Doom and Gloom Vs. Rewilding

Whenever I get to talking about how fucked up this culture is and how much it is fucking up the planet, someone inevitably writes me off as just preaching doom and gloom without “realistic” solutions. Generally what they actually mean is solutions [sic] that will prevent them from having to fundamentally change the way they live their life.

For example, as I’ve said before; there is no energy crisis. There is an excess of energy being consumed by rich people for frivolous things that help keep them richer and make slavery easier. Like me actually, right now, writing on my energy consuming laptop, in an energy consuming environmentally controlled room sipping on my energy consuming imported black tea (shipping, processing blah blah blah) in the richest country in the world. The energy “crisis” simply means I won’t be able to consume as much energy as I have been for the majority of my life… unless we figure out some crazy new way to harness energy for more stupid bullshit that will really only help this culture devour the world that much faster. Whenever we get to the point in a conversation about the “energy crisis” that there is no viable energy “solution” people shut me down.

When we get to the part about “there is no viable energy solution”, we could move to questioning the cultural foundation of energy consumption and approach it from a different angle altogether. If I were to point out this insanity, that the majority of the world does not use much energy at all, and that we just need to change our habits, domesticated people shit themselves and start pointing fingers and putting up a doom and gloom shield of denial. This has perplexed me for some time. I’m like. Dude. Put down your game controller and use your imagination again. Turn off the heat and put on a furry animal skin. Go collect some leaves and steep a native tea plant. We don’t need “energy”. As a species, we lived without it (at least in terms of electricity) for millions of years. Humanity does not need electricity, domesticated humans need electricity, to keep themselves domesticated.

People are so removed from real life, are so comfortable in the prisons they have created to keep themselves domesticated, that they forget that a more wild life is actually more interesting, more compelling, more sensuous, more alive, more passionate, more human than the human-made, energy consuming environments we (the richest in the world) now live in. We don’t have an energy problem; we have a consumption problem. We have a consumption problem because we have a population problem. We have a population problem because we have a food production problem (agriculture) combined with a social structure problem (Empire).  Do we wish to address the symptoms or the cause? From a rewilding perspective, the energy crisis is not that we don’t have enough power to run our factories, it’s that we have enough energy to run factories (and enslave people to work in them). And then again, it’s not an energy crisis because energy consumption is a symptom of empire and agriculture. For solutions to these problems, we have to completely change the way we see the world. Anything less will not work. It’s not rocket science people.

“So you’re saying we should just die, than?” What? Where did that come from? It’s funny when you bring up the harsh reality of the problems facing us, this is the response of the civilized. A major problem with domesticated humans is that they cannot see their own domestication. They can’t even see what a life would be like without the systems of domestication, so much so that when faced with the probability of losing those systems they quickly assume that death is the only alternative. They believe that life without domestication, is death.

Rewilding humans are the ones who have fully accepted the implications of environmental destruction. At some point along the journey of rewilding, a shift occurs and everything flips on it’s head. What sounds pessimistic to domesticated humans sounds optimistic to rewilding humans. What sounds like doom and gloom to domesticated humans sounds like doom and bloom to rewilding humans. What sounds like death to domesticated humans sounds like rebirth, freedom and the end of slavery to rewilding humans.

People are afraid of seeming to radical. They are afraid of scaring people away from the reality. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say these phrases: “they are not ready to hear it” or “don’t scare away potential allies with stories of doom and gloom”. Ugh. People love to project their own stories onto others. What they are really saying is “I’m afraid of telling them what’s really going on in case they think I’m crazy” or probably more accurately, “I’m still too afraid of the reality we face to talk about it with others.”

People hear that things are totally fucked up. The foundation of our lives is fucked up. Rather than coming up with plans to deal with this, they say that a dismantling of the current structure and a reorganization of the foundation is “unrealistic”. This is much like people on the titanic saying that taking apart part of the ship and building life rafts is “unrealistic”. So rather than find allies who actual feel the same way, they spend their time rearranging gardens on the titanic. Oh but it’s all good cause they did so using permaculture principles so were totally in the clear. Thank you permaculture!

