To protect and serve: interview with Mike Ruppert
It is said that the Lord works in mysterious ways. That in loss and failure we find our greatest blessings, if only we look. If only we press on.
Substitute the word spirit for Lord, if you prefer. The idea is the same. That sometimes when we feel we've lost the most, we've only just begun to discover the best in ourselves. To meet our purpose.
The deciding moment
This was the case for Michael Ruppert, the analyst and commentator behind CollapseNet. It's the same Michael Ruppert behind the earlier watchdog and exposé site From the Wilderness. And the same Michael Ruppert who wrote Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, his controversial 9/11 book.
All of these efforts have had one thing in common for Ruppert: To dig deep into a story, discover emerging patterns, and bring to the surface information he felt was vital to the truth, particularly when this meant he could dispel misinformation, stop crime, restore honor, protect the innocent, and even save lives.
But to find out how he got here, we have to go back even further.
In an even earlier incarnation, Ruppert was a beat cop and then a narcotics detective with the LAPD. He was rapidly promoted, earning the department's highest ratings. But all that nose-to-the-ground gumshoeing set Ruppert on a course with destiny that would bring him face-to-face with his own truth while killing more than a few dreams on the way.
Ruppert's obsessions were deeper and darker.
And it cost him.
"I was looking forward to a bright career but this thing came up about CIA dealing drugs from my fiancee, a woman I loved more than anything else in the world. And what I’d realized was that I couldn't compromise something inside myself because if I did, whatever else followed in life wouldn’t have any meaning."
Ruppert came out about the CIA dealing, and resigned from LAPD over what he felt was the department's continued willingness to close its eyes to the government-backed illegal drug trade right under its nose. In the process, Ruppert also broke up with his fiancee, which he says broke his heart. To add insult to injury, he says he faced continued intimidation, threats, and even attempts on his life.
But at least he was convinced he had found the truth. And he kept his self-respect.
Ruppert grew up in a CIA and military family where honor played a big role. Though he says that theme had played out in myriad ways over the course of his life, the government drug-ring discovery forced his hand, moving honor from a meaningful yet intangible place to what Ruppert would call "the sacred," which for him goes beyond a singularly religious perspective to something broader, something fundamental about how a person lives. The ethical choices they make. To Ruppert, the sacred is also the mark of integrity in a culture.
"If you say the word 'sacred,' people automatically go to, 'I’m going to be forced to kneel and forced to do a catechism in church.' All of that happens before they ever open their mouth. So there’s a lot of hubris and energy wasted on people’s preconceptions about what’s even being discussed to begin with. I think that’s in the way."
Ruppert refers to a recent dust-up in the larger peak-oil / collapse / Transition community where definitions of the sacred and assertions of what qualifies as the sacred tangled folks up in what is or isn't the right and true path, and how much religion, if any, to include in shared concepts of "the sacred" as society faces the industrial collapse that Ruppert sees coming soon.
For Ruppert, that which is sacred is bound up with that which honorable, uncompromising and true. It's that dividing line he faced when he knew he couldn't be complicit in police corruption. But to him, it's also the willingness to stake one's life on standing up against lies, speaking out against atrocities and finding and cultivating a baseline connection among people—and including the earth—that allows us to live with integrity, balance and a certain respect for the boundaries that give meaning to human experience.
"Let me just take a second on the word 'sacred.' If you look at some kind of horrible atrocity that takes place—the murder of a bunch of children—you might think to yourself, 'Is nothing sacred?' In other words, Is there nothing that is inviolate, that is a rock bottom, fundamental, bedrock belief that you never compromise? That’s what sacred means."
And what's sacred in Ruppert's terms is what's driven his work since that fateful day in 1978 when he resigned from the LAPD.
None of this means, however, that Ruppert is trying to distance himself from that which is also spiritual. In fact one of the most surprising and delightful elements of our nearly two-hour Skype talk was his candor on the topic of his own spiritual journey.
Having grown up Catholic, Ruppert says he's read the Bible several times. He quoted from scripture in our talk in a way that revealed his enduring respect for messages that resonate, wherever they originate. And in a quiet, personal way Ruppert says he has long had his own vivid spiritual life and perspective over the years. It's nothing he's talked much about. It's his private journey experienced—again—with that broader, non-sectarian perspective that he's drawn to. But it's one where he feels he has a purpose, a purpose guided by his connection to his spiritual life.
"I do believe there is an element of fate and destiny in my life, and that this was the point where I was supposed to be at where I could reach the people that I reach with the message that I reach (sic) now. And now I’m going to be 60 years old in February so I’m looking on the downslope and I just say, 'okay all I want is to do is stay true to this course to the end'."
Only now the stakes are higher.
The Collapse Channel
Ruppert's spiritual life has recently taken on a more public turn as he's written essays and shared videos concerning the role of spirit and the sacred in our lives. Believing that the collapse of human, industrial civilization is imminent, as he puts it, "God is now on the table."
In making such a case for both rapid socioeconomic decline and the need for a spiritual perspective, Ruppert seems to understand the old saying that success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Perhaps it goes back to his old flatfooting days, which were followed by a career turn in investigative journalism that has essentially stayed with him since in varying forms.
One thing Ruppert knows how to do is stay at the table until the work is done. Witness the prolific output at CollapseNet's World News Desk (subscription required), where Ruppert's team churns out 50-60 news items a day, researching patterns and then delivering analysis on the trends in energy and economy on which all of us depend, and which, in the end, will bind us all together, for good or for ill, in the collapse that Ruppert says is coming in "weeks or months."
