Beetroot Books has interviewed John Michael Greer about his book Not the Future We Ordered. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
Much of your work has a spiritual element, and anyone who’s familiar with it would also know that you’ve been involved in [Druidry and] many Western mystery traditions, do you believe that any possible solution to these crises should recourse to spirituality in some form?
I’m going to take issue with the way this question is stated, because there are no solutions to the present spiral of converging crises. Nothing, that is, can make the crises go away, or keep our current lifestyles intact as we pass through them. Adaptations, not solutions, are what’s needed at this point — that is, ways of adapting ourselves and our lives to the implacable changes breaking over industrial civilization now and in the future. Spirituality can play an important part in those adaptations, but it can’t do the job alone; we also have to change our lives on the most practical, nitty-gritty level. You can meditate or pray to Gaia all you want, and if you still insist on driving an SUV and living an SUV lifestyle, you’re going to be on the wrong side of the changes as they hit.
Finally, are you personally optimistic or pessimistic about our immediate prospects – as in do you see an easy transition as a possibility?
We tossed the prospect of an easy transition into history’s dustbin at the time of the Thatcher- Reagan counterrevolution, when all the hard work toward sustainability that had been done in the 1970s was scrapped in the name of a vacuous free-market ideology that put short term profit and political advantage ahead of the long term survival of industrial civilization. As the Hirsch Report pointed out in 2005, preparations for peak oil would have had to begin twenty years before the peak of conventional petroleum production in order to prevent massive discontinuities.
The peak of conventional petroleum production, by an interesting irony, happened in 2005, right as that report was being leaked to the press. Thus we’re at least 27 years too late, and the massive discontinuities are already baked into the cake. Individuals, families, and communities can still take constructive steps to prepare for those discontinuities and get through them with as little suffering as possible, but one way or another it’s going to be a very rough road down from the peak.