Wednesday, October 16, 2013


For all our talk about gender roles, there is little attention paid in the manosphere to the deeper basis for keeping civilization running. Let us not forget that the economy is an energy equation. Whatever else is going on, nothing can work unless the laws of thermodynamics are obeyed. You can do all sorts of funny stuff with enough energy, but without a huge energy surplus, there is very little to do beyond subsistence farming for the vast majority of people, as history indeed attests to. The inescapable need for sufficient energy input is often forgotten in the manosphere, just as it is in almost every other sphere nowadays. Which is also unsurprising if you think about it, since we all grew up in an unprecedented era of extreme energy abundance and never directly felt the harsh economics of natural existence. MRAs often assume that if we only fix marriage and repeal some laws, everything will be all right. But I fear we may run into a greater problem even if all this is accomplished. There is one sphere dedicated to this problem, and they do seem to be onto something. According to the peak oilers, we will soon reach a point where the energy needed to hold the system together that we all rely on is unavailable. After reading sites like the Oil Drum and Gail the Actuary for a while, I suspect they may be fundamentally right. And I say this as someone who thought believers in peak oil were all tinfoil-hat lunatics until very recently. If this means I too have gone insane, then please point out in the comments which part of the limits-to-growth argument is flawed, because it sure seems more convincing right now than the cornucopian vision.

In a word, I have become peak oil aware. I am convinced the world is in a much worse state than the mainstream media is letting on, and it will be all downhill from here. If you watch the news, you get the impression that fracking and shale oil have solved peak oil to the point that the U.S. will soon be an exporter, renewable energy will gradually replace fossil fuels and be almost as good, and of course economic prosperity is always right around the corner. It is also arrogantly assumed that we can easily keep the system running long enough to burn enough fossil fuels to cause significant global warming, which is seen as our most important worry (as if peak oil won't do us in long before climate change possibly can). But if you look more closely into any of these issues, it becomes clear that the official position is catastrophically flawed. Renewables are a joke, with so horrible energy return on energy invested (EROEI) that it's unclear if they can even serve to delay collapse rather than hasten it due to the complexity they add. At best, renewables can work as fossil fuel extenders, but they don't produce enough energy to reproduce themselves. For example, we don't know how to use solar cells to make more solar cells without an oil-based infrastructure. You can't make more hydroelectric plants or maintain the existing ones without oil, either, or wind farms, or any of the proposed alternatives.

There is simply no practical alternative to burning fossil fuels. In truth, we have no idea how to maintain industrial civilization and keep us all fed any other way. Not with seven billion people (except nuclear, but that won't happen in time for political reasons). For every calorie in our food, ten calories from fossil fuels go into growing and processing it, and this is the only way we know how to do it. There is even no readily available alternative to liquid fuels, and these are absolutely essential to prevent collapse. And even more immediately, there is probably no alternative to our debt-based financial system to keep the wheels turning. As soon as awareness spreads in the system that all the growing debts cannot ever be meaningfully repaid because the necessary wealth will never materialize in a shrinking economy, the whole system comes tumbling down. This is not a physical necessity, but it is a strong likelihood. It is also possible that essential services will keep running until we hit hard physical limits (which admittedly would take decades), perhaps by means of government coercion such as forced labor, but this is highly uncertain and would in any case be highly unpleasant.

Collapse could start as early as this week if the U.S. government defaults on its debt, or perhaps they will come up with a way to kick the proverbial can down the road a bit further. In any event, they can't borrow their way out of their problems in a shrinking economy for long, so eventually collapse will catch up with them. Because of globalization, the depression will spread, and so we must return to a world with much less complexity. Because of resource depletion and population overshoot, the future will be ridiculously much worse than any other period in history. The stone age will likely seem like Utopia compared to what awaits us, because back then they were only moderately crowded and still had low-hanging fruit around to mostly subsist (although deforestation was already a problem back in prehistoric times). Whatever technology they had was also realistically suited for their world, while we can't get anything done without computers and oil, none of which will be available in the future.

