Can the Wealthy Have A Separate Peace?

This is a guest posting by Altaira, who has a Masters Degree in Agricultural Science. She is employed at an NGO working on issues related to sustainable development.

I normally don’t mix with millionaires, but through “6 degrees of separation” circumstances I found myself in an extensive and personal conversation with a wealthy and highly connected person. He knew that I was “preparing” for economic decline, including skills in household self-reliance.

As the conversation evolved and took various twists and turns, he eventually proposed that a business helping the ultra rich establish “lifeboats” would be both lucrative and timely, and that I might be especially qualified. Imagine the family of an investment banker being plucked from their rooftop helipad in upper Manhattan to a prepared enclave in the country, while watching burning tires and broken glass 40 stories below. They could end up in upstate New York, or in a more exotic place like their personal island in the South Pacific.

He then named about a dozen families on the Forbes list of billionaires who have already prepared for doomsday on a spectacular scale, including multiple geographic options. These were the early adopters, I was assured, and now a second and much larger wave will be in need of professional advice and on-the-ground know how.

Of course I would need to have a well-recognized partner in the armed security business, such as Blackwater. There would be guarded walls, prime farmland, renewable energy systems, stockpiles of essentials, fallout caverns, as well as necessary amenities like tennis courts and pools. Presumably, beyond the walls would be squalor, misery and violence.

I called a friend who had a career in high finance on Wall Street to get his perspective on my encounter. He had a similar story to tell—many (not most) of his old connections were thinking about financial collapse and some about personal security. He said it made sense. The people who made big money have highly competitive personalities and are likely to reason that if money doesn’t work anymore they will need to directly take the resources that money used to buy. They are ambitious, bold, and often ruthless, traits that served them well in a society where success is measured in pecuniary conquests.

Obviously, a vast chasm exists between the attitudes and strategies of a ‘separate peace’ for the wealthy and that of institutions like the Post Carbon Institute, the Transition Town Initiative, and sustainability in general. We are an extremely variable species - the spectrum between cooperation and competition varies greatly not only among individuals but among groups of individuals.

I must admit, this experience took me a bit by surprise. I was unaware (a) that these sort of ‘high level’ retreats were being built, and (b) of the utter disregard, almost contempt for the common man and woman I witnessed. Even so, I found myself wondering if my new friend was correct about the direction of the future, and whether it might be smart of me to acquiesce, and position myself for the “inside” rather than the “outside” of the walls being built.

So I emailed The Oil Drum. What does the Campfire think?

Some questions.

Do the highly ambitious and wealthy have a different understanding of “human nature” than the more egalitarian and communitarian minded? Are these different views the result of scientific understanding of human nature or from whom one tends to associate with?

Will enclaves of extreme wealth be built on a massive scale? Will they succeed in protecting their inhabitants? Are they “moral?”

Are we in a situation that could be termed “disruptive selection” where hyper individuality and hoarding OR highly cooperative behavior and equity might succeed?

Can we identify forces that would send societies one direction or another, and places more or less likely to take a particular path?

Is there a middle ground between these alternate views/strategies, for example, personal wealth being used to transform a village or town, i.e., build an inclusive lifeboat based on essential needs short of tennis courts and swimming pools?

Its probably a good thing I got this incoming instead of Gail or Kyle - they might not have believed Altairas story was true - I do however - if only because I have heard similar stories (e.g. huge such retreats in Northern Italy). I do think people doing this sort of prep are a tiny minority however - many of my wall st friends are just now starting to wonder if their money in the bank might not eventually be spendable by their children (e.g. they are thinking 30-40 year horizon - fortress in the country is many many steps ahead of their thinking...but I could be wrong.)

Still - I do agree with the author that by and large the most ambitious of our current crop of 7 billion have pursued digital wealth, power and control - I suspect if the rules change back towards real capital, the writing on the wall will be seen by them faster than by most, and they'll translate abstract capital into real as quick as an bankwire.

Problem is, a good % of real capital (at least social and human) can't easily be bought.

Curiously, I wonder how common a strategy it would be among the uber-wealthy to reduce their demands, instead of maintaining . Far easier and healthier.

I think fortress in the country is many many steps ahead of their thinking...

But I bet they're quick learners. (video 48 seconds)


I suppose the workability or a fortress retreat depends on the level of lawlessnenes and commerce in general.

If it is possible to still get the occasional delivery of luxury or essential items,and the lord's lackeys or troops as the case may be can venture out into the country side and travel to whatever passes for the nearest city,a stockpile of gold or other precious metals or manufactured items such as recharge able batteries could be used to conduct some trade. And of course such a fortress estate should theoritically produce surplus food,which could be exchanged for items in short supply,such as boots or water pipe or roofing nails or a thousand other items that will be needed sooner or later but not in stock.

In this scenario the number of support and security personell might be manageable,and the lord of the manor might be able to maintain personal control,by createing factions in his security force such that they watch each other as well as gaurd him.This might be sustainable for a few years.

But if things are REALLY tough,the fortress would have to be expanded to include such a large territory and include so many people that it really couldn't be properly called a fortress any more .A fiefdom or some other term might be more appropriate.The security people would become soldiers as such,defending the territory,and the locals would be serfs or perhaps "freemen".

In this situation the super rich guy or girl would have to do one of two things,niether one easy.. one,Become the trusted leader of the country around, gaining the loyalty of the locals,making him a sort of king or warlord,depending on the circumstances.This implies a quid pro of course ,the locals will want protection,such medical care as can be provided,etc,in exchange for labor and perhaps even bearing arms for milord in a pinch.

Or two ...The recluse will have to surround himself/herself with a very large security contingent,so organized that every body watches every body else and NOBODY dares organize a coup for fear of betrayal and a long slow death by hanging with a piano wire or worse.This is if I understand such matters correctly the way Saddam Hussiems and Hitlers organize thier personal security.

Apparently this works very well if you have lots of time and resources to build the organization.
A huge extended family with tons of nephews and cousins who both look up to you and peee thier pants if you send for them is a huge plus in this scenario.

Given the obvious difficulties of recruiting and organizing such an army of security people I don't think it is possible to do it on short notice and it seems unlikely that even a billionaire could pull it of in most places.

The powers that were in the days of old could withdraw into a castle and withstand a siege for quite a while sometimes but they had to come out sooner or later.

My guess is that the uber rich,if they survive as such, will necessarily be come local lords or warlords,if they are both skillfull and lucky.

But in times past the rich and powerful controlled all or nearly all the weapons.

That will not be the case in the future.If tshtf really hard,my guess is that no one will be able to maintain control of any great wealth in land or other hard assets until things settle down,and a whole new set of alphas will then emerge as circumstance and luck and ability dictate.

I doubt if very many of todays top crust will remain on top thru such a transition as the most useful skills are not likely the ones that worked in the world of high finance.

Pretty much agree. Today we have the situation where there are many more people and they are more mobile (even in an oil crunch). That changes the game over medieval times. A fortress mentality isn't really going to cut it in that environment. Also the larger the region, the more obvious the target. No gated community would survive long.

No, you would need real natural barriers to mobility to prevent your fortress from being overrun.

However any static target is a target that will be overrun in time. If you knew Maui had stores of resources, wouldn't you eventually find a way to get them? One of the key characteristics of success is mobility and the ability to 'run away'. Therefore a maritime territory becomes the obvious route. A flotilla of ships, a moveable base on an island that's not central to operations. Weapons designed to sink ships from a distance. That becomes a preferable survival model.

Above all, not being noticeable is important. Small, insignificant, but with real value to trade in small packets.

I'm reminded of this story:

Makes me wonder if one of the rich man's bolt holes isn't connected with a major source of income that's independent of civilisation...

This has been going on for some time >20 years. The subliminal process behind a "compound" purchase..Ted Turner, Steve Case, Getty properties in Africa, etc. may now, as we see the economic environment unravel, become more prescient but, fundamentally it is human nature at its most elemental. The interesting issue is, how did life organize itself in feudal times (that's what we are talking about, right?). Skill sets were needed, whether biological or intellectual and those that had subsets of skills, traded with the money/property class. Further, the next logical step was obviously a biological matchup. The Libertarians/Doomsday, etc. may get their way but, talent generally wins and we are starting from a higher knowledge/technological plane, so I think this is just a readjustment to whatever new form of society we will need to continue human progress. Unfortunately, no one has mentioned the greatest set of survivalists, the corporations! We will still need goods and services and their continuity of business planning has become as embedded in their management structure as their marketing plans. The individuals may be linked to the corporations but in the end, it looks like a corporate ruled world to me, with national elected governments either a farce or, non-existent.

Altaira - Great post.

Do the highly ambitious and wealthy have a different understanding of “human nature” than the more egalitarian and communitarian minded?


Do the highly ambitious and wealthy have a different understanding of “human nature” than the more egalitarian and communitarian minded?

No, they're just sociopaths/psychopaths. Watch their fortresses fail!

Most of these people are ill-equipped for living in small towns and rural areas. They will likely arrive ready to "run the show" and eager to recruit lackeys to do the work that they feel is beneath them. What most will find is that the yokels don't give a damn for their Ivy League educations or their superior breeding. In my experience, it takes a long time to integrate yourself into a rural community. You need to prove yourself to the long-timers. Until you do, many won't give you the time of day.

I think it's a bit of a trick question. It includes it's own definition of a difference in these views. ".. more egalitarian and communitarian minded.." has already answered the question for itself.

It IMPLIES 'Are Rich people's worldviews different from Poor peoples?' .. or 'Ambitious people v. People content at lower rungs', but doesn't really say it.

There are rich people who focus on Societal Fairness and other Humanitarian concerns, and like with the rest of the population, this is a pretty small group. There are also people across the wealth spectrum who will rob you blind and smile sweetly.. people who will just do their thing and never give others a thought. Of course, poorer folk generally have constant contact with the fact that they often depend on others to get through the week, while Richie Rich can afford to hide from such conclusions if he wants to. For the moment.

I think it's mildly interesting and usually pretty disturbing to focus on what the Super-rich choose to do with their access to power.. but they're in a high-pressure tank at that point, full of protein, gold, and goodies.. and rust never sleeps.

The wealthy will try to make a separate peace. But once they do they will lose the source of their power and will become hostage to their own security team. Why should the Blackwater head of security take orders from the former CEO when all he has to do is twist the CEO's arm and take the money?

If you hire mercenaries for doomstead security, you'd better learn some practical service skills like cooking or fellating because you'll have to convince your mercenaries to keep you alive while they live on your supplies.

There's nothing like free consulting!

That's what I never understood about the "libertarian" concept of utopia, those who call themselves "anarcho-capitalists".

(Well, silly me, trying to understand something so patently idiotic.)

They seriously claim that you can have all power of violence monopolized by private goon squads, that each town can freely contract with the squad of their choice to provide policing ("free market", right). If a town's goon squad wasn't providing acceptable service, you can just not renew the contract and hire somebody else. And then if I were the leader of that goon squad, I'd meekly accept my firing and go away because some impotent fat pig (who just happens to be rich but physically helpless) ordered me to as a common vagrant.

They actually claim to believe this.

Yeah, that's the way it works in real life. (That's where we normal, sane people refer to "gangs" and "warlords", which apparently don't exist in the universe, er, "market" according to Friedman or Nozick or Rand.)

And of course that's how it would be in this scenario as well. Unless somebody had his own fascist organization, these fat psychopaths would simply end up under the thumb of some tinpot security guard like from Blackwater.

No matter how you look at it, one warlord would end up in charge, whether it was a Hitler type or an Aidid type.

What is so different now?

The wealthy would be well advised to remember two things. They are mortal...and will bleed. And their possessions...their possessions will burn.

The wealthy would be irresponsible if they weren't preparing themselves for the coming crash. For most of us a more immediate concern won't be the billionaires who have retreated to their own islands, but the neighbors who haven't made any preparations.

Very good point. Where I live people are generally self-sufficient, cooperative and knowledgeable, though not because they're aware of peak oil/fiat crisis, just because their farmers.

See how well that does for them when they can no longer afford or access the external inputs that drive their farming on top of that depleted topsoil of theirs.

The street I live on is working class. People here are generally pretty decent. They help each other out. Being working class, my neighbors have a variety of practical skills -- carpentry, mechanical, etc. -- that would be short supply in a higher priced part of town. Only one guy (me) gardens at all (and, to be honest, my 'garden' is pretty pathetic, most of what I eat comes from the store).
A block to the east is mostly rental units. People come and go. Nobody knows their neighbors. These people could be a wild card.

Don't think about moving.
You moved to Vermont for the College but there may have been a deeper psychological process in play.

The wealthy would be irresponsible if they weren't preparing themselves for the coming crash. For most of us a more immediate concern won't be the billionaires who have retreated to their own islands, but the neighbors who haven't made any preparations.

This is the kind of thinking that the wealthy will promote. So long as ordinary people are fearful of each other and reluctant to take a chance on working cooperatively, the wealthy will remain in control.

Political leaders who build trust amongst ordinary people are needed. In the US, we are so far behind the rest of the world in many areas precisely because of this mentality. The unions are weak and mostly non-existent. It's like Moore says in Sicko, in France the gov't is afraid of the people, here the people are afraid of the gov't. But he might have added that the reason is they are afraid of each other -- and that's been heavily promoted. We have our own SS, the Scared Shitless.

Davebygolly for president!
I am serious.

We have our own SS, the Scared Shitless.


The wealthy have more to lose and more to protect, they may end up more SS than anybody.

When under duress "ordinary people" will hand over control to maniacs. At least that's how it's always worked in the rest of the world, which is so far ahead of us.

Nice short and 'sweet' post Altaira. Neither the hyper individual, the hoarder nor the highly cooperative have been deselected yet, and both large sections and small pockets of humanity have experienced 'disruptive selection' countless times through the ages. Different conditions just seem to change the mix.

As to equity, that could be difficult to define, making it either impossible to find or, from another point of view, always present.

That's the trouble with unsustainable lifestyles - they can't go on forever. A few 'rich' people burning up the last of their stored wealth is not going to be a problem - the solution to that one is as inevitable (and as obvious) as the end of petroleum.

Greenbacks, we all know, are not 'money', they are currency. Money's real value, as the 'rich' will soon discover, is limited to the supply of things it will buy. Wealth is a much broader and complex phenomemon than either money or currency.

Currently, our society is somewhere on a par with the native people who traded the rights to their lands for a handful of shiny beads.

What we need now is a real understanding of what makes an individual, a society, and a culture truly wealthy. This is a paradigm shift of biblical proportions.

Currently, our society is somewhere on a par with the native people who traded the rights to their lands for a handful of shiny beads.

Not to side-step your actual argument, but I got to say, I hope you don't really think this is how Manifest Destiny expansion really went down. Native Americans did not trade away land for "shiny beads"... they did not trade it at all.

While I acknowledge your point that often their wealth was simply stolen, in many cases the old empires did find it worthwhile to trade with the native populations. However, as is often the case when different cultures - with different ontologies - come into contact with each other, they were speaking past each other.

What I am trying to say is that the native populations generally didn't even have a concept of private property as we understand it, so they usually thought they were simply granting usage rights to the land. That is to say, they didn't know they were "selling" it.

There is no shortage of people in New York who'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for five bucks.

The problem would arise if someone sold it to an alien who could then take possession by force.

Andrew - the "shiny beads" metaphor was a liar's brag. American Historians were teaching what simple infantile people were living in America before we educated them.

Ungrateful savages!

The way I understand it, they "traded" it alright, but their understanding of the deal was that the settlers would co-exist with them, and the beads were a token gift, not actual payment, in much the same way large donations are often sold to the receiving party for $1 now.

Hello Alteira,

IMO, this is a great topic to explore. I hope all here are familiar with the Rainwater Prophecy:

I believe Richard Rainwater [RR] understands that immersing himself into his local farm community is the best way for him and his family to survive WTSHTF.

RR using his wealth, plus becoming a wise Philosopher-King, to help his neighbors withstand the coming worst benefits all, and will greatly reduce the chance that his neighbors won't quickly do him in like the olden days. Instead, I believe they will rally to protect him even if it requires a high cost to themselves.

For example: what if RR freely finances strategic reserves of guns & ammo, bicycles & wheelbarrows & I-NPKS, community well-bores, rainwater collection cisterns, gravity-irrigation, the Triple System for garden beds, and a watershed-wide SpiderWebRiding Network for widespread, bi-directional material flows?

What if he generously financed Peak Outreach teachers for his community to constantly memory-refresh the locals on Paradigm Shift for Optimal Overshoot Decline? He could have on his property a well-equipped, solar-powered ER, pharmacy, dental clinic, and library that the locals would rabidly defend, too.

What if he pledged to equally share the coming pain; that his family's caloric intake would be equal to the poorest family in his defined and outlined watershed community? People would gladly sacrifice themselves to protect from attacking outsiders such a Ghandi, MLK, Mother Teresa type Ruler.

This is no different than what already occurs in Nature under instinctive 'Innate Territoriality' whereby the lion pride or wolf-pack cooperates for habitat optimality [Refer to my prior postings]. The somatic disparity, or narrow calorie gap between the alphas & betas, is determined by the dynamic nexus of the pecking order + cooperative hunting.

For the wealthy to inevitably try and go it alone, or in small groups in a secluded "Dictatorship of the Detritovores" sets up a rapid bifurcation, thus leaving them quickly exposed to asymmetric strategies and tactics [see prior postings] that only fosters even more rapidity to the fast-crash scenario. Their 'Praetorian Guard' is not stupid--they will become highly incentived to overthrow their idiot rulers clinging to the old, but collapsing BAU-Paradigm; "Et Tu, Brutus?" plus much more versus shooting for Optimal Overshoot Decline that all can rally around.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I am familiar with Rainwater. I don't know if his plans include his neighbors, but agree that would be a better way to go forward. This was the direction of my final question.

Thxs for your reply. As Nate suggests downthread: the wealthy will probably be Reacting along a spectrum of responses. IMO, it would be better for all if the wealthy become generally Proactive and asserting early leadership in Peak Outreach and the drive for Optimal Overshoot Decline. The wealthy idiots, who moved too late, will be wondering what happened when the mobs are crashing through their doors, or a member of their guard plunges a knife into their back, Brutus style.

Nothing to do with excessive wealth, but on the value of neighbours and your final question:

Is there a middle ground between these alternate views/strategies, for example, personal wealth being used to transform a village or town, i.e., build an inclusive lifeboat based on essential needs short of tennis courts and swimming pools?

I've been intending to post something better thought out but haven't had the time: neighbours have an intrinsic value vis-a-vis preparedness, I'd suggest. Say you could measure an individual's preparedness (I'll leave the details undefined) from 0 (totally unprepared for peak-oil-driven collapse) to 1 (already able to function well in a post-oil world). And say you could measure a community's preparedness on the same 0 - 1 scale.

An individual's likelihood of survival/prospering during collapse would be high when both
(a) individual preparedness tends to 1; and,
(b) individual preparedness divided by the community's preparedness also tends to 1.

When this last figure (b) is much greater than 1, the individual becomes a target; when much less than 1, the individual becomes a beggar/scavenger and risks death.

I think this would hold for most people. What the extremely rich are banking on, so to speak, is that their total wealth can negate any effects of a low value in (b) and they can hold out on their own. So the middle ground you ask of in your question represents an extremely wealthy individual attempting to bring the second figure (b) close to a value of 1 (but maybe not too close).

Kunstler is underrated. See "World Made By Hand".

Kunstler is pretty good at what he does and "World Made by Hand" is a good read,as reads go,but it doesn't cut it as a post apocalypse book,it hits too many false notes by a mile.


