Nature thrives in chaos, we should learn from her

It’s very easy, when you witness the disaster unfolding around you, to become depressed. If you find that you are powerless against the machine, if you find that every place you loved as a child is destroyed by man, if you notice all the insects that have disappeared, or if you look at a garbage bin filled with plastic trash and realize that this is the main evidence of your existence that you will leave behind for future generations, then it’s easy to find yourself wondering what purpose there even is to living. The mistake here however, is to imagine yourself as separate from nature. You are nature, in every sense of the word. Your mood is a product of aromas in the air emitted by trees, flowers and shrubs, your body is a product of 3.7 billion years of evolution, your intestines are home to ten times more bacteria than you have cells in your body. As nature enters its time of great grief, to abandon her would be a form of betrayal.

You don’t feel part of nature, because you’re forced to live in circumstances that are not very natural. Some live in their childhood bedroom, because they’ve been priced out of living on their own, or had their excitement for life beaten out of them by a childhood of being forced to do petty work they didn’t want to do. Others dwell in apartment complexes stacked on top of each other. To afford the privilege of having some place to call your own, you’re forced to spend the most valuable of your time in cubicles or warehouses under fluorescent lighting, doing petty repetitive labor. That’s how existence looks for most people who are not born into wealth or win the lottery.

When it comes to work I’m doing relatively well for myself, because cryptocurrency attracts all sorts of disenfranchised people who exist on the margins of society. This affords me liberties that most people of my age don’t really have and allows me to meet people who are similar to me. Whenever I find myself wondering what point there even is to sustaining this phenomenon, because it delivers no positive contribution to society, I remind myself that it doesn’t matter whether it contributes to society or not, because I want to watch society burn down to the ground. Cryptocurrency allows smart young tech-savvy boys to etch out an existence for themselves, to earn money doing what we like and without making us dependent on the conventional power structure that is geared against people like me. I am happy that it exists.

Look at it from this perspective: Imagine you’re an unemployable college dropout, who had a rough childhood with divorced alcoholic parents. You’re in debt and you can’t find a job that fits you, so you end up on welfare. Now you’re struggling to pay for food, you have ten euro to buy yourself food and other basic necessities for a day. You can’t live off that. So what do you do? You start growing cannabis in your house and selling it for 10 euro per gram on the darkweb. Even if you only grow one plant simultaneously in your house, that takes 8 to 11 weeks to grow, you can earn 12,000 euro per year. That’s not a lot of money. But now imagine receiving welfare, in addition to making 12,000 euro on your own. That’s how some of the guys I know live. You can also earn a living by extracting DMT from bark bought legally in a Dutch smartshop (although I must mention there is a taboo among DMT users when it comes to earning a living by selling DMT), or you can grow Psilocybe mushrooms. For young tech-savvy men born into poverty, cryptocurrency has created a lot of opportunities. Despite being intelligent, these are not men who would make good lawyers or accountants, they have too much testosterone running through their veins to be good at following rules and obeying hierarchies. If you’re a young man who went through such a childhood, society can send you to college and might expect to turn you into an obedient little corporate drone, but that’s simply not how the world works.

There is one piece of advice I want to give to you, my friends, today. It is as following:

Do not mourn the demise of nature, but learn from how she thrives within chaos.

Here’s a small secret I need to share: If you’re an environmentalist, you’re unhappy. Environmentalism doesn’t make you happy and happy people are not attracted to environmentalism, they’re attracted to four day vacations on tropical islands that emit as much carbon as an African village does in a year. The stronger your environmentalist leanings are, the more unhappy you become. Greta Thunberg managed to become incredibly popular, because she was honest about the fact that she’s not a happy successful girl. This allowed people around the world to identify and sympathize with her.

Environmentalism is a mistake, in the sense that it is an act of human hubris: It proclaims that nature needs to be protected. Nature doesn’t need to be protected. As Lynn Margulis once put it: Gaia is a tough bitch. Nature continues with or without us, the living Earth will do whatever it needs to do, to adjust to all the misery us humans create. What the environmentalist imagines himself to be doing is defending nature. What he actually attempts to do, is to maintain the kind of nature that human beings enjoy and thrive within. Nature is not being destroyed by man, nor is the living world. Man is simply encouraging nature through our ignorance, to bring an end to the kind of conditions within which man can thrive. We’re not destroying innocence: We’re merely inviting punishment upon ourselves.

