Guest Post: John Michael Greer: If the Four Horsemen Arrive, Offer Beer

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Adam Taggart of Peak Prosperity,

"We have a national mythology that limits are always bad. In fact, we have a national phobia of limits," wryly observes John Michael Greer: author, historian, conservationist, and proprietor of the popular weblog The Archdruid Report [21]. "We need to get past that."

We need to come to terms with the fact that we don’t have limitless energy, we don’t have limitless resources, we don’t have limitless time. All of these things are specific. They function within a finite world. And engaging in hand waving about well, human ingenuity is limitless. No, it isn’t. Okay, it may be immense, but it’s not limitless.

And so getting past that fetish of limitlessness strikes me as the most important thing. All of us are going to die – each individual person listening to this show and everybody else as well. That’s a limit we can’t get past. And you’ll notice that people who actually face that limit and say okay, I get this, I have a finite amount of years on this earth and them I’m going to die. What am I going to do with the time that I have? Those are the people that we call mature. Those are the people we call wise. Those are the people who go out and have a life instead of just frittering their time away.


I think we need to do that as a society. We need to say nobody guaranteed America its particular place in the sun. Nobody guaranteed that it would continue to hang together, or that this Constitution – which I think is a very smart document – will continue to function when it’s being ignored by almost everybody. We need to accept that the world’s not functioning in our favor, that we have to function within realistic sets of limitations within which everything should operate. And then we might actually be able to get off our duff and do something creative with the time we have on this earth.


If you’ve ever seen a fifty-year-old man trying to pretend that he’s seventeen, it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to everybody and it rarely ends well. That’s what America is right now. It’s two hundred something years old. It’s not an adolescent anymore. It needs to ditch the bright red car, stop trying to pick up teenage chicks, stop the binge drinking, and actually deal with the fact that there’s only so many years left. You need to do something useful with that time and not go around with everybody else – you know, China and Europe -- just rolling their eyes and trying to pretend that they don’t notice how we’ve combed our hair forward over our bald spot.

So, then, what does using our time wisely look like?

Probably two-thirds of the energy we use in this country is wasted. Those of our listeners who have been over to Europe know that they don’t live in caves over there. They get by very comfortably on a third of the energy use per person than we use over here. We could easily -- easily -- decrease our energy use over a ten to twenty year period to European levels. And once we did so, we’d find that a lot of our international problems would go away in a hurry.


Okay, so the first thing, as we used to say back in the day, back in the 1970s and early 1980s when the whole appropriate tech movement was a growing concern, weatherize before you solarize. You first of all conserve what you have, then you can look at converting to renewables to do things with it.


What would we do that would be sensible? Get out of the empire business. If you do it voluntarily, as Britain demonstrated, you can maintain a lot. If it’s dragged from your cold dead hands, that’s not particularly helpful to you. We would be looking at rebuilding – we used to have the best rail system in the world. At this point, it would be a disgrace to a collapsing Banana Republic. We could fix that relatively easily. We’d provide inexpensive, safe, comfortable, easy rail travel all over the country at a tiny fraction of the energy we now waste on superhighways and air travel. I could go on for a week talking about things that we could do if we were actually going to be reasonable about making the best possible use of the energy we have left.


I would point out that one of the ways we can look at this is what an exciting time this is to be alive. What an astonishing opportunity we have to create – with our own lives, with our own choices – to literally shape the future ahead of us.


So what I advise is that people start by looking at their own lives and saying okay, how is my life going to change as energy constraints continue to squeeze in, and then get ahead of the change instead of being dragged along behind it. Get ahead of it, give yourself some space, work through the learning curve picking up the skills you’re going to need. Do it now, so that by the time it’s necessary, you’re comfortable with it, you know what you’re doing.


You’ve already insulated your place. You may have a solar hot water system in place if you can afford one. You’ve torn up some of the grass in back and turned it into a vegetable garden so that you can stretch out staples. You know how to cook from scratch so you’re not dependent on the vast corporate structure. You maybe started developing some tradable skills. You’ve got a little basement workshop where you’re doing something you can barter with your friends. You’re brewing beer in the basement, you know? That’s actually my number one suggestion for a lot of people – learn how to brew beer. If the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse knock on your door and you can offer each of them a cold one, they’re your friends.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with John Michael Greer (46m:45s):


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Majere's picture

I'm going to ask them to transport me to the "new super earth". 