Can someone explain to me the point of the science-fictiony mutant-religious ending. Seemed completely inappropriate to me. As if Kunstler got bored with his book and decided to drive it off the pier.

Although, after listening to a couple of dozen KMO podcasts, I can believe that maybe he was trying to reach out towards that sort of audience.

Kunstler is no fool.
He is probably setting up his next book with the weird ending.

Jim is finishing up the sequel right now.

It's a thousand pages, give or take a few,
I'll be writing more in a week or two.
I can make it longer if you like the style,
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.


I was reminded of the same 2005 Fortune article. Based on the article, it seemed to me that Rainwater was attempting to build up his social capital in a small farming centered community, by becoming the local benevolent billionaire, who BTW are handy people to have around--just ask the people in Fort Worth, in regard to the Bass family, and of course, the reason the Bass Family had money to donate was primarily because of Rainwater.

While not wealthy myself, I have long worked in the vicinity of wealthy people.

The "new money" rich don't seem to be very aware of peak oil and other looming catastrophes. Their overheard conversations seem pathetically consumerist.

The "old money" tend to be much more savy. But their numbers are few. And I sense they have long been well protected.

I think a likelier outcome down the road is that elites of developed countries will recognize the obvious reality that the world as we know it cannot go on much longer, and that building enclaves is an unrealistic long-term strategy. And they will secretly engineer a massive die-back of the sort Michael Ruppert speaks of. Say, smallpox pandemic.

New money vs old money. Very different. First of all, new money doesn't really approach the Rockefeller scale. They are just wannabes. And if you want to talk world domination, don't talk to a wannabe.

My Dad sent me off to private boarding school with them. The Somozas and so forth - names withheld to protect the less than obviously guilty. Ruling class. Even then, one could talk with the old money. They knew the ropes. They had the gardeners and the islands with farms and plantations and solar collectors. It was the wannabe new money that didn't have a clue.

Much of the old money takes "noblesse oblige" seriously - often dedicating their entire personal lives to it [personal lives funded by the Wall Street trusts and so forth, yesssssss there is that.] New money doesn't even understand the term.

When the smallpox epidemic happens, the established wealthy will remain quietly in their homes. And even though they have the gardens and gardeners, they are no more self-sufficient than anyone else shopping at disease-vector Whole Foods.

cfm in Gray, ME

The most important distinction between the old and new monies is not the dollar amounts. Many of the members of the most exclusive old money clubs don't have very much money. But they have power and social connections and the "breeding" which helps them retain those social connections.

I do sense that the mood here in the US now is moving us toward violent political turmoil. Will Obama serve out his term? I'd say it's 50/50.

If political turmoil is to come, I plan to stay out of it. But I would expect the holders of the guns to prevail. (And they tend to associate with the right.)

And yes, if I had a lot of cash, I'd be planning an escape.

And they will secretly engineer a massive die-back of the sort Michael Ruppert speaks of. Say, smallpox pandemic.

....of which the Mexican/Swine/A1H1 flu is s trial run...?

I am afraid you are right.

First a disclaimer : every human trait sits on a sliding scale, and extremes are relatively rare. But we understand black and white better than gray.

Yes, the wealthy are a different breed. Competition tends to suck psychopaths to the top.
And the psychopaths will try to buy their own private paradise. I have what I have and anyone else can F off, because I have what I have.

The majority of humans have a relatively strong sense of companionship. Most of us hate to see people hurt, especially people we like.
A very large number of people is about to become poor. (I don't remember how many americans are in the 25th week of unemployment benefits, look it up at The Automatic Earth)

As these people are losing jobs and assets, they are gaining anger, and understanding.
It may take a while, but the kleptocracy will be called to order by a mass of very unhappy people, who usually don't mind working together, especially if they feel collectively burned. They will seek out the culprits (and miss sometimes).

The poor have the numbers, and they have the capability to organize.
The rich have sheer egoism (infighting!) and firepower. Until the firepower takes over.
But then, wether the boss is mr. Money or mr. Gun doesn't make much difference to most of humanity.

Interesting to see how this story turns out.

My guess is that affluence will soon be a thing of the past.

I doubt the rich will ever get the torches and pitchforks treatment. The masses are vaguely aware of the kleptocracy that's robbing them blind, but the rage is completely unfocused, or rather focused at immigrants, liberals and ACORN. We had the whole Tea Party crowd who protested against Obama over, of all things, taxes? And not even an actual tax increase but a hypothetical future tax increase, I suppose, to pay for the bailout which predated the Obama administration. Given the rate that this country burns through borrowed money and the generosity of Bush's tax cuts, some future tax increase is plausible, but where were these people when the last President burned through a trillion on Iraq?

Mark Ames at The Exile does a pretty good job telling it like it is, having himself seen first hand the kleptocracy of 1990s Russia.

It would be a huge mistake for them to do this. All we'd have to do is get organised enough to toss ONE nuke at them, and their little redoubt is history.

The fact is that when the dust settles we'll get some sort of Chavez type dicator, who will have little time for the selfish and individualistic. Even if there was "chaos", it would still ruin their chances. Remember the Green Zone? Even a few pathetic Somali pirates can make life difficult for shipping.

These vampires and brutes are scared because they know their system is collapsing and their days are numbered.

Why do ill-informed people on TOD keep calling Chavez a dictator? Have you been getting your picture of him from the USuk corporate media? And BELIEVING it!?

There are lots of sources where you can get a real-world-factually-based idea of his regime, and thus realise that he and his associates are MUCH more populist democrats than the gics ['gangsters-in-charge'] who run USuk, and who make damned sure that their grip never falters, whichever bunch of disposable pocket-pols happens to be running the current formal administrations.

The Bolivarians can give us serious lessons in democracy (the real thing, rather than the fake democracy-preventer) if we want to realise and listen.

The tenor of the age is more egalitarian.

Ordinary people aren't conditioned to doff their hats to their betters as they were in the past.

The wealthy will be swept aside as they were in the Russian revolution.

This should make the system more responsive to the crash.

If the rich wish to preserve their advantages they had better positively contribute than to hide out
in their villas or decide to 'Go Galt'.

But too many people choose to live in their own 'reality' these days.

Before I attempt to answer any of your questions, may I try to bring in some more insight into those questions. Those with the resources, the royals, the upper-class the elite: an in our time and society, simply the rich, have always had their own world to a certain extent. And if one wants to find current examples one needs only to look at the secure mansions, enclaves, ranches, even whole states within states littered accross the world in third-world countries: from africa to south-american countries. Good example is also exsoviet-union, the new states as well as good old russia: all have long and established traditions of 'gated communities', far more advanced then anything in the USA.

Now that we have established that its not such a big deal, we can look more closely how these things work.

Three things: 1. independence 2. physical control 3. political control: the first one is easy - you have the resources to make yourself as self-reliant as you wish, drill wells, install solar power, build greenhouses, whatever - I'm not going elobarate this point any further (this point I assume is the one the elite are seeking technical advice for).

Secondly you need physical control of the area - for most of the above examples of countries, you can rely on the society around you 'helping' in this: you look for a remote region with minimal infrastructure and no public services and low population density - as well as minimal political and economic interest - having a few natives around in their huts doesn't bother you. After that it is merely up to your imagination and wallet how much physical security you want to have at your disposal. The biggest part of your physical security is the distance, isolation and lack of support infrastructure for the masses in the cities and suburbs to even reach you.

Thirdly and finally you need to deal with the government, you need political control, independence. Again this is merely a formality if you are already in the elite - you already have the connections and can keep those in power away from your area - after all, the people in power are also mostly people who live in similar circumstances. It obviously helps if you can for example buy yourself into the local political office - this being the favourite approach in both by the ex-soviet elite and latin america - you basically have your own little state within a state.

These kinds of rogue/feudal states-within-states whatever you want to call them are already common occurrance. PO and the resulting economic and political turmoil will effect them the least since they naturally tend towards isolation and independence. Obviously the typical US 'gated-communities' are nothing like the above examples: they are too close to the masses, impossible to defend and they havent got the land and natural features to even support any kind of independent food production - they might have a golf course or two to convert into food production - but thats it.

In the US you generally have the problem that you can drive pretty everywhere - the interstate and secondary road network all the way down to logging roads into the deepest wilderness will force you to actively defend your area - something you don't want to do when your having to grow your own food as well. Third-world countries with little infrastructure and much more easier to deal with the problem...

Now to your questions:

Human nature: Those that I know have a very low opinion of the 'masses' - I would definately see them having a problem with 'communitarian' ideas or anything like that - that doesnt mean they are unwilling or incapable of collaborating - they might be very good at that - but the way I see it, the society they create would be strictly feudal and class based in its nature ... with perhaps a place for egalitarianism within their 'own kind' , the other members of the elite.

Yes the 'enclaves' that are successful will be 'massive' - nothing like gated communities - more like little states - see examples in latin american countries and exsoviet states - we are talking thousends of sq miles - whole regions - controlled and isolated for the benefit of their elites... likewise they protect their inhabitants primarily by the nature of the area inself - kind of 'natural defences' as well as having an element of active defence (road blocks, area patrols etc.). But no elite, how ever rich, can defend a small enclave in or ever near urban areas. The masses are too numerous and their support structures and resources for resupply are too close.

Are they moral? What is moral in this world anymore ... sure they can be very moral within their own kind, even perhaps with the local 'natives' who happen inhabit their enclaves ... but as I said that feeling with never extent to a universal-egalitarian-hippie-love-the-world-idea: there people are pragmatists: they see the world and its overpopulation as a 'problem which will solve itself'.

Hyper individuality won't succeed since you can't run these enclaves alone - you need 'comrades' (minimum of famility, realtives), staff etc. as well as the political connections - its too dangerous to just isolate yourself from the rest of the world - much better to be an active participant - such as maintain a connection to the local political office - that way you can solve a lot of 'problems' without necessarily having to fight every time.

Thank you for your thoughtful and extensive response to my essay. I thought of Latin America when imaging what this version of the future might be like as it has the greatest wealth disparity of any continent and, as you point out, is already set up like this to a large extent.

The billionaires and near-billionaires are already, by and large, possessed of multiple geographic options, their own fleets of planes, their own security, etc, and they will increasingly retreat to them.

I know some whose remote places are designed with hidden walls and passageways, and which - while they look like nothing more than opulent monuments to ego - could withstand a major assault, via armored spaces and architectural misdirection. Still others of the uber-wealthy seem to be taking no precautions whatsoever for a failure of BAU.

I've practiced what amounts to a personal vow of poverty during my career, simply by living a simple lifestyle and spending any money which comes my way on international environmental projects and otherwise-unfunded things that seem like a good idea for the world. Surprisingly enough, this caused me to be pulled into the world of billionaires, celebs, and the powerful pretty frequently. I'm not much impressed by that stuff per se, but it is interesting to see the dynamics in play.

What the billionaires do will be an important piece of the overall puzzle, if for no other reason than that they control a disproportionate amount of the unencumbered notional wealth of the planet. It would probably be a good niche for systems thinkers to make symbiotic survival alliances with them in many cases. My wild prognostication is that many core oildrum folks will wind up doing exactly that.

Probably me too, but a symbiosis of a somewhat different sort. The existence of billionaires is not interesting just in terms of how they'll survive; they also represent one of the few current mechanisms for idiosyncratic/innovative initiatives of the sort the world might need to get through the bottleneck in better shape. Many billionaires are good people, just as many aren't.

There will be opportunities to perturb the entire system into better or worse outcomes. The billionaires will play a role, for good or ill. Those who ally with systems thinkers will play the most interesting roles in shaping the future.

Not a Marxist analysis exactly, but it is similar. Class is everything, capital is everything, biology is nothing -- except that some people are sociopathic -- , race -- or subspecies -- is nothing.

That isn't a good way of thinking about what is going to happen.


I am uncertain as to the meaning of your comments,you are perhaps a little too cryptic.

Do you mean "good" as synonymous with "effective" or as in a morally good way of thinking?

I do not believe it is possible to REALLY THINK effectively,in terms of UNDERSTANDING humanity or nature until you purge the very concept of values/morality from your REASONING as such.Of course you MUST still consider the concepts of morality,etc, as (somewhat variable) CHARACTERISTICS of people under study,just as you would include their health and intelligence.

To do otherwise is to fetter yourself with blinders of the sort used on draft horses to make sure they see only what the farmer wishes them to see.

This is not at all to say that you cannot think and have moral values,but only to say that if you try to understand people by filtering whatever data you have thru you possess thru your own value system you are probably blinding yourself to any reality outside your own preconcieved world view.

I could probably express myself better if I had not indulged in a few beers earlier.

PS Nature HAS no value system,that's what I've been trying to say.

good point, though how do you actually know you have truly purged the very concept of value/morality, etc from your reasoning? If you are able to define something as effective, or successful you must do it within some sort of framework which assigns value at least to outcomes. We don't really get to stand outside the box.

You do the best you can by pretending you are an alien biologist that evolved on another world,where everything is done differently.

We can most likely never get outside he box in one sense at least,because we are attempting to use our brains for purposes outside evolution's "design" parameters.

I have spent a few months studying eastern philosophy,and I came to the conclusion that enlightenment is really no more-BUT NO LESS- than getting outside the box.

Any comments on this will be appreciated!

You may be interested in "Reality Boxes" by Ingo Swann.

The mind can never know itself.
With every new perspective comes many more possibilities. We are an emergent entity and that is as far as my understanding goes.
How can something figure itself out?

Not a Marxist analysis exactly, but it is similar. Class is everything, capital is everything, biology is nothing -- except that some people are sociopathic -- , race -- or subspecies -- is nothing.

That isn't a good way of thinking about what is going to happen.

Marxist? Groucho maybe.

Billionaires exist. They will do stuff. Sometimes it will be interesting stuff. More rarely, it can be useful stuff. Useful is good.

of course not! they're not everything- like a poker game, you're dealt the cards you're dealt, and it's up to you to play them. Being born into wealth or connections or class can certainly deal you a couple of extra aces- but biology plays a huge role! You could get a mediocre hand and bluff your way into a very successful game, if you've got the skill. you could be born into the most prominent and promising position and turn out to be a complete dud just as easily. biology also plays a big role in dealing out ability when it comes to playing the game.
maybe consider biology to be two or three cards out of five.

Most of the rich, the old money, are no wiser than the average joe when it comes to the changes we're heading into. They
are just as engrossed ,just as trapped, just as blinded, by the things that occupy them righ tin front of their noses. People with a capacity to see further are uncommon all up and down the food chain, and all up and down the food chain,
peoples' livelihood inside the machine economy prevents them from really understanding or acting on the situation.

Some folks can see past this, and some folks are capable of understanding the trap they're stuck in, still playing the
game, even plotting an escape, and remaining sane. Most people can't handle it, and either crack or stick their heads
back into the sand. Most folks in the elites i've spent any time with have all that much more to lose, and even of those
who fully understand what's coming, i see some of them having a fatalistic attitude that they'll ride this train as long
as it goes and when it stops, well it's game over so they won't worry about it.

For those with the means, yes, it is a clear and obvious strategic move to wipe out most of the rest of us in order to
buy a few more rounds of BAU for themselves (and a suitable population of lower-class types, they do realize they need
someone to actually be master over) but will it happen? i'm much less sure any of them is going to pull it off.
Most techniques to do so would als endanger most of the other elite folks, and while competition at the top is
fierce, and imagined 'class solidarity' exists only in the fantasies of leftist ideologues, i think it is safe to say
that those at the top also have a strong interest in keeping any of their own ranks from getting out of line and
wrecking things for the rest of them. Those who _can_ see enough of the big picture to even consider such a move
are exactly the ones who understand how interdependent the economy is now, and how tenacious their own position is.
They would find it much more intelligent a strategy to keep their poker faces on and quietly prepare their own
warlord strongholds or utopian islands or whatever else takes their fancy. With that much cash you could be sure a
smart one has several plans going to cover just about any case. wouldn't you?

The system is falling apart so quickly that they really don't need to make any moves to deliberately break it at
this point. They need all the time they can get to prepare (never enough time, no matter how long you have) and
keeping the system running a little longer gives them a hell of a lot more for their money than crashing it a moment
sooner than it will on its own. Any billionaire who understand what's happening also realizes that money (or its many
modern lookalikes) will be worthless. Keeping enough in the game to maintain influence to keep people off their
backs and away from their preparations is the thing worth spending whatever remains on.

Those who don't understand what's happening, all up and down the food chain, are not thinking about these matters
strategically at all. it's BAU for them, and while they will defend, fiercely, against anything that threatens BAU.
The economy at large is going to be building bigger and bigger stone heads all the way to the end.

Tenuous is their position.

ah yes, exactly. definitely not tenacious. :)

I am so glad you are paying attention to this conversation Greenish as I thought you'd have something important to contribute.

What role do you see systems thinkers playing in collaboration with well-intended billionaires? That makes me very curious.

Hi Altaira. (Great name, I once penned a story on the further adventures of Altaira Morbeus, heiress to the Krell empire).

A recurring problem is that anything I say along such lines often seems cryptic, and this invites disdain from a subset of readers.

This may simply be due to the fact that there's a large difference between getting stuff done in the real world, and blogging about idealized situations.

My blogging career is confined to this site only, and is very temporary as I work through some medical problems and interact with one of the best unstructured groups of minds I've found. As my situation changes, reasonably soon, I will disappear back into the world of high-stakes path dependency and the surfing of phase state transitions on the international level, leaving the "greenish" persona behind in the TOD archives as sort of a cheshire-cat smile.

I've engaged in collaborations - not minor ones - with a number of billionaires over the years, so it's not a theoretical notion to me. It's also not a "status" thing, they're part of the landscape and operating at a certain level it just happens. They have generally sought me out rather than the opposite; I can only recall one who I directly approached "cold" with an offer he couldn't refuse. Similarly, I've had unsought interactions with organized crime, arms dealers, secret agents, assassins, and a broad beastiary of others who contend in the real world between the grass roots and the nominal world leaders, the two extremes which are most often discussed and often get the least done. In other words, the very wealthy are just part of the topography of the human world; and anyone who wishes to productively alter what may happen needs to be able to work with the topography which exists.

Productively interacting with the uber-well-heeled is a cultural thing few can teach and even fewer ever learn. It's a discipline like any other. There are innumerable subtle cultural tests, many acting below the conscious level. Any guy may remember how flaky he acted in his early dating life, when he was aware of girls as critters he could have sex with, but that knowledge made him act like an idiot when around them. Magnify this effect and you have one, only one type of the effective barriers. Imagine how many overlapping heuristics a billionaire needs to have to sort through to the people he or she would actually want to interact with, in a world of sycophants and scammers, not to mention kidnappers, extortionists and others on top of the flakes all of us have to learn to avoid. Other than talking to one another, the game-theory odds for interacting with unlike-others are not good. Thus, their generally insular nature is explicable as an emergent artifact rather than any sort of conspiracy.

Why do I think systems thinkers and billionaires might make useful symbiotes? Well, it's no deep insight. Systems thinkers are the only ones who usefully know their asses from their elbows when it comes to simultaneous intersecting systems and disciplines in the real world such as we discuss here; and billionaires have the transferrable ability to perturb systems on a larger scale, or simultaneously many times on a smaller scale. My ability to analyze many kinds of seemingly intractable systems and describe the perturbations necessary to make a specific change is why I have been sought out by some. (A history of success in "impossible" situations is sometimes considered useful by those who are effectively only limited by the possible.)

