Introduction – As individuals we are all in the grip of rigid and apparently unchangeable global institutional systems which must lead the world to disaster. 3 key aspects of human activity are inter-connected to create a situation which is spiralling (exponentially) out of control. These are energy (fossil fuels limited and causing global warming), economy (money system dependent on “growth”) and environment (pollution destroying life support systems). Paradoxically this is all happening when humans already have all the science and technology needed to live in a much better “steady state” world. The authors make the powerful point that “growth” and “prosperity” are not the same thing
The authors are not interested in ideas for changing our cultural institutions - they think this is just not going to happen. Their concern is how individuals can be better prepared to meet the challenges ahead and, by adopting “right living”, make the world a better place.
Their mantra is.......
“We have to become the change we wish to see in the world”
The authors have already attracted around 100 k followers with their excellent 2014 “The Crash Course” video which is available on youtube
The 3 E's – We have an economy based on a money system that MUST expand. We have (at present) an energy system based on fossil fuel that cannot expand and both are operating on a finite planet with limited resources, increasing levels of pollution and increasingly stressed life support systems. The logical conclusion is clear – at some point there must be a complete breakdown of our present civilisation. We have made ourselves dependent on long and complex supply lines which mean that our supplies of energy and food can be dislocated very easily – our civilisation is sophisticated but in the wrong way so it has become super fragile.
It may be difficult for many of us to face up to this scenario of impending disaster – we may find we cannot believe such an event could happen. Surely some government or brilliant scientist will engineer a rescue? The authors believe this simply will not happen.
Resilience – in the face of this new reality resilience is the key to prosperity...... It is defined here by the authors as: having multiple redundant means of meeting one's needs, having buffers and stored resources and the ability to switch easily between different potential solutions.
The authors emphasize that “money” is not a source of wealth or power when the key institutions of our civilisation collapse. So, to face the future effectively, we must identify more useful forms of wealth or capital.
8 Forms of capital are described:
Time – as things stand, time is your greatest asset because there are no serious shortages of key resources. There is no state of panic buying or hoarding. You have time to prepare for these eventualities. However it does take a significant change of mindset for us to begin to take action. The authors recommend people begin with small steps – just to make a progressive beginning.
Begin by devoting one hour each week to preparation for resilience.
Finance – the banks and the key financial institutions are likely to be some of the first casualties of the collapse. The authors recommend:
1- keep between £1000-2000 in ready cash somewhere safe in your home
2 – try to build up this stash of cash so you have half your annual salary/earnings at home as cash
3 – if you have cash to invest buy real assets like land or precious metals – avoid the stock market
4 – if you do want to buy “paper” assets then choose Treasury bonds or government stock or invest locally in businesses you know.
5 – Manage “debt” very carefully – try to avoid it if you can.
Living Capital - In modern city life it's easy to forget that humans are still completely dependent on nature for survival. Living capital is the world around us, including our own bodies, our gardens, land and the environment we live in. Buying land and learning to improve your soil and grow your own food is highly recommended. The authors believe Mollison's permaculture is the best approach! Some time and skill is needed to be effective in your drive towards self-sufficiency in food.
Material Capital - The authors begin by pointing out that there are 3 kinds of wealth:
Primary wealth consists of the raw materials which the Earth provides – soil, water, timber, minerals etc.
Secondary wealth is the products we make from primary wealth – houses, roads, solar water heaters, consumer goods of all kinds
Tertiary wealth is “paper” (money, bonds, stocks and shares) which gives its owners a claim on either of the first two types of wealth but actually has no value by itself
It is sensible to convert tertiary wealth (money) into material improvements in our home environment – better heating, insulation, storage facilities, fencing, pathways, etc. We can only do this whilst our present cultural institutions are functioning.
The authors emphasize that you should always buy the best quality material goods you can find – they almost always represent the best value for money in the long term. It is also very pleasant to use good tools which will last a lifetime.
Some material goods are best shared – expensive equipment like fruit presses, rotavators, generators, honey extractors,.....
Food supplies are also part of material wealth – the authors recommend you have enough cool storage space to keep 3 months food supply. Water is also essential – you need rain water collection and filtration systems or a dependable well. As regards energy, you need a generator and fuel supplies, wood storage for heating and solar cells for back-up electricity.
Knowledge Capital - The authors point out that our present education is based on old fashioned ideas – rote learning of facts in a semi-military style culture. It is above all non-practical. Knowledge capital is not just knowing things but knowing how to do things, The authors call this “mastery” and mastery requires experience and hands-on learning.
The authors note that all research shows that 75 percent of workers do not enjoy their jobs – it may take 10-20 years before the reality of this sinks in. People would be wise to take time out to think carefully about what they really want out of life. Next comes the learning process to acquire the skills needed to achieve these aims. Professional coaching may be very valuable. Be curious and ask questions - especially draw on the experience of experts.
Emotional and Spiritual capital - Most modern people have been well conditioned to follow the flow of convention – in jobs and behaviours. Most modern people do not have the emotional strength or independence of mind to strike out on their own – they will have to work hard to acquire this resilience. Realise that “change” can and will provide interesting new opportunities. Realise that emotional support from family and friends is a massive help. It's also very helpful to have a longer term view – a spiritual view indeed about the meaning of life. This can come from many different sources – it's not just a religious thing.
Social Capital - Social capital is the major currency of community living – especially in rural lifestyles. Those who have built high social capital can call on many neighbours and friends for help and favours. It takes time to build social capital – your behaviours towards others are carefully monitored and reviewed by your immediate community. In many rural communities this process has been going on for many years – people really do know each other and the contribution which each has made. Sometimes this contribution will include the contributions of other family members – perhaps over generations.
When things get really difficult then your social capital – your worth and the level of trust you are held in – will be your most valuable asset whilst your whole community stands together to survive. The best advice is to become involved in many activities of your community – games and events of all kinds. Always help your neighbours – find ways to give. But beware of becoming involved in money transactions – these turn interaction into a transaction.
Cultural Capital - Be aware of the culture of your chosen area – what values do local people share, what governs their behaviours? You cannot (easily) change these things but you must try to become aware of them. You must either adapt to them – or move.
Note – the authors provide comprehensive links to useful sources of advice and expertise. They also hold workshops and seminars for their many followers.