Most heathens understand this. The heathen worships nature, because he fears nature. He realizes that he is always dependent upon nature’s mercy, her willingness to tolerate him and make his life bearable. If you mistreat nature, she becomes increasingly unfriendly towards you. The living Earth is becoming increasingly intolerant of our presence, but we use technology to mask this fact from ourselves. You should not say: “We must protect nature.” You should say: “We must make sure Nature does not begin to look at us as an unwelcome guest.” There’s a difference between these two statements and I will explain to you why it matters.

If you wander into the woods of most of the Western world today, you should make sure to wear long sleeves. Expose your skin and you will be bitten by tics. You risk Lyme disease, or you might develop an allergy that makes you allergic to meat. Throughout much of the developing world, mosquitoes expose you to malaria, West Nile virus, Zika, dengue fever and various other ailments that would have been unheard of generations ago. Today, when a Dutch farmer notices people have stolen potatoes, he does not grab his shotgun. He warns them that they are killing themselves. To avoid being decimated by plagues, the farmer has to spray a chemical cocktail of pesticides that keep out the pests. The average strawberry is sprayed with eight different types of pesticide. It is a form of scorched Earth warfare: We pray the pesticides harm us less than the insects, fungi and bacteria we try to chase away.

When the environmentalist notices that the Netherlands has 86% less butterflies than in the late 19th century, or that the orangutan has no more place to live, he imagines nature to be under threat. But this is the wrong perspective. It’s not nature that is at risk here, nature can continue with or without the orangutan. What’s being lost is the kind of world that makes people happy to live in. Long before I was born, a summer in the Netherlands would once have been an explosion of colors. Wander through the fields and stumble upon numerous flowers and a wide variety of butterflies, each of them uniquely content with a particular host upon which it lays its eggs.

Today there are perhaps five species you regularly encounter, most of them dependent upon a single plant: The stinging nettle that thrives throughout our country, because the air and the soil are being polluted by excessive nitrogen. This landscape of ours today is still a living landscape, it has simply become less beautiful. Nature invited mankind to a party, but when the guest became drunk and obnoxious, she began tearing down the garlands.

The farmer more than anyone, notices that nature is becoming unwelcoming, but most don’t properly internalize that warning. He has to spray a variety of pesticides to maintain his yield, but even so there are newcomers who steal his harvest. Germany and Japan are faced with raccoons who grow in number every year and steal whatever they can find. The rose-ringed parakeet destroys the Dutch farmer’s harvest too, he takes a single bite from a pear and the farmer can throw his pear away. These animals by now have become too numerous to control, with the limited means at our disposal.

The environmentalist will say that I am wrong, that Nature is in fact fragile, as evidenced by all the species that are disappearing. But here’s what you are missing: The critical species are not so much threatened. It’s the eye candy that is being lost. I love seeing an orangutan, a giant panda, a polar bear, an elephant or a cheetah as much as you do. But for Nature they are decorations, presents with which to welcome us into the world. The world continued without mammoths and cave lions, without giant sloths and glyptodons. It is an impoverishment for us, certainly, but Nature sighs and continues her labor.

We have estimates of the number of species that are lost every year. Greta Thunberg breaks down crying when she mentions the abnormal extinction rate seen today. We should certainly mourn the species that have been lost, as they had no say in the matter. However, the species that are thriving due to our presence are valuable too, despite being easily overlooked. When a plant is transported to the other side of the world, it often encounters a situation without any natural predators. It manages to spread quickly, meeting distant relatives and hybridizing with them. The hybrid inherits traits of both species, discards the unfavorable traits and maintains the ones it benefits from. A new species comes into existence, an unprecedented combination of traits uniquely fitted to a new environment.

And Nature’s critters are not flawless either, they are subject to decay and decadence, just like us humans. What is a flightless bird, what is a blind fish? They are evolutionary dead ends. We can mourn the rare flightless bird on a remote island that lived without predators until it encountered a cat or a rat. But what did we expect would happen? Do we have to shield these species from the reality of nature for eternity? If a single pregnant rat is sufficient to bring an end to your existence, what future did you have? It is the generalists, the unspecialized bland mob of mediocre individuals, from whom new forms of life emerge. Leave those cruel cats alone on the island when all is said and done for a few generations and they become obese and decadent themselves, a race of giant pandas who refuse to breed without special pornography invented by our own descendants.