Seer's picture

Two lines forming:

A) Whisked off by an invisible being- sign up for your favorite religion today!

B) "Technology will save us" - sign up to poor your hard earings into NASA (to help fund TPTB's eye in the sky to, er, a, "watch out for you")

"A" kind of has a more realistic element, with the Ark thing and all.  And, I suppose, "B" too, shovels are pretty useful (for filling sandbags).

Yen Cross's picture

 This " Little House on The Prairie", crap is getting old. Yes... diversify and stock -up.

 The over the top, regress back into the stone age shit, is just plain stupid!

  Technology is a double edged sword. (use it responsibly, or abuse it and pay the price)

knukles's picture

Here here

(harrumph, like the back bencher, harrumph harrumph... best approval rating in the universe.. making blubbering sounds thinking about the back to the stone age tripe)

Yen Cross's picture

 My name is Yen Cross", and I approve my previous message. 

Popularity contests are for people that make you read the 'fine print'.

Seer's picture

There are plenty of people on this planet who would see "Little House on The Prairie" as being a step up in life.  We here are living well above the majority of people on this planet.  And given that things can only do one of three things, 1) stay the same, 2) move up, or 3) move down, (note that staying the same is mostly just a transitory point, a brief interlude between the other two) I'd be careful about feeling smug about one's position (think you can keep moving up?).

Opinionated Ass's picture

we don’t have limitless resources

What is this "we" crap? My cuntry is between my legs.

akak's picture

Even though (or maybe especially because) I have participated in the past in the rightfully despised, stress-inducing exercise in gross resource waste that is the daily American commute, I never fail to recognize that this vast daily migration of multi-ton vehicles, most containing a single occupant, will be looked upon in the future as one of the greatest acts of mass insanity in world history.  And while I no longer am forced into taking part in my much-hated former daily commute, I would have LOVED to have been able to use public transportation in lieu of driving my own car most days, and have been relieved of the stress of having to deal with icy roads and the many gadget-distracted semi-suicidal (and semi-homicidal) other drivers.

thomasincincy's picture

i figured up sometime ago, roughly 1 in 7,500 die every year in auto related accidents. not very good odds imo... i think you can get close to those kind of odds on a long shot winning the world series pre-season 

Seer's picture

Sigh, in order to shift forward I found that I had to go backwards...  I commuted by bicycle for five years straight before moving to the country, and I now have to actually commute by the killer automobile :-(  Straddling between two worlds is VERY tough!   As more and more "jobs" are lost I feel that I'll at least have some means of sustenance from my property, but I won't have means for moving myself and a heap of metal very far: still have my bicycle (same with my wife); topography, however, is a bitch when contemplating moving goods by bicycle (could be done, but it'll be a bit of strain on my old bones).

samsara's picture

Tyler,  As I said in another post below.  

Thank you for 'Casting Your Net Wide' enough to include writers like JMG.

He is a GREAT writer.

Thank you TD and ZH. this is what makes ZH what it is.

lolmao500's picture



magpie's picture

...and the Euro spikes to 1.2720

Yen Cross's picture

 For Magpie, and other F/X traders...  "Times are G.M.T.-8"    Just stop hunting a backfilling.

15:50  JPY   Tertiary Industry Activity Index (MoM)   0.0% 0.4%     15:50  JPY   GDP Price Index (YoY)    -0.7% -0.9%     15:50  JPY   GDP (QoQ)    -0.9% 0.2%     15:50  JPY   CGPI (YoY)   -0.8% -1.4%     16:30  AUD   NAB Business Confidence     0     16:30  AUD   Home Loans (MoM)   1.0% 1.8%     18:30  JPY   BoJ Governor Shirakawa Speaks            21:30  INR   Indian Manufacturing Output (MoM)     2.90%     21:30  INR   Indian Industrial Production (YoY)   2.8% 2.7%     22:00  JPY   Machine Tool Orders (YoY)      -2.8%     Tentative  CNY   Chinese M2 Money Stock (YoY)   14.5% 14.8%     23:00  EUR   German WPI (MoM)   -0.5% 1.3%  
Mentaliusanything's picture

Well thanks for that Yen Cross, Now I'm really depressed. Looks like the bus we are in is locked in reverse.

