We Can Be Certain Of This

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

We Can Be Certain of This  

Just as the addict feels "I can't live any other way," so we continue clinging to a way of living that is equally self-destructive because we too see no other way to live.

Yesterday I discussed the intrinsic uncertainties in complex systems. (Certainty, Complex Systems, and Unintended Consequences). Amidst this sea of uncertainty we can be certain of this: humans will continue down an unsustainable path that inevitably leads to a tragic end until they succeed in destroying themselves or they reach a point of no return and abruptly change course.

That process of clinging to the present arrangement "because I can't live any other way" until that arrangement collapses is the primary narrative of our era. It is truly remarkable how humans will cling to a visibly self-destructive, no-exit arrangement because they see no alternative, and then after the present arrangement crumbles and the wreckage is cleared, we somehow manage to find some other arrangement.

Sadly, we only rouse ourselves to change when there is no other choice, that is, after we've destroyed the previous arrangement. Take the seas, for example: we're losing the oceans. The scale of our destruction of this resource is unprecedented and easily visible to all. The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction (Foreign Affairs) Over the last several decades, human activities have so altered the basic chemistry of the seas that they are now experiencing evolution in reverse: a return to the barren primeval waters of hundreds of millions of years ago.

Every trawler that goes to sea (often subsidized by governments anxious to maintain the employment and protein offered by wild fisheries) stripmines another percentage of a fast-dwindling resource, and as a result fisheries are collapsing around the globe.

This propensity to exploit a resource made a certain kind of sense when humans numbered a few tens of thousands. Find a tree with ripe fruit? Pick every one, and then move on.

Unfortunately there are no other blue-water planets teeming with edible fish within our reach. Once we stripmine and despoil our planet's oceans, there is no "move on to the next one." The same is true of fresh-water aquifers, soil, and so on.

We can print IOUs, credit and paper money, but we can't print fresh water once the aquifers are drained. Yes, we can spend billions of dollars and build desalination plants, but this option is limited to small wealthy populations. It is not a solution, it is simply a work-around that consumes extraordinary quantities of energy and capital.

Those of us who are not addicted to heroin wonder how addicts can continue down such a visibly self-destructive path. But how different are we? Just as the addict feels "I can't live any other way," so we continue clinging to a way of living that is equally self-destructive because we too see no other way to live.

Just as the addict feels that the alternative is too frightening and painful to contemplate and shooting smack is by far the easier, more comforting routine than risking the pain and trauma of going clean, so we cling to the present arrangement, as doomed and self-destructive as it is, because we too are afraid of change and want to avoid the pain of adapting to new arrangements.

And so the addict continues to the inevitable fork in the road; he either succeeds in destroying himself, and the arrangement ends that way, or he reaches a point so close to the inevitable end that the recognition awakens his instinct not just for survival but for a better life.

And then a small miracle occurs. An alternative way of living becomes visible in the addict's mind. His fear and desire to avoid pain (not just the pain of withdrawal but the pain of self-awareness and personal responsibility) are still present, but he finds the pain is bearable and the benefits of pursuing this alternative way of living outweigh his fear of change.

His certainty that there is no other way to live but addiction was false. It was always false, but in the mindset of fear and fierce devotion to the present arrangement, no matter how self-destructive, there was no alternative.

And so we continue clinging to the present arrangement, certain there is no other way and that we are powerless to change our circumstances, until the current arrangement collapses beneath us, and we have no other choice but to make another arrangement.

This is the second great narrative of our era. Our job is to describe and discuss another arrangement, a sustainable, non-addictive one that isn't doomed to collapse from the start, so all those currently clinging to the path of self-destruction will have an alternative when the Status Quo comes apart and the smack they "need" to continue living is no longer available, or no longer available in sufficient quantity or quality.

There is no point in trying to take the needle from the addict when he is certain there is no other way to live; for him, there is no other way to live. The only point of change lies ahead, when he reaches the cliff edge and must decide to plunge to his death, clinging to the present arrangement to the end, or he stumbles away from the edge and musters the courage to seek some alternative arrangement that doesn't lead to the abyss.

