Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this novel is its willingness to buck our society’s blind faith in technological progress and look to the tried-and-true past for solutions to the crises brought on by progress.
Maybe we need to let go of the comforts of fashionable cynicism and find the courage to affirm such things again. Maybe a prayer for nonbelievers, to quote a line from the song, is what we need just now. We’ll just have to see.
Fountain pen collecting is a subject of almost no consequence compared to topics I usually write about—climate change, resource depletion, and economic inequality. But it does offer another, perhaps less obviously worrisome and more entertaining, way of understanding the times we inhabit.
In his anthology An Archdruid’s Tales, Greer seeks to use fiction, together with a few nonfiction forays into future scenarios, as a means of painting a more accurate picture of what lies ahead for industrial civilization.
Our civilization will eventually fail – through resource exhaustion, overreach, and hubris. The fact that many people counter that claim with the Panglossian insistence that we’ll think of something, that our technology will enable us to go on isolating ourselves from the laws of nature, is just proof of what I’m saying: a lack of exposure to the natural world makes humans stu– well, not as smart as we could be. And I predict that in the near future we will need to get smarter in a hurry.
There are certainly things that can be done to deal with the realities of stagnation and decline; some of them even involve adopting renewable energy technologies, on the one hand, or making sensible preparations for a range of non-apocalyptic but still serious troubles on the other.
The energy turning point is unequivocal. In the years preceding the historic Brexit referendum, and the marked resurgence of nationalist, populist and far-right movements across Europe, the entire continent has faced a quietly brewing energy crisis.
To my mind, one of the main sources of collective stupidity in modern American society is our pervasive bad habit of short-term thinking. It’s embarrassingly rare for anyone in American public life to stop and say aloud, “Hold it. What’s going to happen if we keep on doing this for more than a few more years?”
We know very little about Queen Boudica of the Iceni (20 AD (?) – 61 AD) and most of what we know is probably deformed by Roman propaganda. But we may still be able to put together the main elements of her story and how it was that she almost threw the mighty Roman Legions out of Britain.
In a time of such ferment, most socio-political forecasts are foolhardy. However, I’ll venture one: the least likely outcome for America is a return to the liberal, secular, consumerist order that characterized the post-WWII decades.
The conventional wisdom of our era insists that modern industrial society can’t possibly undergo the same life cycle of rise and fall as every other civilization in history; no, no, there’s got to be some unique future awaiting us—uniquely splendid or uniquely horrible, it doesn’t even seem to matter that much, so long as it’s unique.
The transgender restroom debate is a red herring, whose solution lies in the question affecting all of us: "What do we do with our effluents as industrial civilization collapses?"