It has been real hard for me to process the death of a man I only met once, yet whose life work had such a profound influence on my perception. Michael C. Ruppert died April 13, 2014. The news confirmed by those close to him is that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Two weeks later, that news is still very difficult to wrap my head and heart around.
I've written so many times on this blog about Ruppert, I've lost track. The post that I think sums up my perspective on him the best is Why I Like Mike. Beyond that, I want to say that for me, Mike was the red pill. I was already on my way to discovering the way the world really works, but after reading Crossing the Rubicon and watching The Truth and Lies of 9/11 and Denial Stops Here: From 9/11 to Peak Oil and Beyond, there was no going back. Not only did Mike do an unparalleled job of explaining why and how his compass was calibrated the way it was, he went out of his way to give credit where credit was due and cite his sources so that anyone who cared to know the truth could do their own research! Through him, I became aware of Peter Dale Scott, Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Daniel Hopsicker, Gary Webb, Alfred McCoy, Richard Heinberg, Matt Simmons, Guy McPherson and so many others. More than any other person, Mike set me on a path toward personal discovery, not just for knowledge of the truth, but for drawing a map of clarity to separate, in his words, "the ice cream from the bullshit."
In this time of grieving, I understand that the predominant focus among those following him is to focus on the man, to ask and wonder why he died the way he did. We come up with our own answers to help us cope. From my limited perspective, it seems to be one of those cruel ironies of existence that those who are the most
dedicated toward shining a probing light on reality are often extremely
plagued by their own darkness. When I watch Apocalypse, Man in retrospect there seems to be an extraordinary degree of emotional turmoil bubbling up in him. However, I only met the man once, I didn't know him. But he changed my life through the wisdom that he dispensed.
So rather than focus on the man, I want to focus on the message. That's how I personally choose to process this loss, to give meaning to existence. Michael C. Ruppert had a message that was ambitious to the point of being almost all-encompassing within the circle of life; extending into spheres political, economical, environmental and even spiritual. As I perceive that message, it boils down to two basic points:
1. Unless you change the way money works, you change nothing.
I've heard him say this phrase in one form or another for years, the first time I read it was 10 years ago in Crossing the Rubicon on page 593: "If you decide that you want to change things, I am telling you right now that you will change nothing until you change the way money works." I've read many others say the same, but it was through Mike that I gained a thorough understanding of what that means. It does not mean changing from capitalism to socialism, or vice versa. We're not talking about changing the way money is distributed as much as we are talking about changing money itself. What is money? Mike broke it down easy enough for a child to get.
A. Fiat currency - Someone at the Federal Reserve clicks a key on their computer and money is created.
B. Fractional reserve banking - Someone at a bank loans money into existence.
C. Compound interest - Banks + credit companies set interest rates of accrual. What many religions call usury.
Those three factors combine to form a system Mike called out by its real name: pyramid scheme! He also spelled out what money, under this current paradigm, actually represents: debt! That's why any movement to balance the budget under the current paradigm is an exercise in futility. You can wipe the slate clean with Universal Debt Forgiveness (a great start!) but if you don't change money itself so that it has intrinsic value, you'll be right back where you started in no time at all because money will still represent debt.
What intrinsic value should money represent? Mike made that extremely clear: energy! Money should represent both the human energy that we produce through our labor and the planet's energy that we utilize. He was a huge proponent of re-localization, that would mean local currencies reflecting the output of that particular region. Bottom line, the economy would be rooted in sustainability as opposed to growth. This ties into the other basic point of Mike's main message as I perceive it:
2. You cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.
This point reflects the more comprehensive problem humanity faces. This problem, which Mike labeled the Infinite Growth Paradigm, encompasses the totality of civilization's current unsustainability. Since our monetary system is a pyramid scheme, it requires infinite growth. That means not only infinite growth of the consumer base, which has resulted in the unprecedented population explosion at 7 billion and growing, but to meet that demand, infinite growth of the physical resources that fuel this economic infrastructure. All within this little blue-green sphere that, prior to the last two centuries, never had more than one billion people residing within its confines.
The constraints of reality upon this living arrangement are too vast for any one person to quantify, but Michael Ruppert did more than most to map out the ramifications. That this living arrangement is unsustainable because our resource base for the fuels that grow our food and operate our transportation system (oil, coal, gas) is non-renewable is obvious. But for a scalable alternative in which our civilization runs on a resource base where our transportation system runs on renewable energy and our food supply is grown through organic permaculture, there are certain factors currently present that prevent us from achieving that. Factors that keep us out of balance. Balance is something Mike seemed to value to an immense degree. Here are a few unbalancing factors Mike pointed out over the years.
A. Energy Returned Over Energy Invested (EROEI) - Any "alternative" to our already out-of-alignment paradigm must pass this test: does the amount of money it takes to turn something into fuel exceed the amount you get in return? If the answer is no, as Mike exposed in regard to ethanol, "clean" coal and many other snake oil propositions, then it has no future in our society unless you change the way money works. If you do, Mike pointed out which alternatives had a chance; wind and solar. That's for transportation, for food supply Mike loved permaculture. But there is another unbalancing factor that might destroy this option...
B. Greenhouse Gasses - We're still burning one billion barrels of oil every 11 1/2 days, Mike frequently pointed out. That's just one source for the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide that human civilization has been polluting our atmosphere with since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Along with coal, we have been taking our environment into an extremity we may not survive. Mike alluded to this in Collapse but spelled it out very clearly in Apocalypse, Man: we are destroying our food supply and face a more immediate threat through radiation poisoning. What global warming doesn't kill, the collapse of civilization and 447 nuclear power plants will.
C. Population Overshoot - If we don't find a way to voluntarily reduce the population beyond our carrying capacity, then it will be done involuntarily. Mike pointed out a couple ways he foresaw it being done involuntarily: either through a fascist police state (once I heard Mike do a spot-on impersonation of Henry Kissinger saying 'The problem is not that there is too little oil. The problem is just that there are too many people.') or nature would do the job for us, as detailed above in section B.
Is it too late? Is it possible that we are too far out of balance, that we're collectively too blind to awaken our consciousness and stop the madness of Infinite Growth? Can we change the way money works so that our economy is truly sustainable and stripped of the motive for greed?
If we want to honor the memory of Michael C. Ruppert, we owe it to our Mother to make his vision our reality, or die trying. Why? Because we are the children. And it is time for us to grow up. You know, like the man said, "Evolve or perish. Grow up or die." The choice is yours.