When domesticated humans say “realistic” solutions they mean activities that will be accepted by a mass audience (or more accurately a small audience of rich white men) and funded (which generally means not challenging the real problems but the symptoms because it comes from rich white men who want to stay rich). Rewilding humans see “realistic” solutions as solutions that take the reality of environmental collapse and cultural collapse as grounding factors. Realistic solutions are the ones that will not get funded by corporations or institutions of slavery and domestication.

Years ago I had a grant-writing friend of mine look over a grant I wrote for some Urban Scout thing. Afterward he said right away, “Peter. Never, ever, ever use the words ‘economic collapse’ in a grant. You’re trying to get money from rich people. They don’t want to hear about their money going away.” I’ve thought long and hard about this over time. I’ve tried to write grants disguising rewilding as something else but always fail. In the end I think that he is right, I probably wouldn’t get funded by a large foundation in that way. But I also think that he is wrong in general. The more quiet I am, the less likely I will be to build an awareness for rewilding and real solutions. I commend the people who work quietly and invisibly within the system, but their work will never quite address the real changes that need to occur, because the system that they are working in is flawed. The louder I am, the more honest we can be from the begining, the stronger and faster a real response will take place. There are people out there with resources who want to rewild. Who get it. And there are people out there who don’t get it yet, but will. The louder I am and the more truthful, the more people can start working together.

Domesticated humans use the “Doom and Gloom” shield to prevent conversations from occurring that involve fundamental cultural shifts. It’s a denial shield, projected onto rewilding humans. This is apparent with their next statement, putting words in your mouth (you’re saying we should die!?!) to make rewilding humans sound crazy. First shut down the conversation because it’s scary, then project your own fears onto the person in an attempt to make them sound crazy so you feel better about your own decisions. The human brain has amazing manipulation capacities… especially the farmed ones.

For a long time I have hated this, as I wish desperately to get people to honestly respond to collapse. But in reality, not all of us will survive the collapse. And while I may die, and other rewilding humans may die, domesticated humans will certainly die. How’s that for harsh reality? It’s ironic that their assumption; “you’re saying we should just die then?” is exactly what will happen to them if they continue to address only the symptoms. They are the real doom and gloom. By refusing to look at the problems they just make them worse for themselves and everyone else in the end. Rewilding is the exact opposite of the things they project onto it. The ones not willing to let go of their cultural foundations of slavery, of domestication, will die. If they can’t let go of their cultural roots, they will not let go of many other things in life. This will eventually kill them as collapse intensifies. It’s killing them right now as a matter of fact, as they sit in their environmentally controlled coffee shops, on their energy consuming laptops, sipping on imported black tea… oh… um. wait… Nooooooooo!!!

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27 Comments on “Doom and Gloom Vs. Rewilding

  1. i really like this post. thanks and high fives, etc. *insert more heartfelt compliments so that i don’t start sounding like a broken record*

  2. Re: your last paragraph… I said something like that on Daniel’s post about the WPF’s review of The Vegetarian Myth. That’s the stage I’m at right now. I’m coming to the realization that not everybody is gonna be saved. There’s gonna be a die-off because people would rather die than break their chains. I better just deal with it now because I’ll have to deal with it later and I might as well be ready. And that assumes it will happen in my lifetime and that I will be one of the survivors. I am prepared for the possibility/probability that it won’t and/or I won’t.

    Keep talking and keep getting the word out there… there is fertile ground if you look for it… and you’ve got the seeds. An agricultural metaphor kinda sucks but you can plant wild seeds too, you know, or at least scatter them where they’re likely to grow. 🙂 If there’s hope, it’s in knowing that some people ARE unhappy with the system and DO want a way out.

  3. “We don’t have an energy problem; we have a consumption problem.”

    Thank you for saying it.

    Thank you for backing up far enough to see it, to look beyond the ubiquitous mislabeling of the problem and say that the emperor’s naked.

    “They believe that life without domestication, is death.”

    Yeah, well, I’d add that culturally, a relationship-with-death problem/crisis lurks in there somewhere as well. I’ve thought a lot about this, and the closest I’ve come to understanding it is, imbalance between the value we place on (extended length of) each individual life, of the selected sorts we think matter, over overall life, cyclical life, community/family life, web of life, systemic life. Too bad we don’t have enough different words to describe “life” in English to state this more clearly.

