only thing taken was a crocheted afghan, probably used to wrap loot from another unit. I miss it because it was the only thing given to me that my paternal grandmother had made. Very little monetary value, but could not be replaced. A lesson.

  177. Interesting post as usual, JMG. Definitely agree we shouldn’t be spending money on stuff we don’t need. That said, this seems more like an argument for saving, not for working less. Having wealth saved up is important if life throws you a curve ball, or just as you grow older, both of which can be expensive.

    Also, the clear correlation between socioeconomic status and lifespan/health show that being truly “poor” may not be the best idea. Asceticism is fine in middle age, but wouldn’t having few assets/savings at age 70 (especially if you don’t have kids to help take care of you) be a bad situation to be in?

  178. PS: JMG, you guessed correctly about my pickup, ha ha! I at least console myself with the fact that it is 28 years old (I’ve driven the same vehicle for almost half of my life), and I do in fact regularly use it AS a pickup truck (necessary for my business), in contrast to all the SUVs-with-short-beds masquerading as pickup trucks that one sees on the road nowadays.

  179. DOBBS: “i have stated to think of you as the most dangerous intellectual in America today. (thank the gods that you had the wisdom to disguise yourself as a harmless excentric,)”

    indeed! i very much agree and am in awe and as a multiple leo i wonder HOW DID HE DO THIS????



  180. Papa G: “As for loneliness, I get that; I’ve been wondering for a while now if it’s time to start trying to arrange more non-virtual interactions for those of us on the Ecosophian fringe.”

    THERE IT IS! it’s TIME! i feel it when i hang with Temporary Reality or call her when i need grounding. and with James’ death, i realize i have to actively keep us left here together in some rag tag fashion. we’re meeting here in SF in the summer. like JamesFest.

    it’s time to start our own actual traveling visiting parallel thing where Papa reads or talks, takes questions, travels, and others keep it going live.

    i SEE it.



  181. An old fashioned Chinese remedy for extreme and prolonged misfortune is to sell, give away or dump every single item that you possess in this world, apart from the clothes on your back. Then you arrange for someone (that you trust 🙂 ) to leave a new and still packaged t-shirt, jeans and shoes on an estuary river bank. You then walk to the water’s edge shedding clothes along the way until all that’s left is your shoes, and then in mid-stride you slip out of them, below the high tide mark, and without taking a further step, dive naked into the river. After reaching the far bank you get dressed in your new clothes and walk away, without looking back.

  182. I’m glad you’ve raised lenocracy again, since it gives me an excuse to share this little gem I stumbled across during the week. The Australian government runs a disability scheme which, from many accounts, is rorted six ways from Sunday. Several years ago, a woman took the scheme to court arguing that they should pay for her “sex therapist”. Apparently, the difference between a “sex therapist” and a “sex worker” is that the former does their work in verbal form only. In any case, the court ruled that the woman was entitled to a sex therapist under the scheme and the left wing media immediately issued a call to include sex workers too –

    In short, the Australian government is one millimetre short of being a literal pimp!

  183. Alan, I’m not at all surprised that Anchorage has gone down the ol’ crapperoo. I grew up just south of Seattle when it was a really pleasant place to live; now it’s a hellhole too, all strip malls and subdivisions from Puget Sound to the Cascades under a sky gone orange with photochemical smog. (If I mention that the bluest skies you’ve ever seen aren’t in Seattle any more, locals from my generation will get the joke.) I’m also quite familiar with what happened to Rome — but here again, huge cities are not the only option aside from deep country. Notice how many cities with names ending in -chester and -caster were important, well fortified market towns in England straight through the Dark Ages; that name element, of course, is from Latin castrum, and marks the location of a city in Roman Britain.

    The usual sequence is that deep rural areas become unsafe first, as roving bands of looters start taking advantage of the collapse of the rule of law, and migrant warbands make their appearance. As agricultural production collapses, the really big cities implode next. Then the small cities and towns large enough to guard farmland become the centers of what stable settlement exists, until feudalism sets in, strong local leaders restore peace in the countryside by taking and holding a piece thereof, and the towns reconfigure themselves as centers of manufacturing and trade for the surrounding fiefs. It’s a familiar pattern and I expect to see the opening moves of it in process before I kick the bucket.

    Jiminy, here again, they’re only non-negotiable in the abstract. Most people in the industrial world can spend less on them than they do — and you only have to shift the balance a little bit to make a difference. Do you recall Mr. Micawber’s famous axiom? “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness; annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” I discussed all this thirteen years ago in a post on The Archdruid Report; clearly we have to go back over the basics again sometime soon.

    Candy, thanks for asking; I’m doing about as well as can be expected, all things considered. I quite understand being fond of the mod-cons; the question is whether you can hold onto them in an era of decline without being dragged down by them.

    Clay, of course. Recall the words “scalable” and “flexible” in the post…

    Mark, I’ve also read claims that the Iranians mostly used older drones and missiles — a smart idea, since now they have a much better idea of the characteristics of the Israeli air defense system, and if it comes to all-out war, they can then direct their more recent weapons systems more effectively.

    Sue, funny. Well, I’ve already written about Discordianism and The Church of the SubGenius, so I may just take a look at Dudeism.

    Teresa, so noted.

    Rita, or maybe somebody looked at it and said, “Darn. That’s pretty. I could use something like that on my bed, too.” Still, that must hurt.

    BlueWillow, I’ll be discussing this in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

    Alan, there was something about your comment that just whispered “pickup” in my psyche. 😉

    Erika, I’m still not sure how it happened either, and I’ve got Leo Moon and Ascendant. As for social events, agreed, but I have no idea how to make that happen. I may just put something on Dreamwidth in a bit asking for suggestions.

    Tengu, I’m not at all surprised that the Chinese came up with that. It’s good strong magic.

    Simon, I keep on trying to be more outrageous than reality, and reality chuckles at my futile efforts and does something like this. BTW, what does “rorted” mean? I can follow some Aussie slang but that’s a new one to me.

  184. @Northwind Grandma – I’ve had a pretty rayon dress hanging in my closet which I haven’t won for the past 4 years. I didn’t want to let go of it because it was such a bright spot in there – light lemon yellow with garnet red flowers about an inch high at most, and so soft to the touch. Then I considered how it would hang on me since osteoporosis has taken its toll, and into the Haven Hospice Attic box it went.

    @JMG, too – a good many member of Jay’s Circle back in Albuquerque have proved to be hoarders as well. One of them, who had the worst and craziest childhood one came imagine, kept alternating between stripping down to rock bottom, and hoarding again; she’s the one who once walked 5 miles on a warm Sunday to get to a gathering in the South Valley, where no bus lines ran.
    For what it’s worth, both she and another member, both autistic(I used to privately call them/us “The Martian Sisterhood,” after an s/f writer’s memoir about his adopted son called “The Martian Child.” The other member was the one I suggested running her meds by her pharmacist and firing her doctor to, whose family in another state had all but infantilized her.

    One question: what does one do with stuff that would have to find some very specialized homes? The ritual items I used back in a larger home and an area with a like-minded community; some books from my Medieval Studies days? I asked both Jay and Sandy, another one running a circle, if they were interested in the ritual items; they weren’t. And Gainesville, however blue a college town it is, isn’t into that sort of thing at all.

  185. Training in Vedanta (a philosophical system of Ancient Bharat, very similar to Western Occult systems) requires carefully developed management of desires. Moral character is considered essential for self growth which is the way to be truly happy. A happy person can’t be manipulated. So simple, so hard!

  186. Hi John Michael,

    Spending less is an option within most peoples control, whether they acknowledge that possibility, or not. Incidentally, it’s also an option for your big spending debt addicted government. The same could be said about our lot down here, and the state I live in appears to have gone feral on that score. It’s all fun and games, until the dude comes looking for the principal to be repaid, and the coffers are empty. During the last recession in the early 90’s I worked in commercial debt collection, and let’s just say that it was an instructive lesson. Plus it was the only work I could get, what with 10% unemployment and all.

    If I may say so, the economic problems on display during the Great Depression, were never really solved. Back then, there was too little cash chasing too much wealth. It looks to me as if that predicament has been flipped on it’s head these days. And no doubts the events will work out much the same, but with no excess wealth this time around, the results may well be more permanent this time. I’d be happy to be wrong.

    One of the big pushes behind the ‘increase the population by any means’ policies being pursued across the west is the realisation that the economic indicators don’t look so rosy when taken on a per capita basis, but if you ignore that…



  187. I have posted my flute for sale and some recorder parts for free locally. There are actually a number of items I would be probably be better off without. Though that will make room for things I want, and yes, there are some of those that I’m using as motivation to get rid of some of the things I have that I don’t need or want.

  188. @Mark
    From what I have read the Iranians used drones and obsolete missiles to expend the load of anti-aircraft missiles from the different Israeli and US missile defense systems ( Patriot, Arrow, Davids Sling, Iron Dome) and then when the launchers were empty they slipped in from 8 to 12 high tech missiles that hit their targets exactly. An Intelligence base and two airforce bases. I even read ( unconfirmed) that one of the Iranian missiles hit the swimming pool in the officers recreation building in one of the Air Force bases as a kind of Bravado on the Iranians part.
    They had not expected that the Iranians could hold accuracy at such long distances because they were locked out of the US and European GPS systems. But apparently the Chinese allowed them to use their new one, telling you something about the geopolitics of the world at this moment.
    Also, the US and Israel wish their anti-missiles cost only $1million each. In fact Patriot missiles cost more like $20million each.

  189. To rort is to corruptly plunder some large pile of public funds. It’s the preferred form of economic activity here.

  190. JMG,

    Hah, I never knew “rort” was Australian. Although, come to think of it, it would probably be quite a mouthful to pronounce in an American accent, what with your rhotic Rs and all. Still, it’s the same sound as “wrought”.

    Back to the subject of the post, I wonder to what extent the famous protestant/puritan work ethic plays a role. My understanding of the ancients is that they had no problem with the idea of not working since it had always been expected that aristocrats did not work and so that was something to aspire to. By contrast, the modern West has a need to work founded in religion and if we have a need to work then we also have to create people who will consume the products of the work i.e. consumers. So, maybe there’s a deeper objection in the culture which is that if we get rid of consumers, we’d also have to find something to do that wasn’t work.

  191. I would like to advance the idea that the recent emphasis on “hoarding” is a bit misplaced. Here in the USA two of our recent presidential candidates, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Romney, own five houses apiece. That would be five separate sets of furnishings, linens, tableware, etc. etc. for each of two families. I’ve not heard anyone accuse them of “hoarding”. Many of us sewists have been buying fabric and sewing paraphernalia on sale and 2nd hand for years. Now that fabric stores have all but disappeared, we are using our stashes. I have noticed that, lately, working folks tend to buy good quality stuff when it comes up cheap, because they know they will need it someday and might not have the means at that time.

  192. There’s a McDonald’s bilbord pretty accessible to a walking person in my town that says ‘can’t resist cravings’ and it just cries out to have the ‘can’t’ removed.

  193. Doing without? Oh yes, for hordes of people around here doing without is a necessity, and large numbers do without necessities, which I suppose is a good definition of poverty.

    In this city you can sketch out collapse in just a few numbers which of course vary depending on the source, with governmental agencies putting out the fishiest data, phony baloney IOW.

    So, here’s what I’ve heard, average and median annual household income in this place range from 80,000 to 110,000, like I said, depending on the source.

    Average house price is well over a million, average one bedroom monthly rent is well over 2G, average two bedroom is over 3G.

    You don’t need to be a mathematician to see that these numbers don’t scan. There is no way to make mortgage payments with rates between 5 and 7 percent given these house prices and income levels. Even rental prices are a stretch and an impossibility for large numbers of people.

    But common sense is like oxygen in that the higher up you go the thinner it gets. They tell us that there’s a dire labor shortage and so mass immigration is a must.

    Dd they not hear that there’s also a critical housing shortage? Well, to give them their due, there is a shortage of workers for jobs that make you destitute, of that there’s no question.

    But then this is the work of our vaunted elite who put in herculean efforts into reforming the economy from one of widespread prosperity into one of widespread misery.

    And so the number of homeless in this city on any given day, depending on who you talk to, is somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000. You just look around and your nose and eyes tell you the story, the parks rife with tents, the public libraries de-facto homeless shelters.

    I read an article in an establishment mag that waved it all away telling us that our poor are middle class in the countries where people are upping sticks and coming north.Yeah? So what’s the point? Shut up and be happy?

    Collapse? This is what it looks like. It’s all around us, especially the collapse of IQ in the people giving orders and their apologists like that fool that wrote that article.

  194. Thank you to the folks who shared links to Early Retirement Extreme. His work seems to be a more collapse-aware and sustainability-oriented version of the FIRE movement. He arrives at a “spend less, save more” philosophy more as a side effect of shooting for a lifestyle that allows him to develop a wide variety of skills and live sustainably. Unsurprisingly, it seems FIRE was even heavily inspired by his efforts, a classic example of a concept picking up in popularity in a way that forgets the original point of the exercise.

    I will be investigating his writing more deeply, and urge others who were considering it to do so as well.

  195. JMG, I think you’ve been had with that image of Marcus Aurelius you tossed in — there have been reconstructions of his face, like this one, but the other commenters mentioning Alec Guinness (from a movie I haven’t seen) got me thinking. Well, I found the exact image you posted on the subreddit “HistoryMemes” with the title “Reconstruction of what Marcus Aurelius looked like, genuine class.” And genuine class is an anagram for, you guessed it…

  196. If the lenocrats are leeches, then perhaps a study done on leeches might be applicable to them as well. Normally, leeches wait until their prey is looking elsewhere to attack; they then eat until satisfied, and then release their grip a go on their merry way. Give a leech Prozac, however, and it will charge full speed ahead, desperate for food; and then proceed to gorge itself until it quite literally explodes.

    I’d meant for this to be in jest, but it actually makes an uncomfortable amount of sense, given the weird, slightly unstable, and almost sociopathic affect the two people I knew who went on SSRIs acquired…

  197. @Clay & JMG “I have never owned a new computer; I get all mine dirt cheap or free by the simple expedient of getting “obsolete” gear, and they work just fine for my purposes.”

    My computer is a Lenovo T400, this thing is 15 years old and I suspect I will be able to get another 10-15 years out of this. The thing that will probably go first is the power system on this. Most nerds are astounded that this thing is still usable.

    A lean running choice of whatever Linux (or whatever suits you)and just blocking all the pointless junk online like using an ad blocker and disabling most java script means that it is still very usable. We already had enough compute power to do most things the average person would need 30 years ago. Software bloat that promotes new computer purchases can be avoiding in part so that you can keep these things going way longer than anticipated.

    @ JMG “The Taoist philosopher Chuang Tsu pointed out a couple of millennia ago that such maneuvers are effective camouflage for anyone who wants to speak unwelcome truths in a dark time.”

    I’m guessing this is related to the Chuang Tzu idea of imperfect things being an advantage. Trees do not grow straight are not shopped down and turned into planks and masts, and as such live to see another day.

    @Gaia Travel, tourism, and sports.

    I have generally found that you can tell who has travelled the most because they tend to be the most, generic personalities. Many folks travel to become “sophisticated”, to travel because they are told to do it. Some people travel to 100 countries and they are bland folks. Immanuel Kant never left his village and seemed to be a very interesting chap.

    @ Bill R & JMG “It occurs to me that somebody with the necessary skills and a little capital could make a fantastic amount of money by figuring out how to make the kind of high-quality steel found in old tools”

    A friend of mine is doing a lot of business restoring old work tools into working fashion. It is great seeing some of these things restored back to original condition. Some will probably go another 50 years yet.

    @ JMG “I grew up just south of Seattle when it was a really pleasant place to live; now it’s a hellhole too”

    Long term collapsnik Ran Prieur moved to Seattle last year, he has described the place as a “open air psychiatric ward”.

  198. (Re: #144, itself responding to my #115)

    Warren does address food. It’s one of the usual suspects that has in fact dropped by 18%. She notes that this is surprising since her 2003 median family lacks the full-time housewife that the median 1970 family had, and thus would be expected to face more temptation to eat out.

  199. @Bill,
    Have a quick gander at Diana Kordas’s reports on loss of biodiversity on the Greek island of Samos and the Cellular Phone Task Force’s website which is compiling reports from around the world. Most recently, Firstenberg reports that various creatures are showing a worrying tendency to exhaust themselves traveling around in circles. (We are not alone in this!) Fortunately, others have noticed that anything that can fly or run is relocating away from areas with high EMF to areas such as forests, so I hope that tendency holds and that these creatures can reemerge after our insanity runs its course.
    I was talking with my local EMF study group today, and they say politicians are becoming superannuated in Japan (as is obvious in the US), with very few young people stepping forward to fill their shoes. It’s obvious anywhere you go what the young are doing: ordering Uber Eats and fiddling with their little screen device. I’m no longer wondering how many years this can go on, but how many months. It will be hell for all of humanity, but hopefully our little winged friends will finally get a break.
    @JMG, I am linking your article on the new Japanese/English website I’m developing (which has required to monetary expenditure on my part and is a fun new challenge) for “People Without Cell Phones-Japan.” I’ll put it under the title of “Calling All Blue Meanies! (on a corded landline, of course)”
    Most of the people I know without cellphones are not electrosensitive (who I note tend to cling to them) but are well along the way toward ridding themselves of other useless junk and have discovered the sweet joy of simple life in itself.

  200. > how are the insect populations

    For three or four years I’ve had an app which tries to identify the species which you upload a photograph of. Most of my photos are insects I find in my garden, and I’ve started to see the patterns — certain insects appear at certain seasons. But even in this short time there are no new insects, and several species missing that I would normally expect to see. That’s not enough data to discern a trend, but it doesn’t look good.

    > “Junk expands to fill the space allowed.” ©Lew

    When I first moved into my studio apartment there was so much space left over that I considered putting down a big plastic sheet and starting an indoor garden. But the nearby window didn’t get sun and had to have blinds permanently drawn for privacy.

    That space is now filled with stuff that might be useful someday / books I might want to reread / stuff I haven’t figured out a place for yet / stuff I’ve bought for projects not yet started. Everything has a purpose. I don’t know why people refer to it as “junk”. (My poor sister is terrified that I’ll die before her and she’ll have to clean the place out. One of these days I’ll have to tackle the “death clean” as the Scandinavians call it.)

  201. Hi John,

    Got a strategy for investing.

    Savings will pivot to those currencies least likely to collapse on value (Swiss Francs and Singapore Dollars long term).

    As for investments there will always be a time to buy high quality stocks focused on supplying essentials after the market has crashed (I tentatively suggest the late 2020s and early 2030s as the timeframe to look at).

  202. About the discussion that Alan started, I want to emphasize the very important need for self-defense in the future, especially for rural folks.
    I really dislike the right-wings idea of traditional women, women from the past were not obedient dishwashers, they mattered a lot more to the household. Here I am thinking about medieval Japanese women who were left in charge of their house and knew how to wield a Naginata, together with their servents. If communities are to protect themselves from looters and warbands, then everyone needs to learn how to use anything from guns to kitchen knifes. Self-defense cannot be overestimated, imo.

  203. Re your reply to #50 – my condolences that you were born a few years too soon to experience the uplift of a community like Belly Rave…! Gladiator-at-law is one of my favourites too. Last time I read it I even managed to understand (more or less) the stock-market shenanigans which were over my head in previous readings. Just thought I’d add one more comment re commercial obsolescence. I’ve long thought it very odd that when one replaces one’s computer one is expected to replace all or most of the software too. As senseless as though when I bought a new bookcase I’d be expected to buy new books to go in it.

  204. Here is someone with a very badly placed Saturn who also keeps a lot of old things around… and I dare say that it’s possible to buy a lot of unnecessary fancy stuff at thrift stores and flea markets!

  205. JMB,
    I find it hilarious that smart rich people often dress like bums in public to avoid attention but the “don’t look poor” mentality still exists. Think about it, the only rich folk worth watching look just like you when they are in public view.

  206. @ Rafael #212 The right wing women I know are usually warrior mother types, some with concealed carry permits. I work with some, strong and yet pleasant, at a charter school and I have joked with them saying if a bad guy comes on campus I would practice my martial art Run Fu , that is scream and run to get help, while they perform the take down.

  207. JMG,
    I guess the local Odd Fellows has a robust, growing membership, too. I’m going to keep an eye out for the age distribution and see if there is a generational shift. Gen Z knows our system is broken, just like the 20 somethings in the USSR knew the system was broken in the 1980s.

    I think there’s a lot of similarity between these two groups. A lot of our success may depend on helping them out rather than screaming to get off my lawn and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

  208. “Llewna, there’s no “almost” about it. If, as Dion Fortune put it, magic is the art and science of causing change in consciousness in accordance with will, the consumer economy is imposed and enforced by a tremendous amount of evil sorcery. I talked about that many years ago on the Archdruid Report, my old blog; it may be time to talk about it again.”
    I think it would be helpful to talk about it again.