And here I am sounding cryptic again. Suffice it to say that "kiss and tell" doesn't fly with the ultra-wealthy; I won't be dropping their names, ever. And central to the nature of inducing phase-state transitions in the human world is that describing the details of the actual sequence and process can actually reverse the gains achieved, even decades later. We live in a seething froth of cross-perceptions and judgements lubricated by monkey hormones; even the noblest achievements of man may incorporate untellable lynchpins.

When I note that TOD central players may be ideal symbiotes for some kinds of interactions with billionaires, I ain't talking through my hat even though I have no specific wealthy folks in mind. The contacts will be made by the billionaires themselves; that's already baked into the cake. The only question is whether the ball will be dropped when that happens, or channeled into increased probabilities of better outcomes for the world. How many of such contacts have already been made and not recognized, how many huge opportunities haven't materialized? Rhetorical question.

Terrific post, Greenish! Many Big Kudos!

Well expressed and passionate but when are you going to act?
The sense I get is that you are waiting for someone to enlist your ability.
That won't work.

Heh, if you think that was passion, you haven't been doing it right.

As I noted, I'm on temporary hiatus due to medical problems, which fortunately are resolving. Add to that the non-trivial problem of devising strategies for the most complex and high-stakes game currently running in this arm of the galaxy, working within the real constraints of the system. Those constraints are much more restrictive than simply energy and resource flows.

If I were currently seeking high-level contacts, the world would know. I will admit that as a sociology experiment, I'll sometimes note provocative (and true) things here to see how an unstructured group of highly intelligent broad-boundary humans reacts, or fails to.

I was born semi-autistic, for lack of a better term; nonstandard brain wiring and no high need for social interaction or status. My posting to TOD is a side-dabble, although one I enjoy, during this period. I don't usually communicate much because past a certain point there are few common referents and my thought processes are not primarily verbally-based but visual. I'm coming to the conclusion I may never be able to pass on many of my methods, which is a shame.

Billionaires are not a problem. The problem is that my 'ability', such as it is, will die when I do along with my experience, methods and conclusions. One major reason I've dipped my cup briefly into the blogging river in this relatively deep spot is to see whether I'm as alien as I seem to be. Seems like the answer is probably "yes".

Don't worry about my knowing what will work.

Relative term passionate. Just felt from the man that is all.

Not common I am sure.

I never communicate with minds on this level and it is such a pleasure.

How do you know that you have some standard affliction? Just because?
Evolution is a funny process.

On to the topic.
I have not seen in my experience any correlation in wealth and intelligence.
I have seen a high correlation in wealth and inheritance.
The Dad's that past the wealth along, it seemed to me, were nothing but selfish and predatory.
We are too far gone.

Hi greenish,

From Your description You look like a problem solver, like that guy from Pulp fiction movie :) (I refer to the guy which solved the problem of an unintended shooting in a car).

Ha. Colorful, but that character simply reacted. If looking for a pop-culture analog, perhaps something more along the lines of a hybrid between a James Bond villain and Mother Teresa.

I will disappear back into the world of high-stakes path dependency and the surfing of phase state transitions on the international level ...

Meaningless jargon drivel, as far as I can tell, coupled with bragging about being with the odd rich person - absolutely every person who is rich is a thief and an amoral junky. You can get rich only two ways - inherit it or steal it.

Right on.

Yeah! Obnoxious dilettantes of the world unite! God forbid someone with actual substance post here. Keep driving them off!

Can Porge hit the hundred-posts mark in this string? As I post this, there are 52 posts from him out of 212 total. Low semantic content, but wow does that sumbitch know how to hit the "send" key.

Methinks I understand why Greenish will be leaving soon.

You are actually counting them?
OK, I am done for now.

He is the exception that should be the rule.
I will fully admit that I do not have his courage or confidence to take such a uncertain path when he could have very easily pursued money with much less peril.

Cargy, I suspect you find many things meaningless. That doesn't mean that they necessarily are.

"As far as I can tell" may be a pretty coarse sieve in your case.

The term you are searching for, I believe, is "Asperger's syndrome" - also known as low-spectrum autism. The "visual" thought process is fairly normal for those classified as such. A little research on the subject might benefit you. It certainly has for me and my family.

Thanks Oak. I'm familiar with the science/theory on it and did a comedy book draft called "AssBurgers" back when I thought I might spend some time off writing two decades ago. Some males on my dad's side of the family had that diagnosis, but there was a bit of something Tourettes-like in the mix as well. My dad twitched as though he had palsy; ironically it served his reproductive fitness by keeping him from being drafted in WWII and leaving him on the home front to date women with a better male/female ratio, thus meeting my mom. I don't seem to be plain-vanilla Aspergers or autistic or anything else I've seen described, and I wonder whether there aren't a lot of conditions, perhaps unrelated, lumped into what's broadly called "autism spectrum".

I get the impression such folks are disproportionately represented here. The "consensus trance" may have a weaker hold on such folks. Is that a bug or a feature? Guess we'll see.


"Bug or feature?"

Feature,I'm sure ,in the emerging environmemt.

Have you read The Black Swan yet?Not that you would need to but the author discusses a philosophy of investing that is geared only to the unlikely and possibly undesirable(to most of us) turn of events.

The genes for lighter colored fur or longer teeth or wierd thinking come into thier own in times such as these,I am thinking.

I am most definitely an outlier myself,possibly as a result of growing up facing an impossible to resolve set of culural contradictions but maybe more likely as a result of a high concentration of certain genes that seem to define my mental profile and put me in a camp all my own.

I have read widely but at random in the social sciences,psychology,etc,and whatever I am ,it aint "normal",although I can pass any sort of psychological profile- but only maybe as a result of having some formal study if the testing process under my belt.

I have some unaviodable obligations of my own that will keep me tied up for some time but when I am free I will be looking for an adventure,or at least an enjoyable distraction-perhaps a stint as a tutor on on one with a rich kid with a brain.I might possibly be a VERY useful person to have around if for no other reason than that people who can work with thier hands and do lots of different everyday things well and are also reasonably literate in the broader sense are hard to find.

It doesn't take long to post a short comment once in a while,stick around.In the meantime,if you would post a few book titles that are not too specialized for the well educated layman and not already on every list of "most important books"?

I am in need of an addition to my library and have plenty of time to read right now.
I am sure many others here will appreciate this little favor as much as I will.

I haven't decided yet just who or what you might be but one thing is for sure.You are one of the very brightest lights in a forum of very bright lights,and I suspect that your understanding of the truly big picture is second to none.

Obviously there must be people like you and just as obviously the super rich would seek such people out as consultants.They wouldn't be super rich for long otherwise.

Mac, thanks for your kind words. Coming from someone I've quickly come to respect and enjoy, they mean a lot.

Doing a reply here rather than offlist may or may not be appropriate; it isn't exactly on-topic but it may also do little harm, and may resonate with a few readers.

Pardon any mental lapses; I'm only getting 2-3 hours' sleep for many weeks now, as the primary caregiver for my elderly mother in her last stage of life. It's both a sacred honor and exquisite emotional torture, and is one more reason I'm available to occasionally blog now in what has otherwise been a life more engaged with the larger scope of "real". And indeed, without the key-poster explicitly requesting my commentary, I'd have just dropped a few brief notes into this one.

"Bug or feature?"
Feature,I'm sure ,in the emerging environmemt.
Have you read The Black Swan yet?Not that you would need to but the author discusses a philosophy of investing that is geared only to the unlikely and possibly undesirable(to most of us) turn of events.

Despite the fact that I have made a conscious decision NOT to expend time and effort in a quest for personal survival, and despite some semi-disabling inborn physical problems, I suspect that in most situations which may arise I will be among those left standing if I choose to be, just as you will. A long lifetime of being in chaotic and crisis situations by choice, a low need for creature comforts, and a rather protean human-human interface will probably keep me in the game for awhile.

Before "Black Swan" was written, I picked up Taleb's "Fooled by Randomness" and my wife asked me why I kept yelling YES! loudly and seemingly spontaneously every 5 minutes or so from my chair. It was because someone else had independently derived many of the probabilistic principles, and a good part of the worldview, I'd independently created to live by. I haven't read "Swan" because I'm confident he got it right, and I've seen the summary. I realize that's a slightly odd comment, and we'll come back to it on the subject of "books" below.

The genes for lighter colored fur or longer teeth or wierd thinking come into thier own in times such as these,I am thinking.
I am most definitely an outlier myself,possibly as a result of growing up facing an impossible to resolve set of culural contradictions but maybe more likely as a result of a high concentration of certain genes that seem to define my mental profile and put me in a camp all my own.
I have read widely but at random in the social sciences,psychology,etc,and whatever I am ,it aint "normal",although I can pass any sort of psychological profile- but only maybe as a result of having some formal study if the testing process under my belt.

I recognize some of these traits in you, Mac, and wish I had you for a neighbor. And I don't doubt you'd be an interesting test subject. (I quickly learned to avoid or skew test results when a kid since such invited unwelcome scrutiny.)

I have some unaviodable obligations of my own that will keep me tied up for some time but when I am free I will be looking for an adventure,or at least an enjoyable distraction-perhaps a stint as a tutor on on one with a rich kid with a brain.I might possibly be a VERY useful person to have around if for no other reason than that people who can work with thier hands and do lots of different everyday things well and are also reasonably literate in the broader sense are hard to find.

It will be more vital to a billionaire to ally with a systems-savvy polymath than it will be to a systems-savvy polymath to ally with a billionaire. Kind of an awkward sentence construction when I look at it, but it says what I mean to say. The very wealthy are barely more likely to possess such skills than anyone else, and money spent randomly or based on bad advice isn't useful except to those who take it from them. Indeed, extreme affluence enables such a disconnect with reality that many of the uber-wealthy are utterly dysfunctional with crazyass belief systems. I could tell apalling stories, but won't here.

It doesn't take long to post a short comment once in a while,stick around.In the meantime,if you would post a few book titles that are not too specialized for the well educated layman and not already on every list of "most important books"?
I am in need of an addition to my library and have plenty of time to read right now.
I am sure many others here will appreciate this little favor as much as I will.

Oh, I'll still be on the planet, and you have my personal email contact info. Aside from a few like you, there don't seem to be many who wish to hear what I might say, and the heckling increases the more I share in open forum.

RE: books, I posted a few back when Nate ran the "campfire" asking people to recommend books; if you missed that post, by all means check back on it. And I read voraciously from about age 3-20. But then I stopped for a long time and have only started reading a few more since late 2005 when I recognized that the "peak oil" community and a few authors had picked up on the gist of things.

As I think you'll expect, I rip through books quickly if I decide to. The semi-eidetic memory was largely lost around the time I hit 40 along with other things I greatly miss, but even at age 58 I'm a relatively quick study still. However, at age 20 or so, my own models of the world started to significantly diverge from those in use by those writing the books I could find. Moreover, my own derivations seemed to have more predictive power. So I simply stopped cold. I would do original writing and research in various fields and have it inserted into the appropriate publications via PhD's and others who worked for me, but for the most part developed my own mental models for the world and didn't wish them to be mixed with thoughts I hadn't originated. And yes, this is the sort of honest telling which invites the scorn of some people. The reasoning had little to do with ego and everything to do with practicality: even if I derived only a single new principle, I and the world would be ahead of the game. I'm reading again now as time allows, since I'm on a personal glidepath to system collapse and there's no harm in it. But I'm a poor candidate to recommend books.

I haven't decided yet just who or what you might be but one thing is for sure.You are one of the very brightest lights in a forum of very bright lights,and I suspect that your understanding of the truly big picture is second to none.
Obviously there must be people like you and just as obviously the super rich would seek such people out as consultants.They wouldn't be super rich for long otherwise.

I'm just one very-flawed human among billions. I've indexed my delusions a bit more than most and could formerly do some unusual mind tricks, but still see the world through a glass darkly. My allegiance is not simply to my species, or even principally to it, and that too marks me as a bit alien in most circles. My intended focus is the world of perhaps 1000 years hence, and the billion-odd years that follow. Thus, my pattern of actions would strike some as a bit alien as well if they paid attention. I consider the living world and its complexity to be sacred, and act to preserve it; hopefully with a reasonable sense of humor and not taking myself seriously more than twice a day.

I haven't decided what to do next. But it won't be timid.


is to see whether I'm as alien as I seem to be.

Yes and No. There is enough diversity here to put you (IMHO) within the 3 standard deviations of TOD posters.

I think on all modes; visual (2D, 3D and time sequence), verbal, abstract, even "tactile" sometimes.

More later.


I think on all modes; visual (2D, 3D and time sequence), verbal, abstract, even "tactile" sometimes.

You don't explicitly say so but I imagine you also think synergistically. As I assume do many of TOD's posters and readers.

Temple Grandin meet Buckminster Fuller with 3 degrees of separation from Albert Barabasi ;-)

Yes, more Assburgers here then most other places that I frequent.

Soooooooo, how long HAVE you been insane?

The late Pleistocene or so.

Actually, history says no.

Go back to the depression.... this calamity saw the rise of fascism, consolidation of the
bolsheviks, the nazis.... in the territories they controlled, the wealthy were sent to
extermination camps by the masses....

If it gets as bad as that, look for total societal breakdown followed by revolution...

The new power class will exterminate the old one and take by brute force what they


It could get that bad...


The new power class will exterminate the old one and take by brute force what they want.

Strikes me as necessary and maybe still-no-sufficient.

The wealthy sent to camps controlled by the masses? That's fantasy, not history.

You do find instances of a bunch of (relatively) wealthy types being put up against the wall in history. But not so much in the cases you mention. And camps are never controlled by the masses in any cases.

I agree with Goprisko. I think of the French Revolution.

First they execute the King. Then we get "The Terror"... blood letting of the aristocracy and anyone against the revolution. In France 16,000-40,000.

We probably also get something like Robespierre's General Maximum law. Its purpose was to set price limits, deter price gouging, and allow for the continued flow of food supply to the people of France. France's Committee of Public Safety saw the danger for further unrest in hunger.

I think the wealthy might become enemies of the state, executed and their food confiscated.

Remember that the General Maximum was part of something called the Law of Suspects. When a citizen informed the government about a businessman or merchant who was in violation of the law, they had done their civic duty.

Sure some may escape to islands etc., like some escaped to England, but not that many.

Altaira, your question about enclaves is intriguing. Morality aside, for the resilience of the species it would matter only if some survivors were able to re-establish ways to support stable populations after catastrophic events. It seems rather unlikely that enclaves would be able to isolate their inhabitants for even their own lifetime, let alone that of their children. Worse, such thinking appears to be a cause of decline in its own right. In "Collapse" Jared Diamond identified the abilitiy of the elite to isolate themselves from the problems of the rest of society as an important contributing factor for societal collapses. Barbara Tuchman's "March of Folly" elaborates historical examples where the longing for (temporary) power, status, and prestige accelerated catastrophy. Finally, when one assumes that there still are civilizations on this planet after millions of generations, it is clear that inclusive solutions must have been found. Let's work on those.

Michael, After a collapse an enclave does not need to function for a whole lifetime. It just has to function long enough for a big die-off of humanity outside of the enclaves.

A true collapse will cause massive hunger, riots, migrations, rule of mobs and gang leaders. But that period does not last forever. Without a complex civilization to run mechanized agriculture the amount of food produced goes way below the amount needed to maintain current populations. So hunger and disease take their toll.

The early years of collapse will be worst. If an enclave has 5 years of food supply, defensible perimeters, and lots of skilled security people then it can hold off the mobs until the mobs become much smaller.

An enclave is best on an island where far fewer can even reach its perimeter. Makes defense much easier.

Since our species has never existed so widely and with such numbers and so many tiny species inhabit us from time to time and those tiny species evolve so, so quickly...plenty of microbes and viruses that will thrive on a massive human die off should well be able to lie in wait for those in the even most isolated enclaves. When those people move out to see what is left to rule (we are talking people who love control here) those tiny new species will be waitng, very often in those who survived the dieoffs while living in the general population. Eventually those who have natural resistance and whose systems can adapt to new biological threats quickest will be the only survivors of a big die off, enclaves or not. There is no preparing for that. Its already in the genes. Bobby McFerrin may just have it right.

I see what you are saying.
Since disease and the more complex host they prey upon develop together then the longer someone is isolated the more likely their offspring won't have the anti-bodies.
Kind of like the reverse that happened to the Native Americans.

An enclave is best on an island where far fewer can even reach its perimeter. Makes defense much easier.

Before deciding to tun toward the flames, I picked up a 3-acre rough parcel on the big isle. Any TODer wants to retreat there, I'd cut 'em a special deal on it.

Moderator feel free to delete, I'm sure this mention breaks a rule or two, and I'm not really trying to hawk it here. But it's interesting that for about 10k an acre it's possible for US citizens to relocate somewhere very survivable. Not for me, I think I'll remain engaged until something kills me off, but it's a beautiful area. Wealth is a state of mind, eh?

The lead picture looks like the Big Island to me...

How much of our thinking about all this is informed by too many Hollywood plots?

Philip K Dick called the sanctuaries Desmesnes in his book "Penultimate Truth"

Aprés le deluge, there will still be laundry and weeding to do.

I always felt pattern recognition was primary, but even that may not save us when the warlord's men come calling. Even being a good storyteller may not be good enough to get you a place at someone's table, if we are talking collapse on that scale. Better to have a farm/garden and make oneself indispensable... and be a good historian/storyteller.

Rumi, who's family fled the Mongols in the 13th century, said "If you're drunk and asleep in the ship of Noah why should you care if the flood arrives?" If you have no center, if you can't be your own Noah, having a desmesne won't matter, since most of us aren't among the rich, our center may be all that keeps us going.

And the weeding.

With a few brain dead examples, the uber rich know what they don't know. They will, therefore, hire the best expertise money can buy. Whether this is placating the locals or stocking up on "stuff", my guess is that they are good for at least a generation...and, perhaps, more. Given the state of the world, that is probably long enough.


You are the survivalist guy right?
I disagree and think that the aholes in the lever seats have much less of a clue than you believe.
They rely on such a complex system that, I think, they devote complete attention to one aspect and that is the reason for their success and anyone that is hired will become the next user.
We are in the mixer.


Well, I've known some rich people but not uber rich. I think the real key is when what we see as obvious become obvious to them so, to a degree, I agree with you.

But, the deal is that they have more degrees of freedom even at a late date. If it hits the fan, "I" can do a whole lot more than some poor shmuck with $100k or $ no "connections."


I agree with you and envy your position compared to my own.
What I am trying to say is that the phony control of money is going, going, gone.
I am trying to reposition now and it is still, to my disbelief, possible.
The reason I am on this site is to learn.

Oh, and the degrees of freedom afforded are afforded because of fools.

Todd, any opinions about ideal geographical locations for enclaves?

I hang out with rich people and I will say without reservation that the thoughts of have read on this site are far superior in content and quality.
Having said that, you high IQ types are very street stupid.
The people that make the world go round have a different mindset and it is centered on them not us.
But when all this, that is the current reality, crashes they are not going to have any place to hide.
Their money is only as good as their ability to convince others.

As the sign by the gate says "NO OUTLET", they will be trapped in prisons of their own making and will be the target of the hordes of savage barbarians who will have nothing to lose and everything to gain by laying siege to their supposedly protected enclaves. They will not be immune to poisoned food, water and pathogens. Not to mention all kinds of suicide bombers. Good luck to them!

Screw that!
Bad luck to them.

If they make an enclave within a gasoline tank's distance from NYC then after a collapse they'd certainly be vulnerable to hordes. But if they put their enclave somewhere less easily reachable I fail to see how the hordes will reach them.

Not that I'm expecting a total collapse.

1800s Financier Jay Gould approx. Quote: "I will simply pay to induce half the working class to start killing the other half and vice versa."

