Yesterday my uncle sent me a link a link to an interview with Gerald Celente, forecasting an economic collapse unlike anything the world has ever seen. Then last night, there he was again on the Glenn Beck show. He apparently has some pretty solid forecasting credentials, and clearly his fearsome message is striking a nerve.
Gerald Celente may be right, and he may be wrong. But he definitely isn’t helping. He brings a shrill and fearful tone to the discourse about the economic crisis, and the more we listen to him, the more likely that vicious cycles will develop. I’m not suggesting that his voice should be silenced, or even that it needs to be balanced with more optimistic predictions. People should hear his dark speculation and take it into consideration.
Rather, journalists who choose to deliver sort of message should attempt to follow up with some sort of information about how people have constructively reacted to similar crises in the past and present. And I don’t mean just stocking up on gold, ammo, and canned goods.
There are many models of how to respond to financial collapse.
This includes alternative currencies and mutual aid networks that sprang up during the Great Depression, providing food, work and other basic needs for many thousands of people.
We can also take heart from contemporary models like those developed in small towns that have already faced a micro version of the possible Collapse of ’09; they organized to cooperatively buy and run their stores, and thereby meet their common need when the private sector would not This model is being examined across the country in towns like Coudersport, PA.
We should remember that even in the midst of the chaos following Hurricane Katrina, people stuck together in places like 519 St. Philip.
Rather than simply dwelling on the bad things that might happen – which tends to make people feel powerless – we should be looking at how to organize our economy in more resilient ways, using locally-based models to lessen our dependence on the far-flung corporations that are most vulnerable to the turmoil that we face.