    The challenge is people who don’t understand magic may be lost. But the reality is, sorcery bypasses rational thought and reasonable behavior. So how can there be individual responsibility and change? It’s easy to mock and be disgusted by the masses for consumerism and a progress mindset that leads to destruction (because it IS disgusting!), but they’re entranced!

    The early Christians scourged paganism and relegated “God” to heaven, so Earth and her spirits, devas and goddesses were no longer held sacred. Earth became a resource. So the ground was set. Science took over from there and the industrial revolution ravaged the lands for profit. And it became a race. I think there is in human beings a need to worship Something or it becomes cast in the shadow. Worship has been lost to science and its bedfellow, business, corporate entities. I’m sure you’ve covered something along these lines as well.

    But they’re entranced too! Not to avoid blame, but it makes the situation even more complex. That is to say, everyone is under a spell. Who would rationally destroy their own eco system for a few baubles?

    It’s interesting that what we’ve become entranced by is materialism. Mater. If we don’t honor her (or something) consciously, we are addicted unconsciously. Which is my point – it’s all unconscious which makes it more powerful and more difficult to change. Most of society – most the world now – just thinks it’s right living! Because as a civilization, we’ve truly lost touch with the Sacred. Would we treat the Earth as we do if we held her sacred? It’s not just greed, it’s closer to what the Tibetans would call being relegated to the region of hungry ghosts.

    And as you say, it’s a spell. An evil spell. I believe that too. Perhaps mountains of evil spells. But how are spells broken? I guess one way is by what is happening – taking mindless consumption past its breaking point. But I wish there was another way.

  209. JMG, Northwind Grandma and Lew, I’ve thought a bit about the roots of hoarding as it had quite an impact on me because my mother was a hoarder. It seems to me to be the result of a very specific kind of childhood trauma – lack of care and respect for boundaries. My mother’s mother was anxious and controlling. She took things from my mother at her whim, she would go into her room and rummage through her things. Things would come and go and my mom had no say. I dont understand it, but maybe had to do with the time – my mom was in utero during the Dutch hunger winter, and my grandmother must have been traumatized by her own family situation during WW2. The result, my mom had severe difficulty with boundaries. And she hung onto everything.

    My observation is that this trauma is deeply rooted and very difficult to change. For my family it has taken 3 generations. I was affected by her inability to share things with me, and now I have to think for a long time before I give things away. But my kids? No problem getting rid of things.

  210. >with large stretches of the former urban landscape within the city walls having been reclaimed for farmland

    You don’t have to go that far back. Just look at Detroit.

  211. I would say (to be a little bit ornery and contrarian), that there is a time to spend spend spend and paint the town red. And that time would be during a hyperinflation. Or perhaps before as well, if you’re anticipating one.

    Credit also tends to dry up during a hyperinflation, so blowing out all your credit lines in a calculated way in anticipation of them getting shut off or in anticipation of being able to pay it all back with worthless currency in the future, might be a viable strategy. Seems like I remember that being done to SVB just before they went into receivership – everybody and his brother who had credit with them blew out all their credit lines, in anticipation of them going away. And then they – went away. Was it a self-fulfilling prophecy? We may never know. I guess you must act in your rational self-interest.

    Not saying this is advice or anything, just historical curiosities. Yeah. Historical curiosities.

  212. Michael Gray, since we keep referencing Taoism in this thread, here’s a quote from the Tao Te Ching…
    “For the further one travels
    The less one knows.
    Therefore the Sage arrives without going,
    Sees all without looking,
    Does nothing, yet achieves everything.”

  213. Alastair McIntosh, in his book “Riders on the Storm: The Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being” defined consumerism as ‘consumption in excess of what is needed for dignified sufficiency of living’. He has repeatedly made most of the points you have in your postings. Consequently, I’m getting the same message from two people I respect, so thank you. Many frightened people will try to look the other way in hopes they won’t see, but it’s increasingly difficult for anyone to pretend they do not know what’s going on. Long ago it dawned on me that I was not solely responsible for the country’s economy, despite all the strident voices to the contrary, while also recognising that in order to be a “good citizen” it was presumed that one would consume (anything and everything). Guess I’m not a terribly good citizen then. We are due for a big step down in your theory of catabolic collapse.

  214. In New Zealand (and Australia) we have the expression: to (be able to) live on the smell of an oily rag. I’m pleased to read in your article, John, that the lifestyle I’ve been living by all my life can be regarded as a philosophy! Now, if only I can figure out to do with the dozens of cartons of books in storage that I’ve picked up for peanuts – mixed metaphor apologies – over the years.

  215. John –
    You said in response to Llewna “ the consumer economy is imposed and enforced by a tremendous amount of evil sorcery”. Would you say more about this? I poked around a bit on the web and found a couple of your essays but none that addressed it directly.
    Some background – I’ve been aware all my adult life that there are some dark forces at work in the world. At first I thought they were mine only, some personal mental/psychological affliction that that I had been infected with. I gradually become aware that there is some broader pattern at work (one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn), and I’ve been trying to grok that pattern ever since. So I’d be very interested in anything you had to say.

  216. @BeardTree
    What I had in mind was what a lot of men from the right wing and manosphere imagine women ought to be. The type of woman you’re mentioning will hopefully become more common.

  217. KAN, thank you for this! It’s a fine word and I’ll doubtless start using it.

    Patricia M, that’s a question I’ve had to deal with of late. This evening, a couple of Sara’s crafter friends are coming over to pick up a midsized mountain of crafting supplies — seriously, about 20 cubic feet of stuff — which will be distributed among people who do crafts all over the Providence area; I’ve already handed out a number of other very specialized items to people I know who can use them. I don’t have any simple rules, though, for finding such people if you don’t know them!

    Sarah, very similar indeed; many years ago I read Shankara’s Vivekachudamani in the Christopher Isherwood translation and was struck forcefully by the parallels with Western esoteric philosophy.

    Patricia M, you’ll get no arguments from me. I’ll be quoting that very famous passage from Dune in an upcoming post, and expanding on it.

    Chris, and the dude who comes looking for the principal this time will be Chinese. Yeah, I know — and I expect some very hard times ahead. I’ll mention a word that I haven’t seen discussed much yet: hyperstagflation. Fasten your seat belt and hang onto your hat…

    Pygmycory, glad to hear it.

    Synthase, thanks for this. A fine word, as I noted to KAN.

    Simon, nah, Americans love excess Rs. In my home state, everyone who was local used to call the state Warshington (though for some reason it’s always been Feb-yoo-ary). As for the work ethic, you may well be right about that. Hmm!

    Mary, I consider such people to be psychotic hoarders — and of course that darling of the left, Bernie Sanders, with his three overpriced houses is another good example.

    Alice, an inspiring thought.

    Smith, yep. This is end stage elite failure, right out there in public.

    Nathanael, so I gather. It came up in an online search and looked good, so I used it…

    Anonymous, that’s fascinating. Can you point me to a source for that, something I can quote in a post?

    Michael, I’m typing this on a Toshiba Satellite, vintage 2009, so another 15 year old machine that quite possibly has another 15 years to go. As for Chuang Tsu, the second half of chapter 4 of the Inner Chapters is all about the fine art of camouflage; yes, the useless trees are among the examples he cites. I hope Ran has read Chuang Tsu; one of the downsides of living in a psychiatric ward with the inmates in charge is that anyone sane is likely to get locked up.

    Patricia O, delighted to hear it.

    Forecasting, well, we’ll see.

    Rafael, that was equally true in frontier America; the women were by and large as good shots as the men. I hope the populist movement gets over its faux-traditionalism someday.

    Robert, I’ll put it on the list for my next incarnation. 😉 As for computer software, granted.

    Njura, of course it is — a lot of the stuff Sara accumulated was from thrift stores. (We rarely bought anything new but food and odd-sized clothing.)

    GlassHammer, it’s a useful test of who has a clue.

    Jon, I’m delighted to hear about the Odd Fellows! That was my first fraternal lodge, and still have a very warm spot in my heart for it and its rituals.

    Llewna, hmm! The connection of materialism to the suppression of the mother goddesses is an excellent point and one I hadn’t considered. As for breaking spells, why, there are various ways to do it, but the key is always making it conscious. Awareness is the universal solvent of the alchemists, and what has to happen is very much an alchemical process.

    Tamar, thanks for this. That makes perfect sense of Sara’s hoarding, because her mother was a very damaged human being who couldn’t tolerate Sara’s (or any other family member’s) boundaries, and alternated between being very caring and being a psychotic tyrant-torturer.

    Other Owen, ah, but that’s simply a matter of transferring value from one medium to another. I don’t recommend wasting money on consumer crap even then.

    Serinde, good. Being a good little consumer is increasingly a very bad idea!

    Hadashi, everyone has their vice. Old cheap books are a fairly innocuous one.

    Bill, okay, I think it’s time to do a series of posts on that subject. I have a few more posts to do on practical responses to lenocracy, but once those are in place, away we go:

    “First, the circle’s spell is spun;
    Next, the direful deed is done;
    Third, the weirdest war is won;
    Now, our journey has begun!”

    (Heh heh heh.)

  218. #198 re GPS:
    I thought what happened was that GPS gives out two signals one for military users and a second one for civilians which originally had deliberately introduced errors in the location. As far as I was aware though this is no longer the case and the civilian signal is now the same accuracy.
    This was however one of the reasons ESA created Galileo.

  219. JMG writes: “Chris, and the dude who comes looking for the principal this time will be Chinese. Yeah, I know — and I expect some very hard times ahead.” I’ve often questioned the wisdom of deliberate efforts to “attract foreign investment.” As if we want to encourage absentee landlords.

    And as for hoarding, yikes! Violins, old radios and books, oh my!

  220. @JMG – is that chant yours? Or is it from The Scottish Play?
    Re: Hoarding – My very stoic circlemate’s mother used to steal her daughter’s stuff at random. And don’t ask about boundaries and her very evil brother – she only stood up to him when he threatened to kill her cats.

    ***Massive rule violation; we’re not supposed to tout a product or service here, but there is a book called “Recognizing and Treating Hoarding Disorder” by Carol A. Mathews, MD, Brooke Professor of Psychiatry, former Director of the Center for OCD, Anxiety, and related disorders at the University of Florida. (She has since been promoted to Head of the Psychiatry Department at U.F.) The research and theories are scholarly and the writing style accessible.
    W.W. Norton & Co, 2021, Hardcover, 6″x9″, $35 new. ***

  221. Finding new homes for specialized equipment: one good option is to find a group in the area practicing that hobby. When I was head of a textile arts guild, we regularly received large donations from people whose crafting relatives had died, or were moving into a nursing home. I borrowed a pickup truck once to haul away four spinning wheels and a dozen fleeces, which we found good homes for. A thrifty crafter can go a very long way on other people’s collections.

  222. @ Tamar – The book I mentioned talked a lot about trauma, as a cause of, or trigger for, hoarding. Investigation is still ongoing for the roots or, and treatment of, hoarding.

    Year before last, I sent 17 banana boxes of “stuff” to the local auction. Planning to send another similar batch, plus some furniture, to this years. There’s a good, yearly New Year’s Day auction. I’m holding off, in anticipation of that. I hope the economy hangs together long enough, or, we don’t have “The Big One.,” in the meantime. Lew

  223. Phutatorius, granted. The elites who started the push to attract foreign investment were convinced that they couldn’t possibly be displaced from their positions by those same foreign investors. Some of them are starting to figure it out the hard way.

    Patricia M, it’s mine — I came up with it in late childhood, in fact.

  224. Hi John Michael,

    Respect for your old Toshiba. As an old school tech geek, one of my hobbies is restoring old electronic devices, but usually they’re older than 2009. You could be right there about the potential lifespan. I reckon about thirty years is the best you’ll get for the weakest of the electronic components, the electrolytic capacitors. If they get hot, they’ll dry out and then pop and ooze, whilst taking out surrounding components. The longevity trick with yours is to ensure that the machine runs cool. They often have fans in them which can get clogged with dust. You can usually hear when a fan is having troubles, but that still doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get regularly cleaned say, once per year – or more if you live in a dusty area like I do (dirt roads). Obviously you don’t have an air compressor, but you can buy cans of compressed air which will blow the dust out of the fans and do pretty much the same cleaning job.

    Some unsolicited advice there… 🙂 One of my favourite restored devices is a Yamaha T-80 FM tuner (a radio). Not quite the best ever made, but it’s right up there. It was a save it from the tip purchase for about $100, and nobody puts any value on these well made items. Anywhoo, it’s a real treat to listen too, and puts the sort of dead flat but convenient sound quality that people so like these days, to absolute shame. It surprises me how low the quality is on the newer stuff, and few people seem to notice. Oh well…

    Ooo, that’s a word to strike horror into an economists cold heart. The softies are already backing away from interest rate cut loose talk. They can do that, but seem unable to resolve the core of the issues. That’s why I call them softies. Anyway, it’s all hardly surprising given what is going on. Hey, did you spot this little bit of news: Farmers around the world to grow fewer grain crops as increased production costs narrow profit margins. You may not think much of monoammonium phosphate, but some people do. 😉 As a species, we so often forget our history, and I’m pretty certain that a lot of that stuff was arriving by way of the bear, the same thing you guys are poking.



  225. Rafael,

    Maybe it’s because I live in Texas, which can be a bit…different….but virtually every woman I know on the right gives her second amendment rights some vigorous exercise. I’m having a hard time coming up with more than one woman who could be described as an obedient dishwasher (and actually the one I’m thinking of also carries a concealed pistol, brings in hundreds of pounds of wild game every year, and runs her own business, despite her mousy deference to her subpar John Wayne-wannabe husband) and probably 75-80% of the women I regularly interact with are Right-wing. Women are actually very active in grassroots Republican politics and leadership here.

  226. The ability to stay out of Wall Street’s clutches in part depends on your ability to envision yourself in the future, ie 5 years, 10 years, 20 years from now.

    But if you live your life in five minute slices you’re screwed. You won’t be able to delay gratification and you will fall into debt as sure as you were born. Stay out of debt or you will have Wall Street’s slimy tentacles around your miserable neck your whole lousy life.

    The average new car loan now runs close to 70 months, the average new car price (number may vary according to source) is close to 50G. Median household income is around 75G (again, may vary by source). Do these numbers look workable? Not to me they don’t.

    In 1970 my dad earned 10G. He bought a brand new, full size, 4 door Chev, 350 cubic inch V8 engine for 3G. Nice car. And he paid CASH. Try that nowadays.

    My dad had five years of schooling. Imagine. Cars used to be conveniences that ordinary workers could afford. Now they’re financial millstones. This is how far we’ve descended in 5 decades.

    Yes, yes, it’s the big things that get you into trouble like too expensive a car or house. How many times have I heard financial pros say don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Baloney. Wrong. Sweat the small stuff. The food court and Starbucks will drain you. Bring your lunch to work and a thermos if you can’t drink the office bilge. You’ll save a sack of money over the years. But you have to be able to imagine yourself in the future.

    So, do you want some money in the bank or do you want to always worry about the bailiff paying a visit?

  227. I must be doing something right. Whenever anyone wants to take me out somewhere special for a meal they emphasise the need for appropriate nice clothing. Do they believe I will turn up in my gardening hat and shoes? They really should not tempt me.

  228. Great topic with tons of great comments!

    “But I’ll look poorer than I am!”

    This one struck me particularly, as I’ve taken to walking to work a lot over this past winter. I carry a second-hand messenger bag ($3 from a local thrift shop) slung across my shoulder with a thermos of green tea, leftovers for lunch, whatever book I’m reading, and whatnot in it. Which is not cool. Conspicuously absent is a cell phone and iPod with air pods in my ears. I just have to entertain myself while I walk with the birds, scurrying groundhogs, the occasional lizard or snake, and of course laughing internally at all the people driving by in their expensive cars that keep them strapped to the system.

    Walking in sports gear is fine. Running is better. Running with a smartphone strapped to your arm earns you extra points. But walking in work clothes, carrying a bag, at the same time every day? So not cool.

    Meanwhile, money is piling up in a variety of accounts, pre-paying for the things we actually need.
    I can live with the .contempt.

  229. My mother was here recently for a week and I discovered, to my horror, that people actually watch and listen to commercials! They even contemplate buying things advertised in the commercials. Can you believe it?? Even the pharmaceuticals, somehow tuning out the “side” effects of the things, like “may increase the risk of stroke, myocarditis, paralysis from the neck up, cannibalistic thoughts, lycanthropy, and necrophilia.” You know, to treat indigestion.

    What a bizarre wereold…

  230. Funnily enough, Rupert Sheldrake recently posited that materialism is a subliminal goddess cult, it being a reaction to the protestant idea of a masculine God-as-engineer who set the world in progress as the first cause. He sees materialism as being an extreme swing in the other direction, as it states that only matter (mother) exists, and all matter is born out of other matter. Materialism therefore implies a fatherless world with no spiritual insemination.

  231. Relevant to the comment of Forecasting #211: Last year I inherited at fairly short notice a moderate amount of money and being a JMG reader for 15 years, wondered what best to do with it. My basis was a 2008-style crash could come at any time from next year onwards, with any recovery taking years and likely being incomplete before another crash and full-blown depression set in. My best guess for the latter is the end of the decade or soon after. So I ruled out shares, share-based instruments and long-term government bonds immediately.
    In the end I opted to set some funds aside for work on the home to make it durable and well-insulated, a good set of last-a-lifetime cookware able to be used with any heat source, robust furniture and fittings to last decades, and a few trips to be taken in the next couple of years to see parts of the world my wife and I really want to see. The bulk was put into savings bonds not exceeding three years, all of which are guaranteed by the government against individual bank failures. I trust the government itself will not default on those within the next three years. After that, it will have to played by ear and I’m well aware the interest rate of any vaguely safe investment could be much less than the rate of inflation. Hyperstagflation – now that would be something – would certainly devastate the UK economy as so much spending seems to come from the pensions and investments of retirees.
    None of this of course, should be regarded as advice.

  232. @JMG,

    Thanks for another fine essay. It makes me remember those Archdruid Report posts where you talked about “voluntary poverty” – and how so many people kinda sorta want the benefits thereof… but flee away when you call it by such a straightforward name!

  233. @Patricia A. Ormsby
    Thanks for the cell phone link. Another ubiquitous source of pollution.
    “ I’m no longer wondering how many years this can go on, but how many months. ” Yeah, I’m thinking along the same lines. 2024 may be the year when all hell finally breaks loose and goes rampaging across the globe

  234. JMG,

    It does seem that the “wealth signaling mindset” is an outgrowth of two insecure classes, the upper lower (those who just reached recently some modicum of financial security) and upper middle (those who are the cusp of reaching the next large increase in financial security). And it makes sense that their state of being on the edge of a rise or fall makes them a bit neurotic and attention seeking.

    Between the two I find the upper middle class a bit more toxic, they can’t help sharing their frustration with not being able to punch through the wall blocking further upward mobility while the upper lower class just wants to enjoy luxuries that were long denied to them. That is to say at least the upper lower class is having some fun even if it may not be good for them in the long run.

  235. Chris, I keep ’em clean and take ’em to a local computer repair guy at intervals, for whatever that’s worth. I also keep a few spares tucked away! As for monoammonium phosphate, oh, sure — but I wonder if the reporter who wrote that article realizes that Russia’s had two record-setting bumper crops of wheat in a row. Global warming benefits some people, it turns out — and of course when monoammonium phosphate isn’t being bought by the bear’s customers, the bear’s own garden may just get the benefit…

    Jen (if I may), thanks for this. I find it very reassuring.

    Chariot, er, not so much.

    Smith, a good point. A very good point.

    JillN, ha! I like it. I wonder if it would work to ask to be taken someplace where a gardening hat and shoes wouldn’t be out of place.

    Bill, it does sound like the Scottish play, doesn’t it?

    Grover, remarkably often that kind of contempt is a mask over the face of bitter envy…

    Logan, good heavens. Can you point me to the source? I want to cite it.

    Thrown, oh, it’s the same theme. The strategies that matter haven’t changed much. It’ll be interesting to see if I get the same reaction as we proceed.

    GlassHammer, I’ve seen as much of it or more from the lower middle — those who’ve climbed out of the working class and are frantically trying to prove it to everybody.

  236. >This kind of traditional woman?

    If I have to choose between the Rednecks and the Screaming Bluehairs, my money’s on the Rednecks. They have all the practical skills and most critical – they’re sane. It’s my claim that sanity will always eventually win out over insanity. Inexorably, the way the sun rises in the east.