This may have been adequate for the US Civil War, whereby the wealthy viewed the brutal battles going on below.

I think a certain amount of this piss-poor, 'divide, then conquer' strategy is already going on around the planet, and I expect much more elite MSM marketing effort to 'Bernay's style' promulgate even more of this in the future. Obviously, there will also be many un-informed idiots that will eagerly take this upon themselves too by striking out at their neighbors instead of working together.

But I think too many people are already adequately informed by previous history, and more are becoming aware each day from Peak Outreach, for this to generally succeed again whereby the topdogs can generally live in relatively safe isolation. Thus, I would expect a rapid turnover cycling on who is a topdog.

IMO, it is only much postPeak later, after the first series of convulsions of collapse occur such that ignorance and superstition is widespread again among all classes, that it becomes easier for the endgame of warlord kings to setup and control a King's Castle and Game Preserve for any reasonable amount of time. We shall see...

“Après moi, le déluge”
(After me, the flood)
--Louis XV (1710-1774)

"Thus I would expect a rapid turnover cycling on who is a topdog."

History bears you out; as I recall, during the last couple of centuries of the Roman empire, some Emperors served only a year or two before they were assasinated by the Praetorian or the army.

I will also note that Europe and Britain have many ruins of splendid Roman villas. My simple mind would expect that once the empire collapsed they would simply change owners - to the local warlord. But it appears that they were destroyed within a generation. Folks with metal detectors have also learned to search near these ruins, sometimes finding hoards of gold and silver coins. These were buried by the villas' masters to be retrieved later; those rich men never made it back.

I'm guessing that a billionaire wishing to insure the survival of his offspring would do well to become the benevolent philanthropist of a functional community in a rural area.

Errol in Miami

Divide and conquer is certainly an effective strategy. Mass media has gotten a good 30% of Americans blaming immigrants, liberals and universal healthcare for all their problems. Any chance they'll ever be Peak Aware? Probably not, but seeing conservatives post on TOD is a hopeful sign.

The elites are certainly practicing divide and conquer; the working classes are taxed to pay for roads and schools and all the other necessities of their communities, only to have these resources overwhelmed by "refugees" (imported using their Federal tax dollars, or rather money borrowed in their name), illegals and people entering under "family reunification" visas who are related to the previous two after naturalization or amnesty.  They also endure being pushed out of jobs which once paid well (e.g. construction and meatpacking) and high levels of crime and destroyed social capital ("diversity" is confirmed to erode it).  The beneficiaries are business (exemplified by the US Chamber of Commerce) which gets cheaper and more pliant labor, and the Democratic party which gets lots of reliable voters.

These imported people certainly aggravate demand for resources in shrinking supply, like world oil and California water.  Closing the borders and sending as many as possible back home would be an excellent first step to putting the nation on a Peak Oil footing; the demands of the deportees for global resources would shrink overall, and their demand for local resources like schools and water would no longer be the USA's problem.

Public sentiment has long been against over-immigration, but the public has been frustrated by the elites.  If the friction explodes into civil war, the better-armed faction (rednecks) is likely to win.  Once they're hyped up by expelling the foreign mobs which have plagued them for so long, the elites who caused the problem for their own benefit will be next on their list.

If "expelling the foreign mobs" is the precondition for finally turning against the elites, I think the elites will be sitting pretty for a while.

One minor detail you left out is that the faction that opposes immigration is not generally supportive of unions (who fought to make meatpacking and construction well-paid jobs) or moderating consumption of resources.

It doesn't take much to get rid of unassimilated immigrants.  Enough of them are leaving the Phoenix area right now that there has been a 25% drop in crime, and all it took was an economic downturn; after 9/11, pressure from INS searching for Al Qaeda sympathizers had many thousands of "Asian" illegals flying back to Pakistan on their own dime.  If you have comprehensive denial of employment and social services, you'll see buses-full leaving like Okies.  If you have a civil war or vigilance committees, you'll see them leaving in the dead of night with whatever they can get into a car or checkable luggage.

Assuming this ex-migration plays out in such an orderly fashion as you imagine, you still haven't explained how the rednecks either a) moderate their consumption of resources or b) finally turn on the elites, and by elites I don't mean the Prius-driving, latte sipping, upper middle class Californians who are the imagined boogeyman of the rednecks.

Speaking for myself, as an assimilated, civic-minded Chinese-American who speaks and writes perfect English, I suppose I'm exempt from this purge. Maybe my parents' generation who are similarly assimilated but speak with a slight accent might not be so lucky. People like you gave us the WWII internment camps. Are you proud of that legacy?

you still haven't explained how the rednecks either a) moderate their consumption of resources

There would already be a substantial cut in consumption by the departed immigrants, but the rest would then have lots more real estate available.  The remaining people could move to the areas emptied to be closer to jobs, or take nearby jobs no longer held by immigrants.  This lets them spend less money, fuel and time on travel.

b) finally turn on the elites

If the upper crust can no longer employ foreign domestics, they will either have to rub elbows with citizens or do without their maids, nannies, gardeners and such.  Even if the elites didn't treat their new employees as they treated the old, resentment over history would guarantee that some would fall victim to inside jobs.  And old habits die hard....

as an assimilated, civic-minded Chinese-American who speaks and writes perfect English, I suppose I'm exempt from this purge.

Do you see yourself as an American, or is your loyalty to China or your ethnic group?  If you see yourself as apart, others will see you the same way.

A while back I worked under a guy from Sichuan.  Great ability, very nice.  He was always conscious of his accent and wanted to be rid of it.  He left China to escape religious persecution.  He was as American as they come, accidents of birth notwithstanding.  I miss George; his son Timothy should be about 12 now.

People like you gave us the WWII internment camps.

"People like you"... nice slur there.

Are you proud of that legacy?

Should I be?  If someone in the USA should actually be proud of it, does that give the Aztlan activists and Black nationalists carte blanche to target gringos/whitey?  Just asking.

This doesn't surprise me. But I think it's only slightly less loonie than the man who thinks he will stave off roving hoards of hungry zombies with his trust thirty-aught-six.

I doubt the world will come to doomsday in this way, but if it does, Blackwater would not be able (nor willing?) to save Mr. CEO from the machette and/or guillotine.

BlackWater needs to eat just like every body else.
They are mercenaries and when money means nothing they will fight for food.

Any elite-funded Mercs eventually run the risk of becoming trapped on the wrong side of rural & suburban food supplies when global I-NPKS supply chains collapse and agro-yields plummet. Those that took my advice detailed in earlier postings, whereby they became I-NPKS investors with farmers and gardeners will be highly incentivized to protect AT ALL COSTS those farmers and gardeners WTSHTF.

Earthmarine snipers perched atop barns and grain silos will be a formidable obstacle to any outside encroachment by Mercs. The current sniper confirmed single-shot kill record is 1.65 miles. That is a dramatic way to reach out and touch someone.

Mercs willing to tattoo themselves into the #119198 mindset will be up against those with a much stronger belief in 'Planetary Patriotism' and Optimal Overshoot Decline; IMO, these memes will be much stronger than any alternatives.

As detailed in earlier postings: the fascinating time occurs when the Mercs finally realize that a tipping point is reached; that it is in their better interests to flip-flop to support Earthmarine advance for biosolar habitat enlargement for biodiversity protection; the eventual but still elusive Elysian or Elysium Fields Scenario.
"Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Touched with fire, to the portal,
Of thy radiant shrine, we come.
Your sweet magic frees all others,
Held in Custom's rigid rings.
All men on earth become brothers,
In the haven of your wings."
Of course, the above is just my speculation. Who knows?

Funny. I guess.

Hello Porge,

Thxs for your reply, but it did not include enough detail for me to semantically derive a overall thrust, direction, or meaning.

Remember, my speculative themes are operating dynamically at many different levels, areas, and timeframes; criss-crossing nexuses and cascading blowbacks happening all across the planet with a multiplicity of conflicts and Black Swans. Asimov's 'Foundations', and the concepts there-in, are ideal to help get a glimpse of what my many brief postings detail. YMMV.

You think too much and do too little.

This is one of your best ever posts Bob Shaw!

' speculative themes are operating dynamically at many different levels, areas, and timeframes; criss-crossing nexuses and cascading blowbacks happening all across the planet with a multiplicity of conflicts and Black Swans.'

You should be writing for the movies ;) ...

Yes, he is very entertaining.

"when money means nothing they will fight for food."

And how long can Mr. CEO provide that food in a broken world?

It takes a community ... and some of them must be farmers.

Yes, this was my point. You probably would not be able to buy protection in a Mad Max world by trading protection for mortgage-backed securities. And what is more profitable (in a post-decline world): working for ex-CEO or taking his stuff?

Mercenaries for the rich is a capital idea!

Who will guard the guards themselves? (quis custodiet ipsos custodes?) Juvenal, Satires Roman poet & satirist (55 AD - 127 AD)

That's right.
He who has the guns makes the rules.

How did the medieval Lords keep their hired "swords" from turning on them? I suppose it happened now and then, but it doesn't seem to have been every ruler's abiding fear, either.

Antoinetta III

They kept them well fed and stupid.
The problem is that there is always one that starts to ask questions.

Yes, but Lords were not selected based on past success as merchants. Why do you think CEOs would neccessarily get to be Overlords?

I don't.
I think that the next bosses are going to be thugs.
Might makes right don't you know.
Mafia style.

the medieval lords _were_ the hired swords!
Many late-roman estates were still intact and remained so for generations. With the obsolescence and eventual
disappearance of the central government, many of those former locally prominent (but pretty insignificant in the old
empire-wide social pecking order) folks became effectively independent rulers of their own villages or small
princedoms. As trade networks and larger scale order fell apart and new security arrangements became necessary,
in may places where there was still a manor in operation, things did not change very materially - the manor might
hire a few folks on, or elevate some of the locals to the job. In many places, villages, communities, etc, where
there was no other such structure, communities did indeed often hire someone on to arrange the defense. In the
early part of this period, these knights were not easily distinguishable from the villagers. Over subsequent
centuries, though, they accumulated more and more customary privileges, and in the mean time, the background situation
that made the originally necessary (gothic, hunnic, and viking invasions, displacement of other romans turned to plunder,
opportunism, or crime, etc etc) had disappeared and those petty little estates were being rolled into larger
dukedoms and kingdoms, a process which took several centuries but which had a blueprint present the whole time-
until the 10th-11th century, most real rulers had the _ideal_ of rome to look back on (though very clouded vision at that point) and indeed the legitimacy of rule was still rationalized only though connexion to roman authority in one way or
another, all the way up to a dynasty of frankish chiefs playing an enormous diplomatic game to marry into the ruling family of the roman (byzantine) empire, and a scheming pope still part of the byzantine world with an axe to grind crowning one of them emperor.

Anyway.. in places where only one or two hired swords were enough, those fellows _became_ the lords. in places
where there was still a large enough community and probably some social hierarchy that things werent so simple,
the old roman families running their estates often became the lords and hired out the job of fighting.
There is value in being the one who coordinates and manages a more complex economy, even in a small region. Once
the local economy has been organized this way, if it is sustainable, the management/coordinator/middleman/however youd like to call him does have a role to play at the center of a collection and distribution network. Even a few rebellious
knights would usually find it difficult to get the rest to oppose the _system_ that feeds them and keeps things in order-
including maintaining their status as (low ranking) members of the elite. This is just as today- while the system
still holds together and everyone depends on it, it will tend to keep most of the flock in order just by virtue of
its continued functioning. self-reinforcing, as it's the path of least resistance for most people.

Now, in hard times, famine, severe upheaval, invasion of too many vikings at once, etc etc, those are the times that
order, and confidence in that order, can break down. Many lords were replaced by more ambitious and aggressive
underlings, indeed, and often when overall confidence in the previous lord dissipated when that lord failed his
implied end of the bargain.

The system was only really crystallized into what we think of when se say 'feudal' much later, in the 12th-14th centuries.
By then, lords themselves were a few notches down on the totem pole, and bigger polities, larger realms or kingdoms,
considered even the local lords to be their agents, holding title as long as they suited the whim of the crown.
weak kings would lose this and the lords would go independent, strong kings would yank them back into line, but
the reality behind this was that economic complexity was increasing again along with interdependence. power structures
were spreading out over larger areas and necessarily subsuming the previously more independent centers of powers
that were now within their reach. Indeed, once those economic and technological processes spread the range of integration
and power even further, those kingdoms themselves slowly got rolled into larger polities. Sometimes reflected by
new lines on maps, sometimes, not, but they were not fully independent anymore either.

Today the whole globe has been conquered by the last remaining polity, and we're all in the same big petri dish.

the same dynamic that kept hired swords from turning on their masters then works today, and the same conditions for
that dynamic to fail still apply (to return to the subject of this comment :)

Intriguing examination of historical feudalism, thanks.

The rich are not idle in dangerous times;the ceo/FORTRESS OWNER will necessarily have to assume one more task-chief of security.

And he cannot escape the report card of reality in THIS KIND of quarterly report.If he fails,he's dead,or a handy joke kept around by his successors for his amusement value,unless he has useful skills,such as playing court jester or peeling potatos.

Since his new bosses are smart enough to take over,he will most likely be dead within SHORT PERIOD,after a DEAD serious "debriefing".


Sometimes you have a way of getting right down to the nitty gritty real quick.Chairmam Mao is the last really high profile person who said that so far as I know.

Who are some of your favorite writers?

John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, had some interesting insights about how third world oligarchs ensured the loyalty of their bodyguards. It mostly involved scrupulous background checks and having leverage over their families.

If Blackwater and Mr. CEO are on a well stocked island I do not expect zombies to reach them.

Look, I've known resourceful and smart people who have made preparations for civilizational collapse. Hearing edited versions (they didn't give me exact GPS coordinates) of what they did made me think that clever enough people can isolate themselves from a larger collapse.

I have survived. I am not bullshitting you.
They better stock the shit out of their hide out because guys like me aren't going to like them for very long.

porge, So in the midst of a collapsing civilization you would place priority on hunting down really wealthy people and attacking their well-defended enclaves rather than focusing on your own survival?

Me thinks you will not last long if you do that.

Revenge may not be rational but it is, never the less, a very strong motivator

Besides which, as Willie Sutton said,"ythats's where the money (survival stash)is",right Porge?

If I get really hungry,I will not hesitate to make life miserable for someone in a bunker-and there's always somebody who's in need of a meal and a drink around someplace who poured concrete or installed plumbimg or built fences at the place that was just not quite like all the others for some reason.

I doubt that anyone less than a team of really sharp professionals could keep me OUT for very long,if i have nothing to lose.I believe I could keep them IN more or less indefinitely,as long as my buddies and my food holds out.

And if the bunker is not in town,locals always see and notice trucks and helicopters.

A bunker may be going in near me now,and the guy building it may think it's a secret,but every tradesman in the community knows he has spent a small fortune already excavating a basement out of the native granite.And every two bit scumbag in the community works for one tradesman or another for beer and gas money at one time or another.

If things ever get really bad someone will kill him and his body gaurd,if he has one, for whatever he has on him if he is so foolish as to try to bunker up in a place he has no local friends.Secrets are far easier kept in the anonimity of the big city than out in the boonies.

These things, in the short term, wouldn't be mutually exclusive. Few enclaves could be self-sufficient and laying seige with large numbers is not that hard.

Meh... I have to exit this thought exercise now. It is way too hypothetical to be all that relevant.

Can I just say, those thinking of this model for survival could do with reading 'that' chapter of "World War Z".

The well-stocked opulent fortress with mercenaries isn't a workable survival model - too big a target, no way to keep the mercs bought.

More excellent fiction from The Complete Zombie Survival Guide...

OK I bite.
Let's hear your take on reality then.

What seriously? Gas goes up, air travel goes down, cities grow denser, suburban real estate prices drop. Boring trends for a boring future that doesn't look much different than today.

So a soft landing?
Actually I kind of have that same impression for The US for a while at least.
However I don't have much faith past scarce energy.
I think that things are much , much more optimized than you suggest and that many "Black Swans" loom.

If you call simple survival for the large majority of us here in the states a soft landing we may if we are lucky have our soft landing.

That's about as much as I think we can reasonably hope for.

I have been pondering the situation of the worlds hotspots for a long time and the thing that I find the hardest to understand is how we have been lucky enough to have avoided a hot widespread war over the last few years.Nuclear deterrence has obviously worked in my opinion.But I seriously doubt that even nuclear deterrence will save us much longer.

In my opinion,which I freely admit is based on nothing more than reading a lot of history and current events, war ,widespread, hot, and heavy, is about as close to a foregone conclusion as peak oil or climate change.

All bets are off once it starts.

I am former Military and I can tell you flat that there is absolutely no other force on the planet that can rival the US.
That is the reason things are good globally.
It is the same set of conditions that surrounded the Roman Empire.
And I know that there were other empires between here and there chronologically.
We enjoy living in the country that has complete hegemony over all the rest but the playing filed is changing rapidly.
No doubt that shrinking resources are going to cause conflict but the ability of the player to play is still operative.
The world is going to shrink and experience across the board hardship but as always it will be different in differnt locations and favor those that can control.
I think nukes are way off in the future after much has happened.

If big war happens about two hundred big boats carry what powers this civilization in their holds. They quit leaving wakes--hardly unthinkable, one or two with the power to to make such happen will no doubt think they would be the biggest gainers if oversea oil deliveries stopped--everything changes very fast. Precious few enclaves will be prepared for that...and nukes might not be that far off that table when the big oil boats aren't any more.

They are now as they have always been a strategic deterrent.

What oil tankers? They are a big chunk of our civilization's arteries. A sudden, drastic reduction in circulation caused by the disappearance of those arteries will certainly weaken the reasoning of the affected. Oil starved systems may no longer have the clarity of mind to grasp the concept of deterrence and just pull the trigger.

Nuclear submarines.

I am of the opinion that the military worldwide does not see any advantage in the full-on ICBM nuke gift exchange as even the remaining biota would suffer undesired consequences. Using the weapon material for power-plants and medicine [NMRI?] is the better choice. But specifically human-directed militarized pathogens offer a more optimal decline path as it won't hurt the rest of the ecosystem. In fact, a successful series of human decimations will help the other species reblossom even faster.

As I last recall from feeble memory: Jay Hanson believes the politicians will overrule the military and fire the nukes off anyway..

Your logic and knowledge on bio weapons is correct.
I hope you are wrong on the rest.


Basically in agreement with you,Luke,Toto.
Well acquanted with many military people including family.
But this ain't a strictly checkers/chess type game.

Dice are involved.

Dice are certainly involved. Apocalypse scenarios aren't a certainty and I shant treat them as such, not good for the well being.

Sorry I can't give much input on the eastern style enlightenment thing, Oldfarmer (in response our thread up a ways), about as close as I get to that is sometimes feeling amazing kinship with the birches I herd about (actually I merely pay the taxes on the land they are rooted in). The birches likely have little interest in me, though, barring my lying still long enough for them to eat me <;-)

WE should be smart enough to not push the button.

We should be smart enough but are we. Deterent only works when people think the way you do. MAD has worked because people think rationally like you, but will it work when the numb nuts in Iran get THE BOMB I have little faith that they will respond the way the Russians would do or the Chinese when you threaten them. It doesn't seem very rational to me to believe in the 12th Imam who so called occulted a thousand years ago suddenly reappearing out of the well he disappeared down and spending 23 million on a new road for the procession when he comes back, not only that believe that when you die a martyr you end up in an heavenly brothel with 72 virgins.

You don't get a weapon of mass destruction by praying to Allah.
The technology will be in the hands of rational people and they will be the guardians and the cooler heads.

