Subject: Mutual Aid Society (week 3)
Mutual Aid Society
Well it is finally here. Like peakprophet we've been planning, waiting, worrying, watching for years-ever since we saw the End of Suburbia. I didn't want to believe it a few weeks ago when it was clear that the crisis had started. The changes have happened so fast. We prepared as best we could. We sold our house at the top of the market, got out of debt, and are trying to build our practical skills. We took our kids out of school because frankly what good is a dumbed-down public "education" during a crisis.
Truth is we started a little late. Our food buying club is in place and moderately functional. For months we've been working to establish an integrated food network. But the truth is we don't have nearly enough producers to meet the calorie needs of everyone in the group for the whole year. We are trying to convert all our lawns into food production, but the soil is poor and it will take time to get reasonable harvests. And then we may be faced with defending our food. We expect lean times ahead and that we'll have to carefully budget our rations as the crisis deepens. Hopefully our group is strong enough to hold together if the hunger starts.
We had a meeting recently and concluded that we needed to view our food club as more of a mutual aid society. It is painful and frightening to envision arming ourselves against our neighbors, but what choice do we have? You should have seen us all dancing around the issue of arms. Nobody wanted to come right out and say it, but none of us wanted to get caught unprepared either. I imagine the colonial patriots must have had similar discussions. I wonder how long they danced around the issue before deciding to act. My feeling is this. Do I have any obligation to feed the fools who refused to listen for the last 20 years? While my friends and I harped about real issues like oil, liberty, war, multi-national trade, theocracy, and climate change, they chose to worry about gay rights and drugs and abortion and evolution. They elected governments that called us traitors and they took away our rights when we questioned the government. The foolish cowards chose security over liberty, all the while failing to see the real crisis was never in foreign terrorism, but in domestic resource management and corporate capitalism. Well it is too late now. The collapse has started. And I don't feel that I owe them a goddamn thing. I guess I'm becoming hard.
We have built good relationships with our Community Supported Agriculture producers and have pledged amongst ourselves to defend the farms if necessary. We haven't contacted the farms yet about this. We don't want to scare them or appear hysterical. But food riots are coming and someone, somewhere will try to raid a local farm and steal the food. Till then we wait. Of course people are already getting desperate and panicky. Fox News is playing up the violence and fear for all it is worth. But in reality, it is amazing how quickly the food stopped pouring into our small town. As food has been diverted to bigger cities (less driving, higher markup), little communities like ours are already suffering. The shelves at the big chains are about half-stocked with industrial food. What's left is extremely expensive. The oil crunch has made it unprofitable to ship produce from Mexico and California. I've heard that California is already considering a moratorium of food shipment out of the state. I hope Oregon is prepared to do the same.
Worse it is now unprofitable to grow the industrial food. The margins were never very high in the first place, and the combined effects of peak oil, the wars, the dollar freefall (due to the housing market collapse), and global warming means there are no additional subsidies that can convince the big corporations, like ADM and ConAgra, to bring the food to market. What was the number I heard? Eight Kcals of energy to make 1 Kcal of food? There are rumors that low-margin food is rotting in fields because it is no longer profitable to grow, harvest, and ship it. Sounds like Mao's Great Leap Forward, and didn't that result in millions of dead? I'd never thought that I'd miss industrial food, but without it the fools are looking to eat local food and are already driving up the prices at the co-op.
The scariest thing is that the Christians are already blaming "sinners and infidels" for bringing down god's wrath on our community. They are both jubilant at the the notion of the "end times" and frightened at the prospect of going through it. This is a dangerous combination that can only end in sorrow and blood.
I don't have much hope. But then again, hope is a fools paradise. I will just do my best to build mutually supportive networks, take care of my community of allies, barter, grow food, play music, love my family and friends, live lightly, and be mindful and vigilant. Like the Quakers said, "Trust in providence, but keep the powder dry."