Very thoughtful and well stated, as always. I'm with you in your skepticism regarding the techno Utopia that is constantly being sold to us but which never quite arrives. I swear, every time I read about how nuclear fusion is going to provide limitless free energy for all, I want to punch a wall.

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May 21Liked by Chad C. Mulligan

Long time fan of previous blogs. Shared posts mightily and will miss them, but I'll be delighted to see some of them recycled for current use. It's easier to get people to read something dated "this year" than trying to point them to something twelve years old. Thanks for being a worthwhile and oddly comforting corner of the internet.

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I like the little dig at heliocentrism.

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Dude, I knew you were smart, but I totally underestimated *how* smart!

I subscribed about a year ago (I think?) because you write a lot about hunter-gatherers and alternative subsistence modes, which is coincidentally exactly my main field of interest. I read some of your other posts as well, and I liked *every single article* I read, which is very rare for me - usually I always have at least some things to complain about with the articles I read (mostly in larger publications and by authors hopelessly trapped in privileged echo chambers, though). I love the fact that you're so down-to-earth (you wrote "I live in the real world and report what I see", which is basically how I would describe myself as well) and I think it is of utmost importance that self-educated people like you and me write the stuff we write about. Sometimes I think (without wanting to blow my own horn) that only free thinkers like us, commoners with both feet firmly on the ground and a bit of free time to write, can actually accomplish some sort of meta-analysis or synthesis of the stuff that really matters in these times. Academics are, in my experience, often too arrogant and stuck in their limited fields of study, plus most of them are pretty brainwashed by the time they get their degree and they enjoy enough perks to make them comfortable in the current system.

Furthermore, I'm really impressed that you criticized vertical farming all the way back in 2012 - the year I finished high school! I wanted to write an essay criticizing it for quite some time, and I finally did so in 2021. But this also once again confirms my suspicion that everything that I write about has already been said by someone, usually in a much more eloquent fashion, since I'm not a native speaker.

Well, now I have a lot more on my to-read list! Truly glad I subscribed to your substack. I always learn something new from your writing.

Keep up the good work!

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May 22·edited May 22

So much good stuff in that old blog. Thank you for bringing some of it back. You were mostly right on the money, as if there were any real money involved.

Totally feel you about the internet. Some of this might just be me getting old but the internet peaked for me back in the 90s when usenet was still a major part of the way people communicated online. There was a big uptick in the volume and quality of podcasts and materials right after that but for me that quality after a momentary burst of energy and vitality quickly declined. Blogs, podcasts, et al. were once a big part of my media consumption now I barely do anything online. Then again, I’m not the most popular bloke my two, non-work, social media sites have a total of 25 followers/friends and one of the sites has only one friend. So I fit your profile I’m not running away from the internet but it’s fading away except at work. Even at work the intranet and various research services are way more important than the generally accessible internet.

Like you many of the sites that I used to visit and enjoy “have become essentially indistinguishable from the paranoid far-right.” Left leaning podcasts have slowly become edgy white male nonsense and I’m not being WOKE I’m being objective. I have always followed some sites that I knew were actually fronts, that didn’t really bother me but propaganda on these sites have, like our own, become tedious. Not much left really except mainstream sources which are often behind a paywall. My local paper, paywalled, uses so many trackers and other programs that even though I have a sub the site often doesn’t work.

Better not get started on this stuff, and social collapse? Come to rural Maine, seriously email if you'd like to, and see a world of dirt roads, poisoned water, entirely non-function police and civil enforcement system and did I mention armed drug addled crazies in trucks and ATVs right out of the Road Warrior. The best road warrior was definitely Fury Road. Blog on!

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Most of the people I used to follow have become shadows or caricatures of their old selves. John Michael Greer. Freddie De Boer. Gail the Actuary (I remember when she was a commenter on peakoil.com or whatever it was) isn't bad but she mostly just writes the same article over and over again. Many others, some of whom I can't even really remember. These days I only follow you, Michael Roberts and Matt Stoller, and the latter two can be kind of boring sometimes (if important). Not you, though! Consistently interesting. By the way I tried to give Blair Fix a shot, but aside from being pretty intensely in the weeds, his personal fixation on what I believe to be a false dichotomy (the whole, "it behooves the group for people to be altruistic but behooves the individual to be selfish" thing) kind of put me off him. I did get pointed to some interesting reading material by his blog, though, so it wasn't a total waste.

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I’m European & a life-long social-democratic-type leftist. If not for the treat it poses to non-Americans & other living things, I wouldn’t give a damn about the pathetic charade of US politics. But it does, & I do.