    Doom and bloom!

  4. I honestly can’t wait for the collapse and for civilization to fall right on its ugly face. Those not wanting to change will fall right on their face and die while those who are willing to change will fall and roll out of this collapse and remain walking if not flying. “oh no what to do without my car, laptop, heater, electricity??” hahaha I can’t wait for that day and I’ll be the crazy lunatic laughing his ass off while people jump off bridges, that will be my new entertainment, watching domesticated fucking idiots kill themselves because they don’t know how to deal or adapt to this inevitable collapse. Something so scary and devastating to them will be a beautiful welcoming rebirth for others, I love how the tao works.

  5. I’ve pretty much given up on trying to get people to understand it. I talk to a dogmatic optimist a lot about energy decline and such, but I can’t seem to get it across that such things are what give me hope!

    Permaculture… it’s certainly not enough. There are too many permies out there with some naive political-economic-cultural ideas (despite Bill Mollison’s realism). The emphasis on non-native species is also a dangerous trend. The ethic of permaculture is disappointingly vague, and would benefit from the insights of deep ecology. I do think that permaculture, some versions of it anyway, is an important skill set that can help the transition. It seems like we would do well to bring anti-civilization insights into the permaculture movement, rather than shunning it.

  6. Scout-

    Your rant inspires me, as always.

    I see an even more pernicious result of the denial shield, on domesticated humans. They won’t just “die” (I suppose we all will die eventually, so just “dying” doesn’t impress me very much), will suffer deeply and miserably. The changing landscape of collapse will replace their injurious addictions, that make their current lives tolerable, for the withdrawal from these addictions, the symptoms of which will dig so deep that it will make their bones, teeth, and souls ache.

    Toil (medicated by the opiates of consumer culture) will change for withdrawal and desperation. Not a pretty picture, and one that Dmitry Orlov has spoken about in his “Reinventing Collapse” book, somewhat.

    Empire has destroyed many cultures, and so we know just what this kind of social collapse looks like. Drug abuse, sexual abuse, disintegrating family landscape. Self-destruction.

  7. I think you are completely right but -and you will have the but.

    I used to learn about rewilding, things like flint knapping, making rope from plants, making wooden tools like spoon or bowls with the coals, bows… whatever.

    I was living in the forest for a while the last summer in Sweden, and it was pretty amazing, a lot of people there in what it’s called Urvision. But I stayed before and after people came, so the first problem I had was that:

    don’t want to be alone, don’t want to lose the community, don’t want to lose the contact with my family and friends.

    I think the only “but” is that we cannot be perfect or pure, coherent and logical because we are just humans.

    In fact, we are the same humans than in this wonderful paleolithic past but doing strange things with culture (or doing strange culture on things). I mean, we are not going to save the world and because we know this we might fear the loneliness.

    This is why i always loved your style, the way you face reality and your problems, it’s funny and optimistic, you don’t try to fight against people but to make them smile at the same time you try to spread your ideas.

    i just finger at the point of my insecurities: there is a lot of people in modern world that is part of my family or tribe or whatever and maybe i preffer to know and learn rewilding skills to the goal of staying here and if the collapses happen i will help then or die with the others.

    maybe i wrote so much, man
    anyway, congrats for your website and all your stuff.

  8. Best reframing of what’s behind the “doom and gloom” claim (and love that you called it the “denial shield” I’ve ever read. Thanks, Scout.

  9. Thanks for that inspiring message Scout! All too often I find myself sensoring myself because I’m scared that people will think I’m a complete nut/idiot, when I know in reality I’m seeing things clearly. I guess I need to get over that and really start speaking up about how I see things.

    I’m not sure when that brain-shift you spoke of happened for me, but I know that since that moment of shift, I’ve found myself reflecting on more then one occastion about how my preception is radically different from what it once was…

    As the collapse continues, I’m going to turn this fourteen acre farm I’ve inhereted into a refuge for folks in the process of rewilding…

    Thanks for the inspiration,
    Possum

  10. Great post Scout. I really like the simple, irrefutable truth that there is no energy crisis because all this “energy” we use is just optional! And I can certainly relate to experiencing people putting up the “gloom and doom shield of denial.” Even after telling some folks that I see collapse as both a potentially great adventure and a path to a better future, they still seem to come back with nothing but bleak and hopeless thoughts.

