Self-Sufficiency Will Be The Only Way to Survive: “Nothing Will Have Any Value Except Food”

Charles Hugh Smith


This article was written by Charles Hugh Smith and originally published at hisOf Two Minds blog.

Editor’s Comment: Here, Charles Hugh Smith argues that the scheme for world order will ultimately lead nowhere, because globalization is will leave everyone hanging. Instead, becoming self-sufficient and providing for food, energy and resources will be the lasting challenge – in the long run.

While nations rise and fall, this will remain an important goal for the individual who can attain a certain degree of freedom by securing one’s own survival and needs for food and energy, and in turn providing an engine of wealth for anyone that they can trade or sell with.

The Ultimate Long Game: Autarky and Resilience

by Charles Hugh Smith

Ironically, autarky and these cultural dynamics arise from decentralization and the free flow of information, not one-world centralization.

In my recent essay Could the Deep State Be Sabotaging Hillary? I wrote:

“An increasingly powerful sector of the Deep State views the neo-con agenda as a disaster for American interests, and is far more focused on the Long Game of energy, food security, economic and military innovation and a productive response to climate change.”

This runs counter to the conventional view that the U.S. Deep State is rabidly attached to the neoconservative liberal hegemony model of geopolitical hard power. If you want some evidence for this shift, please read this essay from the journal of the Deep State, Foreign Affairs; if you read this carefully, you will find a devastating critique of the neo-con strategy and an alternative strategy based on autarky, a topic we’ll discuss in a moment.

The Case for Offshore Balancing: A Superior U.S. Grand Strategy (registration required)

What is the Deep State? Former congressional staff member Mike Lofgren described the Deep State thusly:

“I use the term to mean a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.”

I have been studying the Deep State for 40 years, and have written extensively about it for the past 10 years, including:

The Next Superpower/Empire (July 16, 2009)
The Dollar and the Deep State (February 24, 2014)

The alternative media often embraces a model in which political and financial elites seek to consolidate their power in a one-world government and currency. My esteemed colleague Brandon Smith recently wrote an insightful essay suggesting that domestic instability and disunity could set the stage for further consolidation of power–a strategy he termed the Long Game:

2016 Will End With Economic Instability And A Trump Presidency

While I understand the model–Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism describes the strategy of “never let an engineered crisis go to waste”–I respectfully disagree.

While many understandably view the Deep State as being wedded to globalization and centralized one-world power structures, I see the Emergent Deep State in the U.S. pursuing a much different Long Game: autarky (self-sufficiency), and the geopolitical influence that flows from an abundance of the FEW resources, my term for the essential resources of food, energy and water.

(These are related, of course; with no energy and no water, you won’t have any food, either.)

In addition to the FEW resources, autarky requires a culture of innovation, flexible social structures and multiple ladders of social mobility.

I laid out my reasoning in three essays:

A Thought Experiment in American Autarky (January 17, 2014)

Globalization = Permanent Instability (October 29, 2014)
What’s Scarce Geopolitically: Stability, Ways to Get Ahead and Innovation (July 18, 2015)

In effect, globalization guarantees insecurity, and so further attempts to consolidate one-world power are doomed to fail, regardless of the resources thrown at the effort.

The winning Long Game is strengthening autarky (self-sufficiency) and the ability to export food, energy and decentralized cultural models to friends/allies, while nurturing the essential social elements of self-sufficiency:innovation across the entire spectrum, not just in technology per se; social mobility; flexible, adaptive economic and social structures (i.e. decentralized, networked, opt-in), and a productive response to climate change.

The Emergent Deep State doesn’t care to debate whether human action plays a part in climate change; it is interested in managing the consequences of climate change, regardless of its sources. Projections are always iffy in dynamic systems, but there is some compelling evidence that some nation-states will suffer relatively mild losses/gains in water and food resources while others may suffer catastrophic declines as a result of increasingly erratic climate change.

In effect, when you can’t feed your people, everything else goes by the wayside: fancy political theories, one-world schemes of domination, hegemony, you name it–all go in the trash bin of history.

The Emergent Deep State is keenly aware that geopolitical influence in the future will rest heavily on the potential impact of devastating crop failures, the resilience of nation-states in terms of water / food /energy supplies and the ability to export surplus energy and food to friends. Put bluntly: enemies starve, friends get to eat–if they recognize the value of what you’re offering.

Not every nation has the social and economic flexibility needed to survive the future. The key dynamic is the resilience of the institutions that make up the nation-state and its Deep State: a nation-state with rigid hierarchical elites, little social mobility, limited FEW resources, a brittle social structure and a fear of innovation is a fragile nation-state that is one reasonably good famine away from collapse.

Those with surplus food will be the ultimate arbiters of value. Autarky means having the ability to feed one’s people despite the vagaries of climate change, and I mean growing food, not buying it with energy, gold, or fiat currency. When push comes to shove (and it will), nothing will have any value except food and the resources needed to grow it: water and energy.

Back in 2007, I charted out a simplified version of the U.S. Deep State. I missed a few components, but you get the gist: this is a vast, dynamic structure with some social mobility in the lower rungs.

Future hegemony will flow from what’s scarce: autarky, the FEW resources and the cultural resources of innovation, flexibility, adaptability and social mobility.

Ironically, autarky and these cultural dynamics arise from decentralization and the free flow of information, not one-world centralization. Anyone pursuing that path is doomed to instability and collapse.

Oh, and the ability to defend your FEW resources from starving, resource-poor neighbors: that matters, too.

This article was written by Charles Hugh Smith and originally published at hisOf Two Minds blog.

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