I just have to laugh at “the MAGA bandwagon” bogeyman. The most egregious “wacky conspiracy theory” I’ve seen in the past decade has been the seven-year-old fact-free hysteria over Trump’s “collusion” with the Great Satan in Moscow (hysteria that’ll never cease — no matter how thoroughly it’s debunked — owing to its supreme political usefulness). It’s a real, enduring Conspiracy Theory. Wacky as hell.

Trump is a dumbass — endlessly more sap than sinister.

“Populist”, “fascist” & “far-right” are all terms that have been thrashed to death in recent “political” discourse. I’m surprised you feel you can even use these words in any meaningful way. To me you join Chris Ryan as a formidably insightful guy who just can’t quite shake off that American-liberal obsession with Republicans (as if they weren’t just Democrats in drag).

“Market fundamentalism” is what Americans invariably get in their governments, no matter which “party” wins. Both the Dempublicans & the Redemlicans preach it ad nauseam; just as long as their oligarchic donors — the military-industrial complex aka the CEO class — are never inconvenienced by a truly free market.

In fact I would have quoted MLK ("socialism for the rich...”) except you already have.

Instead I’ll quote Dick Gregory, a close ally of MLK: “(Obsessing about the Republicans as if it were important) is like worrying about dandruff when in fact you’ve got cancer of the eyeballs.”

“I'm kind of ashamed at some of the sources I used back then.”

You mean the ones that turn out to be “fronts” for that genocidal maniac Vladimir Putin? The Ukraine war offers us a fantastic example of people who think they’re smart falling for 24/7 propaganda, i.e. those whipped up by the media into believing that Ukrainian history started on 25 February 2022.

“The System stopped working for many people.”

Well, this is precisely the reason why a conman & game-show host, who never dreamt he’d win & was just seeking publicity-for-ego-gratification, ended up defeating a loathsome candidate so many voters viscerally associated with being screwed over by 2008-style, laissez-faire, vampire globalism.

Trump, out of power for years at this point, remains the bogeyman brandished to keep people worrying about dandruff instead of about the Real pathology.

To me it’s simply staggering to think that the incisive mind that formulated the sparkling rest of your piece allows itself to be gulled for even two seconds by The Maga Threat & that all-purpose booga-booga phantasma calling the shots in Russia. Pure McCarthy.

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OK, Chad, I've got to admit that you are very insightful, to the point where your past posts look prescient. Nonetheless, I want to argue for some optimistic techno-hype that you might regard as excessively optimistic. The fact is, aeroponics really does work and it allows some excellent vertical farming. The fact is, permaculture works and can feed local populations without the interference of evil international financiers. Sure this does not mean we can fit 99 trillion humans on a finite planet, but we're not breeding out of control. High-tech nations are breeding so little that we lack skilled technicians and scientists. Low-tech nations with at least moderate-IQ residents stop breeding as soon as they can get the necessary tech. Low-tech nations with low-IQ residents are breeding out of control and sending immigrants to high-tech nations, which causes a whole separate set of problems.

One topic I would like to see you address is the issue of carbon dioxide. Do you believe the planet is doomed if we don't cut manmade carbon dioxide emissions, or do you think that the planet can accommodate both carbon-emitting humans and diverse wild species such as tigers?

I love your writing and I've learned a lot from you, but I want to push back on at least some of the pessimism. And you should push back on my claims, too -- certainly I'm not as smart as I imagine myself to be. Maybe I am failing to see a lot of big-picture problems.

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Out of all your blog posts I think it was the Dying Americans that hit me the hardest. And to think after reading that almost a decade ago things have got substantially worse for those of us inhabiting the bottom rungs of not only American society but other western liberal democracies in the Anglo sphere. I think the only reason my sanity is still intact with everything going on is because of writers like you, Chris Ryan, Zygmunt Berman, Eugene McCarraher, David Graeber and Morris Berman illuminating the spiritual pathology of modern hustle culture and being able to get distance from it in my own life. This type of education also allows for the development of a type of defensive pessimism in that I am never surprised when shit gets worse. And that has generally lead to me enjoying my life. So, keep up the good work, it's not just social commentary, it's therapy for some of us.

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This was so good that I read it twice and started going through some of links and blogposts. I loved your review of Mad Max and would definitely be interested in your take on new movies if you're still into doing that kind of stuff.

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"And it's not just them—many of the sources I used to follow in those days have become essentially indistinguishable from the paranoid far-right."

Out of curiosity, who are these sources?

Overall I agree with your assessment. That was the reason why I started reading your old blogs years ago.

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