Don’t worry, I’m not about to predict the end of the world. Though if it were to happen, I’m sure us astrologers would be among the elect who were saved. Hoarding baked beans and dried BigMacs would probably also help.
But last week I was reading an article in New Scientist about the conditions under which civilisations come to an end. One problem is complexity, where you get lots of interconnected aspects to the civilisation, so that problems with just one aspect can quickly escalate into a full-scale crisis. Our civilisation is more tightly interconnected, not just nationally but globally, than any civilisation that has come before. There are a lot of strengths to this, but also weaknesses.
In the UK some years ago, fuel tanker drivers went on strike to protest about fuel prices. Within a few days the whole country was starting to grind to a halt. In 1918 there was a world-wide flu pandemic that killed millions of people. This could easily happen again, it’s the sort of thing that has always occurred from time to time. If we had another one, and say 30% of tanker drivers stayed at home to avoid being exposed to the flu, the article reckoned that also would quickly lead to major breakdowns. And that’s not to speak of all the other vital service workers who would stay at home. And the thing about these breakdowns is that they wouldn’t necessarily be easy to recover from, they might take years and years, if at all, because of the sheer complexity of what has fallen apart.
Another issue is innovation and resources. Some civilisations were very innovative. What happens is that a problem gets solved – you invent irrigation, say, to have enough water for your crops. But this then leads to further problems – over-population, say – and you innovate further. Eventually you end up with a very complex society and a strain on resources, and this is when you are most likely to suffer a collapse. This is exactly the point we are reaching now.
Apparently the civilisations that have lasted the longest were the least innovative, like the ancient Egyptians, because you avoid the problems of complexity and strain on resources. In the case of our civilisation, however, the level of innovation is completely unprecedented. So it may be that the old paradigms do not apply, that we have become so effective at finding solutions that we will be able to carry on inventing our way out of our problems. I suppose this is the $64,000 question.
You can see the process of problem-innovation-further problem with the looming world-wide food crisis. We have cars, they create too much greenhouse gas, so we need to find a different fuel. So farmers start growing lots of bio-fuels to begin to solve this problem. This means less food is being grown, so the price is going up and people all over the world are starting to find basic foods unaffordable. There have already been food riots in a number of countries.
Personally, it seems to me that growing bio-fuels is the wrong answer for all sorts of reasons, and we will sooner or later have to get used to using public transport much more instead of personalised vehicles. And I hope that Saturn in Virgo – well-considered and practical solutions to environmental problems – will get us on the right track over the next couple of years. Instead of the grand statements of intent we had under Saturn in Leo.
But the bigger question is Pluto in Capricorn. We need to re-structure (Capricorn) on all sorts of levels simply to survive (Pluto). Pluto in Capricorn is saying that we can’t just keep innovating to try and stay one step ahead of the game. That on its own will no longer work, even though it might have seemed so under expansive Pluto in Sagittarius. So there, in a way, is the astrological answer to the $64,000 question of our times.
It will be interesting watching this process on a global scale over the next few years. The big one so far has been the banking system, where there is a growing realisation that a return to fundamentals, a return to basic book-keeping, is needed. Food may be the next one, because there could easily be enough to feed everyone if we got Capricorn about it. And if the food shortages start to affect the poorer people in rich countries, you will inevitably get rioting there as well, and this will force the issue. Saturn in Virgo (a sign of agriculture) is beginning to station retrograde, as well as being trine to Pluto, so the next few weeks may see this issue grow in prominence.
Pluto is impersonal, he is a principle of natural law. He doesn’t ‘care’ about us. The choice as to what we do with those natural laws lies with us. We have collectively got to a point where deep re-structuring on all levels is needed, and Pluto entering Capricorn simply reflects this. To the extent that we re-structure, we will be able to survive, and in a much more sane and sustainable way than previously. To the extent that we do not re-structure, there will be widespread destruction and collapse. And I am sure we will see elements of both over the next 16 years.