Mike Ruppert, Childhood Abuse, & Near Term Extinction

Two weeks ago Mike Ruppert committed suicide. The news hit me harder than I would have thought, and I’ve been pondering over it and even choked up a few times knowing we would never hear anything new from his voice ever again. I’ve debated whether or not to resurrect my functionally defunct blog to address this and decided I should for two reasons. First, because I am a writer and writing is how I work things out. Second, because Mike’s suicide has left a giant herd of elephants in the living room that needs to be addressed.

I did not know Mike personally — I exchanged perhaps a half-dozen emails with him over 13 years, and I met him very briefly at the 2006 Local Solutions conference. His work had a profound impact on my life, however, as I’m sure it did on many, many others. I first heard him on KBOO in Portland the morning after his original Truth & Lies of 9/11 presentation and have been a staunch peak oil doomer ever since. This would have been November 2001 I believe. He inspired me to major in journalism when I returned to college, at the age of 34, in 2002. In 2005 I started up my original peak oil blog, Adaptation, which in turn got me invited to speak at the Local Solutions conference (which didn’t happen for reasons I won’t get into here). Since that time I have been blogging, however erratically, on the theme of collapse. It would be hard to overstate the influence Mike had on my worldview and the direction my life has taken since I first heard him on the radio long ago.

Mike was a scout and a leader. A scout in that he traveled the path ahead of us, his ragtag doomer tribe, and consistently alerted us to dangers that lie ahead. A leader in that he always went first down that path, willing to put his own resources and reputation on the line to make sure things were safe (or as safe as any mortal could make them) for all of us. His vision was so clear, and his intentions so worthy, that I was willing to overlook his colossal ego — I considered it a tolerable human failing in the face of such exceptional work.

In the summer of 2006, just a few months after the Local Solutions conference, the hammer dropped on From The Wilderness and Mike was thrown from the path. He fled to Venezuela to escape what he felt was (and I believe probably really was) imminent danger. Mike had enemies in high places. I do not know what transpired in Venezuela, exactly, but it must have been very ugly. He became ill and flew first to Canada, then to New York City, for medical treatment. He was hospitalized for a while and spent another long while recovering.

He returned to public life with his film Collapse and his new community website Collapsenet.com. But he was changed, and in my opinion his vision was no longer as clear as it had been. I believe now that he never truly recovered from the demise of From The Wilderness and from whatever happened to him in Venezuela. He began promoting collapse solutions/responses/preparations that deviated sharply from those he had promoted previously. He was going the wrong way. Somehow, in spite of his gargantuan ego, he forgot that he’d been right. I canceled my subscription to Collapsenet.com in early 2011, and eventually stopped reading the headlines there altogether.

And then he jumped on the Near Term Extinction bandwagon. It was at this point that I muted his updates in my Facebook stream and my exposure to Mike Ruppert ceased altogether.

Near Term Extinction (NTE) is all the rage presently among doomfolk, particularly boomer doomers. Chief evangelist for NTE is biologist Guy McPherson. Guy’s work (I don’t know Guy McPherson at all and feel weird referring to him by first name only, but referring to him by his last name only sounds cold and condescending, which I don’t want to sound like, so please excuse the inappropriate informality) on climate change and its impacts, so far as I have looked into it, appears to be as impeccable as Mike’s journalism always was. He paints a grim picture: climate change, both directly and indirectly, will cause the extinction of the entire human race in the next 40-ish years or so. It’s really quite impossible to argue with Guy’s math, and I don’t.

My argument with the NTE position is simply this: past performance does not guarantee future results. Yes, trends are heading in a particular direction. But one of the first things we learned about the cornucopian, peak-oil-denier position is that these folks fully expect oil production to continue growing infinitely because the line on the graph points up. They can’t understand that past performance does not guarantee future results.

So it is with NTE. We don’t know the future; we can’t know that trends will continue as they are until every last human is killed off. It is intellectually dishonest to say we do know. We don’t.

Moreover, the scientific-materialist paradigm does not take into account the agency raw consciousness has within our physical domain. The Earth is a living system comprised of the consciousnesses of all her inhabitants, animal, plant, mineral, and otherwise. Moreover, all of these are part-and-parcel with the infinite Universal consciousness. That science lacks devices to measure consciousness doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It is there — it’s the water we fish are unable to perceive. Consciousness does not want non-being.

