Why Societal Collapse Can be a Positive

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Change is the only constant.

It’s taken a little while to get to this obligatory ‘oh shit Trump is in power what do I think about this post’ for two reasons. The first is that I have personally been working through my own thoughts on this, and the second is that I’m not sure that my opinion on the matter really matters. As I am a product of my own ego (we all are) my initial reactions to it all came from a place of personal bias. I was shocked at what had happened. Trump was such a wildcard it was kind of hard to believe that it was all real. After that initial shock my mind worked over what the election results meant for my world. I was saddened for those who I believed might be worse off under the rule of someone who was so forthright with misogynistic and bigoted remarks. I wept for the environment and what ‘big business’ (Trump is corporate America) in political   power may translate to. Then I wept for myself.

When we grieve the majority of our grief comes from trying to understand what the situation means to us and our place in life, love, and the World around us. My grief was shallow. It was caused by a shaking of my values system. I was concerned that I had wasted my time investing long hours into sustainability and environmental research and education. I threatened to pack it all in and buy a coal mine. I even threatened to buy a jet ski and a leaf blower (two things that are annoying, kind of pointless, and a waste of fossil fuels) and make them my only passion. After this natural process of bitching, whining, and feeling sorry for myself  things looked up. My mind had formulated and understanding of the situation that gave me something to hold on to.

 

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Evolution Edge.

Way back in 2008 I was introduced to a book by Graeme Taylor called Evolution Edge: The coming collapse and transformation of our worldThis read was part of my sustainability coursework and somehow manages to be simultaneously empowering and frightening in much the same way that Trumps election victory felt. In the case of Trump as president we realised just how powerful the vote can be, and how frightening it can be when groups band together to make a mass decisions that might not be the popular one or the one we believed to be most right. Evolutions Edge looks at the importance of change in the growth of humanity. Taylor creates a convincing argument as to why we are on the path to destruction. Starting with a look at how collapse of society is inevitable given the resource hungry ever-growing population we humans have been cultivating since the industrial revolution. Societal collapse is not a new idea, it has been part of resource mis-management for as far back as we can trace human civilisation (Easter Island is an interesting case study if you want to do some reading). The black and white truth of it all is that we have too many people, are polluting our most important resources (can’t live long without food and water) and are too hungry for resources to make things we don’t really need. It’s tough to take but collapse doesn’t always mean the end. One can faint from low blood pressure and wake up just fine, collapsing doesn’t always mean death, it’s usually just a sign that we have overdone things and need a change! The collapse of society is no different from the collapse of the individual- it can be minor or deadly and can result in a positive change or may see the World chowing down cheeseburgers and enjoying it all while we still can.

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Trump as a catalyst for change.

When Trump was voted in many eco-peeps got a kick in the pants. I believe that this kick in the pants was much needed. This might sound a little negative or judgemental of me (so please excuse if this offends), but so many people in ‘eco’ ‘ethical’ ‘feminist’ etc. circles get entrenched in their own ideals. Social media allows us to curate our Worlds to suit our own values. It’s great to wake up every day and trawl through posts that make you feel optimistic and part of a collective vision for a world you want to live in. The sad fact is that social media and the internet is not reality (but it is a great place to find articles like If Politicians had man buns, politics would be so much funnier). The internet is a wonderful way to connect but it’s a mathematically calculated selling machine. It tracks your habits, likes, and behaviours and feeds them back to you in the form of advertising and suggestions in social media as to what you might like. While I am forever an optimist about the capacity for people to live their best lives based on their core values, the election results show me that many people have values that may differ from mine, or are in a state of total dismay at the political system and believe it’s time for real change. You might have seen the story getting around about Baba Vanga, the blind prophet whose predictions of the future have had a 85% success rate (that’s a better success rate than most drugs you are offered by your doctor).  Vanga  predicted that the 44th president of the United States would be African American and stated that he would be the “last US president”. While this is a slightly scary and confusing thought, many suggest that this could be interpreted that from Obama forward US citizens decision to vote Trump- a reality TV star- into power indicates that the world has gone bat-shit crazy and our political systems are nothing more than entertainment. If it’s the bat-shit-crazy motivator then there is a good chance that Trump as president might just be the catalyst for political and economic change that the world needs.

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Why economic and political collapse and reform is the best option.

We all know that change is scary. Which is why we operate from a state of fear, shock or disbelief when scary changes happen. Sometimes the grieving process leads us to a state of anger and this is not always channeled in the best way. Often the fear of inevitable changes can lead us to war, xenophobia, famine, and protectionism. On our current trajectory of ‘business as usual’ with our economic and political system we are headed towards a scary collapse before a reform. If we are to continue as we are doing now (breeding large families, polluting our vital natural resources, and consuming more than our share) we will end up in a fearful, patriotic and protective world. As the globe changes and changing weather patterns require the movement of whole populations to find food and water there will be wars, death and destruction with this mindset.

Whether the Trump or Clinton were in power both option meant ‘business as usual’ because no president wants to be the one to say ‘hey you are all going to die if you keep consuming too much and having above replacement rate children” because you won’t last long in power with the truth. While Trump is a political gamble, he might just be one of the better things that have happened to the World’s ‘West is Best’ ideology. If he manages to rule with very little drama, no war, a fair and equal society for all Americans and creates a whole industry committed to bettering the environment then all might continue as usual in politics and the economic system. However, if he fails we might just see the best possible collapse and transformation of society that the World could possibly hope for. Rather than a change based on the desperation of depleted resources and global climate change (two areas we have very little control over because nature does her own thing), we might just see the transformation of the two systems WE INVENTED, politics and the economy. And this transformation comes from taking self responsibility, rather than believing that ‘someone else’ should know what is best for it.

It is much easier to transform things we made up to make our World a more fair and equitable place than it is to wait for the collapse of our environment. Hopefully Trumps rein will enable all nations that look up to the USA to change the ‘West is Best’ narrative and start to adopt ways of operation outside of corporate consumer culture (which is what Trump stands for). If he fails epically (which would be an unthinkable speed bump for the residents of the states) then it might just be the perfect place to change our ‘growth at any cost’ economic system and horrible short term and deeply entrenched in big business political systems to something that serves ALL people. Whatever the case this is all speculation. I would love to see this as the tipping point for global systems change because I personally would prefer a new economic and political system and for people to accept their personal power and self responsibility because it seems more logical than finding a new home planet when we wreck this one.

What do you think about it all? Have you living under a rock in your local park since the election? Do you believe that one option was better than the other? Perhaps you know a political framework that you would like to champion. Please share your thoughts.

Author: Katie

Katie Roberts is a self confessed 'write-a-holic' Environmental Scientist with a passion for Sustainable Fashion.

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