    “Gloom and bloom” could catch on!

    Possum, I know what you mean about people thinking you’re a nut. I think that’s sort of the other side of the denial shield coin. In the recent past I was in a minority of people willing to speak out about population issues. People would respond with all sorts of (generally erroneous) counter arguments. But they do take the topic seriously. It’s different now that I’ve been raising points instead about how people lived prior to agriculture, the idea of rewilding, etc. People more often dismiss those topics as absurd fantasy. Some here like Scout, Willem, etc. certainly have long experience in dealing with such reactions. Has anyone identified one or two simple, effective points one can make to get past such dismissal?

    Behind that dismissal, I think, is the acceptance of civilization as by far the greatest thing ever, and so the notion that any challenge to it is just crazy.

    Then, after the dismissal seem to come some standard challenges. Seems to me part of the challenge of spreading any kind of rewilding message is to know the best way(s) of dealing with the usual “life was horrible then… they lived to be about 20 years old… they were subject to all sorts of illness… they had to face constant starvation…” arguments. I’ve been collecting various sources that counter such ideas. I hope some place like the wiki at rewild.info (where I know I need to register) might develop in part into a clearing house for such sources.

    Again, anyone identify any approach easier than trying to tackle every such objection individually and in detail? Maybe I’m hoping for too much. Maybe it just takes a little verbal elbow grease. And maybe it’s just not worth bothering trying to change a mind that’s not close to being ready.

  11. Hi Scout ~ “doom & bloom” – I love it!

    Too bad about poopface’s comment: “laughing…while people jump off bridges.” Alas, that’s the kind of self righteous bullshit that not only gives Rewilding a bad name, but embarrasses ANY movement it’s found in. Alas. Somebody please help that person if you know them. And while your at it, if they let you, please wipe the poop off their face.

    Hey Scout, would you please consider doing a “my favorite band vs. rewilding” post? I know you’re a big music fan and I’d love to see how you imagine your favorite band in a post-collapse scenario. Do they amplify their concerts? With what gear How do musicians still have the time to practice and write songs and refine their instrumentalism? Are they able to trade their music for food? Are their any “nationally famous” art-bands anymore? Formal concerts? Is musical renown purely a regional phenomenon? What happens to electronic music and any instrument (electric guitar) whose sound is powered by electricity?

    I often think – for all of the shit that civilization has caused, I’m DAMN grateful that it gave old Italian luthiers the leisure time to invent and refine the fiddle. I love the fiddle. And it happens that the instrument can be made with strictly iron-age tools.

    That brings me to another subject I’d love to see you treat someday at your leisure: “beneficial artifacts of civilization vs. the rewilded world.” What happens to the web? the fiddle? the artificial heart? the book? When we uproot the weed of civilization from our rewilded meadow, can we shake the dirt off the root ball before we throw it on the compost pile? Let cool things like the fiddle remain behind?

    Best,
    Gabe

  12. Wow. Great responses everyone!

    @ClickClackG High-back at you!

    @Dana totes. it’s all about the seed planting/spreading.

    @Jana yeah wow. That whole death issue should really be explored more. thanks for sharing your thoughts. it’s got me thinking about all kinds of other things, and realizing the complexity of these issues.

    @Poopface hahahaha, i know how you feel. sometimes i need to rant about that stuff too. i think in actuality though (and i’m guessing you feel this way) that many of those people who jump off buildings and such will be our friends and families. it will be a very difficult time for our civilized friends, and even more difficult to stand by with solutions in hand that they simply cannot see.

    @Enkidu “dogmtic optimist” hahahahaha. that’s another good one. I totally agree with your sentiments about permaculture.

    @Willem that’s a much more accurate picture of the future… I was trying to be a little less graphic… hahahaha.

    @Crustorrija Grindernabo thanks for your words and story.

    @Roxanne haha yeah I was sort of thinking of Derrick’s “Gandhi shield” that pacifist use.