In reading the comments at Guy’s blog and taking in other NTE media, it doesn’t seem as if anyone is really interested in addressing the facts that the future is unwritten and that Earth’s beings, humans in particular, possess both consciousness and agency. In the extinct-o-sphere, human extinction within the next 40 years is a foregone conclusion. Why would anyone commit themselves so completely to such an incomprehensible fatalism when the truth of the matter has yet to be determined? How is this any different than holding to a cornucopian view? Both lay claim to the unknowable future. They are, in fact, flip sides of the same coin.

This commitment to near term human extinction, and corresponding refusal to recognize the limits of knowable information, bothered me so much I stopped reading Guy’s blog too. In fact I read it for only a short time before I no longer wanted to return.

NTE adherents will undoubtedly proclaim me a “denier,” but in fact, they are the ones who deny the truth that the future is unknowable. Human extinction is not baked into the cake until the last breeding population of humans is decimated. We have a very, very long way to go before we are there. Sometimes, once in a while, the truth of a matter is good and not evil.

So far I have not delved into any lengthy examination of this commitment to human extinction but Mike Ruppert’s suicide has given the issue an urgency, for me, it did not previously have. Mike was our scout and our leader, but he lost his way and became blinded by a certainty to which he could not possibly lay claim. How many people followed Mike into NTE and are now preparing to follow him, if not sooner then later?

I grew up in an abusive family. The abuse was spiritual, verbal, emotional, and frequently — though not always — physically violent. The addict was my mother and her drug of choice was bible-thumping, tongue-talking, charismatic, Christianist fundamentalism. My father was the enabler.

The worst part for me, as it probably was for anyone who grew up in a similar situation, was the randomness with which the attacks would come. During my middle school years I never knew if, upon returning home from school, I would be in small trouble, big trouble, or no trouble. Something that was fine yesterday might be a punishable offense today; something for which I’d been punished previously might no longer be on my parents’ radar. There was no rhyme or reason to when, or whether, I would be screamed at, have all my belongings taken away, be grounded for months on end, or have my head smashed into the wall.

In order to brace myself against this I developed a host of mental and emotional defenses. One of these was to fix in my mind the idea that I would always be beaten upon returning home from school. It took a lot of practice but in time I convinced myself to assume, and then lived under the assumption, that I was going to get a beating at 4:00 pm on weekdays. In my child’s mind I reasoned that if I prepared myself for a beating but then did not receive one, I would be less traumatized than if I did not prepare and did receive one.

I was eleven years old when it first occurred to me that I could escape my situation by killing myself. Sixth grade was a particularly difficult year: that was the year I learned my peers hated me. I became one of a small handful of class scapegoats and have remained a shunned outsider ever since in some way, shape, or form. I’m actually glad now that this happened for reasons I won’t get into here, but as a child it was completely devastating.

In seventh grade I learned that my teachers, too, hated me, and I found myself completely alone in a world of people who either disliked or actively hated me. My suicidal tendencies became a compulsion and in eighth grade I began carrying razor blades around. I would steal away somewhere alone and sit with my blades trying to work up the courage to slit my wrists. The correct way.

I do not remember ninth grade for the most part except that it happened, and that in late fall I received the worst beating of my life. My brother and his friend fled to the basement to pray for me so I would not be killed. In tenth grade I publicly “got saved” and joined the fundamentalist church of my own free will. The beatings stopped and my situation improved dramatically (though fundamentalism is its own abuse and an entire book in its own right). But by that time my defensive and self-destructive patterns had been set. Up until just a few years ago I lived always expecting a shoe to drop from somewhere and battling my suicidal compulsions. I could not be free of these until I let them go, and I did not recognize what I had let go until much later.

I see in NTE adherents’ commitment to human extinction the same emotional defense pattern I developed as a child. Back then it was easier to disregard the fact that I did not actually know whether or not I would be punished than it was to brace for the worst. It became for me, as for pretty much everyone who grows up abused in some fashion, a totally unconscious position that colored my every move, every interaction. I believe now this is also why I was drawn to Mike’s peak oil work so immediately and thoroughly. Here is the final shoe that’s going to drop. Here is the final beating that is going to kill me for real. It is identifiable and I can shield myself against its blows. I even know roughly when it will come! Hallelujah!