When I see the malice perpetrated against men by governments around me, I take solace in the likelihood that they will soon lack the energy to keep it up. There will be plenty of benefits for men as entropy overtakes feminist enforcement of all their hateful sex laws. For one thing, a post-collapse society cannot keep a sex offender registry because all electronic records will disintegrate. There will be no functioning electric grid and no Internet, so all surveillance technology will cease to function. Cops will have no way to check if you are wanted, and said cops won't be paid properly anyway, so they probably won't even stay on the job.

And governments cannot incarcerate a great number of people in a low-energy world unless they can coerce slave labor out of them to make the EROEI of the prisoners sustainable. This is unlikely because the technology needed to force slaves to work the fields is lacking and cannot be produced at the scale needed. You can't manufacture as much as a shovel without oil, and the machinery currently used will break down, never to be repaired. Contemporary prisoners all have an EROEI much lower than 1 (usually zero), which isn't workable for long. Perhaps slavery was sustainable in previous times when all of society was adapted to that level of existence with the technology and skills to go along with it, but I don't see that happening now. Most likely, collapsing states will be faced with the option of killing off prisoners or setting them free, because resources to employ guards and feed them and the prisoners too will be lacking. This is the silver lining of peak oil from an MRA perspective.

On the other hand, most of us will starve to death or succumb to disease or wars or exposure as we flee the cities, which will be the biggest death traps of them all. I am hardly a rugged survivalist type myself, so I realize I will probably not be among the 1% or less expected to survive the kind of collapse envisioned. But after recovering from the initial peak oil blues most people experience when they become aware of the predicament, I have come to feel optimistic about the coming collapse. Because I hate the sex-hostility perpetrated by our governments so intensely, I will be happy to witness their downfall even if I have to suffer alongside them. At least I will get to see the terror in the eyes of feminists and manginas when they realize the lights of our civilization are going out for good and it's only brutish barbarism from here on. The moment when the scumbags in law enforcement and our legislatures realize their kids will not grow up because there will be no economy to sustain future generations, and their own pensions are as worthless as Monopoly money, will be priceless to us decent folks. There is nothing we can do to prevent collapse, so it's best not to be too invested in any worldly things, but we can still take delight in the suffering of our enemies. Sure, people could have reasonably good lives in preindustrial times, but not with seven billion...

Even if you are a hard-core prepper, I wouldn't expect to survive much longer than most people, because unless you have the kind of fortified facility only a billionaire can afford, it is impractical to have food when others around you are starving. If nothing else, you will quickly run out of ammunition to fend off looters. Therefore, I don't bother with prepping. It is always prudent to keep a well-stocked pantry and learn basic survival and self-defense skills, of course, but beyond that, there isn't much any of us can do to improve our chances. I expect that within a few months after supply lines are cut, things will get so bad, the outcomes for each of us will be largely uncorrelated with our preparations.

This is assuming a fast collapse. It is also possible the collapse will be more protracted, in which case we will live longer and get gradually poorer, our life expectancies will fall and so on. Archdruid John Michael Greer is a proponent of this sort of slow catabolic collapse, and he might be right. He is also probably the most erudite peak oil writer, in my opinion, and his blog is not to be missed. The Archdruid thinks business as usual can continue for ten more years, after which a long series of calamities will befall us over the next hundred years. At that point the human population will be down to three billion and falling. This is possible if we are able to catabolize parts of our infrastructure and recycle it in successive stages for the benefit of a much reduced population, and unfortunately it also enables oppressive governments to stay in business longer. I don't claim to predict exactly what will happen, and I don't think anyone knows. But one thing seems certain: This cycle of civilization is doomed, and we won't make it to the Singularity first like I foolishly believed in my youth, because we don't have enough energy to channel into technological progress. Prosperity isn't something which magically appears as randomly the wind blows, like I used to assume and as economists still seem to think. Prosperity must of course be based in a real energy surplus, and that energy surplus will no longer be forthcoming.