Big agree. If an alleged doomsday scenario happened and if it were rewound and replayed many times many different outcomes would occur.

Luke,My guess is that a single obsolete fighter aircraft armed with the right kind of armor pierceing rockets-not even GUIDED- rockets could take out at least two or three big tankers if the pilot is good and willing to go in really close-and that the only thing that could stop him would be another ,faster fighter,which might not be handy.

Unless the tankers start carrying some well qauliied and well supplied anti aircraft crews.

And it may be that someone with access to a few truck loads of good explosives could very easily build a bomb,disguise it as a decrepit old work boat with a powerful engine,and sail it right into a super tanker.

200 dollar oil overnight ,anyone?

The US military strenght is mind boggling but your long term economical planning seems suicidal.

And no I do not expect any nuclear wars.


I never mentioned anything about economic plans.
Frankly, I don't think planning is possible.
I think that it will be smash, grab, run.

In former Morgan Stanley chief strategist Barton Biggs 2008 book, "Wealth, War and Wisdom", he recommends that his readers should “assume the possibility of a breakdown of the civilized infrastructure.” He goes so far as to recommend setting up survival retreats: “Your safe haven must be self-sufficient and capable of growing some kind of food,” Mr. Biggs writes. “It should be well-stocked with seed, fertilizer, canned food, wine, medicine, clothes, etc. Think Swiss Family Robinson. Even in America and Europe there could be moments of riot and rebellion when law and order temporarily or completely breaks down.”

I assure you neither this essay, nor her encounter were fiction. Whether such practice will be widespread or successful is unknown. Fiction, no.

Barton Biggs is an old man that spent his entire life in the lap of luxury.
The mere fact that he mentions wine exposes his ineptitude to discuss this topic.
The people that survive are going to be the ones that never knew luxury.
In fact they are already surviving.
It will take a meteor to wipe out the human race but evolution will continue un abated and the shitbags are about to be pushed off the edge.
Good Riddance.

I disagree. If I had to guess the population makeup 50 years hence Id say it will be bimodal - half will be of the aggressive/sociopath type that Altaira met -half will be strong reciprocators - cooperating with their neighbors, regions, locales etc., sometimes at costs to themselves (altruism).

And I don't think mentioning wine disqualifies someone. I have few post-peak skills other than maybe helping steer this blog, but I am learning how to make wine.

But taking the reverse theme from Tainter, Homer-Dixon et al. - complexity needs increasing energy - in a path with less energy there seems one path that is a no-brainer - simplicity - either in relative or absolute terms.

The mention of wine suggests leisure.
And as you go to half Alphas and half others.
That doesn't fit the current structure.
Alphas are alphas because most aren't.
Hierarchy will always exist and that is by definition a pyramid.

I don't quite know what to make of your last statement referencing all the forefathers of doom etc.
If it was a rebut to something that I apparently said then I retract and agree.

I believe wine and beer were useful in diluted forms to keep beverages "clean" before widespread water treatment.

That is one theory as to why there might be a gene combination for alcoholism.
Also horses have huge livers which might argue for fermentation being positive.

Learn how to fix everything in your house and work with wood. Forget freakin wine.

forget wine? are you kidding? hell, even people in _prison_ often find something with enough sugar in it to ferment
and get buzzed from! yes, anyone who's got the spare cash and foresight to be stocking up some kind of retreat
will most certainly be laying by a few bottles of his favorite stuff.. why not?
It makes more sense to learn how to make the stuff, just like it makes sense to have a renewable means of producing
things instead of just a dead and dwindling stockpile of said things, sure. but why not set a few good bottles aside?

I hope all yeasty beverages will be desired far into the postPeak future as the half-glass 'Peakoil Shoutout' becomes culturally common.

What better way is there to constantly remind all imbibing participants that our Little Blue Marble has finite limits? Our sensory and dopamine reward systems are precisely, evolutionary tuned to pickup the taste, sounds, and sights from the "Dead Gods of the Nectar".

For centuries beer, wine, and distilled drinks were considered part of a workman's daily pay. It wasn't that long ago that the British Navy ended the daily rum ration. There is some debate over whether beer or bread came first but most ancient villages had their brewery and bakery in adjacent buildings. The heat from the ovens also kept the mash warm and bubbling. These beverages were not considered luxuries for the few but a necessity for maintaining the loyalty of workers after hard days in the fields or shops.

I suspect Wine will be well on the list for a French Survivalist

The rich man talks of storing wine because he loves fine wine, and wants it. Money buys it. He has no need or inclination to work at making it.

Ordinary people do make wine. It is not elitism.

My father, working 40 hours a week, made crude apple "wine" from apple peelings from the tree in the yard. He lived through the depression, hated waste, and, astonishingly, actually liked the explosive and 'off' brew he crudely bottle brewed.

There is a brewing club locally, experimenting and competing with brewing beers and fruit wines. Most work full time, it is a leisure pursuit.

If you have an excess of fruit, wine making comes quickly to mind.

A measure of understanding of self reliance is the impulse to collect bottles, buy plastic brewing bins, find sources of damaged fruit, buy up the dwindling metal bottle caps, find a hand cap sealer, buy or borrow wine making books...


Having pear trees that are prolific at pears that aren't really good to eat, as well as several apple trees, and a cider press, and collecting bottles and corks, and building a wood-fired bake oven... a little yeast can go for a long time with proper nourishment. Sweet stuff is in the maple trees, and the bees will provide it if you give them a place... I will be making beer and maybe even some wine. A cask of wine in a still on the woodstove will make a passable anaesthetic if it's needed.

Expand your skill-set now, and if we are all deluded fools and everything keeps humming along you'll be better off for it, if TSHTF, well then... why not learn to make a fire without a match? You may never use that skill or it may save your life. Same same for learning the plants that live in your neighborhood that will keep you alive or dull your pain, or incapacitate someone who wants to harm you... Can't be a disadvantage to understand medicinal plants... but then I have spent most of my time living in rural situations where that stuff is free for the picking.

Great question: My immediate response was to think of Jared Diamond's description of the demise of the European Greenland culture in the middle ages in his book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" (highly recommended, by the way, for those who haven't read it -- though I'm guessing a great many here already have). Diamond writes that as farmland degraded, the climate cooled and wood fuel was used up, the wealthy were probably the last to hang on but they couldn't hold out forever. Sooner or later, the starving hordes overcame the last strongholds of the wealthy, and the whole society collapsed.

Granted, today's super-wealthy can pay for a lot more firepower compared to the "rabble" than the elites of Greenland could centuries ago. But there are a lot more "regular folks" out there and -- as I know first-hand living in the Deep South -- many of them are also armed.

There is nothing new in this, it is just the feudal system all over again. Ages old.

We even had our own variation here in the United States. We called 'em 'Plantations'....

I don't know about billionaires but suppose you are someone with a few million in liquid assets. You have known about peak oil, etc. for some time and feel the increasing pressure of a failing society/economy. What do you do? All your "money" is in the form of electronic flashes of one sort or another and all of it represents a debt to you from some all of sudden vulnerable entity; the government, a big corporation, the bank. It could vanish overnight. Aside from those very ephemeral electrons you are in the same shape as any old hippy homesteader trying to get the solar panels up or an extra quarter acre of garden going.

Do I sound confused, conflicted? Well I am. It seems useless to throw a bunch of those electrons into some charity, feed the hungry, heal the sick. It would just be droplet swept into a rushing waterfall, useless, unproductive. Building some kind of fortress is just as useless. No walls are thick enough, no moat deep enough, no location isolated enough. One must bump along a sort of middle way. Spend as much as possible as quickly as possible on objects and people close by. One must protect oneself by investing in others and avoid sending money down the drain while it is still worth something.

Maybe there isn't enough room for all of us.

you could give some to theoildrum
we actually are in sore need...

other than that, diversify into real capital.
Instead of viewing stocks, bonds, commodities and cash as the efficient frontier, think of financial assets as one of 5 classes you want to 'possess', the other 4 being natural, built, social, and human capital - (the latter two difficult to buy with digital funds). Depending on your personal goals you want to achieve the highest risk adjusted return (mean return divided by standard deviation) for yourself, your family, your community, your country, your species, your planet, your planets future, etc.- what will be meaningfull to you all depends on your boundaries/viewpoint/ontogeny - we each get equivalent 'neurochemical cocktail' that our successful ancestors did by pursuing many different things -though when chips are down I'm sure most will look after their immediate family above all else.

Or write your own plan - being confused is being honest - I suspect the rules are about to change (actually they seem to be changing every day - without money from the sky the stoppage in the fiat downslide wouldn't have moderated this long - govt is on hook for 24 trillion which is nearly double our entire GDP, etc. etc.) There is no longer traditional diversification in any case - from july 2008 to march 2009 almost all commodities were 90% correlated with SP500 - since the bottom - the SP has virtually moved step for step opposite US $. Systemic risk abounds. It will take a while for most people to catch on to the implications of that, but they are - I am kind of shocked by the conversations I'm having with friends who never believed in peak oil, but do understand the problem we now face - that there is no possible way to solve a credit/debt/leverage crisis by issuing more credit/debt and leverage...

Just in case things get really bad, as in can not live outside. 200 million takes care of you and 8 friends. That is assuming that you allow enough time for the concrete to cure.

Took a tour of the place several years ago, well worth it if you are out that way. present use of the facility some basic history

search for biosphere 2 for lots of links

It makes for a potentially great drama movie, about a protected valley for the super wealthy during a worldwide depression resulting from post peak oil. Blackwater type security would patrol the perimeter with dogs, guns and helicopters. In the valley of the super wealthy would be warehouses of food, huge tanks with fuel and water, generators, etc. The super wealthy would watch massive outdoor TV screens tuned into the news showing all kinds of chaos and disaster on the streets, while they talk, sip champagne and nibble on caviar while laughing it up.

Meanwhile, on the outside are a patchwork band of rebels intent on breaking into "Billionaire Valley", where surviving is about luxuriating with the finest of everything. Thousands of rebels attack and outduel the power of money weilded by the few.

But once the valley has been taken by the rebels, word gets out and millions of people swarm the valley and rip it apart for every scrap of food, clothing and whatever else they can take in a scene spliced to mimic the carnage similar to when mice over-populated Australia. Only then would people get the magnitude of what it might be like in a post peak oil world.

Recall my prior posting series where taxpayers are possibly funding just such a formidable elite-enclave in Yucca Mountain. It would take very, very brave individuals to trek across this giant desert to lay siege to those inside. At a very minimum, I think they would need Dune stillsuits as outlined by Frank Herbert in his classic tome.

Yes, but what of the future of their progeny?

If civilization is going to totally fall apart (and I am not convinced) then wealthy people are smart to build themselves refuges.

Certainly the technology exists to build refuges. Also, really wealthy people can afford to build such places. They might as well.

Suppose some wealthy people build remote places with solar power, wind power, perhaps near old slow pumping oil wells, and with lots of supplies and with skilled people to accompany them. They create nuclei of people and capabilities from which new order can emerge.

Then eventually the people that they employ to make them comfortable will do away with them.

porge, Most people do not feel as much animosity toward rich people as you do. The people who are living in enclaves post-collapse will think the people who set up the enclaves are clever and capable of making decisions that will keep all the enclave members alive. Most people do now want to be responsible for big decisions of life and death. They want someone else to make those decisions for them.

It seems that some wealthy people who are aware of Peak Oil,
have invested money in the railroad business.
[according to the book: Profit from the Peak]

Why resent wealthy people for building refuges against collapse? If the collapse is going to happen anyhow why shouldn't at least some people survive?

I expect well constructed refuges will:

  • Increase the total number of people who survive a collapse.
  • Benefit non-wealthy people who get recruited to supply needed skills in refuges (doctors anyone? dentists? security specialists?).
  • Benefit people around each refuge since refuges will have resources to trade with and will sometimes project force to protect surrounding areas as buffer zones.
  • Serve as cores around which new order can expand outward.

Mind you, I'm not saying that collapse will happen. But if it does then refuges created by wealthy people will not make things worse for the rest of us.

Hello FuturePundit,

Your Quote: "But if it does then refuges created by wealthy people will not make things worse for the rest of us."

I agree if the wealthy do as I outlined upthread as the Peak Outreach possibility for RR. This is in direct contrast as compared to how Mugabe used his personal and his country's wealth, for example.

When thinking about this, I was struck by the perspective that "wealth" disparity actually exists in all natural populations. The superiority of genome expression in a given context is the "wealth" that drives evolution. If you take any population of about anything, say redwood trees, some have "positional" wealth in a natural landscape, as in soil configuration, protection from fire, and microclimate, while some eke existence on the razor edge of survival due to "positional poverty".

Moreover, the fact that human wealth tends to follow a Pareto distribution across many orders of magnitude implies that the existing pattern of wealth across a broad swath of human cultures is the result of similar local interactions among the basic elements of the system, and not a "differently acting" subset of humans carrying on a special agenda.

In nature, this sort of distribution is a healthy thing. Yet as social primates, it offends our egalitarian insistence even if it doesn't contradict our personal acts.

You look at it as a static condition.
It is a very dynamic situation and we are all struggling to rise.

You make a fascinating analogy with "positional poverty." However, I think the main difference between human societies and the whims of where a seed falls has to do with the social structures that embed poverty and solidify wealth concentration.

Really fascinating research on how well kids with high IQ do shows that by and large the social support they have is much more important than their innate smarts in determining whether they do things like go to college or earn above average income. Parental education on reading to your kids and not beating them up when they misbehave, plus early childhood experiences for the very poor suddenly turn them into high achievers within one generation, e.g., see the Harlem Baby College project.

The reverse is also true: having money or influence to send your kids to the best schools, or the ability to use tax laws and offshore banks to preserve monetary wealth for your offspring, gives them huge advantages even if they are innately average.

If we all lived long enough to allow our minds to realize their potential everything would work perfectly.
The problem is that we possess a 1000 year mind in a 100 year body.

Good conversation.

To sum up: The rich will have to pay their army, not so easy if the money system breaks down. Then they have to feed their army and themselves. Some one will have to do the work.

Meanwhile rebels are lobbing mortar rounds over the walls.

Meanwhile rebels are lobbing mortar rounds over the walls.

Could be some scientists among the dispossessed, playing around with critters like Clostridium botulinum and Bacillus anthracis.

Altaira, where did you get the 'transition rodney' pic. from - is my local(ish) area - i would like to know more :-)

Google search but I don't recall the word I used :-)

zardoz was a manufactured god to control the outlands. the elite lived forever in the "vortex". invisible force fields, genetic manipulation, collapse of civilization, population control by mutant exterminators. a must rent, starring sean connery (james bond 007). deep with satirical irony. apparently there is rich and then there is rich. that is to say, folks whom i think are rich are actually poor compared to the real rich. and most of the rich i know are embedded in the current paradigm. that is BAU. may i add, the man enslaved to wealth can never be honest.
i know lots of people who are past 52 weeks of unemployment benefits. and the jobs available are becoming serf slave jobs. work till you drop under extremely unsafe and unhealthy and under paid conditions. the new meme for continued employment is, "YOU WANT TO EAT! DONT YOU?"
time to start channeling tom joad from grapes of wrath.remember the okies who were bull dozed off share cropper land? look forward to a new class of the disenfranchised. what have we here? why,it's the oil conundrum!

I never realized how vulnerable people are to social chaos, especially the elite, until I read Roman history. During the various civil wars the loosing faction /party was typically killed or exiled, including wives and children. And those lucky enough to survive usually had all their wealth seized.

Julius Caesar as a teenager was forced to flee Rome because he was on Sulla’s proscription list, Caesar being the nephew of Marius and son-in-law of Cinna, both of whom were enemies of Sulla.

One of the purges claimed so many prominent citizens that there were not enough left to fill vacancies in the Senate.

The statesman philosopher Cicero was ordered put to death by Marc Antony, against his young ally Octavian's (Augustus) initial objections as they drew up the proscription list. Cicero was found at his country villa. He once said that it was impossible for one to hide hide out in the Romann Empire.

There were also times when Senators were intimidated, beaten and murdered and Rome was more or less ruled by gangs and warlords.

Never think it can’t happen here. Pay careful attention to politics and social mood. Failure to compromise it the cause of war.

"You, boy, owe everything to your name."--Marc Anthony to Octavian.

Octavian(later Caesar Augustus) at the time was a 19 year old nobody having been adopted as Caesar's heir a few months before.

At the time of Caesar's assasination, Marc Antony was consul and one of Caesar's best officers for 10 years.
The murder was not popular and the assasins left ahead of a mob for governorships in Asia.

Cicero had been on the losing side(Senatorial) of the Civil War and was positively gleeful at the Caesar's murder, though Caesar had pardoned him, Brutus,Cassius and the other murderers. During the war, he mainly carped about his own leader, Pompey.

So Caesar's wish to compromise and forgive was rewarded with his own death.

"How I could wish that you had invited me to that most glorious banquet on the Ides of March"!--Cicero,letter to M. Brutus in Crete

Meanwhile, Cicero attacked the legal authority, Consul Marc Antony with a series of vicious speeches over two years(Phillipics).
He had sought to divide Caeser's party and cause another civil war. Instead Caesar's party joined in the Second Triumvirate to get revenge on the conspirators of Caesar's murderers(the Senatorial party).

Octavian didn't struggle very long for his beloved mentor, Cicero and his family.
Antony agreed to the proscription(murder) of his uncle Lucius Caesar and Lepidus agreed to the murder of his own brother.

"The proscription of Cicero, however, caused most strife in their debates, Antony consenting to no terms unless Cicero should be the first man to be put to death, Lepidus siding with Antony, and Caesar holding out against them both. 4 They held secret meetings by themselves near the city of Bononia for three days, coming together in a place at some distance from the camps and surrounded by a river. 5 It is said that for the first two days Caesar kept up his struggle to save Cicero, but yielded on the third and gave him up. The terms of their mutual concessions were as follows. Caesar was to abandon Cicero, Lepidus his brother Paulus, and Antony Lucius Caesar, who was his uncle on the mother's side. 6 So far did anger and fury lead them to renounce their human sentiments, or rather, they showed that no wild beast is more savage than man when his passion is supplemented by power."*...

Marc Antony also had to agree to marry Octavia, Octavian's sister.

Never think it can’t happen here. Pay careful attention to politics and social mood. Failure to compromise it the cause of war.

No offense,

but it would help if you had any idea about what you are talking about before deducing a lesson from events that happened differently from the way you set them out.


Thank you for the rest of the story.

Unfortunately the "failure to compromise" was added as an afterthought. That moral is from a book called "Getting to Yes" which discusses negotiation and war as the ultimate example of failure to compromise.

The tale of ancient Rome is just an illustration of how things can change and the elite can suffer greatly.

Julius Caesar recognized the problem of the elite controlling almost all of the land in Rome and was planning land reform, starting with granting veterans land. This undoubtedly was a factor in his assassination.

The unevenness of today’s wealth distribution in nothing compared to ancient Rome. However, we aar coming under economic stress from globalization caused unemployment and the international competition for scarce resources. At the same time as we have an ageing population with high health care burdens.

Peak oil will only add to the stresses.

I agree with your final point as it pertains to today but I still think ancient Rome is not a good example of future social instability.

Rome was a very socially rigid society balanced precariously between the plebians/commoners and the patricians(nobles); for example patricians and plebians could not intermarry.
There was a third class called equies(Roman knights) which corresponded to small property owners. The laws were proposed by the Senate which was made up of patrcians and could be vetoed by
two tribunes who were plebians. There were plebian elections for offices such as judges(praetors) and auditors(quaestors) and could elect a pair of patrician to oversee the Senate as consuls.