In Europe, more new plant species have come into existence over the past three centuries than have gone extinct over the past three centuries. The nature I live in today might not be flattering to my senses, but it is more diverse than the nature my ancestors lived in. I live in an eclectic nature, where Indian parrots, American raccoons and Australian mushrooms mingle with native Dutch species. Over the generations, these critters will gradually adjust to their new environment and our great-grandchildren will live in an environment that is more rich and diverse than me or my ancestors would have witnessed.

I don’t fear destroying nature, but I do fear angering or insulting her. Fly to the other side of the world and you emit as much carbon as a small African village would in a year. When their harvests fail due to unprecedented droughts, they will arrive here to seek shelter, as will the mosquitoes that bring malaria and other ailments. It’s dumb to be disrespectful towards nature. If you eat food that requires caging and torturing chickens, cows or other animals, you similarly invite misery upon yourself. The reason there is no room for nature is because we insist on living like apex predators, even though there are 1000 times as many of us as you would expect there to be of a carnivore of our size.

Nature adopts to a changing world, but she also adopts to how she is treated. If humans treat her like shit, she will treat humans like shit. If you think we could win a war with her, think again. If we heat up the oceans enough and kill the life they harbor, we will cause bacteria to thrive that start emitting large amounts of hydrogen sulfide. This would damage the ozone layer and start killing plants and trees. Last time this happened we were left with no animals bigger than a rat. Now for what it’s worth, I don’t think this will happen, there’s no need for so much collateral damage when nature has a much bigger arsenal than we do. It’s merely a measure of last resort.

But nature is not just a group of trees somewhere in a forest, or a coral reef in the ocean. Nature is you. You are a part of nature, even though we do not act in accordance to our nature. It is always important to remember that respecting nature does not somehow mean that you should suffer. And simultaneously, you should understand that you will not determine the outcome of the world. There is no vast global struggle underway within which you are the chosen one. This is how climate activists tend to act, in my experience. They act as if their voice will make the difference, when it won’t. As Ran Prieur noted, even George Soros complained a while ago about how powerless he is to address global warming. Global warming is not a problem for you to stop, it is just one of many symptoms of the ongoing conflict between mankind and nature. It’s not a problem for you to solve, but a background against which you will live your life. Accept that it will happen, prepare for the changes and make sure that you yourself do not insult the living Earth on whose hospitality we depend.

You should learn from how Nature responds to struggles. When the world begins to change, the animals don’t do what their parents did. Animals react to a changing world. They adapt to whatever new opportunities emerge from them. They do not play by the rules. The seagulls don’t think they’re “impure” when they eat from a garbage can, they do what works for them. The raccoons don’t fear microplastics in the fish, or Bisphenol A in a recipe. If the raccoons don’t like something, they don’t “bite through the pain” or remind themselves that this is what good people do, they stop doing it and look for alternatives. If you’re happier growing weed or hacking websites than you are waking up at 7 AM to head to the office, what are you doing with you life?

There are no rules, understand that. Sometimes, you’re following rules you have created in your own mind out of some misguided yearning for moral purity, without realizing you’re following rules. Why is it better to have a garden filled with vegetables you eat yourself, than it is to have a garden filled with Ayahuasca vines or thriving Salvia Divinorum? Why is one living in harmony with nature, while the other is not? Why do you internalize bourgeois romantic notions of “sustainability”? I see people on the collapse subreddit who insist they have no choice but to own an SUV, because they need it to travel to their small permaculture farm or to the farmer’s markets. Do you think the Earth cares even the slightest bit about your bourgeois social posturing? Do you really imagine yourself as Noah building his arc, when you get people through the Internet to work for free on your permaculture farm, in exchange for “experience”?

Once you recognize that your priority should be to live at peace with nature, then you also realize that you have no obligation to be loyal towards the civilization you live in. England today is a country that is still primarily owned by a Norman aristocracy that invaded the country in the year 1066. How could a British man or woman possible feel guilty about living off welfare or committing tax fraud, when he is born into a society where the world is owned by people who did nothing to receive their rights? Why do average working class people feel a sense of obligation to behave in a loyal manner, towards an economic system that is designed by rich people to exploit them?

