society

Podcast

Charles Hugh Smith: We Desperately Need Shared Values, Connection & Positive Social Roles

Our culture is becoming a "social desert"
Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 12:51 PM

We've recently published a series of commentary on PeakProsperity.com addressing the epidemic of disconnection, dissatisfaction and demoralization that society is increasingly suffering from today.

Together, these articles beg the question: In an age of more "prosperity" than the human species has ever experienced, why are so many of us feeling so empty? And what solutions exist out there to offer us more meaning, connection and purpose in our lives?

Joining us this week is Charles Hugh Smith, who gives a detailed account of the root causes of what's ailing society, as well as the essential ingredients for repairing it. » Read more

Podcast

Archeoguidaroma

Joseph Tainter: The Collapse Of Complex Societies

What history predicts about our future prospects
Sunday, June 25, 2017, 11:20 PM

By popular demand, we welcome Joseph Tainter, USU professor and author of The Collapse Of Complex Societies (free book download here).

Dr. Tainter sees many of the same unsustainable risks the PeakProsperity.com audience focuses on -- an overleveraged economy, declining net energy per capita, and depleting key resources. 

He argues that the sustainability or collapse of a society follows from the success or failure of its problem-solving institutions. His work shows that societies collapse when their investments in social complexity and their energy subsidies reach a point of diminishing marginal returns. That is what we are going to be talking about today, especially in regards to where our culture is today, the risks it faces, and whether or not we might already be past the tipping point towards collapse but just don’t know it yet. » Read more

Podcast

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Joel Salatin: Curing Society's Constipation Of Imagination

We can do things profoundly better
Sunday, May 21, 2017, 8:19 PM

The always colorful "renegade farmer" Joel Salatin returns to the podcast this week to share his latest thoughts on creative yet practical solutions society could and should be pursuing vs limiting and litigating everything under the sun.

Much of what's needed is a shift in thinking and priorities, says Salatin. And it starts with embracing initiative, accountability, and a 'do more with what we have' mentality -- which stands in stark contrast to the "we just need more stuff" narrative of today's status quo. » Read more

Blog

What Triggers Collapse?

Massive disruption often happens quickly
Friday, October 14, 2016, 6:33 PM

Though no one can foretell the future, it is self-evident that the status quo—dependent as it is on cheap oil and fast-expanding debt—is unsustainable. So what will trigger the collapse of the status quo, and what lies beyond when the current arrangements break down?  Can we predict how-when-where with any accuracy? » Read more

Insider

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Preparing for the Coming Breakdown

Protecting yourself from social collapse
Friday, April 24, 2015, 12:18 PM

Executive Summary

  • The boom in fossil energy has allowed us to enjoy a stability that we may not be able to maintain in the future
  • As society erodes, power concentrates in those intent on grabbing it
  • Nurturing cultural capital is key to maintaining freedom and fairness
  • Strategies for reducing your risk to societal breakdown

If you have not yet read Part 1: Rising Police Aggression A Telling Indicator Of Our Societal Decline available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

Now we need to prepare those people who live in borderline uncivilized nations, which include the US, Mexico, much of South America, and a few European nations for what is coming next.

Ask yourself this: If tensions are this bad now, while relatively abundant resources exist, how bad do you think they’ll get during the next economic downturn or financial crisis?

One of the core predicaments is that the future simply cannot be more wonderful than the past in terms of ease of life and living standards. The pie is no longer growing like it used to, and someday it will begin to shrink.

My Monkey Brain

I have a confession to make. I react strongly to injustice. It simply makes my blood boil. Writing this article has been one of my less fun adventures in a while because of all the horrible injustices I had to wade through to assemble it.

For a long time I thought that my angry reaction to injustice had to do with old childhood slights around unequal Christmas gifts or something, but I’ve since learned it’s a more primal reaction than that.

Or perhaps I should say primate reaction.

Watch how Capuchin monkeys react an unfair situation and if you are like me, you’ll... » Read more

Blog

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The Schizophrenia Tormenting Our Society & Economy

Look no further than the TV
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 9:51 PM

What can popular television programs tell us about the zeitgeist (spirit of the age) of our culture and economy? 

It’s an interesting question, as all mass media both responds to and shapes our interpretations and explanations of changing times. It’s also an important question, as mass media trends crystallize and express new ways of understanding our era. » Read more

Insider

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Desperately Seeking Substance

Pursuit of the superficial is creating a social depression
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 9:50 PM

Executive Summary

  • As we increasingly revere the superficial, we increase our subconscious craving for substance
  • What the success of Breaking Bad tells us about our confidence in meritocracy
  • The hopelessness of achieving the sold "American Dream" has created a cultural social depression
  • Healthy, authentic social mores will be found in our own making of them, not the idiot box

If you have not yet read The Schizophrenia Tormenting Our Society & Economy available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part 1, we set the stage for an analysis of American TV as a reflection of the cultural schizophrenia created by a widening gap between the few at the top of the celebrity/wealth pyramid and everyone else. TV’s winner-take-all competitions reflect the normalization of our acceptance of a society that produces few winners and an abundance of losers, and of the partial redemption offered by temporary recognition or social-media popularity.