  237. Speaking of the warrior women of Texas. My wife has a friend and coworker who is a lawyer. She has an Ivy educated Chinese mother and Native American father and grew up on a reservation in Oklahoma. She is a stanch republican, and has modest bit of swampland here in Oregon she and her husband use as a hunting getaway. Her hobby, in her spare time, is pro bono representing ranchers in lawsuits against the government or environmental groups. She almost always wins and has an endless supply of free beef and boxes of Rodeo Tickets to show for it.

  238. JMG,

    You can hear the Sheldrake quote at 31 minutes into the video below:

    A transcript of what he says is:

    “I think what’s less noticed is that materialism has a kind of unconscious mythology, in that it started historically as a rebellion against an extreme form of mechanistic Protestantism. You know, God is the Supreme Engineer and creator of the whole universe. God is the all powerful Emperor who sets the laws of nature. God is the engineer who designed the machinery of nature, and nature is a machine, and then presses the start button.

    So it’s very much a kind of male God that atheist materialists were rebelling against in the 17th, 18th and 19th Century, and what they said was “No, no, there’s no God out there, the total reality is matter, matter is the sum total of all things”. Basically it’s saying “We don’t believe in the Great Father, we instead we believe in the Great Mother”, so matter is I think a kind of unconscious Cult of the Great Goddess, the mother principle, so it’s just all from the mother and not all from the father. Of course, as soon as you put it in those terms, it’s obvious this is an unbalanced metaphor in both directions. You know, if you’re going to use mother and father as metaphorical terms, in a sense they’re co-determinative – you can’t have a father without a mother and you can’t have a mother without a father.

    They’re polar, they’re part of a a greater unity, of which they’re polar parts, but I think that materialism when one sees it as the unconscious Cult of the Great Mother – everything comes from matter, everything goes back to matter, matter is the source of all things – it’s basically a Great Mother cult. So materialists think they’re just being rationalists, and the fact it’s unconscious doesn’t mean it’s not powerful, it means it’s so powerful it’s kind of repressed.”

  239. Maybe it would be worthwhile cataloguing some of the incantations of the aforementioned pervasive evil sorcery.. Especially ones encountered outside of overt advertisements, in the form of conventional wisdom or popular notions.

    One I wold nominate is the bucket list, which while not a completely irredeemable idea, is invariably presented as just another kind of shopping list, inviting one to decide in advance which travel destinations, luxury experiences, and acquisitions one must tally up to regard ones life as worthwhile. While some bucket-list suggestions do include creative, self-improvement, learning, and social goals, none include gracefully handling the things life throws at you, such as tragic loss or undeserved success.

    It seems possible to me the bucket list concept as we know it can be counterspelled. A contrasting list of meaningful life experiences (Kipling’s “If” provides many suggestions) could be part of that. Which stranger would you rather converse with on a train, someone who’s served a criminal sentence and then built an honest life afterward, or someone who’s gone scuba diving on a coral reef?

    A few other non-obvious media tropes I’d also nominate as having ulterior and destructive intentions behind them: “buyer’s guides,” enumerations of personalty types, medical scares about symptom-less conditions to go get tested for, most retirement advocacy (especially the “is $2 million enough to retire on?” variety), and how-to advice that overcomplicates everything in the name of achieving impossible perfection or unnecessary efficiency. (I just now noticed how all those things reflect the professional-managerial mindset in different ways.)

  240. On recent 9gag daily top posts:
    Lisa Simpson explaining “A car company could make a lot of money selling a small, simple car with almost no tech”.

    That website as I have mentioned before is somewhat of a radio broadcast of the thought across the west and also beyond, increasingly on the anti-woke site these years in general tone.

    Yesterday on a train I heard to girls speaking, they were around 22 as I overheard. They complained about an endless bureaucracy in schools and trainings, endless certificates, impractical classes and no for certificates in social work, food catering, agricultural high school.

    That fits this and the past weeks topics well.

    A former warehouse worker now doing office work from Eastern Europe told me about one job, where an older Austria woman screamed at him, because he checked the goods without the mandatory training. That task however is standard in a warehouse and he had the proper experience – checking the numbered ID of the product, the packaging and so forth

    One form of lenocracy in Austria I hear of is when a restaurant went to new ownership in these years, then the government Department appointed to license it will enforce all the modern regulations from then on, having had I dont know what agreement before that.

    That means things like the kitchen must be chromium and so on.

    A particular case I know: a middle aged hippie couple took contract for a tourist Inn in the mountains.
    There was a small hydroeclectric plant (a generator) from a torrent, and a ropeway transport for people and goods connecting base and peak of the mountain.

    When they took contract over from previous ownership, the hydroplant was banned (as it is illegal according to contemp regulation). The rope railway was defunct ad somewhat a state or communal responsibility as I gathered.

    They requested a helicopter for provision of food mainly (montane summer and winter tourism is a serious matter in Austria) and were denied. Reason given by the govt office: they have a ropeway. They did not care about its status.

    One example I may have already given of typical state overhead is the diplomated university course of nursing. Why is it diplomated and at university? Well they simple took competence away from ordinary nurses and nursing personel, and gave it to the “diplomated” ones.

    This is a job with low pay and high stress, depending on where you work very bad conditions. Academic egoes among the teaching personel of this study are setting themselves a monument by inducing useless endless theory that students must learn. Scientific writing, anatomy to its detail, theories of branches of nursing and care…

    For a job that is mainly wiping behinds of elderly and needing people that increasingly nobody wants to do.

  241. The topic of this weeks post is something I was somewhat taught since childhood from parents and grandmother. About the environment, where things come from, older times where things were mended and not squandered.
    My parents, two biologists, though never working in the profession.

    On my behalf I have tried to live humbly for most of the time. Only as a child until I was 14, consumerism gripped me mostly via computer games.

    The mistrust was always there, but then that was certainly also because I withdrew and had lots of opportunities to quietly witness ecosystems at work. Likewise seeing and being pointed to, how ugly urbanisation eats through quaint places and other things.
    I favored everything living “on its own”. I was not spiritual, but certainly detested the world of greedy humans. Given as a child I wanted to nuke humanity, and one of my grandmothers often said “There’s your old wish to exterminate humanity again!”.

    Being in the middle class of the West, I have flown intercontinental flights three times in my life, once for a longer intership in agriculture in poor pacific asia.

    A couple more times within Europe, but apart from that I avoided airtravel.
    Travelling is not bad, can be very favorable.
    My consideration in these times is: “why spend two weeks in a foreign place, pretty as it may be, while relating to anything there very superficially. What do I really learn from the experience that is so special?
    I dont casually use a smartphone either, point of wonder often for many people.
    My electronics are all also cheap and wear until tear. The functionality I really need is limited.

    But I do live very well materially backed too, I have not lived real or at least relative poverty yet.

    Other than that being a philosopher is certainly a challenge as it always was; where to engaged with broader society or at least a subset, and where not.

  242. Since the topic of traditional gender roles has come up, I’m going to share a rather uncomfortable thought I recently that I haven’t been able to shake: guns completely change gender dynamics, by evening the playing field. Women are capable of using guns just as well as men; and therefore guns make it a lot easier for women to deal with aggressive and violent men. Since at least part of the reason for traditional gender roles is that men can be very dangerous to women, this suggests that part of the reason feminism emerged when it did is because of the radical reshaping of possibilities for gender relationships that occurred when guns became widespread, and it finally became possible for women to injure or kill men on equal terms; in typical human fashion these changes have emerged gradually, piecemeal, and with few people making the conscious connection to the change that caused it.

    Assuming it’s not just one of those surprisingly frequent cases where our society has muddled thoughts and can’t think through the implications of its own ideas, what exactly does it mean that by and large there is a strong correlation between support for gun control and support for modern feminism*? It suggests to me that a lot of people are unhappy with the lives modern feminism has confined them to, and are seeking a way out; and have subconsciously decided to start to undermine the feminist project by attacking it at its root. Rather than throwing out the dysfunctional modern version, I think this could be evidence that we are about to see a backlash against feminism itself and a push for traditional gender norms emerge from dissatisfied people on the left….

    *The version that emerged in the public sphere towards the end of the 1950s, and has a very different agenda than equality between the genders.

  243. A smorgasbord of related thoughts and links:
    1.0 Bill Meyer re pedophilia in Hollywood “If you want kids to be more tolerant, why not have handicapped people [rather than trans, etc. ] reading them stories? . . . Wokeness is not an extension of liberalism any more. It’s taking something so far that it becomes the opposite.”

    2.0 “the actual workings of business under national socialism. Written in 1939, Reimann discusses the effects of heavy regulation, inflation, price controls, trade interference, national economic planning, and attacks on private property, and what consequences they had for human rights and economic development.” Best not to wonder if things will get better with a little more “Socialism”. Key takeaway? The “Masters” don’t want anything good for you; and they are just fine with burning everything to the ground if they don’t get everything they want, they lose control, or it turns out badly. There is no need to wonder what they think, nor how far they will go. History is replete with trial runs.

    3.0 The Regime that Doesn’t Care. First heard from JMG as “Collapse now and avoid the rush”: “I never could have imagined that there would come a time when I would say to those who have completely seceded from modern life: you might be doing it the right way. There is something truly brilliant about the choices you have made.”

    4.0 Personally, I’ve been preparing for something for almost 25 years, now. Unfortunately, I thought it was, mainly, an economic problem; rather than a Spiritual dilemma with an economic fuse.

    5.0 On a happier — and more frugal — note: I just got goats to replace my lawn mowing and yard service. It only took me 15 years to try this again (sheep didn’t work). They are damn smart and friendly, as long as I don’t spook them. Last night I joined them in eating leaves off an apple tree. Hopefully I can find a middle ground!

  244. The comments (BeardTree #216, Siliconguy #232, Jen #$239, Clay Denis #253) about supremely competent women from Texas and elsewhere call to mind that wonderful quotation about the natural state of (hu)mankind from one of Robert E. Howard’s stories:

    “Barbarism is the natural state of mankind,” the borderer said, still staring somberly at the Cimmerian. “Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must ultimately always triumph.”

    Preach it, brother!

  245. Tyler A – Re: Sears & Roebuck. Before their catalog came along, rural people who couldn’t travel to the big city for shopping would buy household goods from traveling peddlers. Their invention of catalog shopping put thousands of them out of business.

  246. I should mention that the guy in the video added up everything he’s paying monthly for subscriptions and it was over 1200 pounds a month. Which is absolutely insane. Imagine if he cut 3/4 of that and saved it instead… (I get the impression some of it is essential for his work, but still. A lot of people round the world live on less than that!)

  247. @Pygmycory “I should mention that the guy in the video added up everything he’s paying monthly for subscriptions and it was over 1200 pounds a month.”

    I always find it funny when you see advice on how to save money and there is always the mention of “check which streaming services you are still subscribed to”. That is good advice, hopefully many get that down to zero. But the responses I see are wild.

    Folks with stories like “I have been subscribed to these 15 services for 3 years and I didn’t know it!” – I am always wondering, how do they manage their money? How do they pay $150-$200 a month and not notice it? Do they just keep tapping the credit card unthinking until it goes dry? Unfortunately for many I think the answer is yes. It must be a mentality that comes from a “I will think about that.. tomorrow” repeated again and again.

    I know it isn’t Frugal Friday but this goes for everyone, just give up the streaming services, check out your library.

  248. Speaking of the Sages, maybe we be a little more Druidic and we should worship the sun a little more. I mean, Stars basically did everything for us in some way or another. 🙂

    By that I find it neat that this week Nate Hagens has FINALLY started to talk to folks about responses to decline and the use of appropriate tech, although I do like the term Goldilocks technology as well. Not too high tech, not going back to the stone age.

    This weeks episode was with Luther Krueger about Solar Ovens. You can give your middle finger to those scoff at the idea of independence with a nice stew or loaf of bread using nothing more than the sun. If you really have to appease others need for marketing, call the oven something like The Fusion Box 3000 (TM) “The future of cooking!”. I mean it is the genuinely using fusion power without any of those… very strange people… in silicon valley throwing billions of dollars at a Wonkaesque pipedream.

    MP3 Link –

    PDF – Transcription –

    Youtube –

  249. Other Owen, defining sanity is a very tricky thing. I’d say that the rednecks and the bluehairs are both well adapted to their environments — it’s just that the environment to which the bluehairs are adapted is a brittle, temporary, and self-terrminating set of conditions, while the environment to which the rednecks are adapted is what remains when the set of conditions just mentioned goes away. As Robert Mathiesen points out further down the comment thread, there’s a name for what remains…

    Clay, what a perfect microcosm of post-imperial America in the making!

    Logan, many thanks for this! I appreciate the transcript especially, of course, but the link gives me something to cite.

    Walt, that’s a very good start for the list. One version of your last entry I find particularly galling is the way that cookbooks have turned into sales pitches for exotic and unnecessary ingredients, tools, and procedures, to the extent that it’s often impossible to find basic, simple, pleasant recipes at all. I had to go to Frugal Friday to get a recipe for cinnamon rolls that didn’t make them twice as expensive and four times as complicated to make as they have to be.

    Curt, if somebody produced such a car, the entire auto industry and every state and federal bureaucracy that is involved in that industry would rise up in wrath to stop it from being sold. Think of all the people who would be put out of work by a plain, cheap, reliable car!

    Taylor, excellent. That’s another aspect of a point I made in my January post on deindustrial warfare: firearms dissolve hierarchies of violence. That’s true of the class hierarchies that made classic feudalism work, since a horse and some armor make a rich person so much more powerful on the pre-gunpowder battlefield than a poor one, but it’s also true of sexual hierarchies, since a woman with a rifle can drop you in your tracks just as efficiently, and at just as great a distance, as a man similarly armed. With regard to current feminism, oh, very likely — I expect a significant number of wokesters to convert to traditional forms of Islam over the next decade or so, and an even larger number of people on the left more generally to turn to Christianity. It’ll be their daughters and granddaughters who follow the lead of those well-armed Texas women.

    Gnat, every great social transformation is spiritual in nature; the fuse may be economic, political, military, or all three, but the core is a spiritual shift. As for your goats, huzzah! I used to take care of goats at the hippie farm where I worked for a couple of years, and I still find them excellent company. (This may help explain why the Black Goat of the Woods is so sympathetic a figure in my tentacle fiction…)

    Pygmycory, yep. That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to facilitate the shift to face-to-face interactions among my commentariat.

    Michael, fascinating that he’s coming around to this now. Solar ovens are incredibly easy and cheap to make — you can build them of cardboard, newspaper, aluminum foil, and a stray window pane, and they work like a dream. Enter “make your own solar oven” into your favorite search engine and you’ll have hours of reading and watching ahead of you. Me, I have a book on the subject from the 1960s…

  250. JMG, Are there any other books you are familiar with that talk, besides Subversive virtue that you mentioned in the post, that talk about how stoicism and philosophy were actually practiced in the ancient world? The spiritual demensions and meditations they practiced would be interesting to learn about.


  251. Curt, if somebody produced such a car, the entire auto industry and every state and federal bureaucracy that is involved in that industry would rise up in wrath to stop it from being sold. Think of all the people who would be put out of work by a plain, cheap, reliable car!

    You should google Kei cars sometime. There’s been a steady flow of them into the United States over the last fifteen years because you can import them all in, tax/shipping/customs duties etc for around $10,000.

  252. pygmycory #260:
    Thank you for the video; it is painful, but important, to watch. In general, I have avoided Facebook, and most clicking on tracking-adverts, from the beginning. Then I started massive ad blocking. And, of course, I use mute if I can’t. Now I am trying to pause for a second to associate hate and pain, in my head, with any product which is advertised to me against my request.

    One of the things I have known for years is that Corporations are fictitious entities, which are not human, not generally even backed by human altruism, remorse, nor the best interest of society (with an exception for some small businesses).

    More recently, I have begun to realize — at more than an intellectual level — that Governments are our enemies. If you are a citizen of a country, you are a SLAVE of that country. It is a simple fact, that guests of a country generally have far more rights, and — certainly — far fewer obligations than citizens who happen to live their.

    This is a really hard truth to swallow, much less digest, to those of us who have been conditioned — by “will”? — to believe otherwise. We pledge allegiance, we pay our slave owner from our labor, we die for our Masters in their wars. We are conditioned to feel lucky, or at least obligated, to have these associated chains.

    I have spent some time contemplating a world with no — or at least massively constrained — fictitious entities. I started out thinking it was “impossible”.

    But I have come to realize it is VERY possible, once you let go of grasping for this consumerist, “patriotic”, “public-educated” world. I think that is the opportunity which we face in this Fourth Turning. But it is not a given; most people aren’t happy without their slavery. They may say slavery is bad, but for most, most of the time, their slavery is clearly preferable. It is only when the whips come out, good and hard, that some start making harder choices.
    “But nothing will be done without the bloodiest blows…. What do you mean to do?” A Voyage to Arcturus:

  253. JMG: Your comment “Solar ovens are incredibly easy and cheap to make” sparked a thought: Pre-Covid you had periodic/annual meetups. Any chance some form of these might be revived?
    And if it is possible, maybe we — and I don’t mean YOU, I mean the community — might try to turn this into some sort of meetup with learning opportunities, such as short workshops? If no room or no interest in such learning demonstrations, another in-person meetup would be nice.
    I would be willing to chip in some money to make this possible. I think it would be for a good cause.

  254. Some years ago I was able to have a couple of fragments of the ancient and cryptic Tung-Sing translated into English.
    ‘….all the cities of man will turn to dust, only outlying islanders will survive…lions and elephants will roam where the cities of man once stood….wearing clothes and pointed hats made out of woven leaves tiny humans cower in the tree branches, whilst down below the predators roam…’

  255. Hi John Michael,

    That’s it exactly. By not using up something, or being forced to use up something, the something can be kept in reserve, or used as needed. It’s the same sort of strategy as avoiding spending thus reducing dependency.

    I’m guessing what the Leno’s have forgotten, is that they need the Johns and Strawberries, otherwise biz be sinking…

    Don’t you reckon that there is some real irony there in those particular policies being pursued by the west? Whilst we run down our resources and capital (of whatever type), we’re kind of forcing an opposite strategy on the bricks (sic) nations, which only makes them stronger and in a better position. It’s said before that Leno’s like strawberries…

    The whole thing makes no sense to me.



  256. @Renaissance Man,
    Thank you! I appreciate this. Every word is true, but it’s always odd to see them so open about such things.

    You know, it never occurred to me to connect the disappearance of peddlers with mail-order. Somehow the peddler was always an old-world character in my mind, never making the leap across the Atlantic.

    @Taylor, JMG,
    “God made men; Sam Colt made them equal” — that motto applies equally well to wifmen and wermen. (and anybody else! I’m now very angry at William the Conqueror that the whole bru-ha-ha about trans people isn’t a conversation about werwifs. )

    @Curt, JMG,
    The closest thing you can get in North America to a “small, simple car with almost no tech” is a Side-By-Side ATV. They’ve exploded in popularity almost in lockstep with the loss of small trucks and the overtechification of our vehicles. It varies by juristiction, but they’re allowed on some public roads here. In some ways they remind me of the old Model T. I get the sense that some two-car households are moving towards becoming car-and-ATV households, as economics mean choosing between the very useful “toy” and the second car. Given the state of our roads I think it’s the better choice.

  257. Will, the writer you want is Pierre Hadot. His books Philosophy as a Way of Life and The Inner Citadel are particularly useful, but much of his work focused on explaining the way ancient philosophy was practiced.

    Tlong0038, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Gnat, good heavens. A David Lindsay fan? I’m impressed. (And yes, I have a copy of the 1970s reprint of A Voyage to Arcturus on my bookshelf.) As for the possibility of in-person events with skill-centered workshops, that’s being discussed here as I type this.

    Tengu, good. An old story endlessly repeated…

    Chris, that was Vico’s prediction: the historical cycle always ends in madness.

    Tyler, funny. We did lose a lot of verbal flexibility when the Normans brought over their bastardized French.

  258. “Grover, remarkably often that kind of contempt is a mask over the face of bitter envy…”

    JMG, I can live with that too…:)

  259. >The internet is starting to break

    Here’s a revolutionary new idea. Why not get up, go out and physically go purchase what it is you want? Or get up, go out and carry yourself to wherever it is you wanted to go?

    If you want a job done right, do it yourself. Now that is a great way to use the internet – it’s amazing what people will teach you how.

  260. @Curt: a 1965 VW Beetle is hard to beat. Probably more civilized than a Kei car. They still made them in South America until somewhat recently. But all the safety regs, etc. in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave won’t allow it; it’s a shame.