NTE presents an even more identifiable and more immediate final beating. It is in all ways more certain than peak oil ever was. There were always all kinds of variables for mitigating the effects of peak oil, especially in one’s own life. NTE provides no way out at all.

Except death.

And so NTE adherents find themselves entertaining, however unconsciously, the same question I myself faced in my early teens: do I wait for the final beating that will kill me, or do I escape into death by my own hand? While most NTE’ers are likely not actively suicidal, the corresponding suicidal compulsion that comes with the assumption of near-future beatings is still going to show up somewhere. I believe it shows up in this blind spot for the fact that the future is unknowable, and unwavering — even religious — commitment to the extinction of the human race.

Underlying all of this is the one thing we who grew up in an abusive situation learned first and foremost about ourselves: I Am Bad. To an abused child, I Am Bad is simply the ineffable truth of the Universe. The words don’t even enter our heads because they live in our bones and muscles, below and beyond language. I am abused because I am bad, and my species faces its final beating because my species is bad. I and my species deserve to die, I commit to NTE for this reason and also to escape the intolerable circumstances my badness creates for me.

I don’t pretend to know what Mike held in his heart, or whether any of this was applicable to him personally. This was, however, the path he found, and he followed it to its logical conclusion as he always did. He was our scout and he took this seriously. He told us he would follow the facts and evidence wherever they might lead, and that’s exactly what he did. It is tragic beyond words that his facts and evidence were incomplete.

Guy’s work is compelling and clear, and I do not dismiss or take it lightly. But by the same token I cannot ignore the facts that the future is unwritten and that human beings possess both consciousness and agency. Also that our Earth system, like all systems, is subject to a level of randomness that can change everything in an instant — sometimes for the better.

This commitment to NTE is a path that leads to suicide: if not actual suicide, as in Mike’s case, then the voluntary cessation of living in favor of death preparations. I have heard NTE’ers say that they support living life to its fullest since time is so short, but this in itself is death preparation.

The human species is not I Am Bad. We are not a virus on this Earth and we are not evil. Earth is our home and we belong here just as much as every other species. We are welcome here. This, too, is a fact that neither Mike nor NTE’ers more generally acknowledge.

Mike’s suicide marks the end of an era for me. I understand now that peak oil was never about peak oil, it was about identifying the location and trajectory of the final abusive blow. Climate change was never about climate change, it was about solidifying the murderous certainty of that blow. And near-term human extinction is not about near-term human extinction, it is about the suicidal compulsion borne of frequent, random violence.

Most people I ever got to know in the peak oil scene, and later the collapse-in-general scene, had childhoods that were fucked up in some way or other. I do not know of Mike Ruppert had a fucked up childhood but it would not surprise me in the least.

Humanity faces problems like it has never faced in history. I am fully aware of this, probably more aware than 99% of people on the planet. I do not deny or hide from any of it, not even Guy’s math. But since I have managed to free myself from my childhood defense mechanisms I also can no longer presume destruction when in fact I don’t know what will happen. General collapse doomerism has placed itself on the path to human extinction, and I simply cannot in good conscious work toward making that a reality by preparing for its eventuality.

This will likely be my last post here at Mythodrome. I plan to keep the site active for as long as I can afford it as an archive, but it is time for me to move on. I am still a writer however and I do plan to continue writing at a different domain eventually. When I get that up and running I will post a link here.

Thank you everyone for reading and for your support in hard times. I genuinely love and appreciate you! I’ll be back, hopefully before too long.


Is Science Worth Keeping?

Super tired, very late, but I want to get as much of this train of thought posted as I can manage for the moment.

In my previous post, I alluded to this question which has been kind of haunting me of late and challenging some parts of my current worldview. My train of thought on the matter has been: if the “Fall” represents the introduction of dualism, causing our Western belief that we are separate from Nature and from the Mind Inside Nature, and producing ecocidal insanity; then the basis of any sustainable, post-apocalypse, anthropocene society has to be either a return to monism, or the emergence of a new kind of monist cognition. Dualist cognition is simply unsustainable and will destroy itself and everything else along with it. Therefore whatever might go into a Third Testament needs to support a monist worldview and culture.