    @Possum yeah I still censor myself too. I know the feeling!

    @John thanks for saying all that. I think the easiest way to get the message across is just living it so much so that when asked with those kinds of questions you have answers ready. Some people however will just still not go there with you. I feel pretty confident these days that I can get people swiftly past civilization (at least philosophically, not internally). The internal part comes from actually rewilding and getting to know the land which causes a change in spirit…. if that makes sense.

    @Gabe thanks for the thoughts and the blog topics. I’ve been thinking about doing a “music” one for a while now and I like your idea of “my favorite band”. I’ll see what I can come up with. 🙂

  13. Scout: Excellent post. I live in Washington, DC, the heart of the Empire. The icons of empire are full here: I mean lots of trendy people, overdressed, overpaid, smug, rude. They are fat on empire money–on the spoils of empire.

    Rush hour is the big story, where you see the egos and the waste. I mean Suburbans, Land Rovers, Hummers, Expeditions, etc. These massive, piggish, insulting vehicles blowing you out of the way. Disgusting. Almost an insult. The litter in the canals. The dead animals. Filth and decay and gluttony. All from bombing primitive brown people in faraway lands.

    All this tech bullshit. All these “national security” type males. The white Harley Davidson types; the badass shaved heads and USMC stickers. The big trucks. The Black GS mafia, way overpaid and lording it over the rest of us with their Affirmative Action jobs.

    DC is the place that will really wake you up to what’s wrong with this culture and government.

  14. Seriously, man, you are a complete and total asshole. Really?

  15. Awesome shit Scout. About 10 years ago I thought I was fucked up for having these thoughts, but now I know that I am “normal”. What keeps me going is knowing that there are others out there who are in touch with reality.

    Cheers!

  16. Great post – I never thought of myself as domesticated but I guess we aren’t any less dependent on a power structure for the basics than a pet hamster or rabbit. We’d even be living in our own poop if our “newspaper” wasn’t changed by municipal sewage systems.

    I agree that the doom and gloom is just a dangerous veneer of denial so that our values and culture are not called into question – why? because that would mean we would actually have to think about our fellow human beings besides our immediate family/friends!!!

    Here in California we are facing the “crisis” of budget cuts for public schools but really, I think it would be a good thing, shit, a great thing if they collapsed by forcing everyone to see how humans reorganize the whole “education/domestication factory” thing. Same goes for everything else…it’s a sad time in history when “food insecurity” is on the rise due to “unemployment” yet the supermarkets dumpsters are full of unsold food and vast areas of suburban land grow concrete and lawns as opposed to wild and domesticated gardens to grow/manage edible plants.

    But what did we expect from the society where we ironically sacrifice the espoused ideals – freedom, autonomy, ingenuity – for our allottment of the “almighty” dollar?

  17. Centralized control over energy and money – not their free use – is what causes environmental ruin and large-scale human suffering.

    The problem isn’t global warming. The problem is central banking (and the banker-owned media). We desperately need to circumvent the media and start conspiring at the neighborhood level.

  18. dead nuts on target, Scout: “there is no energy crisis”.

    Wants v. Needs – our society, including the versions we have forcefully exported to others on this planet, has an almost incredible inability to recognize the difference. Simple concept.

    I just want to live a life worth living. That includes a conscious responsibility to those who will follow, not just me and mine. To do this, of course, requires being pragmatic and thus having the “Doom and Gloom” label hung around my neck. I have just about had it. Irrational optimism may be the idiocy that wipes us out, but it is what is required to be perceived by others in order to make a living.

    Thanks, Scout, you’re a clear voice of a common man that I find my thoughts resonating with.

  19. great post!
    for about a year now I’ve followed your blog. I really like what you write. This post has inspired me to come in for the first time.

    I consider myself extremely lucky and privileged to have had the time to read books,meet people and generally contemplate my place in world. It took me many years to finally arrive at a place where I even began to embrace the collapse of civilization.

    I did really well in high school. I didn’t have to pay attention or do my work, so I could read books about politics and environmentalism. My parents paid for me to go to college and when I dropped out, I knew I could always go back at their expense. I have white skin and for most of my life, passed as a straight white male. What I’m trying to say, is that I think for a long time I fell like I had abandoned my privileged and dropped out of civilization, but when you can always go back your not really risking much.