There may be no better and more comprehensive analyst of the troubling and converging trends of peak oil, peak corruption and economic collapse than Ruppert.
Laying out the case for the converging elements of collapse with a detailed, straightforward presentation that wasn't bound up with extraneous showmanship, I think I learned more in twenty minutes from Ruppert's rendition of credit default swaps, derivatives packages, Mortgage-gate and the amoral imperatives of Wall Street than I have in the past year from all other sources combined.
I now know why, if I can't pay my mortgage sometime soon, the bank will want to foreclose on me super fast, robo-style. Ruppert explained that they just want to book both an asset (possessing my house being 9/10ths of the law) and a loss, the failed loan. Never mind the impact on people, communities and the country by putting families out on the street. Rupert argues that banks don't care.
Economy, sure, but don't forget about oil
Since so much talk in the past year has been devoted to the global derivatives sham, and Wall Street's in-plain-sight heists of the taxpayer's coffers and the threat of imminent financial collapse as the bubble meets its natural inertia, that focus has in some ways overshadowed the peak oil story. At least financial crimes, schemes, and government-backed "remedies" can be made visible. That makes the economic crisis more real and actively potent to the public. Clear villains, clear responses, clear culpability, even in government. But energy issues are harder to grasp, because like air, in an industrial society energy is with us always and it's often just as invisible.
What's refreshing about Ruppert is that he continually brings it back to energy, back to the real on-the-ground need for energy input, keeping it in the center of his analysis as often as possible. Yes, he's as economic-collapse-focused as the rest of the peak oil All Stars, but he talks about energy more than the rest of the them seem to do right now. And for those of us whose primary concern is energy, that's important.
"The only thing that matters anywhere in the world right now is saving as many lives as possible in the face of collapse," said Ruppert. "And peak oil is clearly here....The International Energy Agency admitted that it happened in 2006. And we are awash now in official reports of its reality."
That reality has huge implications, as those who are schooled on peak oil understand. Ruppert's urgency to communicate the implications as widely as possibly reveals a deep compassion for others, his honor at work.
You can hear the urgency in his analysis and in the advice that comes out of it.
"I am more convinced than ever that individuals are not going to make it," says Ruppert. "If you do not have a community, and if you do not have people around you to support you and share the load you’re going to fail miserably."
But he's heartened at least a bit by what he sees as a growing awareness of the problems and a growing dialogue aimed at solutions.
"What I’m really gratified by is...that there are so many people doing so many things now. This is why Transition US is so helpful— is to network and share the information because it accelerates the learning curve. And that’s really important. And there’s going to be an element of luck to this, too. I think the first and foremost ingredient is attitude. It’s your own mental and even spiritual attitude."
Resilience starts at home
On that score, his own attitude seems in the zone. This was also surprising to me. Seeing the chain-smoking, addled Michael Ruppert whose solo voce star turn in the documentary film Collapse left me more energized about the peak oil message getting out there, yet also made me a little suspicious of his personal style.
Being a communicator myself, I put a lot of stock in the HOW behind a given missive, the methods used to share the info. And as a die-hard film buff, after Collapse, my critic's cap went on. Why, I wondered, would someone give voice to what seemed like a guy who appeared more than a little rankled, who maybe didn't meet a conspiracy theory he didn't like?
But maybe I'd be a little shaky too, if after breaking the Pat Tillman case I found my office smashed to smithereens, a death threat on my head. That's what Ruppert says happened to him. No fun.
"Poking the hornet's nest," as Ruppert puts it, didn't always earn him friends in high places. The enemies, however, were generous, says Ruppert, creating a fresh mood of intimidation that left him seeking an ex-pat escape hatch in Venezuela, where he hid out for a while. And he says was poisoned there.
But he says he wasn't about to stop seeking and telling the truth. "It's in my genes."
After convalescing and reassessing, Ruppert says he took up the CollapseNet work he's now doing in earnest, less for the exposé, more for the preparation of as many souls who are building the "lifeboat" needed to make the transition to the civilization that's to come as the limits to growth reach their natural tipping point. And on The Lifeboat Hour, his Sunday-evening radio show on the Progressive Radio Network, he talks up the figures and factors making up the peak civilization story.
It's this Ruppert who's now on the stage.
Interviewing him, I encountered a thoughtful, lucid, and very well balanced man whose combined seriousness, humor, sensitivity, insight, research, analysis and compassion showed me that his various life-and-death experiences, and the theme of truth-seeking have coalesced to expose the measure of the man.
One part gumshoe, one part honor guard, one part soapbox professor and one part spiritual seeker, Ruppert offers his readers and subscribers and those in the larger community a wealth of information. He claims his startling track-record of prediction successes gives credibility to the advice he offers to help us all prepare for the next phase of this awe-inspiring adventure we call life.
The spirit works in mysterious ways.
Read my full interview text with Michael Ruppert including his comments on the coming economic collapse, China, Korea and WikiLeaks, Transition, the "sacred," US civil unrest and government corruption, his past, his spirituality and more.
Lindsay Curren has no intention of ending up the Scarlett O'Hara of the 21st century, dizzy and confused as neo-Rome burns. Instead, the Staunton, Virginia based writer, designer and high-heeled survivalist is editing Transition Voice, a new online magazine on peak oil and the coming life of sweaty labor and, hopefully, nicer manners.
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