This system was challenged by the Gracchi brothers who were murdered by the Senate.

As Rome grew larger, more forces strained this precarious system such as citizenship for Italians (during the Social Wars) offered by a cousin(murdered) of C. Julius Caesar(also murdered).

It also happens that G. J. Caesar was the nephew of C. Marius (who vastly expanded the recruitment for the Roman Army to reduce Gallic menace and so provided benefits for veterans) and also the grand son-in-law of L. C. Sulla who were the principals in the Civil War over who got to destroy Mithradates of Pontus who killed 80000 Romans in a plan to liberate Greece from Rome....Etc,etc..

See family tree for inbreeding.,_90s_BC)

I agree that he was hated in part for his reforms. They hated him as a Populare(a traitor to his class), because they thought he wanted to be a king(Rex) but mainly out of personal and partisan hatred. For example, G.J. Caesar seduced M. Cato's sister something Caesar threw in Cato's face in the Senate during the trial of attempted coup de 'tat leader, L. Cataline(represented a mob of debtors ruined by Senate laws allowing usurious rates of interest on loans).

Bottom line--the Roman res publica(republic) was inherently extremely unstable and became more unstable as it grew. I don't think our politics is anywhere near as unstable as Rome's
so I object to people making parallels.

In reference to Peak Oil, a reduction in energy level may paradoxically reduce political tensions as politics is fed with money.

We need to see Power-down as a good thing.

Looking back to before the US Civil War, did the country seem unstable? Would there have even been a Civil War if the South had peacefully seceded and not fired on Fort Sumter? I doubt anyone at the time realized the consequences of what would become our bloodiest war.

And what would happen if our oil supply gets cut off by war or terrorism? Do we have enough oil in SPR for military and food supply for an extended period of time? Would there be mass panic when the grocery store shelves went bare and no replacements arrived? How long would the National Guard remain at their posts if they thought their families were starving or in danger?

Actually, I would say that the USA was highly unstable at that time due to the constitution, slavery and a fast growing economy.
It's an interesting speculation whether the Civil War would have happened if the South had peacefully seceded. However I think the chances would have been slim. For one thing, there were the Union slave states of Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri and the south seized Kentucky making the Ohio their boundry. West Virginia stayed in the Union as well. What about unionists in the South?

As to people being unaware that war was looming, read the accounts and they were very aware.

As far as losing oil or food supply goes, people have a reasonable expectation that the government will provide prompt assistance.
A counterargument is Bush in the Katrina disaster where an antigovernment ideology produced a total organizational failure.

There was no leadership(perhaps Bush was awaiting his father's 'Thousand Points of Light') and backbiting instead of coordination. Some of the NOLA police even deserted.

I think in a short term oil cut off(which makes little sense)
we could ration gasoline quite well. Here's a chart showing US oil consumption droping from 18 mbpd in 1978 to 15 mbpd in 1981 with Jimmy Carter reducing speed limits.

Oil production suddenly can't go to zero as US domestic production is 5 mbpd and we get 2 mbpd from Canada and 1.2 mbpd from Mexico. We also make about .6 mbpd of ethanol.

We can reduce speed limits, car pool, ration fuel to reduce demand. In Britain during the coal strike the government introduced a 3 day week for a few months(no guards were needed).

People have time to adapt if the government plans things out carefully. Guards aren't important--careful, intelligent planning is.

Some times the Oil Drum makes me laugh until my sides hurt. This is one of those times, not because of Altaira's story, but the conceit of the cowardly 'superrich'.

That there is someplace for them to hide! Think of all those rich white farmers in Rhodesia.

Think of all the wealthy colonists, everywhere. Better for all to pitch in and try to add something positive rather than those who can to run away ...

"ambitious, bold, and often ruthless, traits that served them well," don't seem to attach to people who are fearful. Ambition and boldness are also going to be useful when the going gets tough.

Don't forget the courage.

Making a business that helps people escape reality is simply more of what's happening now and has happened over the past fifty years; adding canned fantasy and drama, the idea that everyone is watching. Perhaps the clients of such a business would have nothing to offer, and it is best to leave them be. It would be more lucrative in the longer term for all to pitch in together.

I wish my pen could move as yours.
However brevity is my forte.

Yes,porge,you are a man of few words.

You just like to say them a lot.

Not sure how to take that.

In general, no. The currently wealthy can not have a separate peace post "collapse".

Most wealth is built on deep, long supply chains. In order to be wealthy, one has to control large parts of some of these. Every "collapse" scenario I have seen referred, dramatically shortens and shallows supply lines. If everyone is a subsistence farmer, he does not produce enough surplus to feed into supply chains eventually ending up in some wealthy person's hands. So, post collapse, if it ever comes to that, even the currently wealthy will be poor.

During the period when the world is destitutifying due to Peak Oil, those who still have access to the limiting ingredient, oil, will be enormously wealthy, but as absolutely everything around them becomes worthless, there will be no conduit through which they can carry this wealth forward, past the time when they themselves run out of oil.

A big difference between the olden days of kings and queens emperors, and now, is that back then populations were a lot smaller. So, natural resources per person were actually rather large, just inefficiently harvested. In an environment like that, wealth can be attained, as it is largely a matter of a warrior caste specializing in controlling physical resources and "renting" them out to serfs for the better part of what the serfs can, through their labor, extract from them.

Can't do that now or past peak oil, with huge populations and almost no resources left. Efficiency of resource extraction will be the key to the compound "wealth" of a region. And people work umpteen times more efficiently when they get to keep the spoils of their own labor, than when they don't. So, given feudal region A, and homesteaded region B, B will out produce A by a wide margin, leaving no surplus for the lords of A to protect themselves from the progeny of B roaming for new homesteads. In biological terms, once the environment gets harsh enough, genuine parasites die out, as only the parasite free survive, and take over the resources the parasite infested previously used.

I agree.I am surrounded by folks who will "get by"after the system a lot more dieing for stupid reasons,but folks remember "how to"small farm real quick when they get hungry.

The uber-wealthy? Like in "collapse"they end up just the last to starve in their..."gulch"...Although I see some areas of the country where societies phase-change happens more slowly,they will maintain their influence...for awhile..As energy starvation takes hold,energy hogs,like the high-end wealthy will get the same treatment as any bad neighbor...

While I would like to believe that egalitarian homestead society would prevail us humans have such a strong herd mentality that I suspect that a feudal system is somewhat more likely.

An interesting book on collapse is "Secular Cycles" by Peter Turchin. He describes how agricultural pre-industrial civilizations go through cycles of about 200-300 years. In the beginning of the cycle the population is quite small and rapidly starts to grow (e.g. England had approx 2 million people in 1100 and 6 million in 1300; France went from 10 to 20 million). In the beginning of the phase life is relatively good and there are not too many rich people. So they have plenty of resources to draw upon. By the end of this phase the number of people has increased to the point that the land cannot sustain them. The general population gets poorer and poorer. The population growth starts to decline and then stops. The percentage of the elite, however rises wrt to the general population. Because they are richer, they are less likely to experience food shortages and more of their children survive. After the population peaks, a new phase sets in. The population starts to decline (famine, war, diseases). The percentage of the elite even rises further, but they get poorer as well. They start infighting among themselves to get their share of the decreasing resources of the land. These internal conflicts among the elite start to reduce their numbers. When the population reaches the minimum level (England: 2 million in 1485; France: 10 million), the elites have reduced their number to a much lower number than at, or shortly after, the population maximum. The best times for the general population is not at the population maximum, but at the population minimum. BTW. quite a number of elite families died out during such a cycle. During the up phase of the cycle they are replaced by new elites coming from the poorer classes.

Ofcourse the current time is quite different, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same princlples apply here.

For the immediate future, the rich have an advantage. They are less likely to die of starvation, diseases, war, etc. But when the general population has decreased enough, their advantage will be less and if they want to stay rich they will have to fight among themselves for a bigger piece of the pie.

We'll see what happens (or maybe not if you're happen to be poor and don't survive the die-off).

That sounds amazingly like the population cycle of the arctic fox and snowshoe hare, except that the next boom's foxes aren't partly recruited from the hares.

I understand that William Catton has a new book out: "Bottleneck: Humanity's Impending Impasse."

I've not read it yet, but hope to soon. I think that Catton tries to address the central issue which is, it seems to me, humanity can alter our behaviour patterns radically enough for anyone to survive the bottleneck.

The wealthy and their offspring are as vulnerable as anyone else on the planet, and perhaps many are even more vulnerable in some ways.

The planet will change enough to make it difficult for any of us to survive. Those who are used to power and pleasure will face situations where they are essentially powerless and scrabbling to survive.

Caches of food and water, weapons and power sources will not be invulnerable to the nearly infinite number of twists and turns wrought by climate and chthonic forces, let alone the changes in chmeistry of air, soil, and water. Dead oceans will mean a dead planet, no matter how much champagne is stashed in a bunker in Oregon or Equador.

Over the next few decades, I guess that billions of people will die -- more than WW II each day. The psychological effect of this will not be lost on anyone.

No one will be insulated from ecological catastrophe and increased human violence.

We are all absolutely vulnerable. It seems to me that efforts to make oneself invulnerable will only backfire on those who try to do so. It may be that those who sense the changes in the environment and adapt from day-to-day will be as capable of survival -- maybe more so -- than those who tie themselves to plans requiring complex escape plans and complex survival compounds.

Simplicity may trump complexity in some ways.

Even so, the focus on "my" survival or the survival of "my" people, tribe, nation, or religion will be the most destructive aspect of human behaviour in years to come.

We will make up all kinds of stories to scapegoat others -- and everyone will be someone else's scapegoat. This way we will burn more enrgy, do more harm to our habitat, and engender ever more cycles of insane violence.

Plans to survive in bunkers seem like a good way to be done in by the butler, the maid, and the Blackwater-esque security dudes before they drink the last of the whisky and bourbon and set off to look for more at the bunker down the road before the radiation sickness turns them to glowing green mush.

Sustain absolute vulnerability. That's my motto, for what it is worth. I really do not give a damn if people think they can outsmart death or the horsemen of the apocalypse. We are all much more vulnerable than we have been led to believe in our complex, collapsing civilization. So why not embrace that? What a great ride, an d who knows how it will end, when it does end.

You should post more often.

Perhaps you should post LESS often. ;)

Just a thought.


Point taken.

Hello Beggar,

Thxs for the book tip.

Hopefully, TOD can have a later keypost and thread discussion to let it thrash around inside our Meatgrinder.

EDIT: this next link offers more detail on the book's overall thrust and allows you to read an excerpt:

Toto -- I like that xlibris link. Thanks.

Got to go -- still vulnerable, surfing the cosmic wave and wondering at it all.

I've had plenty of pain, some of it self-made (no surprise) but over all mine has been a blessed life.

Our mortality, and our species mortality, are both out of our own control. We do what we can and want to do.

I'd like to help thew next couple of generations to survive and maybe preserve a bit of wisdom. That outcome is out of my control, but my attitudes and actions will bend toward that end.

Always remembering that line from Vonnegut: "And so it goes...."

I've considered this idea (planned private or cooperative safe havens in case of societal breakdown) for sometime but had the thought of forming an association(s) appealing to those without incredible financial means, primarily educated and aware middle class people of our impending resource/lifestyle problems. There are groups already doing something like this, one that I thought of reading this is - Chrisitan Exodus - Now they are doing this for very different reasons than what we unfortunately suspect is quite possible but the idea is thinking families/individuals buying a large track of land or an established farm(s) linked or close to each other with the means to sustainably and cooperatively exist effectively outside of society...

I don't think the wealthy enclaves would last long... if the private military or security services see the world falling apart around them, they will assume control of the retreat they are in protection of... could you really take orders from Paris Hilton?

"Almost" contempt? More like blatant, pathological, raving, mega-contempt.

The problem with stratified social systems is not just that power corrupts, but that great power is a magnet for psychopaths.

Your questions are disturbing, in the sense that you seem tempted to do anything other than fight against this pure evil. Get a grip on yourself, Altaira.

P.S. How many Blackwater Joes will keep their M-16s turned the right way, when their own kin are on the outside? Those folks aren't coming out of Harvard.

Lessee, I was planning such a retreat enclave with (some now-dead) friends north of Tallahassee in 1960.

Not much has changed. The population has greatly increased, and so has production. The miserable keep putting up with it. Suppressive technology displaces remediation of the problem, which is really the poor fit between our brains and this quirk of cultural quickchange.

I've lived life. I ain't gonna bust ass to survive. But I think luck is going to play a huge part in postcrash survival.

Or Obama may pull it off. Gotta keep that in mind.

FWIW, the picture of the gated property is on Maui. That is Haleakala in the background. Gated properties and neighborhoods are common on Maui. It is the second home location for the rich and famous from around the world. Insofar as survival fortresses, they are quite likely being built on Maui and other human friendly sites and environments. However, such sites have an Achilles heel. If the world does go to hell in a handbasket, gates, fences and walls will be of minimal value in keeping out the hungry and desperate. The only viable long-term solution, even for the super rich, is to be part of a cooperative and supportive community of people who look out for each other. It really does take a village to effectively respond to the challenges fast approaching.

Are you kidding?
Just look at it.
It is symbolic only.

Most of the comments that directly relate to the article make the assumption that the world will be in a uniform condition. That has not been the case in the past, and it is hard to imagine why it would happen in the future. The refuges and escapes that wealthy people would prefer would be simply homes in multiple countries, with all associated necessities there for transfer - such as bank accounts in the local currency, contacts with the right people needed to maintain a wealthy lifestyle, transportation options, and so on. No need for 'Blackwater guards' or anything else. Hyper-isolation doesn't make sense. Going to the country least affected by whatever social turmoil occurs does. This has been the escape mode for wealthy people for centuries, as far as I can tell.

I am very surprised at the silliness of the comments here. Wealthy people have plenty of advisors already who can figure out how to take care of their employers. Choosing options with obvious failure modes would be only done by those few without competent advice.

GEAB agrees with you. They are always saying that the situation will be worst in the US. It`s not very hard to figure out why, if you have lived in a few countries around the world. I guess it`s the sheer drop from being such a huge consumer nation to one more like others (most countries produce stuff). The US is so special, so unique, such an outlier--- in it`s huge use of oil, its religious values, its healthcare circus, gun laws, huge highways, obesity cases, number of lawyers, lack of trains, lack of bike-ability, zero peasants, no villages, concentrated mega-agriculture, corporate-ruled big box retail, over-emphatic patriotism.

I could go on and on, but I won`t. Suffice it to say that all these things that helped the US be The Best place to achieve wealth and elite status (i.e. "The American Dream") quickly are the very things which make it one of the Worst to experience Peak Oil in. Anyone who is even a tiny bit well-traveled can instantly recognize this fact. It`s a nightmare to be poor in the US, while in many other countries it`s really normal and OK, what most people are. No car? OK No education? OK. Life in rural backwater? Nevermind, there`s a govt clinic.

There is a huge huge gradient--a chasm-- between the USA and other countries. The 2nd law paraphrased is "nature abhors a gradient"..OK, so I`m therefore quite sure that the US will eventually look more like Italy or China or Brazil or Ecuador....more producers, more villages, a lot fewer lawyers and stock analysts. Of course, the very wealthy Americans who like the way things are now in the US now would obviously want to go somewhere where the situation won`t change so drastically (and this means anywhere else because the US is the outlier it is) and set themselves up in a more stable place and start doing what they`re good at over there---making deals, whatever. By emigrating, they can be assured that they won`t experience a nauseating vertical drop....and have to instantly lose their mobility, their access to healthcare, their access to food, etc. (There is, in other words, a structure that is more resilient.)

I have lived in five countries and I`ve traveled to many more. The US impresses ---nay, intimidates-- me with its non-negotiable, truly formidable structural "issues".

So I generally never go there.
I know that sounds extreme, but it really is the way I feel now, although I`m hoping the situation will change for the better somehow (not sure how though).


All true. However, as I keep warning my fellow Americans, do not assume that an angry mob is going to appreciate the difference between a "bad" American, a "good" American, or even a "former" American. A lot of people all around the world already have a lot of reasons to be very angry at us, and those who run this country are likely to give them a lot more reasons in the future.

You assume too much....I`m not an American, actually.
I only lived there once.I have many fond memories!

I shall take my chances where I am. Got used to it here!

I am not one of the uber-wealthy, but if I were I would give it all away to environmental and wildlife preservation groups and live simply without a lot of possessions or a big fence or group of paid security people. These uber-wealthy, actually, they sort of evoke my sympathy....I guess I think they have a misguided worldview.....if no one bothered pursuing all the vain and silly trappings of wealth and just lived simply and practiced birth control, the world would be a better place.

I would live simply and invest it in RnD, advanced factories and nuclear powerplants and aim for making a profit, preferably a large one, to be able to invest even more. Funding new technical ideas would also be extremely fun.

For whatever it is worth to you. I believe in the bottom of my heart that nuclear energy is our future.

mos6507 said

See how well that does for them when they can no longer afford or access the external inputs that drive their farming on top of that depleted topsoil of theirs.

I got a hint of this on the farm here in Poland. The price for fruits have dropped so much (selling to wholesaler) that the farmers can not afford to hire help to pick fruit in the orchards or fields. This has been the trend over the last few years. If they do not have family doing it it is not worth even gathering ( cost to gather > sale revenue ).

So just thinking that you are a farmer and your OK needs to be qualified. IF your input costs are greater than revenue generated than you are sunk. So far here there do not seem to be any relief in this direction. Input cost are not dropping much (fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, labor somewhat, ...).

For example the production. The official EU statistic shows that 50% of cherry production in EU comes from Poland. Yet the farmer here was getting a price that below half that required to break even (if not worst). Many are saying that they will abandon their orchards. Interestingly, the prices of cherry products have not dropped. If anything they have risen.

I'm not so sure it's silly.
The wealth, as somebody said back a ways, is largely numbers on paper. When you look at wealth per se, the ability to pay back your 'bailouts' while continuing with BAU (operations and maintenance) is probably not there. If anyone does a recorded history of it, the numbers left on the bits of paper in the Fed offices, will near as dammit represent the extraction, consumption and pollution of natural capital.
That will be of academic interest (no pun) only, though. The numbers won't be worth anything in a world reduced to barter. Look to Cuba for an example of what happens when you go backwards under good governance, and to Zimbabwe for what happens under bad.
For my money (ha) there will be a global scrap - oldfarmermac is historically correct. Whether it's 'livingspace for herrenvolk' or oil in the Middle East, scarcity of resources always ends in war. It's Age of Empires, lesson one.
From outside the 'States, I see the USA (frustrated rows of SUV's at the gas-pumps) versus China (envious, thwarted, politically more able to focus and move). The only way to avoid that may be a pandemic - a not unlikely scenario in a crowded world when systems start failing.
The currently-wealthy are probably at a physical disadvantage in a dog-eat-dog world, and won't be in quite such good psychological shape either, one suspects. If your ego depends on a weasel that just went pop, you might be a bit rattled. The irony is that, to 2/3 of the planet's population, those of us with keyboards are probably seen as 'super wealthy'.....

He then named about a dozen families on the Forbes list of billionaires who have already prepared for doomsday on a spectacular scale, including multiple geographic options.

Anyone know the locations? Let us see where they are?

There is a social theory that severe economic downturns serve a useful purpose by equalizing the distribution of wealth. A hyperinflation would destroy all money and debt. Hard assets, especially everyday necessities, would be the main stores of value.

