Popular “Crash” Blogger Ran Prieur Throws in the Towel?

Picture: Padraic Ryan (CC)

I love Ran Prieur’s blog. I’ve been following it faithfully since 2005. I had it set as my browser homepage for a few months once. I’m not sure of all the exact details, but he is “semi” retiring from blogging  and apparently no longer believes in what is commonly referred to as the “Crash” or “the Shit Hitting the Fan” or “The end of Civilization as We know it.”  He will still occasionally make posts but his section entitled “Crash Watch” is officially retired

January 1, 2013. This page is retired. Ten years ago it really seemed like the whole system was about to come apart. People who saw a crash coming were seeing things that were being ignored by people who expected business as usual. Yet we were still wrong. After seeing how little daily life has changed after the 2008 financial collapse, seven years with global oil production on a plateau, and two catastrophic hurricanes, I think the big mistake of doomers was assuming that failures would have positive feedback like a house of cards. At this point, anyone still using the “house of cards” metaphor is not a serious analyst but an entertainer. It’s clear that the interconnectedness of modern complex systems makes them stronger, not weaker.

I have to say that the fact that he can change his mind about things is what makes him so refreshing and honest. I mean isn’t that what a thinking person does? Change their opinion in light of careful consideration of new information?  He’s a homeowner in Suburban Spokane now, and not really a drop out from society. It might be tempting to say that he simply grew up and outgrew his romantic ideals, but I’ve followed his thoughts gradually and incrementally. In the way that he has handled this change in viewpoint his personal integrity has shown through.

Prieur is a very approachable person and seems to spends a lot of time answering e-mails.  I sense that it has been stressful for him to have so much information out there written from a perspective that he no longer really holds. He has been updating a lot of his essays in light of his current understanding. In a way I feel that maybe he should just leave them  as stand alone works of art, honestly reflecting his point of view at the time they were written. Fortunately he does seem to be preserving the originals alongside the updated versions.

My perspective has also evolved along similar lines. I found Ran Prieur probably through my interest in Peak Oil and Green Anarchy. I’m sure his blog came up on some type of Google search involving those topics. In 2005 or so I was voraciously reading everything I could by John Zerzan, Jared Diamond, and Derrick Jensen. I was preparing for the Oil Crash and looking forward to donning a loin cloth and returning to the wilds to live as a hunter gatherer.

I feel like this was an enriching period of my life. I did develop some survival skills. I spent some time “rewilding” and attempting to throw off the psychological shackles of human domestication. Like Ran, I tried my hand at homesteading and growing my own food and, like Ran, my results were mixed. He has some excellent, honest insights about how hard it is and that a sense of community is crucial. You can’t go it alone. Its’ a popular myth that an individual can return to the wild to live off the land, but it’s just that: a myth.

Through my exploration of these topics  – living closer to the Earth, having a smaller carbon footprint, withdrawing from the rat rat race in exchange for more free time – I concluded that even if they won’t suddenly change the world are worth doing for their own sake.

Wishing you the best, Ran, for whatever the future holds for you.


24 Comments on "Popular “Crash” Blogger Ran Prieur Throws in the Towel?"

  1. Ted Heistman | Jan 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm |

    Figure I would be the first to comment while the article is still invisible!

  2. charlieprimero | Jan 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm |

    I empathize. Ten years ago I was sure of a crash. An old doctor friend told me to quit worrying about it. He went through the same thing in the 1970’s. Sold all his stuff. Moved his family to rural northern California. Moved back to Austin after ten years. His father did the same thing to him in the 1950’s.

    We both still have minimum preps, but realized life really doesn’t change that much from decade to decade.

    Even in Argentina, Berlin, Tokyo and Hanoi things always quickly returned to normal.

    Kids have kids. Fashions cycle. Life rolls on.

    After building up minimum preps, it’s a total waste of time to keep peering onto the horizon wondering “Is that a storm coming!?”. That behavior is mentally unhealthy.

