Internet and Recession

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This is a truly chilling report. As someone alone here in Japan I worry what will happen if things get really bad. How will I survive without close family and friends to protect me and me help to protect them? I’m terrified of things getting so bad that I can’t buy or obtain insulin to keep me alive…

I’d like to make a proposal:

If this recession turns into a worldwide depression the only way most of us will survive will be to band together and help each other out. Trying to go this alone is folly. Since we are already aware that something is afoot and have this internet connection (for now… it, too, may not survive the onslaught) to organize something, would it make sense to start gathering groups of trusted people now to prepare for the worst? Perhaps put together a homepage for local groups to gather and organize into different local communities where they can share information and plans? Even if just a false alarm, having the plans in place could make all the difference.

I’d also like to propose groups of people organizing in-group financial survival insurance or some such (I don’t know the jargon at all) to help each other get through the worst.

When I was young I often listened to my German grandparents and great aunt talk of the great depression and Second World War and how they managed to get through the hard times. Almost always it revolved around families and friends banding together, eschewing traditional nuclear family setups in favor of everyone helping out according each individual’s best abilities. Down in the basement of the apartment they hoarded mountains of canned food and coal so that they could survive months without worry of starving or freezing during the hard winters. Strangers were often welcomed into homes for shelter and once my grandparents harbored a family of Jews all of whom except one, unfortunately, were discovered by the Gestapo and sent, never to return, to Bergen Belsen, the concentration camp just north of my hometown Hannover.

I’ve always strongly felt that this money-focused world economy we have is the worst possible pragmatic model for a society. It inherently teeters on chance, in much the same way a gambler hopes that his luck will hold out. Most people would not hesitate to discount a gambler’s claim that gambling is sound way to make a living, and yet we accept without much question a worldwide economy that basically is a huge franchise of chance games. Cooperation and a focus on community effort truly is the only way a society can hope to sustain itself socially, economically, environmentally, even spiritually. Much as Marx is criticized, he really made some very good points. And those nations which adopted his philosophy never truly carried it out; they twisted it into something draconian and frightful… not at all what Marx envisioned. If anything Marx’s vision very closely resembles the teachings of Christ: Do unto others… Help thy neighbor…

Anyway, here we are staring at this monster of a problem. Is there a way we can all join hands and face it together?

8 Responses

  1. Yep. Banding together is the only way we’re going to get through this. Sharon Astyk at Casaubon’s Book has put together a lot of really helpful info about how to do this, what food to buy in quantity and how to store it, what tools are needed for long-term food processing, and above all the injunction to look out for our neighbors especially if they are older or otherwise less able to take care of these needs.

    The problem is, the people who remember living through the depression and what to do about it are almost gone. we need more memory in order to make this work. Part of the trouble is that most people here in the US seem unwilling to face the hard truths of how bad it’s going to get, so are not preparing for it…

  2. Cassandra's View

    Good idea. But I think putting effort into building relationships with people close to your home is more important. When things do get tough, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to depend on a people via the internet who are scattered all over the place. Imagine a situation where you have no access to the internet, look around your street, these are the people you may need to ask for help.

  3. Pica, Cassandra, nice food for thought. This is the kind of discussion that I think is necessary right now, ideas for pragmatic action. Cassandra, I very much agree with you on finding local connections to the help we would need. I think that is what I was trying to say in my post; use the internet to log on to groups of people local to you, and establish something that will allow an exchange of necessary information. I did suggest that the internet might very well not survive a drastic downturn in the economic infrastructure, s we need to start gathering the information now, while we can. As Pica said, people who’ve had experience with such things as the Great Depression are no longer around, so whatever information we can glean off the internet would help with establishing the base we need to survive. If nothing else, accounts and historical records could help with learning how to get through something truly bad. I don’t think many of us know any more how to live without all the convenineces we’ve had for so long. Transportation, communication, food, energy, hygiene, shelter, water, health, clothing, and of course jobs are all major concerns. Food alone is a potentially disastrous problem in major urban areas. When you look at it our civilization is very vulnerable.

  4. There’s not much of a silver lining in the economic outlook, that’s true. And let’s hope that adversity fosters cooperation, rather than the opposite. If there is a silver lining, reduced economic activity – less consumption, less flying, less driving, less shipping – might just take a bit of strain off Mother Nature. For a while, anyway. Speaking of Mother Nature, those are wonderful photos of Kita-Yatugadake that you have on a nearby posting. Many thanks for sharing.

  5. Project Hyakumeizan, that’s the best way of looking at all of this, though I wonder how many of us will be content to reducing our lifestyles to the basics? Even things like the hyakumeizan will become more difficult, and any kind of international lifestyle will be next to impossible. Personally this will be a major issue for my own family which is spread out across the globe.

    Yatsugatake! Isn’t it wonderful? May I ask where you reside? Any chance of Tokyo?

  6. I’ve been trying to talk to my grown kids about the concept of banding together to weather the storms that may be just ahead, and I get blank stares. They’ve never experienced an extended period of hardship, and have no point of reference, so it’s hard for them to grasp the idea that households may need to be combined, or that resources need to be stockpiled, or that their tomorrow may turn out to be something they haven’t yet been able to imagine.

    Whether we reach across the miles to provide emotional or spiritual support for each other during these troubling times, or we knock on the door next to ours to offer a bit of help to our neighbor, I truly believe that we are about to enter a time when we will all be tested, and our willingness to help one another is the absolute only saving grace that will help us all survive the storm. Yes, Miguel, we absolutely MUST band together. In whatever way will get us through the turmoil.

    I can’t imagine the fear of not having access to insulin for sustaining life … my worst fear is that I’ll become homeless and will be forced to give up my dog. We all have our own version of what our worst fear might be, and we’ll all have to join hands and hearts and not be ashamed to ask for help when we need it. One person might know someone who works in a pharmacy and has access to discount medications, or another might know someone who needs a roommate and would welcome one with a good watchdog, and another might know someone who is willing to barter one thing for another. We may find that using the internet to create a web of needs to match up with available services is the 21st century’s answer to banding together in a crisis. As long as we have access to each other, we should explore what we can do with this tool called the internet. One person connecting to another, and then another, and then another. Each hand helping one, and receiving help from another.

  7. I think maybe this is one time when all of us may well have to learn the hard way, the way that will make a real impression, in order to understand how we need to work together. We certainly aren’t learning through the advice of others. Hopefully we can get through this without too much hardship, though.

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