To the Printing press Batman we must save Gotham City

dolph9's picture

I highly recommend JMG but he's a much better communicator in writing.  I suspect he doesn't get out much, which is certainly ok.  

I don't blame anybody who is a hermit in modern America.

samsara's picture

He doesn't own a car,  takes the train to most speaking engagements,  grows his own food, and lives a very simple life.   Not a hermit by any means. 

However he DOES walk the walk.  As I said below,  he actually has time to REFLECT, and READ before writting.  A more researched writer you will not meet. 

Whiner's picture

Glad he is a Grand Potentate of Druids. I will listen more carefully, even though I am picking my nose waiting on the Rapture.

Seer's picture

No, no Rapture, not accoring to the "technology will save us all" crowd.  Their "vision" is cooler, rtocketships and stuff!  The Rapture stuff has all these clouds of smoke and fire and is completely... like the rocketship scenario!  Coke or Pepsi?

I'm thinking that there's a need to dig deeper.  Perhaps move toward butt scratching?

buzzsaw99's picture

Greer is not half as smart as he thinks he is and is almost a spiritual zero. I wish I had time to tear him to shreds.

Spastica Rex's picture

Oh, come on - couldn't take that long.

buzzsaw99's picture

Okay just a bit.

...And you’ll notice that people who actually face that limit and say okay, I get this, I have a finite amount of years on this earth and them I’m going to die. What am I going to do with the time that I have? Those are the people that we call mature. Those are the people we call wise. Those are the people who go out and have a life instead of just frittering their time away.

Frittering one's time away is a perfectly logical response, as is suicide, nihilism, and the yes, infinite other philosophies of the human race. He also goes on to say screwing young women as a 50 year old is embarrassing. Excuse me? If I'm going to die anyway why do I care if he is embarrassed for me? Why not get some sweet poontang if nothing matters? Why not fill up the hot tub and get it on with an entire sorority house while watching the big screen? Why the fuck would I want to live like him? His whole outlook on life is dorked. It offers no sane rationale for why I would want to conserve or holy fuck, act like him? Who gives a damn about who is wise and who isn't? He thinks the usa is the oldster in the bunch with china and europe? hahahahahaha! The one who steals the most and has the most toys when he dies wins. He doesn't even appeal to people's ethics or morality, only to their sense of shame of which they have none and why should they anyway since as he admits they are all going to die and after that nothing matters anyway. Needless to say I won't be joining his cult.

Yen Cross's picture

I'm still getting it... :-D

samsara's picture

Says the 50 year old with the comb over, driving the red sports car outside the high school...



Yen Cross's picture

   Perhaps you would like to confess my child? "Would you like to join the Ältar Boy, class action(law suit) list?

cbxer55's picture

Way to go Buzzsaw! I'll join your cult anyday, over the lunatic this thread seems to be highlighting.

Big thumbs up to ya pal. Got some green there.

I am 51 myself, and although I do not try and act like a teenager, I do keep myself in good physical shape. I also drive a fast Sport truck (Ford Lightning) and a really bad-ass motorcycle (sUZUKI m109r). Give them up? Never!

And I absolutely do not give a damn what anyone thinks about me. They can all go jump off a bridge as far as I am concerned. I know I am going to die, and I am going to live life the way I want to for as long as that is possible. I've been prepared to die ever since I was born. Not scared of it on the least. Hell, three months ago when my wife of 20 years told me she wanted a divorce, out of the blue, I was ready to go. It got really close for a few weeks there, I was ready to eat a bullet. I got past it on my own, no witch doctors or therapy, and life goes on.

I'll run with you, over the crack pot that wrote that shit above.

Spastica Rex's picture

Seems like you care a lot.

buzzsaw99's picture

Nothing better than a crotch rocket or leather bucket moo seats. As for Greer I leave him this:

hang in there cbxer55.



Mentaliusanything's picture

When my wife of 25 years said she wanted a divorce I was shocked and humiliated. Fucking worked my ass off for that woman. Went to the Lawyer and said how much is this going to cost. Wise as he was he said, $1680.00 and she gets everything. The price goes up in proportion to how much more north of zero you want to keep.

For the life I have now, $1680 proved to be the deal of a lifetime.