    • Ted Heistman | Jan 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

      Yeah, waiting obsessively for the end of the World is unhealthy, but learning survival skills is fun!

  3. The most reliable indicator of social and economic collapse I know of is when a society’s elite decides to run society exclusively for its own short-term benefit and manages to forget that its own long-term prosperity directly depends on the lower levels of the pyramid that supports it and if the ecosystem crashes, they die along a bit later than everyone else does.

    We have a single worldwide point of failure in the transnational elite and it’s apparent that they are doing precisely that. In the US, the elite factions are “left”centrist “boil the frog slower” and GOP right-centrist “turn up the heat until the pan melts and the stove explodes”. What”s going on at the right/”left” centrist meeting point? Read this NYT piece http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/the-self-destruction-of-the-1-percent.html?pagewanted=all&_r=5&

    Cheop’s Law says “everything comes in late and over budget”. Why should doom be any different?

    As for “the amazing technology of the future will save us”, that comes from Futurists who never had to deal with actual venture capitalists or real startup tech businesses. Startups get funded on what the VC herd thinks is most likely to be profitable. If Yet Another Social Networking Site looks like more profit than greentech, one guess as to what gets funded.

    However, as for prep for the end of civilization, it is possible. IF one is willing to live without every vestige of technology one can’t make personally from local resources in the long run.

    I simply try to prepare for another FEMA screwup following a natural disaster.

  4. BuzzCoastin | Jan 3, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

    if you look through the meager collection of humanity’s historical record
    you notice that
    there are always predictions that END OF THE WHIRLED is coming soon
    and that most total collapses of society are few and far between
    however, a retreat to the rustic has long been a defense
    against the insanity of nonstop innovation & change
    when things get too much
    people want to return to the garden
    that’s in the historical record too

    nonetheless, a retreat from modernity
    with the help of modernity
    is worth doing

  5. emperorreagan | Jan 3, 2013 at 10:47 pm |

    Investing too much in any particular prediction of the future is bound to lead to disappointment. It’s easy to get caught up in models, trying to guess at historical patterns, or attempting to direct things – much harder to embrace uncertainty or recognize our lack of control.

  6. In Share International magazine, January 2007, there was a letter which described an encounter the writer had with a hitchhiker. In the letter, the hitchhiker was said to comment:

    “So many people work so hard and gain so little, while others can be immensely rich, without contributing anything to the community. He pointed out that this problem can only be solved by justice and sharing. According to him, the stock market is to crash soon, in spite of the efforts of a group of very skilful and intelligent men who keep it going with their tricks.

    The hitchhiker was identified as a ‘familiar’ – a manifestation created by the Master Jesus (see Black Hat Tibetan Buddhism for information on the process of creating a separate manifestation of oneself). Which shows that even the most illumined folks on the planet do not know when this crazy economic system and plundering of the earth will finally lead to a sober humanity rising up and recreating our approach to each other and the world to make this a more joyous place for all of us to be.

    • Matt Staggs | Jan 4, 2013 at 9:26 am |

      This “familiar” anything like a Tulpa?

      • Would seem to be. Stories of disciples of the Buddhas/Masters of the Wisdom having challenges controlling their created manifestations are mentioned sporadically through occult teachings. When you get to the point of evolution of Jesus, it has been written you can create hundreds of thousands at once if necessary (believe discussed by Djwhal Kuhl in the Alice Bailey teachings), have full control of their behavior and be able to successfully dematerialize them after they have served their purpose.

        By the time you are successful in consistently doing so you have pretty much purified your personality (physical, emotional, lower mental) vehicle, stabilized on the buddhic level of soul and begun the process of merging with the will aspect of divinity. So these manifestations becomes a tool for service.

        • Ted Heistman | Jan 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm |

          I hitch hike and say shit like that to people. I mean do you know he was a “familiar?”

          • Calypso_1 | Jan 4, 2013 at 5:57 pm |

            No kidding. I did my tour of duty as an acid jesus back in the day. We could both dress in white and put a grainy vid on youtube blessing some children. Share Int. would be swooning in no time.

