Back in March of 2013, I wrote this post outlining a working definition of “doomer”:
In reality, most of the people I’ve met who self-identify as doomers are, like me, simply not invested in the American imperial project, and want to extricate themselves, when (or if) possible, from its daily machinations. They also, like nihilists, think all human systems end in oligarchic cesspools. They may or may not see the destruction of the natural world as the most important problem, but the endgame is the similar for both the peak-oil and peak-soil factions.
Some doomers conjure horrific hypothetical scenarios of other kinds, such as nuclear winter, pandemic outbreaks, or the artificial intelligence singularity. All of these cataclysms may have credence, but for me the impending water shortage seems (literally) more grounded.
I’m glad—if “glad” is the right word—to report that almost three years later, I still stand by my original assessment. I still don’t see any redemption for any component or consequence of that foundational idealogical juggernaut we call the American Dream. The “cloud” still requires cables running along the bottom of the ocean. All economies still require water.
However, my thinking on some of the strategies that result from such cynicism has “evolved,” to borrow from the parlance of our times. Occupy was both a resounding success and a disappointing—if not annoying—failure. More people are hip to cooperatives and craft breweries and farm-to-table simplicity, but at the same time, less people own more of the wealth, more people are turning to religious cults for their meta-narratives, and, well, there’s even less potable water to go around. Hasn’t everything just continued to get worse since 2013? And if that’s the case, what’s wrong with our strategies?
I’ve been thinking more lately about Bob Jensen’s notion of leaving the planet gracefully. Is it the best we can do simply to tend to a patch of earth, to make and care for a few friends, to go searching for owls and stars and melodies?
I guess in the years since January 2014, when I posted this chart of notable doomers (based on prediction for success or collapse vs. the need for/likelihood of peaceful vs. violent transformation), I’ve moved away from McPherson and towards Paul Kingsnorth (who isn’t even on the chart). And if there were a chart with people from history, I would fall between Nietzsche and Marx.