Progress: a proceeding forward; advancement or improvement in mental, moral, or physical condition. growth or development. source The Winston Dictionary, Advanced Edition, 1946
There has been quite some talk about the idea of "progress". Do you think the above photograph would in any way shape or form, imply "progress"? It's one of my primitive camps of 20 years ago. I'd dare say, that for me, it was a proceeding forward, was an advancement or improvement in my mental, moral, and physical condition, at the time anyway. That lead to my personal growth or development...
Even though, I believe we have declined here in North America for the past thirty years, we are becoming more and more a part of a global economy that hasn't. Hasn't this actually "masked" our true situation in this country? Thinking of Russia, without a doubt, they have come back and their standard of living continues to grow from the early 1990's when the former Soviet Union collapsed. Look at the growth of the economies of India and China!
Another notion my instructors had, is that there would very likely be a explosion of resources extracted and consumed toward the end of the "age of progress". I am certain, they were thinking in terms of 1930- 1970, however they could be still correct in that respect, only that there's a lot more resource than they dare imagined. Of course, this only makes sense as it would require more resource to maintain the population.
The instructors all believed that once the world ceased to progress, there would be a short pause and then we would start our descent. That this era will be short lived and marked by power outages, finally bringing down entire electrical grids around the world. That is, once electrical generation was decoupled with mass production of uniform, interchangable parts (one cannot happen without the other and this actually defines the modern industrial society), this present environment (age of progress) would end abruptly. At that point, the industrial society (age of progress) could not support the population it created. Once that happened, the die-off would begin in earnest, end of story (the instructors would not speculate what might happen after that).
There's just one insy tinsy problem that I have with the instructors about this notion as of to-day, they all believed it was going to happen soon (late 70's - early 80's). That I would not likely live the high standard of living they enjoyed, would very likely see a world of unimaginable collapse and so-on. Hmmm, kind of like what many of us believe will happen to the younger generation of today, correct? Well, I've learned a very good lesson over this, along the way, that much I'm certain of...
There's a concept that I'll borrow from Jay Hanson and share with you. Hanson's thoughts about why most people cannot come to terms with peak oil is that through out thousands of years of progressing forward, people can only think in those terms. That is, most people can only think "progressively" forward, they are incapable of imagining a tomorrow of decline, not there. They simply cannot "see" it. This isn't their fault, after thousands of years of conditioning, it's in the genetic make-up. Perhaps, an example of this might be, sheep following one another over a cliff.
This thought of "ever progressing" is not only limited to some people. Continuous growth is the basic assumption, driving our economy. Investment is made in hopes of future growth. Loans are made in hope of growth. Interest is only realized after growth. Without real growth, how can our financial system survive? Suppose, we're almost there? Could it be, that after this last expansion of growth this country has experienced from the housing market, employing perhaps a quarter of Americans, there's nothing more to grow?
When the resources that products are made from become to scarce or too expensive to profit from we can expect those products will no longer be made. No company is going to make them for nothing, not for long. Perhaps, this has been happening already? When a product costs more to make and transport, than what the market will bear, that product becomes "worthless". Could we be seeing this now with the McMansions that are in the out-laying communities far from employment centers?
I suppose, this might be enough for today. Later, I will discuss "progress" again and what this might mean in this civilization and compare it to civilizations past. I'll attempt to discuss what role catabolic collapse might have had concerning matter.