Monday, February 7, 2011

The Red Pill: Moving Forward

Hi Martin,

I have tried to talk to my own friends about what is going on and to warn them about things that are going to happen.

Either I get no response or am told that I am paranoid and worry about things I can't change.

I have even asked neighbors if they would be interested in creating community resilience in light of peak oil, economy collapse and climate change.

There are only 2 neighbors who seem to have an understanding how huge these issues are.

Some people don't even care.

It makes me feel like I need to back off because I am not gonna make them see or help them prepare.

Unfortunately It'll be too late to prepare when they finally want to know what I know. Just have to wait til then.

Or maybe I need a break.

I can't do all the work.

People who want to know will look for answers like I did.


Aud Cantebury


Hi Aud,

First off, you are *so* not alone in this experience. Many, many of us in the "truther" community have had similar feelings of isolation and being ostracized living in conventional society. However, looking around at the sense of exhilaration I get from many people when they first discover the growing, connected truther community, I know that we're at the cusp of reaching critical mass where we begin to influence the larger society. I can only imagine it might have felt like this for blacks finding themselves in the Harlem renaissance or gays arriving in Castro for their first time in the early days of the gay pride movement. There is a universal human experience of joy upon finding there is a whole community of other people like yourself-- people who understand you, people who see the world in ways similar to yours and people who express themselves in a common framework with you.

The challenge and the question before each of us is this-- Are we meant to be the canary in the coalmine or are we to become the phoenix rising from the ashes? As innovators and early-adopters of a new understanding of the world we live in, do we allow circumstances to overwhelm us until the discord and disconnect between conventional civilization and our transcending awareness becomes so great and so toxic that it ultimately kills us and we serve merely as martyrs pointing mutely to the horizon as our lives ebb away? Or, do we ride the wave and lead the rest of humanity, or at least as much of humanity as is willing and able to follow, to a promised land of peace, sustainability, justice, simplicity and spirituality?

The path of the canary is very simple—just keep trying to survive in the currently dominant paradigm until it kills you. Hopefully, some will find something instructive about your example and try to do something different.

The path of the phoenix, on the other hand, is anything but simple. You have to simultaneously reinvent every aspect of your way of life to break free of the negative feedback loops that keep you locked in the unstable equilibrium of the dominant paradigm. All of the real problems are interlinked and mutually reinforcing so you have to leap-frog over mere incremental improvements to adopt a completely new system of life. All of the incremental solutions are prohibitively expensive by design. You have to leap frog over buying overpriced organic food at the supermarket to growing your own from seed. You have to leap frog over hydrogen fuel cell cars to ride a bicycle, walk or telecommute. You have to leap frog over alternative private schooling to home (co-)schooling. You have to leap frog over most alternative health care modalities to begin to use your own mind-body connections for health. You have to leap frog over the overpriced green housing in urban centers to owner-built earthships on inexpensive land far from the current centers of civilization. In almost every conceivable way, halfway measures intended to achieve partial solutions are impractical and will ultimately fail. It is only through complete transformation that we can reach the new equilibrium.

If you keep your day job, you're stuck near an urban center, but can't live close to your workplace, nor too far away from it, so you're stuck buying an expensive home (in the suburbs if you want a garden) and driving a car, and schooling your children in public schools, getting them vaccinated, etc. etc. If you begin by owning a suburban house, all of the above is also implied. If it's preferred public schools that keep you in your neighborhood, again you're stuck with the whole package. You really have to change everything at once.

And that is daunting.

Even Martha Stewart on steroids wouldn't have the energy and intelligence to address all these problems with do-it-yourself solutions at the same time.

This is why I say, “It takes an eco-village to raise… an eco-village”. The problem is very definitely akin to pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. There really is no way to “get there from here”—you just have to make a quantum leap, be there, and stay there. But, and this is important, the process is far, far easier when done with a group of similarly-minded individuals. Unfortunately, being on the leading edge, we are not so likely to find these similarly-minded individuals next door.

Getting to the new paradigm is not impossible and it's not like human beings have never done anything like this before. Pilgrims organizing and sailing on ships to the New World had a similarly daunting path. Pioneers loading up their Calistoga wagons in St. Louis and forming into wagon trains for the long journey west on the Oregon Trail also had a similarly daunting path.

The best visionaries trying to communicate to us what the possible futures should look like include the more recently popular Jacques Fresco (Venus Project), Buckminster Fuller and lesser known techno-utopians like Marshall T. Savage and various science fiction authors. Unfortunately, even a medium-sized village would have difficulty implementing their designs in the very near future. Going directly to the technological visions will require a much larger population base of people working toward these kinds of solutions. It is a little like trying to send a space mission to Mars without first setting up a staging base on the Moon.