Science is the very epitome of a dualist worldview. There is no science without a dualist split between observer and observed. Everything science has delivered serves to further entrench the chasm between good/evil, self/other, haves/have-nots, living/dead, and so on. For example, the theory of evolution describes the way in which species separate from one another; the big bang theory describes the separation of matter and energy from each other; Kepler’s laws apply to a dead machinework.

I am all for science as a method of inquiry. In fact, I can’t imagine how some future anthropocene culture might rebuild itself without scientific inquiry into the new state of the global and local environments. But in its current state science has so much baggage I also can’t help but think it would do more harm than good. I think if science is to be preserved, it needs to be purged of its religiosity.

Referring again to Rupert Sheldrake’s talk, he describes this religiosity as: “The belief that science has already understood the nature of reality in principle, leaving only the details to be filled in.” Absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth. The nature of reality is entirely dependent upon the person (entity?) who’s reality one is talking about. Some objects and phenomena hold constant across a majority of peoples’ perceived realities, but never across everyone’s. I have learned, via much distress, that reality is rather quite pliable. And I think anyone who has any hope of surviving into the anthropocene has no choice but to reject certainty in favor of probabilities, that is to say, pliability.

Sheldrake lays out the 10 religious dogmas of science thus:

  1. The belief that nature is mechanical, or machine-like
  2. The total amount of matter and energy is always the same, except at the moment of the big bang when it all appeared from nowhere
  3. The laws of nature are fixed
  4. Matter is unconscious
  5. Nature is purposeless
  6. Biological inheritance is material
  7. Memories are stored as material traces inside the brain
  8. The mind is inside the head. Mental activity is brain activity.
  9. Psychic phenomena are illusory
  10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that works

All of this has to go in order to survive civilizational collapse and climate shift into its new homeostatic state.

I was planning to go thru these one by one describing the ways in which they are incompatible with a monist/sustainable society, but it is now 4:00 a.m. and I must sleep. Maybe I’ll make that exercise “part 2″ providing my health holds up. So stay tuned… I guess this is a good place to suggest that if you’d like to get email notifications of new posts, you can sign up for those in the right-hand column. I promise I won’t spam you. (Although to my great embarrassment I did accidentally spam everyone once when I was reorganizing my post categories, but I know now how to avoid that in the future.)


Update 09.16.2013

Greetings all, just a quick update on health, etc.

First, thanks to everyone who kicked in toward a doctor’s visit. It is rescheduled for Wednesday morning and I will hopefully walk out of there with some answers and/or hope. The blood tests I thought were going to be $65 were actually going to cost almost $900! As if. So, the money I was planning to spend on blood tests I am going to use instead to see an acupuncturist. I had great success with acupuncture in the 90s for an issue unrelated to my current health concerns, so I thought it might be a good idea to try again while I have the opportunity.

The past week has been very difficult health-wise but I seem to have stabilized the past couple of days. Crossing my fingers that I remain stable.

I’ve been stewing on two new posts. The next logical idea to pursue after my previous “Third Testament” post would be to brainstorm some possible sketches of what a “third testament monastery” might look like. But life’s everyday synchronicities have been queuing up a different question, following from my “Disillusioned With Science” post. In a post-apocalyptic world, climate-shifted into the anthropocene with absolutely zero wiggle room for cultural fucking up like we’ve been doing since we started farming, is science worth keeping? I’ll wait for another post to delve into this subject in depth, but in the meantime I highly recommend this lecture by Rupert Sheldrake discussing the content of his latest book, Science Set Free.

So, that’s it for today but I plan to be back again soon barring more health problems.


The Third Testament: A Monastic Project For The Anthropocene

This post represents the culmination of my thinking on the Western mythology subject to date. I imagine I’ll have more to say that fills in the blanks, but for the moment this is the final broad brushstroke.

Before I get into the meat of my post, a recap, so that the placement of this puzzle piece makes sense to anyone who hasn’t read all the previous material.

Review Of Previous Material

The foundational thesis of my thoughts on this matter is that the Bible is not, and was never intended to be, a universal, abstract, “spiritual” document, but rather a culturally-specific, concrete, mundane document. It describes the foundation of Western civilization only, and preserves all those intangible, worldview-related things that cannot be recorded in material artifacts that are devoid of language. It is the why of our Mesopotamian civilizational heritage, beginning in the late Paleolithic just prior to the advent of agriculture, extending across the millennia to encompass each successive iteration of Western civilization, and predicts the entirely foreseeable, only possible logical conclusion of our Western cultural maladaptive pathology: total global collapse.