My dear friend, you have no obligations towards a society that exists solely to allow a small jet-set elite to enjoy a life of unimaginable luxury and wealth, at the cost of our environment and the world’s poor. If I could ask you one thing, I would ask you to understand that you have no moral obligations towards this society. It’s important that you understand this, because this society has no sympathy for you, it will use and abuse you in whatever manner it sees fit. If you don’t understand this, you will make mistakes that will cost you dearly. Let me give you an example. A homeless black man in America was hungry and desperate. He walked into a bank and said that he was robbing the bank, pretending to hold a gun under his jacket, he took 100 dollar. The next day he surrendered to the police, saying that his “mother didn’t raise him like that”. He was thrown in prison for fifteen years. What was his mistake? His mistake was to assume this society would somehow treat him in a fair manner, or show some compassion towards him. This society you inhabit has zero loyalty towards you, recognize it for what it is and take care of yourself and the people you care about.

Some people imagine that capitalism is somehow a fair system, but they don’t comprehend the society they live in. In our society, you become wealthy by concealing how you stole money. With Bitcoin, we have simply created a digital economic system that allows the average Joe Schmuck with no education, wealth or social network to do what privileged people could already do. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. Rich people had offshore Panama bank accounts, now you can have a Bitcoin address where you can stash your savings and your unreported income, even though you’re on welfare and are not allowed to have any savings or illegally earned money. Rich people could force you to pay interest, over money you can’t pay back. Now you can develop ransomware and make corporate offices around the world cough up money from the comfort of your own home. Rich people own corporations that move to Ireland to avoid paying taxes. When you do freelance work through the Internet, you don’t have to pay income taxes, because cryptocurrencies allow you to conceal the fact that you ever earned any money. You can even kidnap wealthy people and demand a ransom through Bitcoin or Monero. What we have done is quite simple: We’ve leveled the playing field, we’ve put a gun in the hands of a peasant dressed in tatters, faced against a knight in shining armor. If it turns out cryptocurrency makes you unwilling to pay taxes, or unwilling to work for minimum wage in an Amazon warehouse, maybe a government faced with a budget deficit will figure out they should start looking into fairly taxing people who own yachts, private jets and mansions.

A lot of people my age are angry and upset about being driven into poverty. “I earn a good salary but I can’t buy a house or start a family” Is a common complaint. Me on the other hand, I consider this to be an exciting time to be alive, because poor people today are left without excuses to tell themselves. You’re not taken well care of anymore, so now you need to take care of yourself. Capitalism has taken off the velvet gloves. It has stopped holding up the façade that you should just send your boys off the school and they’ll turn out fine. You’re not a temporarily embarrassed college professor, you’re a Starbucks barista. You’re exploited for your labor, if you want to see where the money ends up that should have fed and clothed you, try opening Instagram and look at the people partying on a yacht.

It’s important to understand that the ecological crisis can not be seen as separate from capitalism. Why is our planet home to seven billion people? Because we live in a society where a small minority of people enjoy dominating everyone else. Egalitarian hunter-gatherers tend to have two or three children on average. In patriarchal authoritarian societies, women generally have as many children as nature allows them to have. After all, it’s not the wealthy men who have to risk their lives by giving birth. The big Abrahamic religions are pronatalist, the Catholic church preaches little other than reproduction. The concern of European aristocracies has always been that peasants would not work for them and every aristocrat fears having a smaller army of peasants than an aristocrat who might wish to seize his throne. After the black death, salaries went up, because aristocrats were simply faced with a labor shortage. It’s only when the industrial revolution meant elites had no more need for us to work, when they began to embrace population control.

Look into the mirror and recognize yourself as the discarded slave that you are. The chains today exist entirely within your own mind. I want to leave you with the words of the wise Buddhist sage Atiśa, who was born like the Buddha into royalty but abandoned his privileged upbringing:

One should live with few possessions
And dwell with one’s back turned
To the things that cause grasping
Be as a wanderer in foreign lands
Taking food as it is found
Like the birds in migration.

 

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