This is the big question after all. We ask ourselves it all the time. Perhaps we phrase it slightly differently, for whatever reason, but this is really what it all comes down to: What will I do?
Last month, one person wrote and shared something a bit unexpected: permaculturist David Holmgren wrote a piece which seeks to convince others to attempt to collapse (or perhaps at least slow) Civilization.
I empathize with that feeling.
The chill outside from this winter, seemingly a result of Civilization's alteration of the global climate, begs the question: Is it time for something better? Or at least, something different?
A key idea, which I'll mention, or reiterate, is that Civilization is a living thing, with all that this implies. For some, this concept might seem obvious, and for others, ridiculous, but reality is reality.
Living things absorb energy and matter, rearrange these things in more complex patterns, and develop the quality of being self perpetuating. Now, I'm sure there are better explanations, and definitions, and I'm sure others have written some -- but that is something for a different work, at (mostly) a different time.
One can think of Civilization as a Person. By civilization, I mean all of the people, and all of the things built by people and machines, that work together to keep everything moving and flowing.
If there were a people, a small number, or a large number, who attempted to hasten the collapse of this civilization (all civilizations collapse and die eventually, as do all other living things), let's call it a euthanasia of sorts, then civilization will do everything possible to continue.
For example, one way to really test the system would be to organize a bank run. The timing would be important, to get the maximum publicity: perhaps something that was going to be televised anyway, a parade perhaps. And, it would take a fair number of people. Some would create the bank run by withdrawing all the cash from the bank. Of course, most branches have very little cash on hand, and some smaller branches have much less than others. There is probably one day of the week that is the lowest cash-on-hand day of the week, and probably the same could be said for a particular day of the month. Internet and/or phone could be used to create a flash bank run mob in numerous banks around the world, simultaneously, or one after another. The point being, that there are exceptional moments in time and space that would be optimum for attempting to initiate a bank run.
I suppose it might work. Some system of Civilization might be fragile enough to fail. And in fact, organisms die not when an entire system dies, but when a single organ dies, typically because of a lack or over abundance of a single something. A heart attack, for example, is a result of a lack of a single thing, oxygen, carried by red blood cells, too few of which can make it to the gasping cells beyond the clogged arteries.
What would Civilization do, in response to this threat of sorts?
Well, some have seen this here and there, with bank runs in Europe, and in failing countries, and in electronic bank runs in the markets. There are mechanisms that would come into play. There would be closings, and press reports, and calming words, and if necessary, people would speak, and the communication of stability would spread to calm the fears.
The most important thing, for the continued survival of Civilization, would be that the food kept getting to where it was consumed, because is long as that happens, as long as people can get food, and be fed, these people of civilization (myself included), then we'll probably keep on participating.
The food distribution system depends on a number of things: good transportation system, energized by a working fuel distribution network with ample retailers, and a function money or credit system, and, of course, with a smooth supply of the fuel itself. There are many vulnerabilities here, which brings to mind the battles in Iraq in recent memory, and how one side attacked the infrastructure, the command and control, and the power stations, and the refineries, and the oil wells (once to burn, and once to secure).
Holgren's piece, I suspect, did not call for a by-all-means-necessary, "this is a war between "the life of Civilization" and "the life of the living planet Earth as we know it".
It's interesting food for thought. Perhaps I'll write a dystopian film screenplay about a brilliant and sensitive community of humans, almost all, members of Civilization, who turn against the very creature they are part of, and become a terminal condition which robs Civilization of its life; but leads to new green grass, and a happier tomorrow. I think that films already been aired, the book already written, and how I'd have to add a sex scene from the hottest movies stars to get green lit.
Until then: What will you do? ,,, and ... Who will you do it with?