  261. Walt F,

    I always tell people that I don’t have a bucket list, but I definitely have a frack it list! (Rhymes with bucket when I say it;) And it gets longer every year…

    As for efficiency, I remember Art Ludwig having some interesting things to say, in one of his books about water storage or graywater systems. Something like, achieving a 97.5% uninterrupted supply of ______ costs twice as much as a 95% consistent system. And 99% consistency costs twice as much as that. And a 99.5% consistency costs twice as much as that. I’m paraphrasing from memory here, but you get the idea. Being able to stomach a little interruption to normal services now and then saves a helluva lot of money!


  262. “I have begun to realize — at more than an intellectual level — that Governments are our enemies.”

    The Twentieth Century made it pretty explicit. The Holodomor, the Great Purge, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot. And of course the German National Socialists and the actual fascists in Spain and Italy. Throw in Pinochet and whatever they called it in Argentina and it’s pretty complete across the political spectrum.

  263. I suspect, JMG, that you have not been much of a ‘surfer dude’ in this lifetime, but I’ve got to tell you that at least intellectually, you’ve been hitting the ‘power pocket’ and doing some impressive ‘aerials’ on the big waves that many of us can see heading to shore. Rad barrels out there! 😊

    To switch metaphors, I have a feeling that this current series of posts is a sort of ‘last call for the lifeboats’ as the shipwreck of the Western economy groans and lists menacingly as she takes in way more water than the pumps can handle. The best lifeboats are those that are very buoyant and have only as much ‘stuff’ aboard as is absolutely necessary. Oh, and are provisioned with sufficient number of oars…

    Like some others in this group, I have a well dignified Saturn in my birth chart and have always been frugal and an extremely ‘bad’ consumer. Even though my parents liked to live it up in the post-war boom (pleasure boats, annual vacations to the Caribbean), they still maintained their well-honed Depression-era fiscal discipline on a day-to-day basis (second-hand cars, clothes from the thrift shop, hand-knit socks and sweaters, virtually never eating ‘out’ even during road trips). For that I am eternally grateful.

    I am also blessed with having a spouse who grew up in an even more frugal household than I (and endowed with a well dignified Saturn in her birth chart, to boot). Because of that we lived our lives on our own terms. For many years we lived on one modest paycheque, and when we bought a house, we paid off the mortgage in seven years – in one of the most expensive cities on the planet. Nor did we have to wear rags and eat gruel three meals a day in order to do it. It just required making clear priorities and sticking to them and not giving a rat’s arse about what others think about us and our lifestyle choices. If somebody judges me by the size of my house, the neighbourhood I live in, or the fashion of my clothes (if the word ‘fashion’ even applies; I’ve dressed like a country bumpkin my whole life – and proudly so), that person is not even worth two minutes of my time.

    All the same, these days I am looking for ways to further economize and use / develop skills for doing the best I can when the next socio-economic tsunami hits. Your posts are great for keeping me focused on this. Many thanks!

  264. JMG,

    I don’t like to comment until I’ve read all the other replies, so I don’t just repeat what’s already been said, but I’ve been unusually busy this week and am having trouble keeping up.

    But I just got to the part where you mentioned “arrange[ing] more non-virtual interactions for those of us on the Ecosophian fringe” and I think this is one of the best ideas you’ve had in a long line of great ideas.

    I admit, I’m one of those lonely people who has few friends I can really talk to about “fringe ideas”. According to the map adara9 produced, I’m about 6 hours from the closest Ecosopian, but I suppose that’s not an insurmountable barrier. And if this craziness spreads, I might find out there’s a fellow friend closer than I think. I think this is a great idea.

    You already helped save my life with the cooties blog (I can never thank you enough for that), go ahead and change my life again! Or, if not me, surely lots of other people.

  265. I know it’s a quote, but I’m not sure from whom. My father said this to me when I was ten or so, and I’ve never forgotten it; something like, “In the end, one loves one’s desires, more than WHAT one desires.” Seems fitting for this post.

  266. Just one more, echoing Joel #139. I have more stuff than I want because if there is possibly some use left in it, you never know when you might need it. I can’t put anything with any value in the trash. And finding a good home for this or that is a lot harder than just throwing it out, but I just can’t. This is some of the “expecting the next Great Depression” I mentioned earlier.

    I do a similar thing with food. I live on the southern end of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, which means at any moment we could have an earthquake so large that all the bridges and highway overpasses fall down which means no food deliveries for … a while. So the question is not, “You really think you’re going to eat that?”, it’s: “Is it still edible?” If it’s still edible, it stays, because you never know.

  267. Clay,
    “Her hobby, in her spare time, is pro bono representing ranchers in lawsuits against the government or environmental groups” – are you sure this is a good thing?

  268. While consumption is certainly a big part of it, I find that not owning a car is a big source of slack as well. The thing about cars is that when talking to car owners, I find they misjudge the true costs of cars. Repairs are done when they happen, the owner complains about the bill for a week and forgets about it, and people who make a big deal about tipping the waiter do not mind tipping the insurance company each month. Then there is the true time investment. I once read a research where they factored into the ride time the time spent fueling, waiting for repairs, working to finance the car etc, and they found car travel is effectively slower than walking.

    When observing car owners, I notice an altered view of space itself. I often take advantage of shortcuts not available to cars, such as cutting through farmland rater than walking parallel to the road. Car owners often assume I walk on the road, which is why they never believe me when I say X is only 15 minuets walk away, because in their mind the only way to the next town over is the road. Explaining is futile, as car owners live in a one dimensional space, “roadland” instead of flatland if you will.

    This is a deeper problem than most people realize, because in by foot travel I ended up noticing a lot is hidden where cars are not there to see. For example I became accustomed to walking next to huge heaps of trash, which are always in places not visible from the road. I find it’s really easy to control what car owners see: simply hide it from the road, or divert the road altogether.

    The fact otherwise intelligent people suspend their critical thinking on this subject makes me suspect they are affected by the car company’s marketing to the point where their consciousness is being changed according the the car seller’s will.

  269. >Think of all the people who would be put out of work by a plain, cheap, reliable car

    The problem with disposable cars is what we saw in 2020 – production just shut down. People think 2020 was an aberration, I think it was a prelude. If there’s one thing the world could use, it’s an easy to manufacture, easy to repair, affordable car. While we still have the ability to make them.

    I’m not holding my breath though

  270. Taylor Burgess , feminism emerged, at least in the West, before guns were widespread, and as far as I know has zero relationship with them. I think it’s a very US-centric perspective; in Europe, for example, the idea that women (or even people in general) defend themselves by carrying guns is considered absurd. Many issues, such as education, voting rights, equality in the workplace, inheritance, custody, sexual freedom, reproductive freedom, have nothing to do with guns and little or nothing to do with physical violence. A lot of violence against women is committed by partners or former partners, and you’re not going to defend yourself against your husband with a gun, especially if you live in the same house.

  271. I have long realized that there is a global conspiracy against abstinence. In fact, the main reason why corporations will affirm everything except religion (except for corporations with express religious affiliation like Chicfilla and Patanjali) is because religion prescribes abstinence.

    By the way, Mr. Greer, I read The Twilight of Pluto a long time back, and I was reflecting on the book earlier today. I suddenly realized that if you hadn’t mentioned Ceres, Vulcan, and Lilith then Pluto would have been the tenth planet on the list. But with those three additions it becomes the thirteenth planet, corresponding to the Tarot card closest to it in function. Was this a deliberate decision?

  272. Six months ago, I totaled my car on my way to work. Since I had planned to move closer to my workplace anyway, my sister agreed to let me borrow her car until I’ve found something in the city I work in, where I wouldn’t need a car at all.

    Well, it’s six months later, and I’ve just bought a new car. I had no luck getting a contract, not because I couldn’t afford the rent, but because (as a frustrated realtor let me know at one of the very few apartment viewings I was invited to), the whole process has been given over to algorithms. In that particular case, four hundred people had applied for that apartment; the computer chose forty of those, completely randomly, for the viewing. The realtor’s only job (and the source of his frustration) was to herd the applicants through the apartment, take note of those who were still interested afterwards… and then the computer would chose, again randomly, who’d get the thing in the end. This was all, as the guy explained to me, so that nobody could sue the company (which owns about 2.5 K apartments in this city) for discrimination.

    It’s a total lottery. And my sister wanted her car back.

    So, yeah. Ditching your car is not that easy as some here seem to believe. And keeping your car doesn’t mean you’re a mindless slave to the system. I admit I’m a bit irked, because some of the comments here sound a wee bit self-gratulatory. Yes, I do know what my car costs, apart from gas and oil.

    Am I still looking for an apartment? Sure. In the meantime, I drive my (small, used) car to work, because otherwise, I don’t have a job to earn the money to pay my rent…

  273. All- So, I was just watching the embedded video about “the Internet is breaking”, when I reloaded the page to see if there were new comments, and the video stopped playing. The very last words I heard from it were “It’s so easy to get into the trap of thinking…”

    And I had to take another moment to say: “On the contrary, it’s so easy to get into the trap of NOT thinking!”

  274. One thing we definitely do not accumulate in this culture is rest, and your promotion of the concept of slack has been a great service to all of us. When I get to work on Monday morning my boss always asks me what I did over the weekend. My typical response is that I got this or that project completed, and got a lot of rest as well, which he pretends not to hear. He’s a Boomer and an Aries, and a long-time businessman, and doesn’t seem capable of being alone with his thoughts – always busy busy. I like sleeping in on Sunday and watching a little soccer, trotting down to the tavern to have a couple pints with my friends. I am definitely not uncomfortable in my own headspace. Just sitting quietly with my wife, chatting occasionally about this or that, is such a joy.

    Accumulating slack, allowing genuine rest into your life, is uneconomic and highly subversive!

  275. “If you want a job done right, do it yourself. Now that is a great way to use the internet – it’s amazing what people will teach you how.”

    True. Rachel Maksy for redoing second hand clothes, Junkyard Digs and Vicegrip Garage for fixing old cars and occasionally tractors, Adrian’s Digital Basement for repairing old computers, endless how-to sites on installing Linux on old or new PCs and abandoned by Apple Macs, it’s all there.

    Including beer making, this morning’s next project.

  276. @Gaia,
    I am not really promoting that as a good thing. My point is to show that the images of people that we have in our minds are not always true. But the tug of war between ranchers that utilize the public lands for grazing and other interests is a nuanced one. I ended up as the caretaker of my families homestead in the centennial valley of Montana after my father passed away. Since the 1950’s we have leased it out to a local cattle ranching operation that has always followed the rules and left the property in good condition. They have cooperated with Fish and Wildlife’s fencing off a special trout spawning steam, but pushed back against some other regs on a neighboring property that made no sense. The only economy in the Centennial valley is ranching and most of it done by the families that homestead there in the 1880’s. Like anything a system of give and take between stakeholders can be a good thing.

  277. Clay, thanks for the explanation. I keep sheep, so I’m definitely not against ranching or similar activities. I have heard some horror stories; like many things, I guess it depends on how it’s done.
    I am fascinated by the idea, discovered probably on this blog or its previous incarnation, of different strands merging in America and new, local cultures being born. Of course it’s what’s happened everywhere, but in the Americas some events are just more recent or extreme.

  278. Think of all the people who would be put out of work by a plain, cheap, reliable car

    The problem with disposable cars is what we saw in 2020 – production just shut down. People think 2020 was an aberration, I think it was a prelude. If there’s one thing the world could use, it’s an easy to manufacture, easy to repair, affordable car. While we still have the ability to make them.

    I’m not holding my breath though

    So basically an appliance, like a refrigerator or a dish washer. Yes, having one is convenient, but you buy one one time and fully expect to have it for the next thirty years.

  279. Gaia,

    I’m not saying that it’s a conscious factor; nor for that matter does it matter if guns are extremely widespread, or if only a small minority have them. I assume that no European country outlaws their police officers from having guns, to provide one obvious example. If the police had to enforce the law using muscle power, then women would be at a substantial disadvantage. But things like guns, and tasers, allow for women to compete on much closer to comparable terms. Likewise, women serving in a military is an obvious absurdity for a society which relies on physical strength for its weaponry, but becomes possible with firearms; and this means that motivating women to actively fight for a cause is now important in a way it wasn’t before. Witness, for example, the Hussites in the early 1400s: they fielded much larger armies than anyone expected, because they armed women.

    Even though by modern standards the Hussites were still quite male dominated, by the standards of the time they were remarkably feminist. This turned out to be a massive source of strength, because it meant that many of the women involved in the Hussite movement were willing to be soldiers for them; and since even though they were limited and primitive, the guns of the day were enough to allow for this to become a potent source of strength to the Hussites.

    Firearms balance the potential for force in a very real way which will have all kinds of far reaching effects throughout society; and not all of which will be obviously related to the firearm. This is true even if it’s just a relatively small number of women who learn how to use them, because there is always going to be a risk that did not exist before firearms; even if that risk is just that any given woman is police officer and she can make people regret messing with her through the force of the law; or even just the fact that now when the police answers a call about a sexual assault crime, it might very well include women, who tend to be a lot less understanding about such things.

    Even if people are not aware of why the relationship has changed on any kind of conscious level, I don’t see any way in which introducing something that changes the relative capacity for lethal force as much as firearms would not have a major effect on society.

  280. Grover, granted, and it adds a certain amusement value!

    Other Owen, where possible, sure. We’ll have to wait until the internet breaks and stays broken, though, for some of the economic sectors (book stores, anyone?) to make a significant comeback.

    Ron, I’ve never tried surfing — my nervous system doesn’t handle unsteady footing well — but I’ll take the compliment in the spirit in which it’s given. As for the other metaphor, it’s not quite a last call for the lifeboats, but it’s definitely “get your life jackets on and head for lifeboat stations” time.

    Slink, just one of the services I offer. 😉 The discussion of face-to-face meetings over on my Dreamwidth journal is good and lively, btw, with some potential get-togethers already in the planning stages.

    Four Sided, I’ve seen that also, repeatedly. I’m not sure what it is that makes driving a car affect the mind of the driver, but it’s a real phenomenon.

    Other Owen, no doubt, but for the reason you cited, it won’t happen. The abstract advantages of cheap reliable cars don’t pour money into the pockets of politicians, stockholders, and labor union executives!

    Gaia, if I may, you’re quite wrong in terms of history. Feminism emerged as a significant organized force in the Western world in the late 1840s — the Seneca Falls convention in 1848 is widely considered the birth of first wave feminism — and at that time gun ownership in Europe and America alike was basically unregulated and extremely common. It was only in the mid-20th century that European countries began restricting gun ownership. You can see this reflected, among other places, in contemporary fiction — in 19th and early 20th century English murder mysteries, for example, it never occurs to anyone that the villain would have the least trouble getting a gun, and plenty of ordinary people have one. (Dr. Watson’s revolver features as a plot element in more than one Sherlock Holmes story, for example.) I also think you’ve completely misunderstood Taylor’s point, but he’s already dealt with that.

    Rajarshi, not only didn’t I intend that, I hadn’t noticed it. Fascinating! Thank you for this.

    Athaia, and that’s why I noted that the principles I was discussing were flexible and scalable, and that one size does not necessarily fit all.

    Lathechuck, true enough!

    Grover, the SubGenius must have SLACK!!! 😉

    Forecasting, yes, but it’ll require a great deal of extensive (and expensive!) study and practice. Right now I’m still getting myself established as a political astrologer; as that proceeds, I’ll be exploring the financial end of things.

  281. Taylor, you could be right, and it’s very hard to argue one way or another if you don’t assume there must be a direct link. I can think of a couple instances, for example among the Kurds and in Myanmar, where the fact that women are able to join the armed struggle as fighters improves their status. But warrior women have been seen here and there throughout history even before firearms. And as far as I know European feminism, at least, never drew that connection; if anything, in the US and in Europe, it was precisely the fact that women did NOT fight in WWI and WWII but played a crucial role in society and in the economy when the men were at the front, that propelled feminism forward.
    While violence is certainly a factor in human affairs, it is only one of many; even during a war only a small percentage of people actually fight, and what everybody else does at that time matters as much as who has the guns.
    Police officers here use guns a lot less than their American counterparts. More generally, like I said, guns don’t play as big a role here as in the US.

  282. >four hundred people had applied for that apartment

    What you’re telling me is that there’s a shortage of residential housing in your area. Combine that with the glut of commercial and it paints a picture of a real estate market that’s broken.

    In this era, is there a market out there that isn’t broken? That’s actually functioning as intended? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

  283. >So basically an appliance, like a refrigerator or a dish washer. Yes, having one is convenient, but you buy one one time and fully expect to have it for the next thirty years.

    A lot of people just want to get from A to B with as little fuss as possible. And it was possible to have what you outlined – I still see mid-90s Toyotas still on the road, doing their part to get the groceries back home. Granted if you live in road salt country that’s pretty much impossible but one of those well made mid-90s Toyotas, if you kept up on the maintenance, you could expect to get 30 years of service out of it.

    It’s possible. The system just doesn’t want you to have it. Was it Vonnegut who said “We could’ve saved ourselves but we couldn’t be bothered”?

  284. @The Other Owen,

    A week or so ago, I read an article about new legislation pending in TX regarding tiny trucks. I cannot find the article, but mentions the 25 year rule. (Basically, if a vehicle is over 25 years old, it is exempt from current DOT regulations.) IIRC, vehicles that are already registered are also exempt from new DOT regulations, but new vehicles *must* meet all the DOT regulations. There are vehicles <10 years old that do not meet all the new regulations. (And all the regulations add cost to new vehicles.) There are small vehicles (do an internet search for 'tiny trucks') that are inexpensive and reliable, but they don't meet DOT regulations, so they cannot be registered, so aren't 'street legal'. The article I cannot find discussed TX considering allowing new tiny trucks to be registered (and once they've been registered, the title can be transferred/sold and the vehicle can continue to be registered and thereby bypass the DOT regs).

  285. @Other Owen,
    re: why not go out and get what it is you need yourself? Yep. I do that. Not least because I live in a hard to find basement suite and any items I order don’t come directly to my door. One result was that during the pandemic when people were internet-ordering lots of things and a lot of stuff was closed, I ordered very little and did a lot of doing without. And still got the vast majority of the essential stuff I did get myself. Like walking to the grocery store, buying my stuff and walking back home with it. Just like I did prepandemic, and postpandemic.

  286. JMG, re: Cars and the mind.

    I have a theory from my experiences driving (I have a license, I just don’t own a car and rarely use it). Driving a car is like a visual mediation. When driving, one “keeps their eyes on the road”, which narrows the field on vision. One is also trained to focus on other cars, signs and the road which is deliberately made to look the same everywhere. Could driving be a form of meditation that brings someone to an altered state of consciousness?

    I am not sure how can this theory be tested, as an MRI on someone while they are driving could prove technically impossible. But it does explain something I tested at length during the covid lockdowns. When I got out of my house when I was not supposed to, I found I could reliably escape detection by remaining just a couple of yards from the road. Police cars would miss me completely because the driver’s eyes were focused on the road, but I was in plain sight.

  287. Gaia,

    Certainly many women do indeed use guns to defend themselves against intimate partners.

    In fact, from statistics I have seen, nearly a quarter of women in California who are incarcerated for homicide are there because they killed their abusive partners. Not that that’s such a big win for those women, admittedly—and I hope/imagine that in places less liberal than California perhaps they would not be incarcerated.

    In this study of battered women, ~7% had used a gun against their partner, and a third had considered doing so:

    It’s also entirely plausible that well-armed women are less likely to be selected and groomed by abusers, although I know of no studies on the matter.

    Europeans may find the idea that people defend themselves with guns absurd, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, and quite often, too—about 1.6 million incidents per year in the USA, if I recall correctly.

    A recent survey I read indicated that about a third of Americans own guns, and about a third of those gun owners have used them defensively, mostly in and around the home (I am one of them, by the way.) The majority of defensive gun use is not reported to authorities and does not involve shots fired.

    I don’t want to get too off-topic, but I would suggest that outsourcing one’s physical safety to a bevy of institutions separated from oneself by time and space and plagued by lenocracy (which the police, the courts, the non-profit sector dealing with violence against women, and the government theoretically tasked with securing our rights certainly are!) might be a bad idea. I am deeply suspicious of anyone these days who tells me I am better off handing over my tax dollars so a collection of experts can use them to help me than I am helping myself. Certainly the gun industry has its fair share of lenocrats riding its coattails, but there are ways to minimize one’s interactions with them if one is conscientious.

  288. Think this is relevant – similar to “idiocracy”. Review of a novel in which the Woke are crusading against discrimination on the grounds of intelligence.

    About cars – distances in Albuquerque combined with pitiful bus service off the main routes meant that the two friends I mentioned, neither of whom could drive for medical reasons, relied on me to drive them, until my reflexes, night vision, and the car failed. Then another friend did the driving.
    My wardrobe has been simplified to the practical and comfortable already, becauseI don’t have a car now, so I got rid of all my clothes that had to be dry cleaned, since the Village shuttle doesn’t stop at a place that has dry cleaning, and asking my busy daughter or son-in-law is an imposition on their time. Score on for Saturn doing me a favor!