    I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t rewild; I think it’s quite clear that the inequalities that exist are BECAUSE of civilization. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that for many of us, privilege has played a large role in our rewildin.

    I really hope this doesn’t come off as condescending. I’m not saying I wants to be a missionary and preach the good word to the masses. But I really feel like this needs addressed. Maybe I’m wrong but I speak from experience and from watching friends struggle within civilization to just bget by while I had a pretty easy time (in some ways).

  20. Long time lurker, first time commenter.

    This was an excellent post! Through it, I am recognizing some of my own personal reservations about rewilding, primal lifestyle, etc.

    Really I do plan on honing my skills for the Collapse (personally I’d rather see it a bit later than sooner). I will miss the ability to travel and see the natural and human wonders of the Earth (more reason to do it now, I suppose!).

    When the shit hits the fan, I don’t want to be here in Oklahoma, as it’d devolve to Christofascism quicker than you can say ‘pogrom!’

    As a high-risk candidate for various cancers, I’ll kind of miss hospitals too. But I won’t miss the corrupt corporatist “health insurance” racket. Fuck that.

    Hoping that libraries survive through a cabal of dedicated scribes! ^___^ Transcribing novels and encyclopedias, not a bad was to spend an evening after hunting and gathering, I suppose.

  21. I’m all for spreading “doom and bloom” as well.

    It seems like every once in a while certain bloggers make a post that’s not super specific, not awe-inspiring for it’s brilliance or anything like that, but just cuts through right to the point—and people love them. I think this is one of those posts.

  22. I like your approach my brother.

    I’m wondering how much Peak Oil lit. you’ve read?

    There are 3 stories people usually rely on when faced with the facts:

    Business As Usual (BAU)= extend and pretend. There is no problem and I prefer to have my head in the sand, thanks.

    Apocalypse= The world is over and will be inherited by a small ragtag band of righteous and chosen few.

    Techno-Tiumphalism=Progress is our religion and Technology is our totem. We are extremely clever and will “solve” this “problem” just like we solved the starvation problem by inflating the earth’s population far past its carrying capacity.

    The real world ahead is likely a long, slow catabolic descent (read John Michael Greer). We are now entering into Scarcity Industrialism, to be followed by the Age of Salvage, and then the Eco-Technic Age.

    I’m not really sure that we are going to be going back to some Daniel Quinn fantasy any time soon, but I appreciate your spirit and creative response to a very troubling reality. I expect the rest of our lives will be more likely characterized by increasing social unrest, plain ordinary poverty, and general malaise. I think it might be better to embrace horticultural solutions that emphasize community than to insist on a complete repudiation of “civilization”. But your Romanticism is very aesthetically pleasing (aside from the American Apparel undies).

    Oh, also check out Lewis Mumford if you haven’t already.

  23. I like the general direction of your ideals although they seem a bit extreme, like you’ve watched fight club to many times.

    That being said we all need a bit of shaking done to the foundations of what we perceive as reality and you seem to have the ability to do that.

    Not that you are asking for it, but my tip for pulling people in would be to just state your stance without putting in hypothetical responses from imaginary people. Doing this makes the reader who may only slightly disagree feel like you are forcing them further into disagreement rather than bringing them onto your side. It also makes you seem overly defensive.

    On a funny note, I showed this to a friend and he said, “this guy just needs to go camping more often”…

    Cheers

  24. Awesome post, I am just coming to your blog though it has been recommended to me over and over. I experience this almost daily, working in a conventional environmental advocacy organization (god that sounds pretentious). Occasionally, when they are all discussing the horrible things that will result from holes in the ozone and climate change and the rest and oh, if only we could get them to cut emissions I will say things like, well, we could just turn off the power plants. This is always followed by a moment of dead silence and then cries of, no! That’s just not possible! How could you say such a thing/ we’ll all die!

    It’s just like Jensen says, if people think their water comes from the faucet and their food comes from the store, they will defend those institutions with their lives. Even when those same institutions are killing them and their loved ones before their eyes. Denial is a miraculous thing.