          • Matt Staggs | Jan 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm |

            I think we need a Disinfo Jesus. He Disinformed for your cognitive sins.

  7. DeepCough | Jan 4, 2013 at 12:35 am |

    More and more it has become plain that the “End of the World” is a very marketable mantra.

  8. House
    of cards? I don’t see why that analogy doesn’t hold true. People who begin to
    waiver from their ‘collapse’ views, because they let the normalcy bias catch up
    with them, become lured away by new flashy gadgets or some other consummable
    item, give in to the constant tauntings of an incredulous social environment,
    have feelings of guilt for removing themselves from the mainstream madness, or
    some other reason that I can’t conceive of, need to revisit the basis for the
    peak oil literature–energy input versus social complexity.

    Complexity requires constant inputs of energy to simply maintain itself. There
    is nothing strong, stable or resilient about a food production system that
    requires 10 kilocalories of fossil fuel to produce 1 kilocalorie of food. There
    is nothing sustainable about governing through a system of debt-slavery with
    the metaphorical chains and shackles growing exponentially to become a traded
    commodity among the upper class of society. There is nothing safe about a system
    of slavery that requires perpetual growth (which is simply the raping of our
    biosphere for the sake of ‘productive efficiency’) to conceal itself.

    Granted that prepper fatigue may set in, but the timing just seems to be bad
    with this, Ted. Fiat currency is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. When it
    does, who knows what will happen? I’m not a doomer, but I think the collapse of
    the dollar presumes a massive shift in social confidence. Fiat currency of the
    modern era is the most adroit and sinister system of social control ever
    devised in history. I think it is so for two reasons: 1) the unprecedented
    input of energy into our species allowed fiat currency and the governments that
    serve it to accumulate social capital through mass bribery, and 2) the massive
    leap in the sophistication of the human mind over the past hundred years has
    allowed those at the top of the pyramid to use these incredible abstractions of
    the ‘modern’ age (states, corporations, institutions of all sorts) to take hold
    of people and orient them against each other through a paradigm of false
    dichotomies–left vs right, Xians vs Muslims, black vs. white, Hutu vs. Tutsi,

    This will not last, because the energy input will not last. The peak oil
    argument, is, after all, not about reserves, but production rate. In other
    words, the enslavement of the human species requires increasing amounts of
    energy input, and we seem to be on the cusp of a thermodynamic decline. I’m not so
    sure that the shit will hit the fan, but the rope will begin to fray at both
    ends. Society will become increasingly more decoupled from the governance
    apparatus. The anarchists will be vindicated.

    • To wit, the collapse prepper movement is its own self-fulfilling prophecy. Best to stay on-board and ahead of the curve.

    • Ted Heistman | Jan 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm |

      Well, to be fair to Ran, he is a smart guy and didn’t get lured away from anything. I think he just realized that complex systems are more resilient than he thought. I think it was an honest re-evaluation on his part. He definitely didn’t “sell out” to anything. He publishes all his writings for free on the internet. He lives a frugal life off his inheritance. He acknowledges that not everyone has an inheritance.

      Anyway, he didn’t suddenly become an optimist. He just doesn’t forsee a sudden crash. Check out his essay, you might find it interesting.

  9. I tried my hand at homesteading and growing my own food and, like Ran, my results were mixed. He has some excellent, honest insights about how hard it is and that a sense of community is crucial. You can’t go it alone. Its’ a popular myth that an individual can return to the wild to live off the land, but it’s just that: a myth.

    Dick Proenneke did it alone, starting at the age of 52 and made it all the way to 82 before he moved back to the lower 48.

    Alone in the Wilderness


    • Ted Heistman | Jan 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

      Yeah, he was ALL ALONE, except for the guy that flew all his supplies into him every month.
      I’m a big fan of that guy, BTW, not taking anything away from him, I think it must have been an awesome life, but he didn’t do it alone. He had help and basically he lived of his retirement savings, not hunting and gathering all his food. He had most of his food flown in. He paid cash for his food.

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