  289. “One version of your last entry I find particularly galling is the way that cookbooks have turned into sales pitches for exotic and unnecessary ingredients, tools, and procedures, to the extent that it’s often impossible to find basic, simple, pleasant recipes at all. I had to go to Frugal Friday to get a recipe for cinnamon rolls that didn’t make them twice as expensive and four times as complicated to make as they have to be.”

    Cookbooks are specifically one of the examples I had in mind for that entry. It’s fine for advanced or specialized cookbooks to require hard-to-find expensive ingredients, unusual equipment, and/or advanced skills, but it’s a shame to find those things in introductory or general-purpose cookbooks and web sites. I first noticed the trend in the generally highly praised New Basics Cookbook in 1989, but it’s gotten worse since then.

    @Grover #278, I could get behind a frack-it list. I’m sure I have one too, and I’m not inclined to get into any contest comparing their lengths! What I have in mind is (I think) a little different though: a list of things in your life that you didn’t pick off a menu or even anticipate, but have engaged with anyhow as either adversity or opportunity. Of course many of those things are going to be bad experiences, like illnesses and mistakes and losses, but if they’ve shaped who you are today it’s healthier to acknowledge them (along with all the blessings) than to focus on a list of so-far-unfulfilled wishes.

    Your point about the cost of perfect reliability generalizes well. The logical (and mathematical) conclusion is that infinite perfection comes at infinite cost (or at the very least, far more than you can afford). A lot of DIY advice falls into this pattern. In some contexts doing the maximum possible makes sense. (If you’re working with electrical wiring, for instance, you want it to not catch fire 100% of the time, not 97.5% of the time.) But it gets absurd when dealing with, for instance, instructions on how you’re supposed to prepare a surface for painting. You despair of been able to achieve the perfection seemingly required, and decide to call in the professional painters, only to watch them do less surface prep than you would have if you’d just followed common sense (fill holes, wipe off dirt and scrape off any peeling layers) instead of reading the instructions at all. They know they’re never going to be held accountable for the additional 10% of the paint’s potential lifetime that’s sacrificed if they don’t wash the wall down three times with trisodium phosphate or whatever.

  290. Dear Archdruid:
    Your exposition about lenocracy seems me admirable. But I am traumatizated by a book titled “The Great Taking”, writen by David Web in wich is described a supposed plot for to confiscate absolutely all valuable things from the people , by the propietaries of the greatest banks. I have found this book in http://www.archive. org and ,acording the academic Andrei Fursov, this is the real purpose hiden by Davos, and UNO.

  291. JMG,
    The curent topic of pulling back from the Lenocracy and comments about Warrior Women got me thinking about my time in 4H in the 1970’s. We would show our animals at the county fair in July and then if we were successful go on to representing the country at the state fair in late August. If you did well there you could go on to the now defunct (Pacific International Lifestock Exposition) in Late October.
    An event held at the PI ( but not to my knowledge at the other fairs) was the Sheep to Shawl competition. In that event older girls in 4H would have to raise a sheep, shear it themselves ( they had to prove the shearing part in a special completion at the show), then spin or weave some kind of fabric. Then make that fabric in to an outfit which they would then model ( while showing a sheep as I remember) at the show. They had all season to accomplish this but had to show their proficiency of each of the skills required at the show.
    I am not sure how it was judged but I all I kind think of when looking badk on it was wow!
    What an amazing set of skills and mindset for the collapse of the empire. Unfortunately this completion disappeared years ago and all the competitors are now senior citizens , but we will know we are on the right path when such a thing is revived.

  292. About simple, basic, cookbooks, may I recommend to anyone needing one of these: next time you are in a used bookstore, look for early editions of Joy of Cooking, or Fannie Farmer, or (for baking) Betty Crocker. Older is better. There will be some ingredients not easily available now. Back when meat came from butchers, Americans ate many more cuts than we do at present. Also, James Beard is not to be despised.

  293. Four Sided, hmm! That makes quite a bit of sense; thank you.

    Patricia M, funny. I seem to recall Vonnegut doing something along these lines years ago.

    Walt, it’s gotten a lot worse since then. Since I can now bake with wheat flour again, I went to the local public library to find some good cookbooks on baking, the sort of thing that was not too hard to find thirty years ago. I was left shaking my head: every book on the subject in my working class neighborhood library seemed to take it for granted that the only way to bake was to do the kind of fancy, complicated, difficult recipes that professional bakers do for parties and things. “Absurd” was the kindest word I thought of.

    Will, you’re most welcome.

    Anselmo, any time you feel traumatized by a book, consider the possibility that it’s deliberate on the part of the author. Yes, I’ve heard of that book, and of the last twenty or thirty other lurid narratives of the same kind. It’s quite a lucrative market, you know.

    Athaia, glad to hear it.

    Clay, I hope that can be revived someday soon!

    Mary, er, I know half a dozen people who were sufficiently horrified by the fancy French cooking in Joy of Cooking, even in the old editions, that they became convinced that home cooking was utterly beyond them, and had to be convinced by friends that there are whole worlds of cooking that are simple, cheap, and forgiving of little errors. I’ve got an old Betty Crocker cookbook, on the other hand, and it’s quite useful.

  294. @Patricia and JMG,
    Here is the full Vonnegut quote,
    “If flying-saucer creatures or angels or whatever were to come here in a hundred years, say, and find us gone like the dinosaurs, what might be a good message for humanity to leave for them, maybe carved in great big letters on a Grand Canyon wall? Here is this old poop’s suggestion: WE PROBABLY COULD HAVE SAVED OURSELVES, BUT WERE TOO DAMNED LAZY TO TRY VERY HARD… AND TOO DAMNED CHEAP.”

  295. Thinking about the great hyperstagflation that is coming — I do feel behind. I will eventually relocate but by youngest, but that one is a new grad in a new job and not settled yet. So, for right now I own my same home which is by my middle child and by where I have lived for a long time. ANd, I just keep keeping on and dig in as best I can to ride things out here.

    ANd, she almost bought a house last week, the young one. Which if there is going to be alot of upheaval and inflation sounds good to me, but maybe too big of a step for her right now. The rising interest rate scared her, and mortgage payout being higher than rental value, but barely, in her area housing prices are not near as high as here, for example. But, I cant help but think that having one would be a good hedge- not my decision and I dont bug her about it, dont worry – but as an intellectual exercise here with you all, it seems to me that buying an affordable house for the area with a big yard, enough to garden and fruit trees, closer to work ( so bicycling would be possible) than current rental which it is not possible is a good hedge. By hedge I mean, we dont know the future, prices could get worse or better, it will very much vary over the different areas. But for those that can easily do it, there is not much to lose, if the prices tank in the next 2 years, the loss wont break her, the house isnt that much. But, if things go even crazier inflation wise with incomes being reduced, gas 100x more so bicycling is wanted, incomes could get reduced, hours of work reduced, smaller houses in town like that harder to come by. ANyway, too bad all this wisdom is wasted on us old people.

    My crazy experience for this week is local woman at our very local pop up weekly coffee house is worried about her dog. She is already in for quite a few thousand and if certain test results come back, it could be a quote for $20,000 to fix the dog. And the 2 other ladies at the table were like, well you have to do it, they’re family. But, no, they are not. It is like they didnt hear she said $20,000. When I said, well that is too much to ask, one actually repeated the talking point out here, well if you cant afford it, you shouldnt have pets. Which I did challenge to my friend who said that, because humans have had co-living with dogs for a very, very long time. And other domestic animals, like goats and sheep and such. ANd we dont blink an eye about people in other parts of the world having a dog, cat, goat or sheep without access to the latest Vet care and MRI’s. No, we just shame the people close to us. It is the same with illegal immigrants vs the poor who are already living by us — one set shamed, the other set given amazing help and handouts. So, the 2 women commentators likely could pay $20,000, they would grumble, it would hurt, but could. The woman with the dog has notice to quit her rental so it can be sold and has had the rescue dog for under a year.

  296. @Gaia,

    Thanks for sharing that article from Strong Towns. Pointing out the concrete financial realities behind the lenocratic economy goes a long way toward making our host’s central thesis more believable, and the simplistic economics that most of us grew up with (whether on the Left or the Right, it hardly matters) less believable.

    @JMG, Walt F re cookbooks,

    I’m sure that trying to sell fancy ingredients, and especially fancy kitchen gear is part of the reason that you’re seeing a lot of cookbooks with no simple recipes, but I doubt it’s the main reason. My own experience as a millennial who often cooks simple food is that, for us, the cookbook is an obsolete technology. When we want to find a simple recipe, we look it up on the internet. (The only cookbook I own is a Lord of the Rings themed cookbook that I got two years ago as a Christmas present).

    And so, if you want to make money selling something (such as instructions on how to cook food) that’s fairly easy to get for free, then the best way to do it is to make your product fancy and excessively unique, and pitch it to the kind of people who have deep pockets and like to feel special – hence the trend you are seeing.

  297. Clay Dennis #311: the Sheep to Shawl competition: “In that event older girls in 4H would have to raise a sheep, shear it themselves (they had to prove the shearing part in a special completion at the show), then spin or weave some kind of fabric…we will know we are on the right path when such a thing is revived.”

    In the Miss Navajo Nation competition, instead of parading around in swimsuits, young women compete to be the best at butchering a sheep (a traditional skill in that culture). They also have to prove fluency in the Navajo language: I saw a documentary on this and thought the contest expressed a more dignified approach to femininity than most “beauty contests”!

  298. Hello All,
    Joy of Cooking went lenocratic long ago. My mother had a beat-up copy from the 1930’s, and the shortbread recipe, as I recall, had 3 ingredients: flour, butter, salt. Even the 1950s editions had lots of additional steps and ingredients. Later ones became even more complex and none of them had BASIC shortbread. That was my test for whether a famous introductory cookbook had gone “gourmet, in this case, meaning “no longer suitable for beginners.” I made the shortbread from the older one and the results compared favorably with the expensive stuff imported from Scotland. Snap up a pre-1950’s edition if you can find one, no matter the condition. At one time they went on the internet for more than my budget could spare. There are other basic cookbooks that did not go to hell quite so quickly, as JMG indicates…my oldest brother (who didn’t ever cook) snapped up my mother’s “Joy of Cooking” when she died because of its sentimental value. Sigh.

  299. JMG, I recommend Flour Water Salt Yeast – although buying the exact equipment the author recommends would be quite expensive, the only things that are needed are a cast iron crock pot (enameled or not) and a decent scale, or more realistically, set of scales. You will want a scale with a range of several pounds for flour and water, and a scale with a smaller range, like 500g/1 pound. A scale that can accurately measure both yeast/salt and flour/water would be an expensive laboratory unit costing much more than two ordinary scales.

    For proofing baskets, I line a rice strainer or colander with paper towel, and instead of the incredibly expensive vessels recommended in the book for proofing, a salad bowl or large pot is fine. I got good results the first time I used the methods outlined in the book. The book itself is kind of an interesting article in and of itself – it is a passion project by someone who, as I infer from biographical details in the book, made an ungodly amount of money in the late 90’s/early 00’s tech bubble and decided to open a bakery once he was rich – and poured quite a bit of love and energy into it. My favorite thing about the book is that I loaned it to my mother eight years ago, never got it back, and can still make good bread and pizza dough as a result..

  300. Ooops, instead of “and instead of the incredibly expensive vessels recommended in the book for proofing, a salad bowl or large pot is fine”

    I mean “and instead of the incredibly expensive vessels recommended in the book for the initial fermentation, a salad bowl or large pot is fine”

  301. Sorry: the shortbread recipe I was referring to had FOUR ingredients, not three. Flour, sugar, butter and salt.

  302. JMG – I’m reluctant to post yet again on this topic, but the need for a cookbook featuring simple, inexpensive, nutritious meals keeps coming up, and I have to keep recommending the “Efficiency is Everything” cookbook, on the web site of the same name. It includes four weeks of menus (so you can plan for leftovers) and shopping lists, and it’s provided generously at no cost (though I have made donations to support this noble effort). 67 pages, in PDF.

    Note: when you see references to calories in the meals, bear in mind that the author’s intent is that we get ENOUGH calories, at minimum cost. So, when you make refried beans, he calls for lard. If you’re worried about getting too many calories, reduce the serving size.

  303. @ Clay Dennis #311

    > sheep to shawl

    There is a great UTub series called “How to Make Everything: DIY Suit.” The series really is amazing. Each one of the episodes, short as they are, illustrates how hard it is to learn even one skill at journeyman level:
    Intro to the ten episodes.
    Episode briefly outlining weaving, knitting, sewing.

    I decided to take up weaving: what could be bad about it? It is flat, deals with integers, uses lots of color, feels cozy, one can cover oneself, and cats are transfixed watching the process. I spent months doing homework preparing for today, my big day…

    … today, I did my first warp ever. I, too, have a “f__k it list,” translated means, “F__k it — I am going to sprawl all over the entire livingroom with my little loom and accessories, and weave galore.” Everything was SO deliberate — this goes here — that goes there — oops, nope, un-do that — this goes under that, not over — I forgot something — then do that — again and again. Today, I strung thirty warp yarns (sixty pending tomorrow). I am so slow, but I don’t mind. I got to watch my formerly string-obsessed cat “watch yarn” so much that she got bored.

    It has taken months to learn the basics of weaving. The above video series is unrealistic because no one person can possibly get good at all those disciplines in making a suit of clothes. Pick one discipline, and learn that well. The show gave me a solid feeling of how difficult it is, and is going to be, for current Northern European ancestry people (my particular tribe) to learn new skills to MAKE things after other people no longer slave* for us, I mean “do for us.” [* As in, existing slave labor now making our crapified-clothes sold at WagMarch.💩]

    💨Northwind Grandma💨🐑
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  304. Hi John Michael,

    I know you don’t do visuals, but anyway here’s a short video I made many years ago where two loaves of bread are made up using quality ingredients in less than ten minutes. It shows just how easy a process it is. How to bake a bread loaf from scratch. It’s not hard. Anyone who says so, is yanking your chain.

    Since then I’ve modified the recipe a bit. Two teaspoons of bakers yeast get added to each batch instead of the one. I now source high protein unbleached flour, for obvious reasons. And the dough is turned out on the bench into spelt flour, just because I like the taste better.

    I’ve been baking bread most days for fourteen years. It’s not hard… Hope you enjoy.



  305. About cooking, this is stating the annoyingly obvious but I’ll do it anyway since for some reason on this continent there’s this stove-phobia that sends people in droves to eat at vastly overpriced burger chains.

    This is also in the spirit of saving money. Or would you rather enrich some cockroach CEO? And never mind that the French would sneer at this evident lack of elevated taste. We’re not French and they elected that fool Macron so what do they know.

    Anyway, all you really need (if you really want to keep it super simple) to cook burger, steak, porkchop or fish is oil, salt, pepper and a frypan. Don’t buy pre-formed burgers because they’re a lot of breading and a waste of $. Make the patties yourself from fresh ground beef (like I said, annoyingly obvious).

    If you want Italian, you can make sauce in the time it takes to boil the pasta. What it takes, yet again, is oil, salt, pepper and a frypan, plus chopped up garlic and chopped up tomato. Set frypan on stove. Turn on heat to medium, throw in oil, garlic and tomato, sprinkle in salt and pepper, stir contents as they bubble along. Set water to boil, and when water is boiling throw in pasta.

    By the time the pasta is edible, the sauce will be finito. Drain water from pasta, toss noodles in frypan and mangia. Buon appetito.

    My wife and I worked killer hours and we didn’t have a lot of time to cook, but you burn your money and you don’t save much time by going to restaurants. Also, and I’m no nutritionist and I’m no child-rearing expert, but people wonder why there’s so many two hundred pound 12 year olds waddling around. It may have something to do with frequent visits to Mc Donalds. Just a suggestion.

    And speaking of the French, I read a while back that they eat enough lard to give me a heart attack and not only that but smoke as if immune to lung cancer and emphysema. And they live as long as we do. At least that’s what I read. And you see a lot of ninety year old Italians tottering along. I’m guessing in both cases that it’s their wine intake. But I don’t know. And don’t drink and drive.

  306. > every book on the subject in my working class neighborhood library seemed to take it for granted that the only way to bake was to do the kind of fancy, complicated, difficult recipes that professional bakers do for parties and things

    How depressing. Argh‼️My one, purpose-ful collection is cookbooks. I can recommend the following unique four — there are many others. I often buy cookbooks USED at much reduced prices (I confess, at the long South American river). I am a Dutch oven fan — any pot or pan of cast iron, I love. In my opinion, one can never have too many cast iron pots and pans:

    * This Good Food: Contemporary French Vegetarian Recipes from a Monastery Kitchen by Brother Victor-Antoine-d’Avila-Latourette. ISBN 0879514833.

    * Lodge Cast Iron Nation by the Lodge staff. Compiled by Pam Hoenig. ISBN 780848742263.

    * One Potato, Two Potato by Roy Finamore. ISBN 0618007148.

    * Pure Pork Awesomeness by Kevin Gillespie. ISBN 9781449447076.

    💨Northwind Grandma💨🛖🥘🥔🐖
    Dane County, Wisconsin, USA

  307. Joy of Cooking is one of my favorites. There are lots of good and simple recipes. The ones with the
    French names or parts of names really are show-off recipes, or for just when you are feeling fancy.

    The potato rolls are a favorite here, as is the buttermilk crackling cornbread which goes well with chili and with the addition of tarragon and onions does well as Turkey stuffing too. The velvet spice cake is also excellent.

  308. The thing I recoil against is the suggestion that beginner-level downshifting (the “secret”) still has large payoffs today.

    Warren’s arguments (making the reasonable assumptions that 2024 is at least as bad as 2003) suggests a small payoff due to diminishing returns. People are financially bleeding in many places, the bleeds created by advertising are minor ones, and getting smaller since the bleeds that are easily sealed by transcending ads are also relatively easy to bandage with just raw discipline. Her data suggests that people in 2003 were already well into the process of, if not actually becoming ad-immune, applying raw discipline to the easiest bleeds.

    Sure, -advanced- downshifting could help with the actual big monsters in the 2003 budget (with 2024 assumed to be only more lopsided). But -advanced- downshifting is hard.

    If “the secret” really helps, the subject must have been really decadent to begin with, and also high income, since without the high income his decadence would already have been addressed in bankruptcy court by now.

    I suppose the “the secret” could also have a purely mental benefit, allowing many people to substitute ad-transcendence for the stiff upper lip they’ve been using for years. But it likely won’t allow them to actually start saving. And the people who are still using “stiff upper lip” alone at this point are probably people who are subtly disabled in their ability to learn ad-transcendence.

  309. “Could driving be a form of meditation that brings someone to an altered state of consciousness?”

    It’s called highway hypnosis. It’s a bad thing. Please don’t meditate while driving. Yes it has happened to me. Fortunately I snapped out of it in time to not crash.

  310. Stopping in belatedly this week, with only a comment to say much thanks for this badly needed essay. I try to keep the consumer-clutter down (today’s big purchase: a 2×4 to repair the garden shed’s floor, so I guess I’m not doing too badly) and the next project on my list is a spring cleaning — or more of a spring clearing-out. That’s something I hate doing, therefore the inspiration couldn’t come at a better time.

  311. Clay, funny. It’s not the bit I was thinking of, but it’s good.

    Atmospheric, thanks for the data points. A house in the abstract is a fine plan, but I think it’s quite possible that the current bubble will lose some air shortly.

    Thrown, oh, no doubt. I was spoiled by the Seventies-era do-it-yourself cookbooks that focused on simple, tasty, and cheap. I saved some of those, but the baking books went away when Sara stopped being able to tolerate wheat.

    Clarke, thanks for this — I’ll keep that in mind.

    Justin, fortunately I still remember my standard French bread recipe, and if I’d forgotten it I’d just have to look it up in my Encyclopedia of Natural Magic, which includes it. As a traditional American cook I use volume measure rather than weight — 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour, one cup water, one teaspoon salt, one package yeast — and “proofing basket” is a foreign concept to me; I let the dough rise in the mixing bowl, the good old-fashioned way, and punch it down once, then form the loaf and let it rise again on the baking sheet while the oven heats up. Simplicity!

    Lathechuck, it’s worth repeating yourself on that subject.

    Chris, as noted above, that’s a recipe I retained! My old cinnamon roll recipe was the one I lost, and fortunately several people on Frugal Friday had good equivalents.

    Smith, I don’t get it either. Making a homemade burger is almost insanely easy.

    Northwind, thanks for this. I’ll take a look for those.