As a culturally-specific, mundane document, the Bible is applicable to non-Western cultures and civilizations only to the extent that these adopt Western worldviews and lifeways.

The Bible is a thoroughly Jewish work from beginning to end, and it is written from a Jewish perspective. At the risk of being offensively reductionist, for my purposes here the important factor to remember about this Jewish perspective is that it is one of being an outside observer.

The Bible begins in Genesis, written in the third-person observer perspective, with a quick sketch of Paleolithic horticultural life. “Adam” and “Eve,” representing a specific population somewhere in ancient Mesopotamia, experience everyday life as a vast unity and without any concept of an “other.” They then choose, consciously and deliberately, to adopt an alien worldview in which the universe is divided into self/other, good/evil, etc. In other words, they choose to believe that dualism, and the profound separateness in which it is saturated, is real, true, and correct. In their new state of horrific separateness and aloneness, they retreated into abstraction and became the forebears of those who gave birth to gods, took up agriculture, and erected cities, which in time became empires. I call this civilizational vector the “Mesopotamian strain,” and it includes all the empires that arose from the ashes from previous empires that trace their lineage back to Sumeria, including and especially our own.

From the observer point of view, separateness and its result, empire, are vile corruptions that must and will come to an end because these are devouring cancers — they are unsustainable. I believe there’s an argument to be made that the invention of linear time (as opposed to the cyclical concept of time), widely attributed to the ancient Hebrew culture, may have arisen in response to the knowledge that there was a final end somewhere down the line, which a cyclical concept of time could not accommodate.

The Old Testament is the Jewish Tanakh and much of it is dedicated to the struggle of the ancient Hebrews to remain culturally distinct from the dualist- and agricultural-based empires metastasizing the world around them. The New Testament is written around the person Jesus of Nazareth, who made his appearance at the apex of the Roman Empire — which can also be considered the apex of the Mesopotamian strain depending on one’s criteria. Jesus was a Jew who held fast to the original Hebrew concept of Oneness — expressed in Genesis as Elohim, the first name of God, its roots deep in the Paleolithic — and dedicated his life to calling out both Jew and Gentile from the imperial death machine.

The Roman Empire routinely crucified its radical dissidents and Jesus of Nazareth was no exception. In life he was an unremarkable, marginal freak, but his death gave rise to a very remarkable mythology. This mythology married the linearity, Oneness, and expectant finality of Hebrew culture with the cyclical, agricultural renewal of the Mesopotamian strain. The resulting mythos features the final, inevitable death of the imperial cancer, followed by the anomalous resurrection of a socially complex city that operates based on the principle of Oneness, exists in homeostasis with its environment and not in opposition to it, and is “eternal” — in other words, sustainable. In this way the city as a form of social organization is “born again,” redeemed from the dualist corruption in which it was originally born.

Revelation is the last book of the Bible, and this is where we find the description of this new city, the “New Jerusalem,” preceded by chapter upon horrifying chapter detailing the bloody, cataclysmic death of the Mesopotamian strain — the Apocalypse. One would be forgiven for thinking that the Apocalypse was the sole point of Revelation. Certainly the logical-conclusion global collapse is worthy of much ink; however, the truly fascinating stuff picks up after the Apocalypse, and that is what I want to focus on here.

Apocalypse, Judgment, & A Third Testament

Revelation 20 details the Judgment, in which God judges the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, and all the people who willingly participated with these over the course of time and especially during the “Great Tribulation,” those seven years leading up to the Apocalypse itself. For the sake of brevity I won’t quote the whole chapter, but you can read it here.

I think what Revelation 20 symbolizes is a conscious process of reshaping Western culture, going forward after global collapse, to purge it of its pathology and ground it in sanity. Perhaps something like a culture-wide, civilization-wide 12-step process: We are powerless over our drive to accumulate and our lives have become unmanageable. We came to believe that Elohim (Wakan-Tanka, the Tao, Source, the mind inside of Nature) could restore us to sanity. We made the decision to turn our lives and our will over to the mind inside of Nature, and we made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. And so on.