In the near term, there are a number of existing and forming “intentional communities” (see ) that are attempting to model new approaches to collectively surviving and thriving into the future. The most promising variations are along the lines of an eco-village model. Eco-villages generally provide participants with affordable and self-sufficient owner/community-built housing/shelter and locally-grown wholesome organic food. Often, most of the eco-village's energy is generated locally with wind, solar or geothermal power. These communities can be joined and strengthened and made even more self-reliant. It will also be important to form many more intentional communities as their advantages become more apparent to those who are essentially trapped in the conventional economy.

Many of these communities can trace their origins back to the 1970's era “Back to the Land” movement as best described by such publications as “the Mother Earth News” and the “Foxfire” series of books (not to be confused with the “Firefox” browser). Despite their origins, and the return to simpler times that the movement represented, many found that the back-to-the-land option, without the benefit of more modern technology was extremely labor intensive and difficult to characterize as an improved standard of living.

More sophisticated technology has been developed for permaculture and hydroponics, alternative energy, efficient transport and appliances, and many other necessary manufactured goods. The concept of the EarthShip housing model where the home feeds and warms its occupants is a powerful antidote to the conventional home that is little more than a banker's tool for extracting workers' lifetime salaries.

The question arises, however, in the long-term, how are manufactured goods produced and distributed? Are they made by the same corporations currently making them? I think not. There is a better model for industrial production, exemplified by the “Mondragon” federation of worker-owned companies in the Basque region of Spain that, I believe, holds the key to creating jobs and sustainable technology for eco-village dwellers.

With the recent release of “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward”, there has been increasing discussion and debate about whether or not the RBE (Resource-Based Economy) described in Zeitgeist is achievable and, if so, how do we get from here, the status quo, to there?

I would suggest that the way forward goes something like this:

•  Widespread community organizing, both rural and within neighborhoods, to achieve food freedom/security and greater energy self-reliance and home efficiencies. Car-pooling, cooperative food buying, pot-luck meals, etc. go a long way to creating an atmosphere for the sharing of further ideas that can be built upon to get to further stages.

•  Where possible, building of EarthShips and other innovative, “off-grid” self-sufficient structures to complete or form eco-villages and increase home ownership with less debt.

•  Development of worker-owned industrial collectives to make more and more of the products needed by eco-villages and create local jobs.

•  Expansion.

Note that the elimination of currency and the use of AI software for resource management is not included in these first stages. Because people tend to be wasteful with free resources and because free resources tend to get absconded by people not necessarily participating in or contributing to the RBE, it will at least be necessary to use some form of currency until a critical mass of people is participating and for a few generations until people are normally raised without the slightest trace of the idea that conspicuous consumption and status go hand-in-hand.

The AI software posited by RBE advocates is practically achievable, but, like electronic voting machines, impossible to prevent from being exploited for personal gain by unscrupulous programmers. The two main solutions to this problem are (1) extreme decentralization; and (2) transparent, open-source software code. It is possible that AI, per se, will not play a role at all, but that the emerging intelligence of widespread, interoperating systems for initiation and tracking of resource movements will come to fulfill the functions envisioned.

Thus, by steps, we might emerge as a society free from many of the current problems we face.

We can address problems of food and water toxicity by collecting our own water (from rain) and growing our own organic, non-GMO food.

We can build our own housing far more cheaply than buying through a bank and enjoy the tax savings that come with owner-built housing.

With greater financial freedom and better food and water, many of the health problems that currently plague our culture will be much diminished.

With greater self-reliance, we become less and less dependent on government and big business and more able to assert the “will of the people” on these institutions instead of the other way round.

This is just a beginning on this topic. I hope people will ask clarifying questions that I can revise to and improve this plan over time.

--  Martin Feb 7 2011

(mt / updated 2/7/2011)

Contextual Keys: Venus Project, intentional communities, currency

This page © 2010 Martin Truther; All Rights Reserved.


  1. Very good answer, Martin. My favorite part was: "In almost every conceivable way, halfway measures intended to achieve partial solutions are impractical and will ultimately fail. It is only through complete transformation that we can reach the new equilibrium."

  2. Martin,
    I would like to see more of these ideas from you. You mentioned clarifying ?'s. What thoughts do you have for those of us who live in tight communities who want to take the sharing of vegetables, tools, meals, childcare, and resources to the next levels?
    I have seen community gardens and shared tool sheds in my town. I would like to hear from others how they share. My community started a semi annual potluck 20 years ago. We have a facebook page.
    Thanks for this thought provoking addition to your blog. Keep 'em comin'.

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