Five years later, Guy McPherson reflects on his original article that was published in the Tucson Weekly on May 14, 2009.
Five years ago, I made my exit: I walked away from my job and my urban living situation, pulled out all my retirement funds, built a new home off-grid, found new neighbors, and started a new life.
You may be at such a point yourself where you are ready to take that next step. Perhaps you have considered what it takes to maintain the set of living arrangements known as “industrial civilization under empire” and have decided that the cost is too high. You may be ready to make some significant changes that decrease your dependence on the industrial economy and reflect your values more fully through your lifestyle — or at least to do some serious looking into that possibility.
But where to begin? Stepping away from the industrialized living situation one has known and lived for perhaps decades is an enormous undertaking. While some are ready to get off the industrial economy bus at the next stop, as I was when I wrote the following piece, others are thrown from the bus at full speed due to climate chaos, economic upheaval, and other follow-on effects of industrial collapse. Still others clutch their seats nervously and wait, wondering what to do next.
This personal transition invites one to do nothing less than to re-imagine one’s very life. New locales, new friends, new opportunities and new challenges await those who undertake this journey. While there is no blueprint for making this journey, each of us who has taken some steps along the road of personal transition has garnered some garnets of wisdom along the way. For those of you who are called to make other arrangements, consider the program I will offer along with three others this spring and summer. Dwight, John, Parama and I aim to condense our collective wisdom down to one week in Belize in May, and two weeks in Guatemala in March and June, in order to help those making their own arrangements for living outside the industrial economy.
For me, leaving empire has meant relocating to a remote corner of New Mexico. For my co-facilitators, it has meant relocating to Central America, embedding in a different culture, speaking a new language, and meeting their core human needs in ways that they hope will one day serve many others. We have selected locations for this seminar that are living examples of the principles we will be discussing.
I invite you to consider the following article, one of the last pieces I published while still a part of the teaching apparatus at the University of Arizona. When I wrote it in 2009, I was at my own personal pivot point in the process of finding a more durable set of living arrangements. I was ready to step away from my life as I had known it. My time living sanely was just beginning.
Since then, humans have triggered about 30 positive feedback loops and established a course for our own near-term extinction that appears to be all but unavoidable. We owe it to the future generations of all species, whether our own or others, to do what we can in our own lives to terminate the industrial economy and find ways to live beyond it as rapidly as possible.
While doing so may not reverse the course of climate chaos we find ourselves on, at the very least, taking steps to live outside the industrial model while it still continues to function could make the inevitable loss of the infinite growth economy and its destructive lifestyle easier to navigate, and a more fertile ground in which to assist others, many of whom will be unavoidably thrown into a radical shift in their living arrangements.
Whether or not homo sapiens sapiens disappears forever, its industrial economy and the resulting lifestyle that takes endlessly from the future in order to simply survive certainly will. Let us do what we can in the present moment to assist each other in making those alternate arrangements: Please feel free to learn more about The Next Step Seminar here.