It makes sense to me that if the point of the Bible is to span the Mesopotamian strain, in anticipation of its demise and subsequent redemption, it should include a record of the actual events of that demise. Moreover, those of us who are here now to witness Apocalypse are the best suited to be its chroniclers, and to lay the foundation for the future judging process or even to begin the process now. And there is also the question of what is worth saving from the Mesopotamian strain? What are the criteria for “worthy” and “unworthy” of the Western civilizational lineage?

I think this content and exploration of these questions should constitute a Third Testament of the Bible. That’s easy to say, but a biblical testament is no small project — it took thousands of years to develop the content of the Old Testament, and it took 325 years to develop and collect the content of the New Testament. A Third Testament would take many people many lifetimes, and would require many other people supporting them in the effort provided the project would continue beyond the point of being able to buy and sell.

For some reason it didn’t occur to me for many weeks of thinking about this that what I am looking at here is a monastic tradition or a monastic project.

Lots of people in the doomosphere have spoken of monastic traditions as being something that could carry at least some people through collapse and preserve what is worthy of being preserved of our culture. Monasteries are by definition, however, spiritual in nature, and no one I’ve seen has proposed anything like a solid spiritual context for collapse in general, let alone for a granular monastery here and there. That kind of communal life will fall apart very quickly without some greater understanding to hold it together.

A Third Testament project would provide everything necessary intellectually and culturally not only for the continuation of one, or even many, monasteries indefinitely; it would also provide a bridge from this side of collapse to whatever comes afterward, no matter how long the ensuing Neo Dark Ages, in just the same way the monasteries of Europe bridged the Dark Ages between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance.

This idea’s been kicking around in my head for some time now. The more I think about it, the more I like it.


Modest Support Request (Updated)

Update 9/5 9:50 am: I have scheduled my doctor’s appointment for the 17th, but prior to that I will need to have a thyroid blood panel done which will cost an additional $85. I wasn’t anticipating this for this appointment but it is something I have to do periodically, otherwise my doc doesn’t have the info she needs to adjust my meds.

So here’s the current math: I need total $340. So far I have received $75, have $50 coming via snail mail, and have spent $30 to renew Mythodrome.net for two years. (Thank you!) I still need $215 so I can pay for my office visit on the 17th, and the blood work ASAP so the results can be delivered to my doctor before my appointment.

If you have a blog, a bunch of Twitter followers or some other means of spreading the word, I would really appreciate it. I desperately need to get my medications changed up so I can get back to some level of normalcy. For the past several weeks I have been sleeping only erratically and have been mostly nonfunctional and therefore unable to work. If I can just get stabilized at a functional level I can work again, and pursue further treatment with that income.

I’m too sick to work and too broke to get treatment. It’s been like this for almost a year now. Every time I think I’ve got it licked, I don’t… I really, truly need to get this resolved so I can pull my quality of life out of the toilet. Please help if you can. Thanks.


Update 9/4 11:30 pm: I’ve received $70 so far and have another $50 promised via snail mail. So approximately halfway there, still need about $135 toward the medical stuff. Huge thank you to those who have pitched in so far, I appreciate it more than I can tell you! On my way now to renew mythodrome.net…


Hey all — I’m up against a couple of bills I can’t pay. If anyone can help chip in I would surely appreciate it.

First, my mythodrome.net domain is going to expire tomorrow. The cost of renewing is $15/yr, if possible I would like to renew it for 2 years. So I’m looking for $30 to cover that, or $15 minimum to remain up and running for the next year.

Second, medical expenses — I need to schedule a doctor’s appointment to tweak my medication. She charges $175 per office visit. I have no insurance (she doesn’t accept insurance in any event), and to the best of my knowledge there are no other endocrinologists in the area who charge any less for the kind of treatment I’m currently undergoing. Then, my new meds will cost about $50 for a month. So, total there is about $225.

Altogether I’m looking to raise about $255. If you can chip in I would appreciate it to the ends of the Earth. If it should happen that I collect more than $255 the remainder will go toward vitamins and supplements that my Dr. prescribes in addition to the actual prescriptions.

I’m happy to provide further details if you want them before donating. Just email me directly at: paula at mythodrome dot net.

Thanks much! I should have a new post up either tomorrow or Friday.