Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Homestead or Community?

There is a common thread running on three of the peak oil groups in which I participate that is at the heart of much of the duality within the peak oil movement. These threads are discussions on an article by Rob Hopkins in early September in Energy Bulletin. The article is entitled "Why the Survivalists Have Got It Wrong." The whole article can be found at
This article illustrates an unfortunately common misconception of the peak oil movement and, specifically, of peak oilers. That misconception must, in my mind, betray a lack on understanding for the author of the article. It is as though the author is aware of peak oil (the article is, after all, in Energy Bulletin, one of the most trusted information sources for peak oilers) but knows absolutely no one "involved in" the peak oil movement.
The article starts from and stays with the premise that peak oilers are "run for the hill survivalists" who all adhere to a philosophy of building their own isolated, wilderness survival homestead, totally cut off from any involvement with or sense of responsibility to any community. I have addressed this issue before in other articles. The huge flaw in the argument presented in this article, however, is a perception that peak oilers arrive at this strategy by choice, by first choice in fact. Therein lies the betrayal that the author would seem not to know any peak oilers, at least not well enough to understand their motivation.
No peak oiler that I know, whether on the various forums I am involved in or personally, has as their first choice running off into the wilderness and disassociating themselves from community. Most "seasoned" peak oilers arrive at this option out of frustration after years of being considered a nut case, years of fruitless attempts to warn those around them of the coming danger. Eventually most peak oilers reach the point where they feel that if no one wants to listen, if no one wants to see the danger ahead and start to prepare, then to hell with them. There's too little time to prepare without wasting it on people who adamantly do not want to listen.
In every peak oiler's failed efforts are attempts to motivate community into preparation. This is with the clear recognition, to most, that the only viable survivability must be community based. Clearly individual preparation and the abandonment of and isolation from community is not their prefered approach.
Even though pursuing personal preparation is where most peak oilers end up, most still do so with the belief that sooner or later the wider community will "get it" and when they do the isolated, prepared peak oiler will be there to assist, to train, to educate, to organize. Most believe that when the community is ready, meaning the community ceases to be an impediment to preparation, they will reinvolve themselves with that community. I have an old saying that I think says it best; "The right idea at the wrong time is the wrong idea."

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