4 min read

The Downward Spiral

The Downward Spiral

I've tried to write new letters several times over the past few months, and something keeps stopping me. It's partly that, honestly, I'm burned out. And it's partly that I've run out of subjects for a beginner's guide to prepping as a leftist--the thesis of this endeavor. There are only so many times I can recommend the same actions before even I get tired of mentioning beans. But there's something else, too. It's been about a year since I started working on When/If, and, unsurprisingly, things look worse. Not regular, predictable worse--even accounting for the plague worse--but way, way worse. This summer we've seen fires, heat domes, catastrophic floods, plagues of locusts (no, really), and impacts that have reached across the globe in a way that they haven't before (that is to say, they've impacted many rich regions). Media coverage of climate change has taken a huge tonal shift for the better. Politicians openly acknowledge the threat of climate change. For that matter, most industry has, as well. Despite that, there have only been lackluster moves on climate change in Washington, and they're not likely to gain traction. The IPCC released their latest report, and Biden tweeted out his desire to act on climate change--but meanwhile he's given permits for drilling on public land when he swore he wouldn't, and his administration has asked OPEC to increase production. Talking out both sides of his mouth is not something I'd look to see stop anytime soon.

The conclusion that I've come to is that it's time to abandon hope. Hope that politicians will listen to reason, that billionaires will come to their senses, that there will be a sudden breakthrough that saves us. It's time to abandon the hope that there is even a possibility that society will steer clear of this iceberg. I've been serious about the threat of climate change from the start of this newsletter, but it's time to take off the kid gloves. If we are going to survive (without falling into an eco-fascist pit) it involves two courses of action:

  1. Preparation--not for disaster, but for a new way of life. Society as we know it is going to begin to collapse, and in order to survive, and to thrive, we need to be ready for these shifts. Your hobbies now are acquiring skills like sewing, blacksmithing, farming, and carpentering. Your hobbies are familiarizing yourself with local flora and fauna, and dabbling in sustainable, energy-efficient architecture. Your hobbies are building small windmills and working with a neighbor to rig up solar panels. Preparation, this new kind of preparation, is your bread and butter, your morning tea, the word crocheted on your pillow. This is not acute, immediate prepping--I'm taking that level of involvement as a given. Instead, this preparation is harder, longer, for the rest of our lives. It won't be so easy as buying a cool bag and putting gadgets in it.
  2. Societal antagonism. Be done getting arrested for blocking streets, for "insulting" cops, for toothless sit-ins. Don't bother. Don't give politicians money. Don't vote. Don't give organizations that grind on in the machine the time of day. Participate in capitalist society as little as you can. When you can, where you can, give freely in the spirit of mutual aid rather than as a transaction, or charity. Those of you who are able, be emboldened by the spirit of the Evergreen and research what you can do to stand in the way of further ecological destruction and degradation. What you do with that knowledge is legally up to you but also go ham, comrades.

As this project moves forward, in whatever form it does move forward, it is no longer "a beginner's guide to leftist prepping." When/If is now a resource for navigating the collapse of civilization. That sounds hyperbolic--it sounds hyperbolic to me, too. But here's the thing; it won't happen overnight, and it won't be an all or nothing event. Collapse, like all things in this world, is going to be complicated, gradual, and it's going to affect people and portions of the globe differently--I am sure that those in some marginalized communities will tell you that society at large has all but collapsed for them already. Portions of society will fall apart and get rebuilt. Much like climate change, certain events will make the collapse acute, but symptoms may temporarily abate. That does not mean that the world has been remedied. COVID-19 is boiling again in America, and we're doing little to stop it--in fact, we're going out of our way to make sure nothing is done. Climate change is screaming at us that we need to adapt or suffer, and yet we're only beginning to move, and letting the poorest among us do the work. This is not a fit society. This is a society whose leaders know, even if they won't say, that things are due for a crash--and they intend to stitch together a golden parachute before they do.

Moving forward, expect a little hand-holding when it comes to this shift in focus. I imagine some of you have already searched for the unsubscribe button long about the moment I said "don't vote." To you I say good luck, and I hope the midterms go well. For those that stick around, we'll talk about why exactly I've taken this perspective, why I think it's the most healthy perspective we can take, and why it's the most beneficial moving forward. This in addition to some more in-depth prepping content--the kind that goes beyond beans and water. As always, we'll be focused on a community-centric mode of preparation. We won't survive alone, and that will only become more clear moving forward.

I have no prep for you today. My only guidance would be to remember the things that we've seen over the last year: fires, floods, freezing weather, millions dead from a novel virus, heatwaves that broke records and boiled billions of aquatic animals, smoke reaching across a continent, open fascism, a conspiracy theory that has ruined thousands of lives, and a goddamn insurrection, to leave the list incomplete. All this in a year. And as we know by now, having lived well through 2020, this won't just go away. Nothing will change, because nothing has changed. We have got to. The alternative is grim.

We don't live in a vacuum. There are other leftists out there doing great work to educate and prepare others, and they've all been at it longer than me. Here are a few. I recommend you read, watch, listen, and spread the word.

Live Like the World is Dying

The Poor Prole's Almanac

It Could Happen Here