Shortages of oil are the perfect set up for a hyperinflation. Oil import bills are creating massive trade deficits, which will eventually cause currency collapses. One day oil will be $200, then $500, then $1000 a few months later.

As irrational as hyperbolic price surges are (NASDAQ stocks in 2000, California real estate in 2006) they happen repeatedly.

All the land sold around here goes to Wall Street financiers who pay unlimited $$ for it.

"War Wealth and Wisdom" is a book written by Barton Biggs, a hotshot on Wall Street. A TON OF SUPER RICH ARE READING IT!! They are following his advice to buy a remote farm! He discusses wealth destruction in great detail during periods of war, when the Four Horsemen ride.

He never says a WORD about oil, he just believes that as an insurance policy every wealthy family must put 10% of their wealth into a working farm in a remote location. Another 5% into gold.

The rich who follow his advice will be glad they did.

I have seen these farms? all over vermont. they will be the first to die! they are few we are many. they have bought our family farms right now we work for them. If and i say if we let them live they will be as slaves to us.

My Survival Strategy, if I had taken that path

One, find the place that is most likely to continue with an organized, civil society, with medical care, more than adequate food, democratic government, public health and social welfare, even as most of the rest of the world was lacking these.

Two, move in before TSHTF and become part of the community, and a well thought of member.

One will remain my secret.

Two was to get a job as a high school science/math teacher and teach in such a way as to be well thought of. Outside of work, rebuild a couple of defunct small hydroelectric plants, and get involved with civic betterment.

By the time TSHTF, some of my former students will be in their mid to late 20s, perhaps 30s. I would, hopefully, be thought of as "Nice, old Mr. Drake". I could have some plans (and perhaps a small stockpile of supplies) to help the society deal with the changes in the rest of the world.

Such a place must also be one where one could grow old gracefully and enjoy life if my estimate for when TSHTF was off.

But I decided to take a low probability chance of "making a difference" instead and enjoy, and live life today in New Orleans.

The road not taken.

Best Hopes,


But I decided to take a low probability chance of "making a difference" instead

Kudos. That is exactly the choice available, and too few are even considering it.

To expend one's life, wealth, and personal options for a chance to make a difference for the greater world is the best deal available, and you are on a short list of my heroes for trying.

Greenish I believe you are who you cryptically say you are so I value your feedback on something.

I don't see a political solution to the environmental/ecological crisis, which is the foundation of the financial crisis. So I am thinking about what to do if all the lobbying and outreach and writing your elected officials, which are the traditional activities of a person who goes to work, pays their bills and spends some time thinking about the big picture, just won't work.

Might a good expenditure of one's life, wealth and personal options be to fight for the preservation of remaining wild places and restoring degraded habitats? If the economy sits in the lap of ecology then the best chance for future generations will be how much functioning ecology we leave behind.

If one decides on this path then there are many ways to make a difference and with my background in agriculture I can see some big opportunities.

Greenish I believe you are who you cryptically say you are so I value your feedback on something.
I don't see a political solution to the environmental/ecological crisis, which is the foundation of the financial crisis. So I am thinking about what to do if all the lobbying and outreach and writing your elected officials, which are the traditional activities of a person who goes to work, pays their bills and spends some time thinking about the big picture, just won't work.

Well, one thing which occurs is simply to click on my user name and email me. There's a big difference between what is appropriately discussed on an archived internet forum, and in private communication.

And there is, as you surmise, a high probability that all that stuff just won't work in the time available, particularly in the way it's being generally attempted.

Might a good expenditure of one's life, wealth and personal options be to fight for the preservation of remaining wild places and restoring degraded habitats? If the economy sits in the lap of ecology then the best chance for future generations will be how much functioning ecology we leave behind.

This is exactly the sort of thing I speak of, and in general what I've spent the last 35+ years doing, though I've focused on preventing species loss and ecosystem degradation more at sea than on land.

In a complex chaotic system it's hard escape "unintended consequences", although the desired outcomes can often be steered to be probabilistically more likely. Yet you're putting your finger smack dab onto something that's hard to f*ck up; simply preserving options for the future. Coal unburned, soil preserved, rainforest uncut, species not exterminated, oceans not acidified. Preventing a rape rarely has unintended systemic consequences, as long as you don't mind taking the risk that the rapist may take umbrage and shoot you.

Large-scale rape prevention has, metaphorically speaking, been my odd chosen life and I recommend it. I'll even help you do it, if you like.

If one decides on this path then there are many ways to make a difference and with my background in agriculture I can see some big opportunities.

There are indeed many ways to make a difference, and it does you great credit that you're looking. In any potential disaster, there are those trampling one another to get to the exit first, those sitting frozen in mental gridlock, and a few running toward the flames to alter the large-scale outcomes. These last are the ones I most appreciate meeting here.

Thanks. I'll be in touch then.

There are indeed many ways to make a difference, and it does you great credit that you're looking. In any potential disaster, there are those trampling one another to get to the exit first, those sitting frozen in mental gridlock, and a few running toward the flames to alter the large-scale outcomes. These last are the ones I most appreciate meeting here.

Thank you, greenish, for these words. That what I find commonly missing in TOD’s discussions: altruism you may call it. Why are we shying away from saying it? Too much doom and gloom (perhaps, justifiably so), personal preparations for the worst outcome, tribal mentality at best. I am not judging anybody, just would like to see more of those “running toward the flames” daring their destiny for the higher cause. I find a greater inspiration, motivation and hope in such individuals and their actions than in all entrenched bunkers in the world.

And thanks for your comments.

Nate has long wished me to do a keypost along these lines, but I've put it off because I think it will end my ability to comment on unrelated things without a ton of implied baggage. Nothing pisses people off more than actual altruism in practice.

So when I depart here, rather soon, perhaps I'll do it with a campfire post.

Large-scale rape prevention has, metaphorically speaking, been my odd chosen life and I recommend it. I'll even help you do it, if you like.

How about cutting immigration to the USA, both illegal and legal?  If California didn't have an immigrant-driven population boom, would the salmon or delta smelt be in such danger?  Would we be paving over farmland and cutting forests?  Even GHG emissions would be down.  If you want to talk about stopping rape of the environment, you have to address population growth at its sources.  Immigration is the only thing still driving it in the USA.

Immigration is the only thing still driving it in the USA.


The United States has one of the highest natural growth rates (0.7%) of any industrialized country in the world.

Natural increase is in the range of 1.5 million/year, more than net legal immigration and likely more than legal + net illegal immigration.

You are also very wrong pointing to diversity for eroding social capital. In my observations, non-diverse suburbs have the lowest social capital of all (if you do not know your neighbors, how cna you have ANY social capital ?), and quite diverse New Orleans has more than I have seen anywhere else.

Best Hopes for Facts over Bigotry (and fewer children to lower population growth),


The United States has one of the highest natural growth rates (0.7%) of any industrialized country in the world.

It's not natural.  It's due to the high fertility of the immigrants.  Some of them have far higher fertility than the populations they come from.  For instance, Mexicans in Mexico have a total fertility rate of about 2.4.  Mexicans in the USA have a TFR of about 4.  The elements with the high TFR also have low skills and low educational achievement, so the productivity of the USA is going to suffer as a consequence.

You are also very wrong pointing to diversity for eroding social capital.

That may be what you believe, and it certainly is the received wisdom of a great many people, but it is false.  You may wish to ask the Black victims of Hispanic ethnic cleansing in Los Angeles about the benefits of diversity.  I think they might have a few words against it.

It's not natural.

Aww, they are little baby robots!

Most of the immigrants into California came from Oklahoma, Michigan, New York, etc.


All the references I have show that there is a net outflow of native-born from California, but this is overwhelmed by immigration.

California had about 10 million people in 1950.  It has 38 million now.  Global warming means that the water won't be there to irrigate the central valley, and all these farm workers won't have anything to do.  Mexico thinks of them as citizens and even lets them vote.  If that's where their culture and loyalties are, it's time for them to go home; let them beg welfare and medical care from Carlos Slim.

Most of that growth from 1950 was from in-migration from the other states and in state births.

Only since the last census has immigration turned around.

In direct contradiction to what you wrote elsewhere, the primary cause of US population growth is natural increase.

A recent increase in births/woman in the USA needs to be reversed till demographic lag FINALLY catches up.


Dear Drummers

It is not the wealthy that are back a step on peak oil, it is in fact you who are playing catch up.

The CIA knew of peak oil when Hubbert's prediction proved to be accurate. They started operating on a peak oil scenario in the mid-70s.
When Bush Sr was VP under Regan, he and Louis Geocatta or some spelling to that effect revamped FEMA which by the way was initially the Federal Emergency Militarization Agency. The name was changed to protect the public.
FEMA spends very little of its budget on natural disasters. It does spend a lot of money on underground bunkers and other safe haven type stuff. Louis 'what ever his name' was a specialist in population/mob control. There are detention facilities spread around the country that can hold millions of people. For the first time--last year or this year a check this battalion of military was established for populaton control of U.S. citizens. This violates the Posse Comitatus Act. It is said that one detention facility in Alaska has a capacity of 2 million people. The population of Alaska is only 670,000.
The argument for these things has always been nuclear war. Now I ask you, why would you possibly build something like that in Alaska. After a war, you couldn't even get people there, and if you did, you would have to bring in food and keep them warm through long winters.
Of course that would only be if you wanted to keep them alive.
Now, wind back your memory. Oil was expected to peak in 2000. Do you remember the bogus election, the Florida debacle, the illegal Supreme Court decision? And who got to be President? Well, oilman son of oilman who revamped FEMA with VP Haliburton CEO Cheney, Condelessa Rice of Exxon.

The really rich pay people to think ahead for them.
Us average blokes (which we think we are not) have to do it on our own when we can.
We also tend to be democratic and hence disorganized.
The psychopaths make it because they never let concern for their fellow man get in the way.
As far as Blackwater--do you not think that there are inner circles within inner circles to protect them from their protectors?

Good luck to the rest of us. We'll need it

Though facts about overshoot and reliance on oil have percolated for 30+ years, and the Technocrats saying energy is the ultimate currency for 70+years, our culture/government etc. are victims of a continued series of steep discount rated decisions that made sense at the time - only in looking back does it appear to be some coherent planning etc. I just don't think this has been planned/understood - especially because the majority of people not only don't hear/study what those on this site do, but they don't want to, and that includes many politicians. If a politician really understood the implications of world oil supplies peaking, and leverage/easy credit masking this phenomenon for a few years, why would they ever run for office? I say 95%+ have been 'debriefed' on these topics and remain in the cornucopian camp - or at best, are concerned about next few years - if we can make it through that the market will provide, etc. When you see politicians dropping out mid-term for inexplicable reasons, you will know that their survival motives have trumped their power drives. That will be at 11:58pm, metaphorically speaking.

We also tend to be democratic and hence disorganized

This I fully agree with. This country was founded under a libertarian framework. That only worked with affordable resources for all -well -it continued to work for 30 or so more years with imported energy and increased debt/credit availability as result of seignorage. Libertarianism won't work too well without abundant resources per capita. But will democracy? At heart of this post (and this website) is what WILL work? I don't have the answer, other than it will involve lower consumption per capita (unless capita drops faster).

I just returned from a couple of weeks in rural Germany.

Everywhere while driving in the countryside I saw this pattern repeated

woodlands - pasture - fields - well defined village - fields - pasture - woodlands.

Many if not most villages had a water source such as a man made lake or large creek.

I suspect that pattern is prevalent throughout agricultural Eurasia.

Such villages were defended by remote aristocrats who could maintain or call-up bands of fighters. The aristocrats could afford to maintain such fighting forces through the wealth accumulated by holding wood-gathering and lumber rights, hunting and fishing rights, and mining rights on the lands surrounding the villages. It was incumbent on the aristocrats to keep the roads relatively crime free so that they could collect the taxes on the trade passing in and out of the city (not village) gates.

I'm no history scholar, but I've seen the armories kept by cities to be used in the city's defense. Many German cities were 'Imperial cities' free from ownership by nearby feudal lords. They had to maintain their own defenses. The original American militia (evolved from the English) was something of the same. Every able bodied man part of a local organization to defend itself. When national commanders called up the militias in the Revolutionary War and 1812 (and even into the Civil War, IIRC), they had to work at keeping militia men tied into the national armies instead of having them flee back to their local cities and homes to defend those they knew and loved. To some extent, militias (and their focus on local defense) are a danger to aristocratic/national power. We can even see that evident today with the emphasis on the Federal DOD maintaining command and control over National Guard units and the Feds undermining any efforts by the States to regain control.

While I deplore what I take to be the politics and motives of modern US militia movements - if the National security infrastructure starts to collapse (food, energy, policing), history shows that the local militia is often the common man's best defense against predation from criminals and aristocrats alike.

Rereading this, I see that I moved from rural villages to mid-size cities. I've been ramblings some. Rural farming villages are not large enough to defend against organized predation. Not from criminals or aristocrats. At least they were not large enough prior to the wide-spread distribution of firearms.

What's the point? Mostly, I'm just "talking out loud." But if our future is one which is energy poor and includes a collapse of centralized government, it is possible that the descent into feudalism can be avoided or delayed by a widespread adoption of militias by more-or-less self-sustained rural farming communities. But the modern American agricultural scene does not look much like (and is not physically organized like) its Old World counterparts.

National policies to decentralize (support small farms over large ones, support National Guards returning more completely to State control, support local energy production over national grids) could be self-fulfilling in a doomster sense. Localization is often less efficient than the national/international economies of scale. But those same policies increase our chances of long term survival if TSHTF.

Your comments on Libertarian foundations made me think of the poor farmers I saw in the film Food Inc (which I highly recommend). I kept thinking, "Why don't these farmers organize instead of bending over for Monsanto." But I think they are ideologically against such a strategy and so becoming easy prey for the extremely goal oriented corporation that has a corporate-socialist government behind it.

If anybody in the corn and soybean belt has an opinion I'd like to hear it.

p.s. I went to grad school in St. Louis and did my lab work in the biology debt building named "Monsanto." I also did grad work and post grad work at a new herbarium at the Missouri Botanical Garden named "Monsanto." As academic scientists we would read about the upcoming GMO technology in journal articles from the time, and mostly shake our heads about how badly we feared it would turn out.

I suspect You are a bit off here. The US was libertarian because its newly arrived subsistence farmers were originally poor enough so there were not enough resources available for a political class to police and subjugate widely spread out people. As well, some communities did set up with communal property rights, but they quickly either succumbed to inefficiency in resource utilization, or observed others fare better and learned a bit of economics.

Only as time passed, and economic surpluses started accumulating, did sufficient slosh become available to feed a class of "administrators" not involved in production, large enough to undermine the founding libertarian principles. And this occurred in an environment where those who bore the brunt of the cost of keeping their new found overlords in business, had the safety outlet of going west to regain lost freedoms.

After any serious Peak Oil induced "collapse", the slosh available to keep people under control will be severely limited. Could you imagine a Washington government sending 500 odd expensively trained and equipped agents clear across the continent, and keeping them there for weeks or months, to harass Randy Weaver in a severely energy constrained world, as they did at Ruby Ridge almost to the day 17 years ago? Who would want to work their subsistence farm that much harder, to provide funds for government employees to be using resources like that?

Yet, without such gratuitous waste, the Empire will largely lose relevance, until people have about as much concern for the goings on in Washington as a Wyoming fur trapper likely had in the early 1800's. The final death knell will likely come once the national government is no longer funded sufficiently to prevent alternative currencies from supplanting Federal Reserve notes in trade, and can no longer afford enforcing the rather draconian and efficiency limiting reporting requirements underpinning all activity based taxation schemes, whether income or consumption based.

So, while I in no way doubt your conclusion that per capita consumption will drop, consumption of government force directed at your neighbor will decline as well, meaning any "plan" likely to succeed will have to be one limited to what pretty much everyone, including Randy Weaver, can voluntarily agree to, not simply some arbitrary "democratic" majority.

"What will work"???

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics always works!! You can absolutely count on it!

As gradients in structure(differences caused by oil-based infrastructure) are reduced by the natural processes of human life, countries will start to look more similar; the US will get subsistence villages, China and India will get more highways (unfortunately this is happening big time).

The G-8, and especially the US are the lions who feasted on the high EROEI oil, the best most juicy parts of the antelope....the BRICS are the hyenas and vultures who (because they have so many producers living subsistence level farming lives) do quite well on the lower EROEI oil, the tough pieces of antelope the lions can`t deal with effectively.

The wealthy do not want to be part of the crash that takes the most developed nations down to 3rd world status, that is a horribly, unthinkably stressful transition. So they are probably looking for nice big estates in places that are already quite functionally "poor", perhaps South America, but have lots of agriculture in a stable way and isolated pockets of great wealth.

The NYT had an article recently about how this recession is flattening out US incomes, causing some wealthy people to go from net worths in the $100 millions down to a couple of $million. Those formerly rich people are NOT peak oil aware, you can be sure. They do not understand the 2nd Law nor do they understand how lions and hyenas function thermodynamically to share out the spoils so that none is "wasted".

But the rich who keep their wealth will understand the 2nd Law, or at least how it applies to them.

America, once it gets through the tough transition, will probably quite pleasant, lots of rural folk practicing their own brand of religion. Religion is so important there, and there is a reason for`s a community that is standing ready to help the hungry desperate people who will and do need it. (I read about a tent city in Nashville TN being supplied with firewood and donated clothing and food by a church. This is common!!)

But I don`t think most of the ultra wealthy want to be part of that scene; banding together with neighbors to knock down a McMansion while herding goats, making fences as a trade for churning butter, praising the Lord in long sessions at church, etc. That would bore them to tears. The ultra-wealthy will want to continue to live the rich lifestyles they like....hence they may choose less wealthy countries where paradoxically their wealth can be best preserved.

If they do stay in the G-8 (and many will because it`s familiar territory at least) they will try to get land. Land equals energy equals wealth. So they`ll go for that but all the familar pitfalls: taxation, maintenance, schools, access to doctors, boring localization with rural folk(see under: "Praise the Lord") etc. makes that option one for the future.

Hence they want to wait while having a good time in their Upper East Side penthouses until the last moment....then evacuate to Paraguay. They may keep some land in the US and go back after the dust settles....

Their dilemma is rather amusing, don`t you think???

"So they are probably looking for nice big estates in places that are already quite functionally "poor", perhaps South America, but have lots of agriculture in a stable way and isolated pockets of great wealth"

And politically stable. This is more-or-less the thinking behind my own move to France. I moved to a poor area (17% unemployment), but with plenty of agriculture and local resources, cohesive culture but with low population density. Although my own circumstances are far far more modest than those being discussed.

One of the many reasons I moved to France was that The French State is a totalitarian state. It isn't going to change because it already is what other nation states will be forced to become. Britain and the US are both in the process of becoming totalitarian states, but they have no historic culture of being so, which makes them very dangerous. Like Germany the culture of Britain and the US is federal, loosely bound, whereas France is unitary, tightly bound. The character difference between them can be seen in how they dealt with the break-a-way of their colonies. Britain walked away and didn't look back, whereas France fought tooth and nail to keep them in the family (even now the ex-colonies are tightly bound to France, some still using the French Frank, which even the French no longer use).

Anyway, my point is this; Britain and the US are going to go through a turbulent transition towards totalitarianism. And due to national characteristics they are likely to do so in a fashion that may well be traumatic (think of Germany prior to WW2). Britain and the US have never tried seriously to assimilate their migrant populations and still view them very much as guests, foreigners and strangers, unlike the French which immediately try and make them French. While things are going fine in Britain and the US, and there's no trouble, the migrants are simply ignored, forgotten about. Thus they are more likely to start asking what the non-British or non-American people in their midst are doing there when resources become tight (jobs, food, money, medical facilities). Britain and the US are more likely to abandon or walk away from troubled areas and leave them to their fate.

the US have never tried seriously to assimilate their migrant populations

Au contraire !