    Siliconguy, how old is your edition?

    Michael, within the last five years I’ve watched people who aren’t making that much money save hundreds of dollars a month with simple downshifts. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    Siliconguy, no, that’s not what we’re discussing, though of course it’s a real thing. What Four Sided Circle is talking about is a set of subtle effects of driving on consciousness, and a possible medium for those.

    Doctor C, you’re most welcome.

  312. Yes, housing is also a lifestyle choice, family formation and all, you cant just “time the market” like investors, sometimes you have to secure a place to be, as finding a rental is so tenuous, in areas that are less bubbled anyways. One of my daughters workmates had to buy a house based on photos before moving there as there are less rentals than homes for sale. In the market by me, my son is waiting another year as prices here are very bubbled, it just is too ridiculous unaffordable and family formation s delayed…. And nothing is on the market realy either.

    I guess I am trying to wrap my head around inflation but not inflation for housing ? I remember the stagflation of the 70’s food was a larger part of our budget, and clothes were more expensive so we owned alot less clothes. I do feel like housing was more accessable then. Energy had just jumped in price, not a higher percentage than now necessarily, but a jump from how very cheap we had had it before. .

    I remember the 2008 housing correction too. But we werent having the same inflation everywhere in the 2008/9 housing crash, it seemed the opposite, alot of stores had special things going on to support people in the area I was in.

    So, a combo deal ? housing tanks like 2008 with inflation worse than the 70’s and since we have the whole lenocracy problems unlike both those decades all our most recently bought products(cars, clothes,appliances) are not going to last thru the hardtimes, and they will not quickly start building cheap efficient simple cars or any other transportation, or housing or anything else, due to government mandates

    Wood stoves have also been mandated to over complexity, I was talking to someone at the Lopi stoves factory ( washington state company) and the wonderful 2.5ppm Lopi Endeaver I bought a few years ago is no longer made. An expensive “hybrid” technology was forced upon them, its overall emissions over 24 hours being the same as mine, but the first 20 minutes being less than mine. Double the price. So, like I was talking to him, pretty soon we will have someone needing to keep his kids warm with a homemade, illegal stove made from a 55 gallon drum . Because we wont allow a more affordable stove to be on the market. It breaks the companies heart too. Their hands are tied by the lenocracy.

  313. > Could driving be a form of meditation

    Driving is one of the few everyday actions we perform that require observation, skill, reflexes, and can kill us if we get it wrong. Which is, for most creatures on earth, their daily reality.

    This thought struck me early one morning as I looked out the window, bleary-eyed and with a huge hangover. In the untended back yard I watched a field mouse emerge from his hole. He was trembling with tension, looking left, looking right, sniffing, all his senses on high alert. And I thought to myself, little mouse, you have lived more in five minutes than I have in five years.

    It’s the same with the birds in the garden. They love splashing in the birdbath, but just for seconds at a time, because they are constantly aware there are cats around.

    I think this awareness is why we have senses. We have evolved to use them. Which makes me worried about Full Self-Driving. If it ever happens, we will breed a generation which has never been fully alive. A kind of human sludge which can’t do anything without the help of computers.

  314. We concentrate on foolishness and because we do, the world seems more foolish than it actually is. Wisdom surrounds you if you choose to see it.

    A man or woman is rich not when they have many things. Being rich is having few wants and needing few things. Curb your needs and you become rich. This has been known by philosophers for over two thousand years. My father first taught this to me. And I care not to be owned by my things.

    Stoics and Epicureans both knew not to be owned by the desire for stuff, and they lived accordingly. From a distance these two kinds of philosophers were indistinguishable in many ways. Stoic temperance and epicurean self-control resemble each other from a distance. Despite the point of life being different for these two flavors of philosophy. Modern cultural nihilism engendered by the cult of stuff made people think life is without purpose. Philosophers know life has a point, their purpose is not defined by stuff. Stuff is external and contentment can only be found inside oneself. Stuff will not give contentment after basic needs are met.

    Nihilism defines our culture, all attention is given to consumption with no attention given to the cultivation of the soul. Both cannot be given attention. They are in contradiction. Cultivating the soul reduces consumption. Concentrating on consumption ignores the soul.

  315. My two penn’orth on the question of firearms and feminism.
    I know absolutely nothing about the situation in the United States, but I think the notion that putative access to firearms was of any relevance to the development of the organised women’s movement in Europe is way off the mark.
    The most significant figures during the early years of the women’s movement(s) in European countries were middle-class writers and intellectuals influenced by the political radicalism that was shaking society up at the time – 1848 saw revolutions in several European countries as well as the Seneca Falls convention, of course – and it wasn’t firearms that put them on an equal footing with men. It was their intelligence, their education and access to the printing press. Their main enemies were established power and social inertia, and they would have feared the censor more than physically dominant males who might slap them around a bit if they got too full of themselves.
    Gun ownership, in Britain at least, *was* increasingly regulated from the early nineteenth century onwards, following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, but even if it hadn’t been, I can’t imagine that giving Nancy a concealed-carry musket would have done much to stop her getting beaten to death by Bill Sikes. And even if she had managed to shoot him in self-defence, the political consequences would have been nil and poor old Nancy would have been hanged all the same.
    Or you could have had Thomas Hardy arm Sue Bridehead, but she still would have had her life destroyed by having children out of wedlock. You can’t shoot social sanctions.
    The point about Dr Watson was also slightly disingenuous, I feel. To be picky, he was ex-military and still had his service revolver.

  316. Hey JMG

    I originally was not going to post anything since I could not think of anything to write, but the discussion about cars and their effect on the mind of the driver reminded me of a book I read a few months ago which could provide answers.
    Many years ago, an Australian social researcher, Hugh Mackay, wrote “What makes us tick?”, which to seriously summarise a 300+ page book, explains that much of humanities’ predilection for “Irrational” behavior can be explained by asking if and how it fulfils 10 fundamental human desires;
    1- the desire to be taken seriously
    2-the desire for my place
    3-the desire for something to believe in
    4-the desire to connect
    5-the desire to be useful
    6-the desire to belong
    7-the desire for more
    8-the desire for control
    9-the desire for something to happen
    10-the desire for love
    He then gives a few examples, one of which is answering why the modern world is so invested in personal car ownership when public transport has so many benefits. He points out that personal car ownership is so popular because it fulfils at minimum 7 of the 10 fundamental desires. The Car driver is taken seriously (1), has a “brand” they can believe in (3), has a space that is completely their own (2), the car allows you to physically connect with people and places (4), grants you many ways to be useful, by giving people lifts or moving house (5), gives you a brand-based identity (6), grants many ways to indulge in “More” like constantly upgrading the engine (7), also the Car driver has something they have complete control over (8), can give many opportunities for adventure (9) and furthermore even something to love (10).

  317. @JMG

    About the consumer culture you spoke about in this essay, I have noticed that people who are into performing arts or the visual arts are far less likely to participate in the consumer culture than those who aren’t. This is not to say that people in the arts do not buy products made by corporates and promoted by the mass media, but the kind of buy-consume-throw-repeat frenzy that you have spoken about here is largely absent in them. As someone who has studied Hindustani classical vocal music (albeit at a basic level), I find that practicing a few compositions in a given raga, along with a slow, non-rhythmic elaboration of the raga, leaves me with a feeling of contentment and a de-stressed, peaceful mind, which no amount of modern stimulants can. I am willing to bet that the same holds true for Western classical music, or any form of traditional painting, sculpture, classical dance, etc.

    I have also noticed that social media is one of the weapons in the arsenal of modern consumerist culture. When a friend of mine once asked me how I spent my free time given that I detest sports, avoid social media like Instagram and Facebook, consume very little cinematic content, and avoid electronic games, I told her about my fascination with music and my love for books. When she expressed her skepticism about classical music, I put on the electronic tanpura in my phone (tanpura is a traditional drone used in Indian music), and asked her to simply sing the middle octave (or madhya saptak as we call it). I corrected her quite a few times as she went out of tune, and once she had got the tune right, I made her sing it for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes were up, I asked her to stop, and switched off the tanpura, and asked her how she felt, to which she replied that she was wrong about classical music, and that it did indeed offer a way to live a full life while avoiding social media.

  318. JMG – You recently remarked something to the effect that “Fascism is not the opposite of Communism, but the moderate middle.” That shocked me, since for the last 70 years or so, Fascism has been the extreme boogeyman of the Left and extreme left (Communism). So, I thought about it for a while, asking “If Fascism is the middle, what IS the right-wing extreme?”

    I came up with two answers: Aristocratic Feudalism, and Robber-baron Capitalism both seem like contenders (from different eras of civilization). Both feature rigid assignments of class and bare-knuckle oppression of the working class. I remembered reading Erik Larson’s book “In the Garden of Beasts”, a non-fiction account of an American diplomat in Berlin as Hitler rose to power. IIRC: The Communists were stirring up trouble for the capitalists in Germany, who tolerated the Nazis as opposition to the Communists.

    So, if one is anxious about the rise of Fascism, find a different alternative to both the far right and the far left.

  319. @Gaia
    In the Scottish Highlands most lassies have some skill with long guns. What is ‘absurd’ is the notion that a traditional Celtic woman wouldn’t take up arms in defence of her hearth and home. Highland culture hasn’t really changed that much over the centuries.

    ‘The women of the Celtic tribes are bigger and stronger than our Roman women. This is most likely due to their natures as well as their peculiar fondness for all things martial and robust. The flaxen haired maidens of the North are trained in sports and war unlike our gentle ladies who are content to do their womanly duties and thus are less powerful than most young girls from Gaul and the hinterlands.’ (Marcus Borealis)
    ‘A whole band of foreigners will be unable to cope with one (Gaul) in a fight, if he calls in his wife, stronger than he by far and with flashing eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge white arms, begins to reign down blows mingled with kicks, like shots discharged from the twisted cords of a catapult’. (Ammianus Marcellinus)

  320. Hi John,

    To expand my thoughts further on investing – and this is shaped by the above analyst – wealth preservation is the goal in the coming decades not asset growth.

    And I mean the avoidance of the total or near total destruction of your capital in the coming generation.

    The ONLY way to avoid that total capital wipe-out is the following:

    – invest in sectors that supply goods and services people need not want (a variation of what you John argue yourself)
    – be careful about currency risk – holding USD denominated assets could be a disaster in the coming years. Inflation is a huge risk so those fiat currencies that are least weak are the ones to look at for.
    – market timing is key. The best analysts I follow are seeing a rollercoaster ride in the markets with huge drops and rises in the coming years. The key is to buy high quality assets geared to the essentials economy when markets are low not high.
    – be realistic, whilst companies that produce high quality goods geared to the essentials economy should do ok, their dividends might still be cut in a much more hostile environment. But a modest income from dividends from well run companies that produce goods and services that people need is not a bad strategy over the coming decades.

  321. @Clarke aka Gwydion (#318 + 321),

    Do you think your brother might be willing to give you the shortbread recipe (if you don’t have it already), and if so, would you consider posting it on an open post?

    Good shortbread is one of the best treats ever! 🙂


  322. Athaia I am really sorry to hear about your car incident. Problems like these do not matter to the elitists who get to work from home, but for people who have to travel to the location of their work, it is incredibly bad to not have a car.

    By the way, do Americans not have poolcar systems at work? Here in India, very few people (only executive chiefs and important bureaucrats) drive to work. Most of us do not. We use a poolcar. This is a big car which multiple people use together, and they share the cost of fuel and maintenance. Sometimes the poolcar belongs to one of the employees, in which case that employee doesn’t pay for the fuel and maintenance (since they are already paying back the car loan), but nowadays the system is so commonplace that many companies have instituted their own poolcar systems to get their employees to work. There are even poolcar companies which provide commute as a service, and ply no routes which lead from a general residential part of the city to the office area.

    Back when I was working my first job in the city of Kolkata, I got to work using a poolcar service called HexaH2O. It had its own app. I had to register my home and work locations on the app, and the company determined the closest route and slightly tweaked it so that it now passed through a point within walking distance from my home. I would need to walk up to this point, and the car would stop there to pick me up. The car was a big van with a six passenger capacity, so we all shared the cost and it was very effective. If the car or its tires were damaged, the company provided a new one. If the driver was sick, the company ensured that someone else would be able to replace him.

  323. A follow up to the 4H Sheep to Shawl comments. Unfortunately, 4H has been captured by the system.

    I was in it as a youth and learned many sewing and cooking skills. So I tried to get the little one into it. Many chapters are livestock only and we can’t do that right now. So I tried to get in the only mixed skill chapter near us and the lady running it was sweet but she insisted since the kids were from different school districts that we couldn’t be mixing germs so all meetings had to be outdoors with masks on. This is last year. We said thank you but not for us.

    So I found out there is an independent option for people who aren’t near a chapter. I got the paperwork. In order to form a chapter,where just me and my kid sat at our kitchen table and did projects that could be submitted to the 4H part of the fair, I had to do an FBI background check and submit reference letters. Seriously. To sit at my kitchen table and talk to no one else but my own child about making a poster board about rabbit life cycles. I guess the FBI cares about what kind of markers we use? Washable or permanent? Did we buy the 100% recycled posterboard? Maybe the EPA should require a permit too. Also, thanks but not for us.

    I did find out our local fair allows for agricultural entries without being a part of any group and they have some youth divisions. I tried it last year and won a blue ribbon for my hot peppers! That was fun but I’m very sad about not being able to be a part of the 4H community again.

  324. Speaking of cookbooks, my mother is definitely old school when it comes to not really using the internet for recipes and instead collecting a whole library of cookbooks.

    What struck me about her collection though are the little “church fundraiser” cookbooks that everyone in a church adds their own recipes to and then the compendium gets published and then flogged back at the members. Kitschy, before my time, etc. But what I found interesting was comparing two of those kind of cookbooks, one from the early 90s, where the back of the book had no QR codes or websites and one from 2011, which did.

    Man, have people gotten LAZY over the ensuing years! I mean, there’s always that recipe that inevitably calls for a can of condensed soup, mix up a bunch of stuff and then shove it in the oven. And then there’s that other recipe where it’s jello and some fruity distractions, mix it up and shove it in the fridge. But man, the sheer number and creativity of cutting corners in the 2011 cookbook vs the 1991 was amazing and frightening.

    If I extrapolate this to 2031, it’ll probably just be a debate over which frozen meals are the best to reheat.

  325. >Anyway, all you really need (if you really want to keep it super simple) to cook burger, steak, porkchop or fish is oil, salt, pepper and a frypan

    Correct. However. When it comes to those steaks you mentioned, you have to pretty much cook them with the pan going full blast, screaming hot. If you don’t, the steak won’t get seared and will come out tough and dry. And with the burner at 10 and all that oil, it creates a LOT of smoke. I mean, a LOT. More than a home ventilator can really deal with.

    Either you’re a.) doing it outdoors or b.) doing it in a professional kitchen with a restaurant grade fume hood.

    Those others, you don’t have to cook them at full blast, they’re practical to do at home.

    Nothing beats the protein that a steak gives you though. I mean, I drink my whey protein shakes, but I’m always thinking about steak when I do.

  326. @Michael small downshifts

    Evidently not everyone is immune, look at what is on the shelves at the stores and it is selling ! The amount of coffee shops per capita and restaurants. When I grew up in the 70’s, we never got take out food, not ever. Yes, some people went out to eat, it was tremendously less per capita than now. People did not walk around with disposable large cups of sugared flavored coffee. Those bagged salads at the super market, with little pouches of dressing ? nope. Actually, no one walked around with cups of anything.

    They are selling drawer microwaves, refrigerators and dishwashers at very large prices just for style.

    My eldest pays for various subscription services for TV. My youngest for ad free satellite radio. This is common, many pay alot more for more options. Not to mention cell phone charges, cell phones themselves and internet fees.

    I actually watched some ads when out recently. Whole body deodorant. SO, the whole spectrum of what is sold to women and men for “personal care” is extreme, fake nails, lotions and potions for every conceivable area and a few I hadnt conceived of.

    I would say that the ads are working.

    The personal care bundle could be reduced to at most a shampoo bar, a bar of soap and a deodorant stone ( same perspiration stopping mineral in money saving solid form) tooth powder and realy, nothing is needed at all but routine application of a washcloth, toothbrush and water. There is alot of money to be saved there.

    1 starbucks latte a day before work is $100 a month. I would imagine most are paying more than $100 for TV streaming. Hundreds a month for personal care for a young woman and alot of young men. Excess food payments vs, actually washing your own lettuce and dare I say mixing some vinegar and oil together. Getting that hamburger on your skin while you form it into patties or meatloaf. Hundreds a month in excess food payouts ( convenienceat grocery store and take out) . $500 a month easy on the little stuff, and then there is car choice, phone choice still to go. Vacations. Sure, it is a “cheap” ticket to iceland, but then the hotel, restaurants and car rental and the young people could have driven to beautiful places and gotten drunk locally. But, just for the little stuff, $500 a month is $6,000 a year, it adds up, 5 years of that and next thing you know you have $30,000 in the bank.

    I have personally shaved down my monthly expenses, and it was alot of money cut off my budget, enough to be able to save and to fix up the house

  327. My edition of Joy of Cooking is copyrighted (the last one anyway) 1975. It’s the 32nd printing Dec. of 1983.

  328. Siliconguy, What I like Joy of Cooking for is the explanatory essays on all sorts of cooking topics, such as different kinds of wheats and grains, how to thicken foods with cornstarch, etc. Dinner parties, anyone remember what those were?, were part of relatively affluent suburban life in the 50s and 60s. Joy obliged with some fancy recipes which a housewife could use for such occasions, getting an attractive looking and good tasting meal on the table which would show off her cooking skills and reinforce her family’s social status. There was a lot to dislike about those decades, but I do remember fondly that women were expected and assumed to have all kinds of basic skills. If the so-called trad wives are reviving actual skills, good for them.
    If the early Joys are no longer available, there is always Fanny Farmer, which fills in the things Betty Crocker does not cover. Anyone interested in high end cooking of that era might, for curiosity, look at the Gold Cookbook, by a chef at I forget what famous restaurant.

  329. My contribution for useful cookbooks ( at least vegetarian ones) are the ” Moosewood Cookbook” and the “Enchanted Broccoli Forest” , from Tenspeed Press. They are both based on recipes from a famous “Hippie” Vegetarian restaurant restaurant in Ithaca NY, and were written in the 1970’s when the fad for complexity and celebrity chefs had not yet taken hold. Many of these recipes you can add meat to if you want so don’t let the vegetarian part scare you away if that is not your thing.

  330. “”Owing to the capital-intensive (Capex) nature of renewable energy…they are inherently more susceptible to high-interest rates,” said Vegard Wiik Vollset, head of renewables and power (EMEA) at Rystad Energy, adding that new renewable projects were most at risk, while existing projects that had secured debt before interest rate hikes remain unaffected.”

    According to Wood Mackenzie, a two-percentage-point increase in the interest rate pushes up the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) — the estimated revenue required to build and operate a generator over a specified cost recovery period — by as much as 20% for renewables.

    Those renewable projects currently unaffected will be affected later when they need to roll over the debt not yet paid off. I wonder how optimistic they were when they calculated the capacity factors? That will determine how much energy they really had to sell and that determines how much of the construction loan they actually manage to pay off before the balance comes due.

  331. Clarke #318, I have a Joy of Cooking from the 1990s (when my 1930’s edition disintegrated), and it has a shortbread recipe whose only ingredients are flour, salt, butter, and sugar. Okay, it actually has separate amounts of powdered and regular (granulated) sugar, but that’s not much of a complexity.

    @JMG, Mary, and Siliconguy, another reason the early editions of Joy of Cooking editions were challenging was that it covered more than just recipes. There were long passages about selecting good items at market, storing different items in a household that might not have a refrigerator or freezer, making condiments that everyone today buys at supermarkets, and the like. Recalling the famous intro explaining that the book was for wives whose full-time cook had departed, filling in that role, especially for a large household, could hardly avoid being intimidating.

    @Thrown Sandwiches #316, I can see that being a factor. “Form some ground beef into a patty and fry it, then serve it on a bun with lettuce and tomato” isn’t going to sell a print cookbook. You’d have to come up with some “best burger ever” version, with just the right exotic cheeses and ancient grain flours mixed in, pre-cooked sous vide and then finished over Cumaro charcoal and topped with red amaranth and Korean raspberry gochujang, or something like that.

    Many years ago I wrote cooking instructions for some (at the time) some younger PMC relatives who didn’t cook, for six of their favorite meals my wife and I had served them at my house. Instead of cookbook-ese, I wrote instructions that included every detail. For instance, the pasta sauce directions included “open the can of ground tomatoes” as a step. Each recipe also included a list of all the tools needed (e.g. a can opener) . I thought at the time there might even be a market for a cookbook written that way, but the experiment didn’t really work. (They’ve gradually improved their cooking repertoire since then, but still prefer to use brand name home delivery cooking kits with pre-prepared and pre-measured ingredients. I see that as much more expensive, but to them it’s much less expensive than DoorDash carry-out.)

