Saturday, February 28, 2009

Celebrating Our Doomed Century

Drive-thrus: not just for cars anymore!

Here’s the prognosis for the 21st century, in case you still haven’t gotten the memo: we’re doomed. By "we" I’m speaking of all those who depend for their physical and mental health on the fruits of technological civilization, the Petroleum Age, the “long boom”, the flat world, global capitalism, dot-communism, industrial agriculture, etc. – in other words, pretty much anyone reading these words. As for the rest, well, most of them were doomed already, so I doubt they’d find the idea particularly interesting.

Toronto 2003: the city of the future?

To paint the picture of our doomed century in a bit more detail: there will be no “limousine liberals”, because there will be no limousines; there will be no “jet set”, because there will be no jets; populations will be on the move worldwide, probably into your neighborhood; your toilet paper will be single-ply at best, your world made by hand, and your food, if you can get it, will come from local sources as it has throughout the saner part of human history. Disease, poverty, famine and war will stalk us all. The great dams separating the first and third worlds will crack and crumble, unleashing floods of desperate humanity in all directions. The only certainty will be widespread death, on a scale never before seen in history. I may be preaching to the choir here, as none of these prognostications will come as revelations to the fire-and-brimstone followers of Peak Oil, Environmental Apocalypse and Socioeconomic Collapse. If so, all I can say to you folks is: can I get an “amen”?

The new Visigoths of our global Rome?

The idea of The Doomer Report is to find ways to celebrate as our civilization circles the drain rather than to despair. If something is inevitable, to paraphrase a former gubernatorial candidate from Texas, you might as well lie back and enjoy it. In that spirit, I invite you to enjoy the doomer-porn on these pages, to discuss the ideas of leading prophets and historians of collapse, to explore new modes of life and new spirituality for the post-progressive era, to feast your eyes on images of apocalypse and unravelling, and above all to realize that with destruction comes renewal, liberation and rebirth. In that sense this blog isn’t about doom-and-gloom at all, but about the profoundly optimistic notion that humanity will endure, perhaps even prosper, but in a world with more resemblance to Land of the Lost than The Jetsons. Once you make the necessary mental adjustments this prospect is not a depressing one—after all Pythagoras, Buddha, Jesus, Chief Seattle and Ghandi managed to live spiritually fulfilling lives without Home Depots, Hummers, high-definition TV’s, cloud computing and lunar colonies. We may have to endure several decades of hell on earth while the current mythology undergoes its final death throes, but I’m confident that the light of a simpler and more satisfying way of life shines back from the end of this tunnel. In any case, fasten your seat belts and prepare for an epic Power Down—we’re in for one hell of an exciting ride.

Middle class life after the industrial bubble?
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