On the surface, such shows reflect our culture’s belief in merit as the arbiter of success: the “best” competitor wins fair and square.  But beneath this superficial elevation of meritocracy are a variety of questions about the critical role of judges (experts) and the rewards of recognition, however fleeting: if the public spotlight is inaccessible, attracting a large number of “likes” for “selfies” photos offers a consolation form of popularity.

That such adulation of celebrity and the gaze of others trigger the loss of an authentic self is never mentioned; asking why draws a blank, as that interpretation of celebrity simply doesn’t exist on the cultural stage.

Let’s continue our exploration of TV’s subtexts by examining the ground-breaking series, Breaking Bad.

The Many Subtexts of Breaking Bad

Let me start by stipulating I am no expert on the series Breaking Bad, or indeed, on any TV series; I am commenting not on the plots or characters per se but on the series’ subtexts.

Many have noted the implausibility of a schoolteacher in America not having health insurance (and also not qualifying for Medicaid), not to mention the premise (that a schoolteacher starts manufacturing one of the most destructive and addictive drugs on the planet, crystal meth, to pay for his cancer treatments).

James Howard Kunstler recently took note of... » Read more

Blog

Class, Race, Hierarchy, and Social Relations in 'The Long Emergency'

Reality does not have an ideology
Monday, July 29, 2013, 7:07 PM

After the second novel in my World Made By Hand series (The Witch of Hebron) came out in 2010, I was beset by indignant reviews and angry letters from female readers over my depiction of gender and class relations further along in the 21st century. The fictional future economy I described was, in its broad outlines, similar to the future sketched by Chris Martenson and his stable of writers — a re-set to a far more local, much less complex, and downscaled economy, with a lot of formerly modern comforts and conveniences missing from the picture. » Read more

Podcast

John Michael Greer: If the Four Horsemen Arrive, Offer Beer

Preparing for the future with optimism
Saturday, November 10, 2012, 7:55 PM

"We have a national mythology that limits are always bad. In fact, we have a national phobia of limits," wryly observes John Michael Greer: author, historian, conservationist and proprietor of the popular weblog The Archdruid Report. "We need to get past that." » Read more

Insider

Finding Authentic Happiness

The steps that build a solid foundation
Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 7:22 AM

Executive Summary

  • Why buying into the Status Quo undermines personal empowerment
  • Echew debt and consumerism. Instead, focus on cultivating resilience and social capital
  • The importance of differentiating hedonia vs eudaimonia
  • The key roles of Expectation, Narrative, and Challenge
  • The foundations of happiness

If you have not yet read Part I: The Pursuit of Happiness, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

In Part I, we challenged the assumption that the successful pursuit of happiness is based on material prosperity and what we might call the psychology of the atomized individual.

If material prosperity is necessary but insufficient, and our social and financial order is sociopathological, what does an authentic pursuit of happiness entail?

For answers, we can survey recent research into human happiness, and consider “powering down” participation in a deranging social and financial order.

Pondering Power

The primacy of power in human society is omnipresent. Humans scramble for power in all its forms to improve social status and the odds of mating, living a long life, and acquiring comforts.  What is remarkable about the current American social order is the powerlessness of the vast majority of people who have “bought into” the Status Quo. 

When the public vehemently disapproves of a policy, such as bailing out the “too big to fail” banks, they are routinely ignored, and for good reason: They keep re-electing incumbents.  Most have little control over their employment status, workflow, or income, and most devote the majority of their productive effort servicing private debt and paying taxes that service public debt.

The one “power” they are encouraged to flex is the momentary empowerment offered by purchasing something; i.e., consuming.  The corporate marketing machine glorifies acquisition as not just empowering but as the renewal of identity and the staking of a claim to higher social status – everything that is otherwise out of the control of the average person.

The dominant social control myth of our consumerist Status Quo is that wealth is power because you can buy more things with it.  But the power of consumption is one-dimensional and therefore illusory.  The only meaningful power is not what you can buy – a good, service, or experience – but what you control – your health, choice of work, income, surroundings, level of risk, and your circle of colleagues and friends.

The “wealthy” who own an abundance of things but who are trapped in debt are not powerful.  Their choices in life are limited by the need to service the debt, and their pursuit of happiness is equally constrained.

The kind of wealth that enriches the pursuit of happiness is control over the meaningful aspects of life. It is no coincidence that studies of workplace stress have found that those jobs in which the worker has almost no control over their work or surroundings generate far more stress than jobs that allow the worker some autonomy and control.

Financial and material wealth beyond the basics of creature comfort is only meaningful if it “buys” autonomy and choice.

We all want power over our own lives.  Once we free ourselves from social control myths, we find that becoming powerful and “wealthy” in terms of control does not require a financial fortune. It does, however, require sustained effort and a coherent long-term plan... » Read more