  332. JMG and Anselmo, any everyone else who cares about the integrity of their “paper” wealth. (If you don’t care, don’t bother to care when your supposed wealth is all gone).

    Re: “The Great Taking” I suggest everyone watch, at least, this Chris Martenson interview with the author: Part 1: If you don’t have a lot of time, you can catch the intro, to understand the gist, and skip to the middle of the video. For the EXTENSIVE citations of UCC law, hustled in by our Central Pranking buddies over the last 5 decades, you need to download the FREE (so no hustle here) ebook. Then prepare to get a headache as you try to unravel their legalize.

    Some horror stories — actually an increasingly large number of them — are true. It is a sign of intelligence, not gullibility, if a person is able to “theorize” and to recognize that “conspiracies” are more common than apple pie.
    This single interview led Chris Martenson to devote a good portion of the next several months further verifying the complexity of the legal and financial ramifications. I think there have been half a dozen or more follow up videos, articles, and discussions (although many are not public):

    I was going to tell you about my PERSONAL nightmares with FOUR banks committing, at least, gross negligence involving facilitating numerous felony thefts. But that will have to wait. I don’t have the time right now, as I don’t write that quickly, and I know it gives John a headache to read bad writing! I hope I don’t have too many typos/ writing errors in what I posted above. But I can ASSURE you, like bet my life on it because I have LIVED it, been involved in lawsuits trying to just get my money back: the financial system is COMPLETELY insecure.

  333. JMG, the point of the proofing basket, for me, that is keeps the dough closer to a sphere, which helps it avoid touching the crock pot when baking. You punch the dough, form it, then leave it to proof. The crock pot is a simple way of keeping the bread’s water content in, similar in function to the steam injection that modern bakery ovens use. It also speeds up heat transfer, which leads to a nicer crust – having a bunch of screaming hot metal 2″ from the loaf tends to do that.

  334. Oh! Mr. Greer, talk ’bout Burgers …

    Here’s my recipe for the all mighty flat grilled patty:

    to one lb. of MEAT!!! (note: I use ground bison..) add the following: one or two eggs, a splash worschtishire sauce, a spoonful or two of blue cheese dressing, some cracked pepper, some finely chopped onion (I use pickled red onion..) a splash of salt. Mix gently together, then, and ONLY then, add Panko to the mix (about a cup..) until loosely homogenized. (Important! the panko firms up the mix, so as not to have a runny gloppy disaster ! Form into patties (3 to 4 patties), to be grilled to one’s perfection (I like mine moderately well done, about two minutes on a side. YMMV on the grilling. I also use an iron top weight heated WITH the grill, to better evenly distribute the heat on both sides.

    Bon Appetit, you all ‘:]

    ps. Whilst perusingthe frozen food aisle at the chain grocery.. I noticed that French Frys (ALL!) had hydrogenated oils (Pick One!) as a constituent it their ingredient list. One thanks. I bake mine from scratch. So easy, a lower primate could do it!

  335. I adore the Moosewood cookbook and the enchanted brocolli forest ! I would add Laurels kitchen. Those are my go to cookbooks, and of course I also have my old betty crockers and an old joy of cooking.

    Enchanted Brocolli Forest has some tasty, easy and unusual salads for parties too. For my daughters graduation party last June I made ahead the potato salad recipe from Enchanted Brocolli Forest, my in law was so impressed, she ordered a copy of the book. The Tabouli salad that I did gluten free with quinoa was also a Molly Katzen recipe from one of those 2 books The orange chiffon cake, also made gluten free by subbing a gluten free flour to the old Betty Crockers recipe. That cake also travels well, I had a 3 hour drive with the food to the college, take it out of the pan when there. served with a half flat of our local organic fresh strawberries. Some other stuff too of course including some store bought — . There is a fortune to be saved by cooking and the food is better and easier to cater to the dietary restrictions. And, we were all more comfortable in a house and yard able to hang out. They want you to believe you have to go out or get catering. Like we arent capable.

    And, speaking of dinner parties, I met a young man on the train a couple years ago, he was lamenting that he and his peers spent a fortune on renting their various apartments in Silicon Valley that no one was ever at, that they would meet and restaurants and such, but then the time is short. I encouraged him to be “that guy” to start a new trend. To invite a few friends over to his place instead of a restaraunt. Turns out he knew how to cook some things, Indian food from his mom growing up. I bet his social life improved 1000%, is probably married now.

    Food is such a good place to start on taking back our agency.

    We were saying over at the Frugal Friday blog on dream width, we dont want just frugal food, we want frugal excellent food. Liek the Potato Salad from Enchanted Brocolli Forest, where the potatoes are cooked in the oil and vinegar dressing. The whole trick is in the thin slicing and the cooking in the oil and vinegar. Frugal and so much better and better for you than anything the deli counter would sell you.

  336. Hi Other Owen,

    about those steaks,

    My wife and I live in a rented big city apartment that has an electric stove in a kitchen that can’t fit the two of us at the same time. That stove is the cheapest of the cheap. We use a flat bottomed wok including for burgers, chops, fish and steaks.

    We buy ribeye and strip steak always when they’re on sale. At regular non-sale prices you have to rob a bank first to afford them. My wife likes hers blue rare so she cooks it at most maybe 30 seconds per side. I like mine less bloody so typically about three minutes per side. My wife uses salt, garlic and a pinch of dried herb. On mine I just use a sprinkle of steak spice I get from a dollar store.

    So, no searing as our kitchen has no fan but we do have an apartment smoke detector that’s really good at going off when we shower or cook bacon never mind whacking a steak with full-blast heat.

    Is our cooking professional grade? Nope. Not even close. How the steak turns out I find depends more on the quality of the meat. If it’s well marbled, then the steak turns out not bad.

    Our wok is the type with two handles. We also use it for morning eggs, stir fry, mapo tofu, frozen asian dumplings, frozen perogies, singapore-style noodles, chow mein noodles etc. A really handy device.

    BTW, no idea where you live so you may know this fun fact but I found out that singapore noodles originated in Canton or Hong Kong. Singaporeans typically won’t know what you’re talking about if you refer to singapore noodles.

  337. Re: Martin Back

    “Driving is one of the few everyday actions we perform that require observation, skill, reflexes, and can kill us if we get it wrong. ”

    Even more so motorcycles, and the extra input and output is what makes them fun.

  338. Atmospheric, the Seattle area had inflation in housing during the 1970s, with prices more than doubling over the course of the decade. It’s worse now, as real estate is more gimmicked than it was then.

    Owain, here again, you’ve misunderstood the point that the original commenter made. I don’t suppose it will help to suggest that you read it again, with less animus.

    Viduraawakened, two very good points.

    Lathechuck, exactly. Germany’s a great test case, because the Nazi Party faced forceful opposition from both ends of the political spectrum; the plot that nearly blew Hitler to smithereens was as blue-blooded a conspiracy as any in history. The conservatives in Germany were mostly old wealth, rooted in the aristocratic traditions of the old German kingdoms; to them Hitler was a vulgar leftist upstart.

    Forecasting, yes, I know — we’ve discussed this before. I’m far from sure that money preservation (remember that money is not wealth!) in any meaningful sense is going to be possible at all once contraction sets in. How much will any investment be worth when even solid business reliably lose money year over year?

    Siliconguy, fair enough.

    Andy, fascinating. If that catches on we’re going to see some dramatic social changes in the near future.

    Clay, it’s been a long time since I looked at either one, though I recall them from back in the day. Thanks for the reminder.

    Siliconguy, that makes perfect sense. Ouch.

    Gnat, keep in mind that I assume as a matter of course that money is an arbitrary system of tokens gamed six ways from Sunday and thirteen to the dozen by the holders of privilege. Money is not wealth, and the conversion factor between money and wealth is very unsteady.

    Justin, this is exactly the kind of fancy-pants cooking I don’t do. A plain baking sheet with a plain French loaf on it is more my style — a falling oven gives it a nice crust.

    Polecat, er, my idea of a good burger consists of meat.

    (Worcestershire sauce, btw. Since most Americans pronounce it something like “wistisher,” it’s not surprising that nobody can spell it any more!)

  339. Taylor, Jen, JMG and Tengu, I’m not denying that in some cases women do fight, obviously. That’s not what we are discussing here. Fighting to defend your home, family, tribe or land is different from fighting for equal rights within your own society; it might make you better positioned to do so, but, as your examples show, not necessarily. You can have a gender unequal society in which women are fierce fighters, and a gender equal society, as in Northern Europe today, in which most people have never seen a gun (or sword, or whatever).
    Also, like I said, it was more beneficial for Western women to have filled traditionally male jobs during WWII, than to have gone to fight with them on the front, which they did not do – but equal rights were mostly achieved any way and mostly in the 20th century in the West, when women did not fight.
    It depends on the culture, the situation and the time, and I still maintain that the presence of guns doesn’t appear to have a clear connection with feminism, which was the original point. Feminism mostly is, and definitely started as, a struggle for equality between the sexes within a society. This wasn’t achieved, unlike, say, armed rebellions and revolutions, through weapons and violence. Women didn’t start shooting or threatening to shoot their husbands and fathers when feminism started to gain traction. There was some fringe violent action by the suffragettes, as far as I can tell with “terror” attacks such as arson and not direct fights (so, again, not really with guns); the effectiveness of this is debated and not considered very high:
    Even in cases of domestic violence, which are one theme but not the chief one of feminism, women who do kill or injure their violent partners do so as a last resort and are often prosecuted; that women have no choice but to do so is considered a failure, not a feature, of feminism, and it happens relatively often in highly unequal societies where women are married against their will and often abused.
    So in this specific case, I do not see any connection, and I think that these arguments come from an idea of the centrality of one specific weapon which is true in some societies and times but not in others.

  340. @JMG and Taylor:

    Believe it or not, I read Taylor’s point more than once. I think I understand the thinking behind it, but I don’t agree that the availability of firearms was of any significance in originally sparking and driving the organised women’s movement (or ‘feminism emerging when it did’). I would argue that’s a case of putting the cart a good way off in front of a rather confused horse. The battle of ideas about women’s role in society had to be hard won first.

    To take a personal example, my father’s over-the-road neighbour is a former senior firearms officer with North Wales Police who also happens to be a woman. Fifty, forty years ago, that would have been impossible. As in, quite literally inconceivable. WPCs, as they were known as back then, just weren’t allowed near the guns. Not because people didn’t think women could use guns effectively. Everyone knew about Ruth Ellis, who, back in 1955, had shot an abusive partner four times on a street in London (he died and she was hanged for it). However, it just wasn’t socially acceptable for female police officers to be involved with armed response. They were there to fulfil the women’s role of working with children and other vulnerable victims. Maybe make a cup of tea now and again, for the lads. Feminists have now won that one, an easily missable 200 years or so after Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, although the proportion of female authorised firearm officers in the London Met, for example, is still low – currently only around 7 per cent of the total, whereas women comprise around 30 per cent of the total force.

    Of course, you might argue that I’m missing the point again. That this is obviously a case of vested male interests being very awake to the threat posed to their status and power by armed women and trying (and failing) to head this off at the pass. And I’d say, cart and horse again – that feminism first had to get women to believe they could pick the gun up in the first place. If you know how much of a struggle it used to be in Britain for some women just to be seen drinking beer out of a pint glass in public, you might have an inkling of how steep that particular hill may have been.

    Of course, I understand the situation is different in the US. Hey, I’ve seen Police Academy. For my sins.

  341. ‘This decadent age is not a time for ordinary beings to help others externally, but rather a time for them to live in solitary places and to train their own minds in the love and compassion of bodhicitta.’ (Dromtonpa)
    ‘Engineers lead the water, fletchers make the arrow straight, carpenters carve the wood, wise people fashion themselves.’ (Dhammapada)
    @JMG…Archdruid, I had intended to leave this question until the next book club. Anyway, for guidance concerning the fashioning of the ‘will and imagination’, which of your books would you recommend?

  342. Thanks for this reminder Mr. Greer.
    Further in this articles vein, I suggest the book Your Money or Your Life by Joe Domingues and Vicki Robin.
    Written decades ago. Kept going by MS Robin as a program of courses throught the world. Should be available in any good used book shop. (if any still survive)
    To paraphrase, “We are in essence choosing to exchange our life energy for money. Choose wisely how you spend it.”
    It changed my life 25 yrs ago.

  343. Gaia and Owain, once again, you’re both missing the point. I’ll make one more try. What Taylor has suggested has to do with a shift in consciousness centered on a particular technology as a cultural icon. That’s a common event — consider the way that Western cultures have redefined themselves mentally around the automobile as image and magnet for fantasies, even in places (such as densely populated urban cores) where many people don’t own cars and don’t drive. By redefining violence in the collective imagination as something that no longer has to rely on muscular strength, the emergence of the gun as a cultural icon necessarily affected all human relationships in which violence or the threat of violence are significant factors. You can see this in the way that the image of the warrior was replaced by that of the soldier, with all the differences those imply. You can also see this, Taylor is suggesting, in the way that the cultural imperative of male domination — an imperative that was always founded at least in part on issues related to violence — began to break down as soon as guns became commonplace in Western societies and came to occupy the same role as icon of violence that had previously been occupied by the sword. It has nothing to do with who’s actually shooting whom! If you want to disagree with that, by all means do so, but please notice what’s actually being said instead of putting up arguments irrelevant to the case being made.

    Tengu, I haven’t written that book yet. All my books of magical instruction cover that in passing, but a book focused entirely on the development of will, imagination, and the other capacities of the self that make for effective magic (and effective living) — that’s a tall order, and one I haven’t yet tackled.

    Siliconguy, how odd.

    Polecat, I’m sure your burgers are also tasty. I just tend toward voluntary burger simplicity. 😉

    Subutai, thanks for this.

  344. JMG, I was addressing different things said by different people so there was more than one point being made. As pertains to your clarification, I’ll briefly offer my own: what I’m disputing is “the gun” being as important a cultural icon as you and others say, especially outside the US and in the present (the original comment was suggesting that feminism and guns fluctuate together even today).
    Moreover, while it’s true that male supremacy is based on superior physical force, men don’t usually use weapons against women the same way they do against enemy soldiers or subordinate classes, so it doesn’t really matter what weapons are prevalent. You say it’s not about who’s shooting whom, but why would women feel stronger when a new weapon comes up that doesn’t actually help them much vis-à-vis the men in their society and in their lives? If the argument is that a new weapon challenges all power relations simultaneously, that makes more sense to me but it’s such a broad and indirect argument when applied to feminism that to me it appears unprovable.
    I’ll stop now.

  345. JMG, I’ll try your recipe next time. When you say a falling oven, I assume you mean you turn off the oven at some point after the dough is added – what temperature and how long after the dough is added?

  346. Thank you for making the effort to explain this way of thinking, but I’m afraid I still don’t get it. The gun as a cultural icon necessarily affecting all human relationships in which violence or the threat of violence are significant factors? That might be more of an American thing. I don’t think that guns have that sort of overwhelming importance in British collective consciousness. As far as current British ‘icons of violence’ are concerned, I’d say knives, machetes and acid are much more significant. Anyway, never mind. I’ll leave it there.

  347. Near the end of this comment period (during much of which, one might get the impression on reading the latter part of this comment thread, that the secret of the sage is cooking—a grain of truth there, but only a grain), and I just thought of a new possible connection to mention. It’s a recent Internet trend, among some younger people, to characterize themselves and/or certain others they admire as “sigma” individuals (“sigma males” and the like). Meaning, originally at least, literally people who don’t play the status game behind the usual “alpha” and “beta” designations.

    When one considers the consumerist aspects of most grade school social competition (one could say, to a first approximation, that an “alpha” student is one who leads trends in fashions and interests, while a “beta” is one who follows them to attempt to be accepted), the option of aspiring to be “sigma” by not reshaping themselves to fit in, is nice to see recognized for a change, even though it’s nothing actually new. Of course, there’s also been a bit of a backlash, including redefinitions of sigma to mean things like “empty posturing to claim to be better than an alpha” (which is very much like the usual backlash against nonconforming sages). So if I were to call this commentariat a fine collection of sigmas, it would likely give offense to some.

    Instead, at the risk of causing a short circuit by connecting one fringe corner of the Internet to another, I offer the secret of the sages as recently splashed across TikTok and the Internet, in current 15-year-old-speak:

    Sticking out your gyat for the rizzler
    You’re so skibidi
    You’re so fanum tax
    I just wanna be your sigma
    Freaking come here
    Give me your Ohio

    Translation? Challenging, but here’s my best shot:

    Trying to please the charismatic
    Makes you conventionally evil
    And a social parasite
    I just want to be different
    With you
    Share your strangeness with me

  348. I wonder if the trend to higher housing prices due to inflation will soften the bubble pop in housing prices, or in some less bubbled areas they will kind of cancel out. That would certainly let the gov say, see we didnt have (or much of) a housing crash…

    I graduated high school in 1979, we were renters in my family, not home owners. I have no idea what the prices did in my area as I didnt hear any talk about that one, just everything else.

    ANd, I wasnt clear in my comment, I have trouble with written clarity more than others here, I believe what I said is there wasn’t an issue with housing availability. Or at least what I meant. The 70’s was a high inflation time, and I have no idea on pricing change with that over the decade, but people were able to find housing to rent. Young people even, a few years older than me were able to get a job and rent something. They could pay their rent. My family always managed to keep a roof over our heads and food. We had to switch to an economy car, put on sweaters etc in the mid 70s.

    I do tell the young folks, yes, it is harder now, when I got out of high school, and college, it was a time where a young person knew they could get up and go somewhere else and find something to do for work when they got there and some dive or other to rent with the proceeds and then figure it out on how to improve the situation. When I was graduating college, it was still in a downturn time, just coming out of it, 1983, I couldnt find a professional job yet, I moved into an apartment anyways, they rented us the apartment even, paid rent for a few months with savings I had, and accepted a swing shift job in production ( so non skilled job), then managed to find a professional job. Rent was not hard to cover with a job. I know, we still HAD blue collar jobs ! A big help. But, even 11 or 12 years ago, when my eldest got out of college, during the 2008/2009 downturn, things had crashed, there were no jobs around here. She saved up a small amount of cash from odd jobs, packed up her station wagon and joined 2 other young ladies in a rental in the Portland suburbs. Had 2 job offers within a week. Part time, non skilled. Made rent. Didnt quite starve. Another art major for the Portland home depot paint department part time.

    Anyways, it is so much harder for young people to take care of themselves now, this is true, and with high inflation coming up, another downturn coming up…. I dunno. But, alot of them also waste money, and as you say the Secret is to not succumb to advertising. My daughter and the 2 others in that flat out in the outer cheap fringes had to prioritize rent. Making rent was the thing. And not buying stuff and cooking cheap food at home is the only way to do it. NO fancy nails or haircuts allowed. No lattes. BUt today, even that will not work in POrtland or around here, you have to go somewhere else, and these days they have no confidence they can go somewhere else and not be homeless.

  349. @Tengu (#363):
    For the fashioning of the ‘will and imagination,’ I would highly recommend Charles Godfrey Leland’s slim–and very practical!–book, The Mystic Will. (1907). You can download a PDF here:

  350. All this talk about women and gun rights makes me wonder if this topic is going to be relevant in the coming centuries, I mean, how common will guns be? Enough to disregard the physical differences between men and women?

  351. @ various commenters on first-wave feminism and guns:

    Indeed, the articulate and published founders of first-wave feminism in the US had very little to say about weapons, or even about the average difference in muscular strength between men and women. Their arguments were more tightly focused on questions of legal systems, natural rights, practical politics, and cultural expectations–that is, on intellectual battles, not physical ones. The women among these founders were mostly insulated from genuine threats of physical violence by virtue of their upper-class status. So bookish historians of feminism tend to ignore the unpublished concerns of lower-class women. However, these women were a tiny activist minority. Mosrt women lived in another, far more violent world.

    My own women ancestors were not upper-class, but mostly poor; and what little schooling any of them had was practical, not intellectual. In the last five generations before me, several of these women were married to, or worked for, quite violent dangerous men. I am reasonably certain that some of their husbands, and at least one of their employers, had committed murders and gotten away with them. Few of these women would have shrunk from any direct physical confrontation IF–and ONLY IF–they could see their way clear to holding their own against their adversary. The only reason they would not have used a gun in such a confrontation was that guns were crude weapons, and killing someone with a gun is harder to get away with than killing someone in more subtle ways, such as by poison.