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Stuck on Zero's picture

That certainly brightened up my Sunday morning.


remain calm's picture

Pass me my dirty needle, I would rather just get high, I don't see the cliff yet.

Headbanger's picture

I'm surprised the "everything is a conspiracy" crowd here hasn't said the growing heroin problem is a planned means of reducing population and/or a means of funding foreign radical forces in toppling enemy governments!

Tylers:  Did you miss this one for the conspiracy theory crowd here??



Ooops.. . I see Kurt has got the idea in a post below.


And don't miss the big tin foil special sale today at WalMart!

stant's picture

i was told that the deaths from heroin in lexington ky have gone from 1 a month to 39. i have warned my kids of it. i also explained why this is going on. to fund those with budget problems.

Abi Normal's picture

I know many of you hate me, but that is AOK, that is your right.  There is a way to effect change:



I feel this is going to be a dicey situation, but it is an action that needs to happen.  So instead of banging keyborads, and your head against the wall, look into becoming a part of the restoration!

Headbanger's picture

But Abi.. I like banging my head against the wall!!

Cause it feels so good when I stop!

However, I believe the growing heroin problem is due in part to reduced law enforement of the War on Drugs cause of budget cuts.

So it could be considered a conspiracy in that sense.

Pool Shark's picture



You guys ain't seen nuthin' yet. With AB-109 out here in Kalifornia, we can no longer imprison drug dealers.

Contrary to popular belief, most criminals aren't that stupid. They've figured out that they can't be sent to prison for non-violent offenses; so that's what they're doing: car thefts, commercial burglaries, drug dealing...

Guess what? Crime DOES pay (at least in California...)


Ignatius's picture

"...we can no longer imprison drug dealers."

When did we ever imprison individuals in the CIA?

new game's picture

heroin cards! needles to go, inject, baby inject - all your troubles gone. trowlers strip the oceans, earth movers rape the surface from everything of value for tha next lutury (rare earth to coal). fracc that shit mon, frac baby frac til no water potable. crash baby and burn btichez. enjoy whilst you can. find a corner least infected from growth disease on a finite shere of influence...

Prisoners_dilemna's picture

I inject gold in my veins and sniff silver up my nose.

How f*cked am I?!?


Keep coming back to ZH. It works if you work it.

toady's picture

The man with the golden arm?

spine001's picture

This rule is true for  al biológicas systems that are close. Al organismos keep con reproducing until they reach the limit of the resources of the system and only then they adapt. Adaptación always comes as fights forma resources where only the fitest survive. Mercy is a luxury only reserves forma times of abundance. 

MontgomeryScott's picture

By the year 2001, Afghanistan's Opium production was approaching zero, thanks to the provisional Taleban government. That all changed, however, when U.S. forces invaded and occupied that nation.

You, sir, need to wake up and see the larger picture. It has NOTHING to do with 'budget cuts' on the 'war WITH drugs'. Think 'Air America' and 'Evergreen Aviation' and al-CIA-duh, here.


When the conspiracy is so vast as to be unbelievable, people will withdraw, preferring to believe the fairy tales that the conspirators tell them.

Sleep well, 'headbanger', and let those sugar-plum fairies dance in your flouride-induced stupefied head.


Headbanger's picture

Flouride??     Oh that explains everything.

Don't forget about all the artificial sweeteners.

Aren't you missing out on your chemtrail conspiracy group watch now?

And be sure to stop by WalMArt for the big tin foil sale today!

dizzyfingers's picture

"When the conspiracy is so vast as to be unbelievable, people will withdraw, preferring to believe the fairy tales that the conspirators tell them."


Headbanger's picture

Paranoia runs deep..

Into your life it will creep...

MunX's picture

There is no anonymous. Its the CIA. 