I trimmed 50 lbs of the gut, got me some new threads and some new friends and now I live without fear, fuck who I want, drink when I want, play golf , fish and tour around this great land on MY Motorbike .. When and where I want.... and never feel guilty or apoligize

Oh did I mention the 3 girlfriends, all 15 years younger than her, that fight like cats just to share my life.

at 58 life is like when I was 25 but more enjoyable. You are about to find out

Blindweb's picture

Very short term planning there.  Standard procedure for a failed state is for hyper-conservative values to make a come back.  Theft will become a capital crime.  Loose sexuality will cause you to be shunned by your neighbors at a time when they become essential for survival.  Out of pure selfishness one would be smart to follow Greer's advice; collapse now, avoid the rush.

Buzzsaw will die a short brutal life in a gang, the military, or a prison camp.  Although he is right there is no rational reason to do anything if you don't care about paind and death.


buzzsaw99's picture

Bleak. Let me fill you in. My neighbors are as worthless as tits on a bull. When the shtf the only way they will be able to make a living is by sucking my cock. As for your last paragraph, egad. It is infinitely more likely that you will end up someone's bitch living in the back of some old derelict school bus and be whining about it for the rest of your poor miserable bitch-ass life.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Well said. Greer is a spokesman for the Culture of Death, albeit the softer, cuddlier side of death, where we all just sort of surrender to nothingness.

Fuck that.

Mentaliusanything's picture

Short, sweet and to the point. If I could I would vote you for President

Seer's picture

"Frittering one's time away is a perfectly logical response, as is suicide, nihilism, and the yes, infinite other philosophies of the human race."

Suicide is a philosophy?  No, I'm serious, I'd never heard that.  Is that like Heaven's Gate's actions?

One can poke holes in anything if one wants to jam hard enough, if one stretches something far enough it can be broken.  I'm thinking that you stretched his notion of doing something meaningful into something he was NOT trying to convey.  Yeah, sure, anyone can define what the word "meaning" means, but to state that it's logical to fritter one's time away is, well, illogical in the grand scheme of nature.  Nature hardly fritters.  Those who fail to get it that humans ARE and OF nature fail to grasp how far removed from nature our actions have become.  Your comment about frittering is only one such example.

"He doesn't even appeal to people's ethics or morality, only to their sense of shame of which they have none"

So, you think people have no sense of shame but they have ethics and morals?  I'm thinking that there's a BIG loss in ethics and morals and that trying to appeal to something that people don't have is, well, illogical...  But then again I find lots of problems with assuming that ethics and morals, and even shame, are necessarily natural things: of the three I suppose that there have been signs of shame demonstrated in animals, not so sure about "morals" or "ethics."

Wisdom is sorely needed.  It has been overrun by technology's need for "intelligence."  Wisdom is something that would allow one to evade being fooled.  "Intelligence" more and more is used to fool...  Ah, but nature is steeped in deception so...

cabtrom's picture

Another asshole who wants to tell me how to live. Thanks DAD!

Spastica Rex's picture

Consume and be born again!

St. Ayn

akak's picture

Actually, that would be Saints Paul and Benjamin.

CPL's picture

We wouldn't have to tell you three times how if you weren't so stuborn.  But always with the hard way...don't come cryin afterwards.

DosZap's picture

TWO WAYS to way to fix this.....................NULLIFICATION,or a Con Con.

I say, lets get ON with it.


If it's not patently obvious to all with HALF a brain, the goal here is the total destruction of the America we all KNEW, then your a really ignorant individual.

Seer's picture

Which America was that?

Fucking Mother Nature!  Anti-American bitch! Didn't she get the memo from Dick Cheney that the American Way of Life wasn't negotiable?  War on Mother Nature, NOW!

BTW - "you're a really ignorant individual" - there! corrected your punctuation/grammar :-) (the America that I knew and grew up in used to be able to get this right, sigh)

DosZap's picture

It's kind of fun to watch the weakest of white people get all afraid when they see their racial privilege deteriorating.


Your a dumb ass bro,racial priviledge has not belonged to caucasions for quite a while,thank you very much.

In fact,just the opposite is the case.

BigJim's picture

'YOU'RE a dumb ass', not 'your a dumb ass'

akak's picture

I think anyone who cannot differentiate between "your" and "you're" has proven just who the dumbass actually is.