I was too dismissive in that last post, as readers have said.  John Michael Greer remains a highly astute and valuable analyst of ecology, as well as a source of good advice about how to plan for your personal adaptation to likely future events.

As a student of politics and society, I believe he has much work to do, and I would suggest that it is wise to take what he says about the social dimension of existing societies with extreme caution.

I also think it’s interesting that Greer thinks his theory that no power elite exists in the United States is a source of hope.  The obvious follow-up question is what makes him think Americans will ever choose anything different, if everything we have has been freely and co-equally chosen all along?  Cultures don’t make spontaneous leaps.

Personally, I think it’s not only simple realism to observe that we have been massively dominated by institutions owned by our elite, but the existence of this domination offers far more hope than does Greer’s mainstream consensus view of our history.  Power structures and political policies are a lot easier to change than the way everybody thinks about the world (whatever that is).

2 Replies to “Retraction”

  1. And a followup, I left a rather mild criticism that has been withheld while scores of other laudatory comments have been approved.

    (To be fair to JMG, here is my comment. I saved it in word after your remark about being censored. I produce this because I think it is fair to not just rely on my characterization of the comment. I still think the guy does a lot of important stuff in giving practical advice, but I am a little blown away at the unwillingness to even engage a slight critique. He’s had a lifetime experience fighting against the grain and has no doubt suffered his fair share of fools, maybe a lack of patience for brooking dissent is the byproduct of that experience.

    Anyway, keep up the good work over here. I bought your book awhile back, but , full disclosure, have not read it yet.
    JMG wrote, “”The vast majority of them – or, more precisely, of us – chose the first option and closed their eyes to the consequences. That mistake was made for understandable and profoundly human reasons, but it was still a mistake, and it haunts the American imagination to this day.”

    There is a huge honking blindspot in your analysis. Its reductive to just say that people opted not to do this or came to a collective decision. The consumer capitalist system puts most of the decision making power in the hands of a few, who also happen to benefit the most by perpetuating an unsustainable system for as long as possible.

    The effect that their propaganda in the form of advertising has on people exposes your simplifications.

    I am not saying you are wrong entirely in how you describe our trajectory, but wrong because you neglect such an important part of the story.

    The stuff you cite about people defending the status quo is to be expected; it is not evidence of their decision making, but evidence of what people do when faced with forces larger themselves; post hoc ergo propter hoc rationalization.”

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