NoMoMrNiceGuy's picture

While I am not a fan of Jones and a lot of his topics - not everything is a "theroy" - for instance - do you not think the Market by central banks is a Vegas Style Conspiracy designed to benefit but a few? How about the Manipulation of Gold ? You see - not everything is a theroy - there are real conspiracys in this world. If you are blind enough not to recognize them then so be it. But to lable another man for his beleif as something other than good or ordinary is short sighted. I do not think less of you or deny your right to disagree, but I will do so in a way that does not denegrate you. You are welcome to your opinion, and I to mine. If you thnk mine is wrong then so be it. Iwill however listen to your ideas and decide if there is truth in them. That is how I learn.

Rafferty's picture

Control of newspapers and television channels makes the difference between a “conspiracy theorist” and a “talented writer”, or between “the next probable President” and “the crackpot leader of an obscure political party”.


The corollary of not believing in conspiracies is believing everything 'your' government tells you.  Isn't that correct?

BobRocket's picture

It is not a 'Conspiracy', they all lie to you, your kids ('it wasn't me'), your wife ('someone at the mart must've hit it'), your boss ('your job is safe'), your CEO ('I have full confidence')...


All the way up to your leader ('I believe in You') (lying Twat)


But it's ok cuz you lie everyday, you lie to yourself that it will all be ok.

You lie to your friends that you will support them

You lie to your parents that you will look after them

You lie to your boss that you will work hard for them

You lie to your children that you are building a better future for them...but you aren't

You've been lying to yourself all along (and that is why you have ulcers)


It is only a conspiracy whilst you continue to decieve yourself.


The world you live in is of your own making, until you admit responsibility for the complete clusterfuck that is your world around you then nothing will change (it will continue to deteriorate)


Only by making a clean breast of it can you come to appreciate that the world you live in is a direct reflection of who you are.


Ask yourself this question, and answer honestly.


'What kind of world do I want ALL children to live in ?'


Only by answering that question honestly can you change the world WE live in,

till then it is 'Business as Usual'



Dick Buttkiss's picture

The state is nothing if not competing conspiracies — i.e., various factions gaming an inherently corrupt system for their "rightful" share of its stolen goods — doing so in the sense that Bastiat meant when he said: "The state is that great fiction whereby everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else."

It's not actually everyone, of course, just the "more equal" few — the Wall Street / Washington nexus, the military-industrial complex, the education/indocrination complex, the myriad bureaucracies, etc. — that feed off it at the expense of the many, increasing numbers of whom are bought off with freebies one sort or another, until the sociopathy is so rampant that the sytem collapses.

As for "brightening up [one's] Sunday morning" the choice is there to be made every morning — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_pill_and_blue_pill — the question being what the "bright" thing to do is.

Deep down, everybody knows, of course, but as only a tiny few "go there," most having been rendered incapable of doing so, the "great fiction" goes on.

Until the greater nonfiction known as reality inevitably has its way.

toady's picture

Please. That conspiracy theory is so well documented that it's considered conspiracy fact at this point.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knows the only reason anyone cares about Afghanistan is because of the heroin, and the only reason the US is still there is so the CIA can fund illicit activity.

Any conspiracy theorist worth its salt runs with things that are hard or impossible to prove, not things that are already proven

highly debtful's picture

If you want a bright sunday morning, you better wake up and stay away from Zerohedge. If I want some light, cheerful reading, I always turn to articles on King World News. Now there's an optimist if I ever saw one. Nice chap, never missing an opportunity to ask his guests why we're all going to hell in a handbasket. He uses nice pics too, you know, meteorites impacting on a planet that curiously resembles ours. 

nmewn's picture

For reals.

Apparently the author thinks spending (wasting?) billions of dollars to build de-sal is a non-starter and is more important than the aquifer (and the people needing it to survive) that he laments is being depleted.

"Yes, we can spend billions of dollars and build desalination plants, but this option is limited to small wealthy populations. It is not a solution, it is simply a work-around that consumes extraordinary quantities of energy and capital."

So who is the targeted audience?