The USA was a model of immigrant absorption for 3 centuries.

The recent Mexican immigration has been more troublesome, due to increased communication and travel back to their homeland.


Alan, I think you misunderstand. Accepting immigrants is not the same as assimilating them, having them concentrate in collective areas where they retain their own ethnic identity is not assimilation. Having Irish, Korean, Italian, Greek, Russian, Jewish, et al, in relatively segregated communities is obviously not assimilation. Using terms such as Native American, African American, WASPs, etc. are terms of reference in a non-assimilated society.

Don't get me wrong, it's not an accusation (after all, those communities want to be together by choice); I'm simply referring to an innate characteristic which countries have. When things get tough each country will react in line with their innate character. Britain invented the concentration camp in South Africa, Germans fondness for them is well known, America interned Japanese in concentration camps during WW2 and seem to be currently planing to use them again for some unknown purpose (I believe there is evidence of the existence of these empty camps IIRC).

In the loosely connected, laissez-faire, mindset of the federal state, segregated communities can be confined as a control measure. This seems to be an innate characteristic of certain states who's internal cultural cohesiveness is loose, sometimes limited solely to economic assimilation or participation only.

The USA traditionally did a superb job of assimilating immigrants. First their loyalty and then intermarriage after that.

Italian-Americans & Irish Americans may fight for a few generations, but they were both Americans.


As an architect, this line of speculation is very immediate to me.

I've generated a new business entity to test the waters for these services, and intend to market past professional clients, initially primarily physicians.

However, I intend to wait until perhaps spring 2010, while conditions mature.
I also plan congregate living design prototypes for non-affluent populations.

This is my site -
I would appreciate any feedback.

Best regards.

too expensive

Who has built the Encyclopedia Foundation?

Where is Terminus?

Antarctica, Central Australia, Himalayas, Southern Andes, etc. are remote but do not seem to be farming-friendly places.

Where would the Second Foundation be?

The problems with Asimov's tale were that all the people spoke a common language (not relevant to the current World)and technology (physical, mentalics) saved the day all the time.

A knowledge redoubt would likely be found and pillaged relatively quickly or forgotten and found a thousand years from now and no one would be able to make use of it.

If it came, the peak oil disaster would probably play out in several emergencies and recoveries before things really went black. I believe that this would give wealthy people the time to better position themselves by buying small farms, rural retreats or emigrating to better functioning societies. We should also remember that every empire the world has ever seen has had a political/religious elite that exploited their subsistence farmers. What makes you think that a peak oil world would be any different?

Yes, the wealthy will be on the look out for a place where subsistence agriculture continues. There has to be a basic level of healthcare so the peasants can get treatment and continue to produce the food the wealthy need. There has to be adequate rain or no crops. I think they would look for stability at the base of the society.

It is funny to imagine all the super wealthy embarking on a search for the perfect place, arriving independently at the same answer, and then they all move en masse, mobbing all the expensive restaurants and getting on each other`s nerves. I don`t have any idea where they will go.

Many of you may recall that several years ago there were rumors that the Bush family had purchased something like 100,000 acres in a remote region of northern Paraguay. Some claim that it has been confirmed, while others call it just another conspiracy theory.

Any updates on this confirming it one way or another?

Conceptually, it at least seems plausible, as Paraguay has historically been a destination of choice for war criminals trying to lay low. If Dubya does settle down there, I guess he can always go next door to borrow a cup of sugar from the Mengele family.

The land purchase was real enough.

The conspiracy revolved around whether the Bush family and Rev Sun Young Moon were trying to get a monopoly position on water rights through ownership of the Guarani Aquifer. Although, based on this map of the aquifer, it seems very unlikely that the Bush land, Moon land, or the Mariscal Estigarribia Air Base are close to the aquifer, much less sitting on top of it.

Oops ... thought I was clicking on my Oil Drum bookmark ... but seem to have arrived at LATOC ... weird ...

Seriously 'tho folks: PO isn't a binary event ... just a slow grubby slide into an increasingly poor standard of living.

Fortified redoubts are indeed useful .. but to defend against SUDDEN system failures such as civil war, mega terrorism etc ... not PO.

The rich will always make up the top X% of society. In 50 years time they will be the ones eating a WHOLE cooked potato rather than half of a raw mouldy one.

I don't know about that.
There are a whole lot of aware people that probably won't put up with dead weight in the next paradigm.
Everyone seems to be predicting based on the last model of society.

Technology changes ... but our biology doesn't. We organize ourselves into much the same primate troops that we did 10000 years ago ... as constrained/enabled by resources and population density. Of course, as the energy/food/technology in an economy increases, social hierarchies change and adapt. But they don't go away.

Or to put it another way ... (political) power has its own logic.

Note that 'might makes right' is not the entirety of political logic. There is a mathematical and biological basis for certain types of altruism.

Why does the world's most powerful nation elect a President? Why do corporations have a CEO? Why do even intentionally decentralized guerilla bands have political/spirital leaders? Because primate troops have a social hierarchy.

I rather like Jared Diamonds reductionist summary: band, tribe, chiefdom, state

If civilization marches on and energy, food, and population increases, maybe we can add a new political organization to the list. But there is no reason to remove one of the old ones. Even in today's modern nation states, one can see homo primates self-organizing into bands, tribes, and chiefdoms (tribes large enough that the leaders don't know everyone and must delegate power). It's our human nature.

May I suggest that all of your traditional logic is predicated on controlled information?
All humans are eminently capable and the difference is simply condition.
The information age has broken the walls to knowledge and I bet you are one of the beneficiaries.
There is enormous change in the air and I don't claim to know the final outcome but it will be for the better however defined.

Of course I am one of the beneficiaries.

I am an American.

So you see my point then.
I think that there is a Magna Carta type shift underway but only this time it seems to be by nature's hand.

'Hope' is a useful attitude for survival.

But 'a plan' has its place as well,
even if you know full well that you will have to discard it early
and make stuff up as you go.

Which kind of brings us back around to the point of this thread, doesn't it? :-)

I guess.
Good luck to you Ron.


Agreed, I hope things move in the direction of a slow slide, but this is a time when nothing but optimism will really do. I think that the wrong question was asked at the beginning of the thread, which is why as a result it eventually disintegrated into hostility. We are in uncharted waters - let's not put old wine in new skins.

back to regularly scheduled tempered optimism next week...;-)

It is not an optimism based on perception, but based on choice. All that we have knowingly and unknowingly wrought now comes back upon us with a vengeance. If we can make light of optimism then I do not believe that we have in our hearts understood what awaits us - long hard years of labor and the bitter fruits of things long since planted that we can not yet imagine.

The level of ignorance and violence that is about to be unleashed will boggle mind and tear apart the heart. Heres to hoping against hope. Here is to optimism.

Enclaves of extreme Wealth are allready being built. I am especially Qualied to build and maintain them. I will do this for my very rich brothers. And when money is no longer uesfull I will execute them. And there rodent like childern.

I am hoping that manny entreprenurial people will find it attractive to move to Sweden to NOT live in a gated community. The migration is wide open for everybody that can find a job and if you have a little wealth you can create one job or more. The infrastructure is exellent for establishing almost any kind of manufacturing and there is hardy any corruption. But you will of course have to pay high taxes. You will ge one of my very best wishes if you apply for citizenship as fast as possible and also join the municipiality politics, home guard, red cross, a church, whatever.

Your society is different.
America is a heterogeneous mix of aggressive personalities.
You have no Idea what i am talking about.
The old school meme of " Our diversity is our strength" is complete reverse psychological bullshit.
My country will take itself apart because it doesn't have anything to bind it together.

My country will take itself apart because it doesn't have anything to bind it together.

Our country is an empire masquerading as one nation. Just within the 50 states, we are nearly an entire continent (and not some puny one like Australia) pretending to be one people. And our country is not just these 50 states and a couple of territories. It is the centerpiece of a global hegemony in which we have extended our political, legal, financial, cultural and military power to the far corners of the world.

"the centre cannot hold;"

Porge = typical rightwing mentality a la Ron Paul(who poses in photos with Nazis from Stormfront)
Unfortunately this talk is very common here in the USA and such idiocy caused the US civil war(wingnuts attacked a federal fort).
Now every flag-waving 'patriot' threatens to SECEDE under the dimwitted State Sovereignty movement which contends that states have rights under the 1791 Tenth Amendment, ignoring the US civil war and 200 years of history.

It's a load of bullshit. Grow up, you babies.

If a nuke war happens it will be some such 'hero' drops an H-bomb on Washington DC.

There are but two parties now: traitors and patriots. And I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter and, I trust, the stronger.
--US Grant

Patriot? To what are you loyal?
The Government is an organized crime ring.
You talk as if there is a legitimate political system.
Wake up.
I bet you are another old man that depends on a check to come in the mail to survive.

America, love it or leave it, punk.

Maybe you could emigrate to South America?

I would rather fight than move old man.

That option is by far more tempting (to me) than building some enclave somewhere. Social capital will be key. But alas, my friends and family live here so Sweden probably non-starter. But that raises an interesting question - how much semi-permanent international movement will there be in coming decade? And in which directions? Many think US will be bad place to be, based on how high of throughput consumption we're accustomed to - but others think US might be great place (relatively) to be based on natural resources/low population density, though Sweden has us beat in both those regards (excepting oil).

Sweden has us beat in one category.
And that can be changed very quickly.
If one man can do it another man can do it.

Judging by the posts here i suspect that most of the posters are not on a first name basis with billionairs or millionaires for that matter.
The few very wealthy people I know are acutely aware of what is going on from a resource point of view and are extremely well prepared, though not by building some fortress somewhere or hogging rice and beans, but by building extensive relationships and large, real, physical productive capacity in various places in the world (and with mostly a positive rate of return!)
In general one does not become very wealthy by being ignorant.

The few very wealthy people I know are acutely aware of what is going on from a resource point of view and are extremely well prepared, though not by building some fortress somewhere or hogging rice and beans, but by building extensive relationships and large, real, physical productive capacity in various places in the world (and with mostly a positive rate of return!)

Given the recent economic near-collapse I would disagree.
Their greed put them in the hands of Maddoff, Lehmann and AIG. Only government intervention stopped(hopefully) them all(and the rest of us) from being sucked into a market-driven blackhole.

Still I expect the rich to survive disproportionately.

When the RMS Titanic hits the iceberg, 61% of first class passengers(15% of the compliment) survived versus less than 25% of third class and crew.

Of a total of 2,223 people aboard the Titanic only 706 survived the disaster and 1,517 perished.[44] The majority of deaths were caused by hypothermia in the 28 °F (−2 °C) water.[45] Men and members of the lower classes were less likely to survive. Of male passengers in second class, 92 percent perished. Third class passengers fared very badly.

6 of the 7 children in first class and all of the children in second class survived, whereas only 34 percent were saved in third class. 4 first class women died and 86 percent women survived in second class and less than half survived in third class. Overall, only 20 percent of the men survived, compared to nearly 75 percent of the women. First-class men were four times as likely to survive as second-class men, and twice as likely to survive as third class men.[46]

Another disparity is that a greater percentage of British passengers died than American passengers; some sources claim this could be because many Britons of the time were too polite and queued, rather than to force and elbow their way onto the lifeboats as some Americans did. The captain, Edward John Smith, shouted out: "Be British, boys, be British!" as the cruise liner went down, according to witnesses.

Every person except a few in the first world is wealthy. Given that 1 billion live on $1 a day and another billion live on $2 a day, the idea that the wealthy is the upper class and the rest of us are common folk is delusion. Go live in the slums of Haiti for a few days and you will discover how wealthy you are. I know this article addresses the super wealthy vs us the relatively wealthy, but while our circumstances differ our mindset is little different from the super wealthy. I know the super wealthy don't care if we become truly poor, but neither do we want the truly poor to share in our wealth, thus the worries about the southern border of the US.

As we scarf up the minerals of the world for our alternative green technologies, do we spend any time considering the health issues of the copper miners of South America etc etc etc?

"It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion of them. On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever." Douglas Adams

How many first worlders recognize that the poverty of the third world is what keeps them in luxury. WE are little different in attitude to the third world than the super rich are to the middle class.

That's exactly what I was thinking myself. We're already running this experiment on a grand scale, with the Developed world being the enclave that consumes a disproportionate share of resources and insulates ourselves from the consequences of that consumption.

Garrett Hardin's Lifeboat Ethics essay explores this topic too. As long as the planet had relatively plentiful resources, you could argue that the poor countries were "Developing", but with a declining resource base, not so much.

neither do we want the truly poor to share in our wealth, thus the worries about the southern border of the US.

No, that's not it at all.  We think it would be fine if the truly poor made their own wealth, as we made ours (the USA only turned resources into wealth through work).  What we don't want is to be crowded, bullied, have the amenities we made for our own swarmed by those who did nothing to build them, and have our social capital destroyed by people who share none of our cultural virtues, or even our language.

Peak Oil would be much easier to deal with if we didn't have population pressure from immigration.  Let them fix their problems their way instead of imposing them on us.

The very wealthy are corporeal and must be physically somewhere, so having secure places to live is of course a perfectly sensible thing to do for them. Gated communities, hidden estates, hideaways on islands or in the countryside somewhere all make sense. But that's just half the survival strategy, the other half seems to be mainly missing from this post and its comments.

The other half of their strategy will be to own and hold the means of production for anything of importance. The secure estate provides physical safety, but it is their grip on the means of production that provide them with all else they need. Collapse doesn't change the fundamental rules, it just alters the means to the end.

A SciFi exploration of many of these questions can be found in Lucifer's Hammer. Highly recommended.

There is as I see it no better way to learn what MIGHT happen than tp reads a lot of sci fi as well as be scientifically literate.

And for any who have not read the Black Swan,I strongly urge that you do so.

I have not read Taleb's Black Swan but I do understand statistics and from what I know of Taleb he thinks that we don't have enough data to predict something that has not already been observed.
Makes sense to me.

This gets me to thinking about Wells's The Time Machine. He envisions a future humanity having divided into two species. The Eloi live above ground in an agrarian, communitarian (if not outright communist) paradise - an uncanny resemblance to what some of us here envision as our desired-for sustainable future. The Morlocks live underground, are the ones who actually organize and build and run things both under and above ground, and actually FEED upon the Eloi, who are actually their "livestock". It does not take much imagination to see these sociopathic "alphas" retreating to their underground bunkers and evolving into something like the Morlocks; nor does it take much imagination to see those non-sociopathic, communitarians who survive outside the compounds evolving into something like the Eloi.

I would not be the first person to suspect that Wells's story is less a tale about a fictional technology and an imagined future than it is a rather biting and critical commentary on his contemporary society. The truth of the matter is that those at the top who actually control things ARE predators upon the rest of humanity. They always have been, and always will be. Of course, there is always the flip side, a very uncomfortable question: Could the Eloi have existed without the Morlocks? Can we ordinary people exist without the sociopathic upper crust to take charge and herd us around?

Of course, there is one final observation: Without the Eloi, the Morlocks starve.

Seen in ecological terms, the Morloks were the altruists. They could more easily have raised cattle. Instead, they enabled the blissful and paradisical existence of the Eloi by their own sweat and toil. The pampered creatures could adopt any belief system and live lives of unfettered blathering delusional hedonism until culled. (Y'know, like most people around us now).

The Morloks wouldn't have starved without the Eloi; as carnivores they could digest any meat they cared to raise (unless under extreme journalistic license all other animals had inexplicably vanished at the stroke of a pen). However, the Eloi would absolutely have starved without the Morlok infrastructure.

That novel was, to me, about a time-traveller messing up a perfectly stable ecology for no good reason.

The wolves are not the enemies of the deer.

Those posting here are significantly engineers, systems thinkers, atheists, and ecologists. Why would we think "the rich", that strawman nonentity, would become Morloks? The clueless and dependent are the eloi, and those who would keep them alive may be posting here.

I think eathing them would be a bit much, though.

Given your "alias", your posting here is a distinct irony!

Yes, the Eloi would have starved without the Morlocks. The question is whether or not they could have developed in a different direction, one which did not render them, literally, "sheeple"?

Similarly, it could be asked whether it was necessary for the Morlocks to evolve as they did. My point being: Is this all really necessary and inevitable? Can't we, who so pretentiously name our species "sapiens", come up with a more attractive future than that?

Why irony? Someone should stick up for the Morloks. We are all descended from cannibals many times over. Even now, I'd rather have Morloks running the ecology and eating a few folks than have globe-girdling immortal corporations laying waste to the planet; now there are some monsters.

We have, culturally, collectively, a very messed-up view of death in the "powerful" cultures of today. Psychotic might not be too strong a word. We have expunged all the large predators en route to eating what they formerly ate, doing our damndest to set up a highly-connected monoculture of human flesh, in a suicidal dance with evolving disease.

Point being, the Morlok-Eloi world, as messed-up as that hypothetical was, would be better than what we have probably set ourselves up for.

When asked about "homo sapiens" I think of what Gandhi purportedly said when asked what he thought about western civilization. "I think it would be a good idea".

I share your hopes, and indeed would be remiss in not noting that I think your posts are among the finest on this site, so I'm not meaning to tweak one of them.

Still, as Basil Fawlty said after whacking his head into his desk several times, it's reality, we're stuck with it.

Then the person quizzing Gandhi should have asked a Dalit ("untouchable") or three about Indian "civilization".

When I was a kid in the gas lines during the 70's the teachers tought us a couple of things which really stuck in my mind: 1) The world was going to start running out of oil around the year 2000, and 2) that biological organisms are programmed to spread their genes and protect their gene line.

In the 80's in College I wondered at why the Economic Elite had become so much more greedy than the traditional level of greed. What came to my mind was that they were hoarding resources to protect themselves and their offspring because they were privy to information that the masses didn't have access to and were immune to the conventional media propaganda the average American buys into every day.

So, its no surprise with Peak Oil and Global Warming looming that they are preparing their "exit strategies" for the end game - every CEO has an exit strategy and a golden parachute waiting.

These super rich people setting up retreats are so few and far between. Wether they make it or not will be irrelevant to most of us. The chance of them having a direct effect on any of our futures assuming a general colapse of the economic system and society is slim.

If on the otherhand we have a slow decent scenario then they will still be pulling whatever strings need to be tugged on wether they are in a Manhatten appartment or fortress in Patagonia.

Super rich people could have a very large impacts on the kinds of investments being done. But I do agree that walled off retreat building is meaningless or detrimental for the overall situation.

Obviously a forgotten island is a choice for the time of mayhem... Venice was inhabited in such a way, with Goths rampaging the mainland.
I would be happy to live on a really small island, somehere in the Aeagean with my library, playing with my imagination like Wells, among local people around (not too many of them, probably you can care only about 150 people, see ... However, unfortunately I need specialist medical care and a synthetic substitution medicine... Therefore, rather not being rich, I feel somehow doomed in the world of PO. I cannot take chemical plant with myself;(

Just a thought -- could this scheme be a scam to rip off the wealthy clients? I'd be very cautious about joining such a scheme.

I don´t think so...

Escaping from the failure of your own life support system is probably more of a challenge than people planning private shelters to hide from it appreciate. Your share is worth less if the whole becomes worthless.

It would be FAR better, and preserve much more of their capital in fact (i.e. their share of the whole) for them to figure out how they could play a key role in making Economies That Become Part of Nature. It would start from understanding why we have to.