Bill Totten's Weblog

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Joe Stack and Likely Coming Attractions

by Carolyn Baker (February 21 2010)

It may be a time of crisis, but it doesn't have to be a time of catastrophe. It's in times of crisis that human beings are often most creative and ingenious and that they pull together most effectively to solve their problems.
-- Thomas Homer-Dixon {1}, author of The Upside of Down (2006)

Most of us have heard it by now-software engineer torches his own house then crashes his private plane into an IRS office in Austin, Texas on February 18 2010. Most descriptions of the event were careful not to call the event an act of domestic terrorism, but rather asked: Was Joe Stack a terrorist or a lone nut? And most mainstream media reports pointed out that Stack was not a Tea-Partier, but some progressive media accused him of behaving like one. Wrong questions, wrong answers. Once again, mainstream media reveals it pathetic depth-perception deficit.

As Rich Benjamin of Alternet notes {2}, Joe Stack's "suicide screed chafes and exposes a raw wound this country does not know what to do with". Bingo.

In the same week as Stack's rampage, an Ohio man so enraged about his home being foreclosed upon, even though he owes far less on it than it's worth, bulldozed the house so that the bank would not be able to repossess it. Not unlike Stack, Terry Hoskins {3} was trying to cope with business debts as well as a lawsuit, and vehemently demonstrated his rage toward banks for all the world to see.

It doesn't take Patrick Jane, The Mentalist {4} or Allison DuBois, The Medium {5}, to grasp that these eruptions of vitriolic rage are most likely, previews of massive civil unrest worldwide, as individuals and families awaken to the current ghastly global transfer of wealth, so brilliantly exposed in David DeGraw's "The Economic Elite Have Engineered An Extraordinary Coup" {6} - a wealth transfer of mindboggling proportions that has left the middle class impoverished and writhing in despair. But this particular side of the Toxic Triangle - economic meltdown, along with the other two sides, climate chaos, and planetary energy depletion, signals that the human species has entered, not a long and painful recession, but nothing less than a tipping point in its own evolutionary odyssey.

And now, millions of human beings who for at least a decade have been unwilling to look deeply at how their world works, find themselves depressed, enraged, paralyzed, and terrified at best and suicidal and homicidal at worst. Since before the turn of the twentieth century, many courageous researchers who were willing to look deeper gave us extraordinary "maps" of who was running the world and what the consequences of that reality would be - individuals like Mike Ruppert, Richard Heinberg, Dmitry Orlov, Peter Dale Scott, Colin Campbell, Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Cynthia McKinney, Sibel Edmonds, and many more. They produced volumes of research related to the Triple Crisis, Toxic Triangle which for the most part, fell on deaf ears.

The corporate capitalist system had forced on American families a lifestyle that left them too busy and too strapped with debt - and of course, too hypnotically entranced with the proverbial "American dream", to read the signals that were becoming more ominous by the day. Besides, in the pubescent ecstasy of the earning/spending/debt party, who wants to be annoyed with downers like becoming an adult and comprehending the facts and their consequences?

And so, those who were too busy, ambitious, hard-working, conscientious, dedicated, and of course, let us not forget, patriotic, have within the past two years been blindsided by that which they refused to acknowledge - and worse, they who have called the mapmakers and their supporters, such as myself, "whack jobs, wing nuts, conspiracy theorists, fearmongers, and pessimists" now find themselves bewildered, flabbergasted, dumbfounded, and horrified.

Tragically, it's the result of being uninformed and unprepared, and when the excrement hits the circular air mechanism, it results for the unprepared in becoming unplugged - like Joe Stack and Terry Hoskins.

But Terry and Joe are only two cases in point. Apparently, the United States government (not Patrick Jane or Allison DuBois) is anticipating many more such incidents. In December, 2008, the Phoenix Business Journal reported in a story entitled "Arizona Police Say They Are Prepared As War College Warns Military Must Prep For Unrest; IMF Warns of Economic Riots" {7}that "a new report by the US Army War College talks about the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used should the economic crisis lead to civil unrest, such as protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks". Concurrently, Military.Com {8} cited another part of the report which stated that "Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security, likewise in the case of 'unforeseen economic collapse', 'pervasive public health emergencies', and 'catastrophic natural and human disasters', among other possible crises".

Fortunately, many individuals and families have awoken to the reality that what our species is confronting is nothing less than the total collapse of industrial civilization and the end of the world as we have known it. They are coming to understand that the collapse is a process, not an event, and that some aspects of it will be slow and grinding, while other aspects will be sudden, catastrophic, and traumatic. And very importantly, they are becoming prepared.

But how does one "prepare", and what is preparation anyway?

In my experience, there are three aspects. The first concerns individual and family self-sufficiency which relates to things like learning to grow one's own food, learning to store and preserve food, understanding and utilizing permaculture {9} design principles in all aspects of life; deeply evaluating one's living situation and assessing where the most sustainable living venue might be; completely extricating oneself from the debt/credit system; learning natural, holistic healing techniques and wild, edible plant foraging skills. These are only a few of the most basic forms of logistical preparation.

And please note, this is not about becoming a camo-clad survivalist with years of food and water stored underground and protected by an arsenal of weapons. In fact, the reality of our predicament is that the lone survivalist cum "apocalypse man" {10} is precariously at risk because survival demands cooperation and coordination.

Therefore, the second aspect of preparation relates to neighborhood and community cooperation, and I believe that the Transition Handbook {11} and Transition movement {12} worldwide offer the most practical, sensible, and feasible model for creating local resilience and self-sufficiency. Those who are skeptical of community preparation often argue that a burgeoning police state will not allow such communities to exist let alone thrive. What they tend to overlook are the realities of energy depletion and economic unraveling which are likely to seriously curtail the functioning of all levels of law enforcement worldwide.

Finally, but in my opinion, most fundamental, is emotional and spiritual preparation for the unprecedented changes which have already begun and which will continue and intensify for many decades to come. It is perhaps the best hedge against becoming "unplugged" in the face of mindboggling chaos and transition. For this reason I published in 2009 Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization's Collapse {13} - a poetic manual of emotional and spiritual preparation for navigating the daunting challenges of our uncertain future.

Although I do not condone Joe Stack's violent attack on the Austin IRS office, I find that his articulate suicide letter {14} contains many grains of truth, as well as a tragic exposé of his lack of comprehension of the larger transition that inundated his life with an overwhelming number of smaller ones. Myriad forms of preparation are no guarantee of survival or well being in the face of the end of the world as we have known it, but they may allow us unimaginable opportunities for personal and community transformation.

In addition to the Transition Handbook, I strongly recommend the Post-Peak Living {15} website and its online "Uncrash Course", as well as my upcoming course in April 2010 on "Navigating The Coming Chaos". For further information on the latter course, please contact me at

No one needs to be either unprepared or unplugged. But the time to address both issues is now.

















Bill Totten


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