Must be former Solyndra, Fisker & GE etal execs and the officialdom brainiacs who gave them billions of our money to squander ;-)

Nobody's picture

Have you ever stop to think about what the waste product for a Reverse Osmosisi De-Sal system is?
The efficiency of that system is 10%. Which means for every 10 gallons of salt water treated, 1 gal of drinkable water is produced. That leaves 9 gallons of concentrated salt enriched water. Where does it go? Sometimes it is poured back into the sea, other times just poured into a sink hole on site. There are always consequences for every action.

nmewn's picture

Yeah, its not a good idea to dump it into slow moving bodies of water (like at the top of a bay) because you raise the salinity of the water too high.

But piping it offshore to mix back into the gulf or ocean (in the case of California) isn't that big of a deal, the water is moving, mixing. I can't help people choose to live or farm where water is in short supply, that will be the price they have to pay.

And we're talking about salt here, only people like Bloomberg thinks salt is a level one carcinogen ;-)

Nobody's picture

I agree with your comment on the idiocy associated with people living and deriving their livelihood in areas that are water deficient.
In regards to saline pollution however, it is not what we deem to be a pollutant, it is what the government or next door neighbor does.

Being Free's picture

I can't help people choose to live or farm where water is in short supply, that will be the price they have to pay.

How true nmewn, reminds me of this clasic Sam Kinison bit... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0q4o58pKwA

A Nanny Moose's picture

Is it too early to start drinking?

toady's picture

Its gotta be noon somewhere. Three martini lunch?

TBT or not TBT's picture

Sunday morning is still designated for dealing with guilt, just not the God kind anymore.

AmericasCicero's picture

Now the NSA can take your confessional quickly and convieniently!

BadKiTTy's picture

We wont be the first and we wont be the last to go down this route.  

NoDebt's picture

"Do the right thing only after all other options have been exhausted."

That was posted by somebody in the office of a previous employer of mine.  I don't work there any more.


Wahooo's picture

That should be the mission statement of the company I work for, hell could apply to 95% of them.

Ignatius's picture

Right.  Making money -- grabbing the maximum short term profit  -- is valued above all else.  When we were few and the resources many we could 'afford' that kind of community/personal greed.  And we're caught in a debt money system that demands we continue this irrational course and behavior.

highly debtful's picture

Actually, that was something Winston Churchill  originally said about his closest and most powerful allies during WW II: "You can trust the Americans to do the right thing. After they have tried all the other options."

And he would have known: he was half Amercan himself (American mother).


TBT or not TBT's picture

The British tried socialism and they're still trying.

stock trout's picture

But President Obama has promised millions of dollars to California to fix the drought there. So it will be ok now. 

Obese-Redneck's picture

You can be certain that Ayn Rands beaver was so thick and musky that John Gault wouldn't touch it with your schwanze.

duncecap rack's picture

Where the hell did that come from?

FredFlintstone's picture

Perversion is a prerequisite for statism?

kurt's picture

Brought to you by an International Foundation, Malthusian Murder Incorporated. Umm, shithead, why don't you just check out and spare us the chunky resinous dark vomit?

Shad_ow's picture

The addict should be allowed to make his own choice but he should not be allowed to stick the needle in my a$$ or force me to support his life and expenditures while he lives like royalty.

BobRocket's picture

The addict should be allowed the freedom of choice to do as he will but it is assholes like you that criminalise his non-invasive acts that make him act the way he does, leave him alone and he will go about his private business as he sees fit.

I mean, how would you react if a minority, for reasons of idealogy, managed to outlaw the posession of Gold ?

They would say it was for your own good, that Gold is a corrupting influence on the young, that you were evil and that the sellers of Gold were worse.

They would kick in your doors at 5am and parade you before the courts, set an example of you, make you unemployable, just because you owned a few grams.


Fuck off and die you neo-libertarian fascist twat.


(edited to include the word twat at the end)

Seasmoke's picture

Can you really fly off the cliff.....if you are just going around in circles ???

Things that go bump's picture

Its more of an ever-widening spiral.