    They were not intellectuals, and the power they wielded was not that of intellectual feminism and its arguments. And being married to a very dangerous man, or working for one, was one of the available routes leading to a more prosperous life for the woman and her children. “A woman does what she must for her children, and there’s no reproach to her for that” — no matter what the law, or society, might say!

  352. Back to dumbing down of the public – I suddenly remembered a nasty little tale by Cyril Kornbluth called “The Marching Morons.” The public in the future – maybe a century after the viewpoint character’s time – has been so dumbed down that the powers-that-be are buckling under the strain of carrying them. A sample which tell it all is that the cars on the roads and on the market are all spiffed up to look like racers, and their speedometers go up to something like 250 mph …. and the cars themselves can only go to 25 mph, which keeps down the bad driver casualties. And none of the drivers or buyers are really aware of that.

    Enter an ethics-free guy from our time* who got his hands on a highly advanced medical kit from a later future (or another timeline?) and has a solution. Tell them they’ve been accepted for colonizing Mars, load them into mass-produced rattletrap spaceships, and away goes the surplus population of idiots.
    *actually, probably, for Kornbluth’s own time, in which memories of trains to Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, et. al were still fresh.

    I forgot how it ends, except that the doctor’s stolen medical kit does him in as one of the instruments fails, and I believe number of the officials who went along with the Mars-bound death ships had attacks of conscience and even killed themselves over it.

    Kornbluth had another, in a time when the U.S. has collapsed, and in the east, the Irish mob has taken over and essentially has become the government. Viewpoint character, a bagman for the mob, essentially the tax collector. The Mob rules with a very light hand, having no interest in prosecuting vice as long as they get their cut. Plot: the Western mob is an outright tyranny, and has big eyes, and dissent is rising in the east because of corruption in the Mob-led government. People being people, that is, and innocent victims aren’t about to take it anymore.

    That era’s dystopias knew what sort of thing was coming down If This Goes On, I think.

  353. JMG…very long time I have not commented..,We do share some of the background…

    How many levels of the never-ending staircase have we descended at this point? I feel that you need to broaden your current news to include a bunch of other folks. Again…I think we might be on “landing” #7 or so but with many more to go…

    A lot of people do not seem understand catabolic collapse but you do appear to have been proven correct…And…if you had a chilld, say around 4-6 years old…could you recommend any material (other than the obvious) to teach???

  354. Gaia, this whole discussion — very much including your reaction — is fascinating enough to me that I’m considering an upcoming post on the subject. I may have to do some research first, though, into when European intellectuals became fans of gun control.

    Justin, not quite. You preheat the oven to 450°F and then, the moment the dough goes in, drop it to 375°F; the initial rush of heat gives you the nice golden crust, but the temperature declines as the bread bakes, keeping the middle soft. It’s imperative that you slash the top of the loaf in several places just before it goes in, so it has room to expand!

    Other Owen, if the leaders of the Bavarian Socialist Republic in 1919 had had any political competence at all, Germany probably would have gone that way.

    Owain, as I noted to Gaia above, this whole discussion fascinates me, not least because what seems like an obvious point to me slides right by the two of you. I’m definitely going to have to explore it further in an upcoming post.

    Walt, I only just heard the phrase “sigma male” for the first time last week, and it delights me — partly because it’s statistically literate (as you doubtless know, “sigma” is short for standard deviation, and a sigma male is therefore at least one standard deviation from the mean) and partly because it’s a useful label for the category to which I’ve always belonged. As for the bit of teen jargon, that gave me mozg a tolchock — to me ooko those slovos sound like Nadsat!

    Atmospheric, okay, gotcha.

    Rafael, it’s quite possible to make very good guns by hand; the famous Kentucky rifles of the early American frontier were entirely handmade, and so were the first generation or so of revolvers, though mass production got into the act fairly soon. Since guns provide such a massive combat advantage over other weapons, I expect them to remain in use, just as swordsmithing retained a high level of quality and even improved in some regions straight through the fall of Rome and the dark ages that followed it.

    Robert, thanks for this.

    Patricia, I remember both of those. The Mafia novel was titled The Syndic, and like most of Kornbluth’s best, it was a fine raucous satire.

    Yuri, depends on where you are — here in the US we’re down about a dozen steps with a big drop probably approaching in the near future, while other countries are on a shallower slope or even climbing a bit. As for what to teach a child, anything that gives the kid an independent mind and a capacity for self-reliance will be worth its weight in gold.

  355. “You can also see this, Taylor is suggesting, in the way that the cultural imperative of male domination — an imperative that was always founded at least in part on issues related to violence — began to break down as soon as guns became commonplace in Western societies and came to occupy the same role as icon of violence that had previously been occupied by the sword.”

    The question that emerges from this point which has been made, and which is worth further consideration, is whether, and to what degree, cultural imperatives of male domination have actually been founded on issues related to [interpersonal] violence.

  356. @ Robert Mathiesen.
    Thank you.
    @Owain D.
    In remote rural areas there are plenty of people who own long guns, particularly amongst the landed gentry. Some stately homes contain substantial armouries, including functioning handguns from WWII and earlier. In the inner city ghettos, amongst the lower classes, there are are also significant numbers of unlicensed firearms, which are mostly Eastern European in origin. So it would appear that the only people in Britain who have no contact whatsoever with guns are the suburban middle classes.
    ‘…fringe violent action by the Suffragettes’. You’ve obviously never heard of ‘suffragette jujutsu’. Policemen would separate lower middle class and working class suffragettes from the upper class women and then beat them black and blue with truncheons. Fortunately, the suffragettes knew a couple of women with expertise in jujutsu and bartitsu (a very eccentric Victorian martial art derived from jujutsu which was the model for Sherlock Holmes’ baritsu). The suffragettes ended up training large teams of women in jujutsu and arming them with clubs. They launched successful surprise attacks against police squads, and served as bodyguards for the suffragette leadership. If they hadn’t been able to turn the tables on male violence in this way the suffragette movement wouldn’t even have got off the ground.

  357. @Jen #305
    “I don’t want to get too off-topic, but I would suggest that outsourcing one’s physical safety to a bevy of institutions separated from oneself by time and space and plagued by lenocracy (which the police, the courts, the non-profit sector dealing with violence against women, and the government theoretically tasked with securing our rights certainly are!) might be a bad idea.”

    The topic is obviously compelling many to contribute, so I’ll put in my own two cents, and ask whether (since you have put it in these terms) it might not seem to you to be an equally bad idea to outsource one’s physical safety to a machine?

  358. Gaia #368: “Why would women feel stronger when a new weapon comes up that doesn’t actually help them much vis-à-vis the men in their society and in their lives?” Actually, it does: Firearms do change the balance of power for physically weaker people against physically stronger people. As the T-shirt says, “God made man and woman – Sam Colt made them equal.”

    I realize this may not address the real topic of the discussion: “a shift in consciousness centered on a particular technology as a cultural icon.” Then again, perhaps it does, since the balance of power is changed when physical strength doesn’t automatically confer the ability to dominate smaller and weaker people, and that change could lead to a shift in consciousness.

  359. I believe the supposed correlation between handgun availability and feminism dates back to a certain rather large book which came out in the 1990s if I remember correctly; I saw it at one of the large chain bookstores. I looked but did not buy. I regret I cannot now remember the title nor the names of the authors; I seem to recall there were two, both men. They made much of the fact that women first acquired the right to vote in Wyoming, whether state or territory IDK. Their overall theme was that violence or the threat thereof works. It did not work against the early Christians, nor against the Scots during their wars of independence at the turn of the 14th C AD. Like other more famous ideologies, the two men’s thesis struck me as a terribly reductionist view of human history.

  360. The Institute for Extinction Risk goes extinct. Cause of death, lenocracy. They even invented a new unit. 😊

    While FHI had achieved significant academic and policy impact, the final years were affected by a gradual suffocation by Faculty bureaucracy. The flexible, fast-moving approach of the institute did not function well with the rigid rules and slow decision-making of the surrounding organization. (One of our administrators developed a joke measurement unit, “the Oxford”. 1 Oxford is the amount of work it takes to read and write 308 emails. This is the actual administrative effort it took for FHI to have a small grant disbursed into its account within the Philosophy Faculty so that we could start using it – after both the funder and the University had already approved the grant.)

    How can a comedy writer compare with reality?

  361. Nick Cave in his latest Red Hand Files provided an interesting answer to a vaguely related question:
    In these exceptionally “perilous and urgent times” [do] you recommend fiddling while Rome burns?
    If you are a fiddler, yes. If you are a fireman, no.

  362. JMG, sounds complex 😉 – but I’ll give it ago, based on what you have said in this thread. Part of living in an old, large multiunit building is dealing with cockroaches, so any cooking process that requires getting food residues on a bunch of surfaces is “fancy” in my book – there is a lot to clean before and after. And of course, if the wind blows us closer in the future, this polite internet argument could be settled with bread instead of electrons.

    On guns, when I did my “machine shop 101” as part of engineering school, we were shown videos of Khyber pass artisans turning out assault rifles in primitive shops with not much more than a hacksaw, file and drill. Even decadent Western institutions know that useful automatic guns can be made in austere conditions, and this was more than a decade ago! I agree with the sentiment that freedom flows from the barrel of a gun – whether that’s putting men and women on equal grounds or letting a resistance fighter blow away an occupier with a cheap pistol – the more guns the better. I realize the open post is a week away, but an essay on guns would be fascinating.

  363. >when European intellectuals became fans of gun control

    I don’t know when the intellectuals did, but the aristocracy in Germany did their best to take away all weapons from the peasants from the 1550s onward. That guy who did that first video I posted, also dug into whether the Nazis implemented gun control or not. The answer surprisingly was no, gun control had been a fact of life in Germany for centuries already. The basically built a regulatory bramble garden that more or less forbade it. It wasn’t until the 20th that those regulatory brambles got simplified but it was pretty much 6 of one, half-dozen of the other.

  364. @Scotlyn, #380
    It is fashionable this days to express the reality JMG and others are talking about as “male dominion” or even “patriarchy”. At this point, it is worth noting that every patriarch is a male, but not every male can (or should) be a patriarch. I offer the phrase “sire dominion” as a potential substitute.
    The political implications of fire arms, much more than equalizing men and women, was to equalize lords and commoners. First, the kings learned that they could rise armies whose primary loyalty would go to the head of state instead of their feudal lord. Soon enough, philosophers learned that you do not need blue blood to raise and army of your own, and then a whole arrangement of new social mores became possible; democracy first and foremost amongst those.
    To a backwards Roman Catholic Mexican like myself… the values displayed in this forum can be, and at some points have been, frankly annoying: Can you not just shut up and do as told, you people? Intellectually I can see the advantages of self reliance and independence, but in my hearth of heaths I actively dislike when people start being disobedient just for the sake of being disobedient. It is the same spirit that made Martin Luther base his Reformation on the personal reading of the Scriptures (which would make the printing press a second technology that made this would arrangement of social changes possible). Just as you no longer need a big lord of the big house in his horse to keep you safe, you also do not need a fat bishop in his ivory tower to tell you how to talk to God.
    It is very late on the cycle to be having this conversation, but next Wednesday is Open Post IIRC. Maybe we can explore this a bit further?

  365. Discussion seems to have moved a bit away from the original essay, first to cooking, then to guns. Before this week wraps up, I would like to bring it slightly back to the original essay.

    Ancient sages and Christians were not famous for the use of violence, whether in aggression or even (especially in the case of Christians) justified self-defence (war was a slightly different matter). The spread of Christianity, at first especially among women (!) and slaves, later among more privileged groups, and its triumph, had nothing at all to do with violence. Neither was violence characteristic of Indian sages (China and Japan are a bit more complicated).

    Violence, including gun violence, was still very widespread in Europe around 1800, making travel particularly dangerous for women, children or older people. Look at Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, at Schiller’s Räuber or Hauck’s Das Wirtshaus im Spessart for examples. Travel was made safe, and violence, including gun violence, was reduced, not by peaceful male and female citizens arming themselves, but by the expansion and infiltration of state power everywhere in Europe over the course of the 19th century. Tengu’s example of suffragette jujutsu is another great example of a non-lethal way of disarming violence, as is, of course, India’s independence. I find it very ironic that the recent movie RRR turns that truth on its head.

    All of which is to say, flourishing during an era of decline, and especially flourishing of physically weaker people, does not seem to be linked to the (threat of) violence and particularly gun violence in my reading of the historical record.

  366. “Money is not wealth, and the conversion factor between money and wealth is very unsteady.”

    I always find it both funny and a little uneasy when people always talk about some grand plan for the future and they say “But where will the money come from?” .No thought for resources or logistics or anything else, they think that money is the ONLY thing that determines if anything is done. Thus every plan for the future be it a bridge or a colony on Mars is purely a matter of money. One could see money as a thought-stopper.

  367. @JMG, “my idea of a good burger consists of meat”

    Here is one that is a bit more your taste.

    Get 1 pound of ground beef, add an egg, sautéed onions and Italian herbs of your choice. Mix up and fry. Alternatively, just sprinkling the herbs on top along with onions separately if you wish to have them. Enjoy!

    My dad used to always make them and they are fantastic but adjust as to your tastes. Heck, I sometime use Taco seasoning instead of herbs – that is also great.

  368. > A handful of bloodsucking leeches.

    I’m reading Jack London’s The Iron Heel at the moment. The America he describes, from his personal experience, comprises a vast mass of underprivileged dominated by said leeches who are protected by a system of favorably-interpreted laws and regulations. Sounds familiar. That was 1908.

  369. JMG and others about this, what fascinates me is how, when it comes to guns, two cultures that are similar in many respects – European and American, as in US American – don’t understand each other at all. Most Europeans really can’t wrap their minds around Americans’ obsessions with guns (one way or the other) and their tolerance for gun violence, while many Americans seem to think that Europeans, by forfeiting guns, must be forfeiting their freedom, safety, and independence.
    Personally, I’m agnostic one way or the other – as far as I’m concerned there’s a time and place for guns, and one for no guns; I intervened here because, like you said once if I understood you correctly, it’s never smart to attach too many issues to a cause, and the feminist cause appears to me so unrelated to guns that making one conditional on the other, as the first comment suggested and you enthusiastically embraced, appears to me both dangerous and with no basis in reality.
    Of course, you are all free to think that we just “don’t get it”.

  370. On the topic of burgers, the Oklahoma onion burger making the rounds on social media is really quite good. Make thin burger patties, slice a white onion as thinly as you can (a mandoline would be nice, but I don’t own one). While the first side of the burger cooks until ready to release from the pan, put the onions on top of the patty so they preheat a bit. Then flip the burgers and onions as one, effectively steaming the meat in caramelizing onion juice. Buns (ideally toasted) can be placed on top to steam , and cheese can be added for the last 30 seconds. Seasonings are to taste – I add salt and pepper to the ground beef before forming. No ketchup or mustard is needed – this is, in my opinion, the final form of the cheeseburger. It is fitting that America has produced such a treat in the hour of its terminal decline.

  371. The assumption running through this discussion of firearms and feminism is the idea that greater physical strength automatically fuels an urge to dominate those whose physical strength is less.

    I would ask those in this commentariat who know themselves to be physically strong if this assumption rings true about you personally? Do you feel that your own physical strength make it urgent for you to use it dominating those physically weaker than you in circumstances where the non-existence of guns would have (at least theoretically) left them helpless to resist your strength?

  372. patricia mathews@377 – I think you’ve conflated The Marching Morons with another Kornbluth story, The
    Little Black Bag, that’s the one with the medical kit.

  373. Many have asked about meeting in the physical realm. I will take this opportunity to remind all that the 7th Annual Ecosophia Midsummer Potluck will be held June 22, 2024 at our house, behind the Charles Dexter Ward Mansion in Providence, RI. Only 59 days to go! Sign up here. I look forward to your presence, and once again, whomever comes from furthest is welcome to stay in our guest room.

    Six years ago JMG moved near me. I checked whether he was amenable to meet some of this community, then announced the day and time. If you seek the same, announce your day and time, and if Orichalc is playing nearby, maybe JMG can hitch a ride on the bus.

  374. JMG #379: I can confirm, homemade guns are absolutely a viable option. I’d recommend looking into the “Khyber pass copy”, this refers to guns created by a long-thriving cottage industry of firearms from a region between Afghanistan & Pakistan. Quality varies of course: some of their works are up to standard, some aren’t, while others are effective but mutated from the factory version. From what I’ve gathered, they would reverse engineer a “master copy” (ie a captured firearm) and make duplicates using whatever materials are at hand. I gather they’ve been active for over a century, and are still at it to this day. A really fascinating story, and one that’s familiar to gun collectors, who often strive to obtain these bootleg versions to round out their collection.
    More to the point, the Khyber Pass gun industry is a clear proof-of-concept for manufacturing guns without large-scale industy. So yes, it’s safe to say that guns will be maintained and manufactured well after collapse (and perhaps other goods that are highly in-demand). Not only that, but I’ve read that gunpowder can be made from bat guano and a few other widely available ingredients, further ensuring the long-term viability of guns.
    Other than that, good stuff as always!

  375. Late to chime in on this one,

    But, I get what JMG is saying. And the societal recalibration was not just about women but about physical strength differences in general, which also then applied to women. Smaller men could defend themselves against bigger men too, Smaller men could be police officers and miscreants would listen due to that gun on his hip or in his hand. Obviously, this is also going to apply to women and not just to the smaller men as the general group think is adjusted. SO, the whole thinking in society adjusts to not looking at size and strength in terms of being able to project power.

    It is so nice that the general commentariat here feel that they never would consider using their superior strength and size to their advantage against women. (sarc) It is heartening to know that our socialization of children is working, well, usually, often anyways. First I would say that this new thing that happened in the 1800’s or whenever with the advent of guns projecting force and power regardless of human strength would be one of the factors pushing this socialization further in the direction ( because of the practicality of dont assume that your bigger size will win out) . Also, I have personally experienced and even more so heard accounts of educated, socialized, upper middle class etc… males absolutely projecting their physical power, despite all socialization. And, as these changes have happened over the ensuing years women also felt their power as a smaller person, even if they did not own a gun, they also grew, in our societies, to know that they shouldn’t be treated that way due to being weaker. SO, what i have seen, is that even if a woman is not physically carrying a gun at the time she is hit, she can, and men know that this is possible, she can retrieve one from somewhere, even his, and use it later. He has to sleep sometime. This is a part of what we know, men and women, that there are equalizers that a smaller, weaker person, including a woman, can get and use. This simply must affect socialization, expectations, and the relations between the sexes.

    While this varies by location and over time in the USA, we may be different esp from UK and possibly others. It is not considered a crime to kill him later when he is asleep. It is called “battered womens syndrome” there is something rhyming with what happens to kidnap victims that affects beaten partners. And it is real and is a justifiable defense. NOt to mention, some would rather take the chance even in other countries to do it to escape, no matter the consequences. In true AMerican fashion, this societal expectation of women was reinforced by Hollywood, 1984 movie “The Burning Bed” highlighting the issue, so that potential cases in ensuing years had more receptive feeling about the female victims that killed. ANd, was another heads up to stronger people that she doesn’t even need access to a gun. Awarenss may have dropped off all these years later, as happens in this country. But I know someone whose dad was shot and killed by his wife at the time in the late ’80’s, he was asleep at the time she shot him. It was investigated to show she had cause, obviously she was not convicted of a crime. Our family story, passed to me, from me to my daughters, is my grandmothers story to me, that she overheard the men group at a cocktail party when she was a newlywed, some talk of how they could push their woemn around to get their way if needed or somesuch. They got home, she told him, if you ever laid a hand on me, you had better not fall asleep, because I will go get that cast iron frying pan and… But these changes and strength became possible as the smaller weaker, including women, knew they could stand up to the stronger men

  376. This may be too late, but:

    One thing that might explain why you see different than Warren is that she is focused on families. Not having children is a very lucrative downshift, and she’s looking at people who ignored it and are now forbidden to turn back.

    (It’s also an invisible downshift, in much the same way that Earth was the sixth planet to be discovered and the Sun was way down the list of stars to be discovered. Most people are either so in the grip of their selfish genes that they find it unthinkable, or so free from them that they feel like it is actually “settling down” that is the “downshift”.)

    There’s a large class of downshifts for parents that are only expert-tier because they require uncommon faith that the child won’t be doomed to career prospects not befitting their intrinsic virtue.

    Among other parent-specific expenses, Warren does note that parents are competing to avoid being in the catchment of public schools they consider under-performing. As a result, they pay double for almost the same home (2003 compared to 1983), while the child-free only pay half again.

    So the child-free have on one side of them a bunch of unused simple downshifts that the parents have already used in pure desperation, and on the other side some unused downshifts that are simple for them but would make a parent feel too guilty. This would feed a view point that, on average, many people still have low-hanging fruit.

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