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Not the Future We Ordered: Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Progress Paperback – February 20, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


"In Not the Future We Ordered, Greer offers two inspirational challenges to the reader. One is a new definition of the word hope. 'Hope is not optimism,' he says. 'It is not the passive expectation that good things will inevitably come one’s way. Rather, it is the recognition that no matter what the circumstances might be, there are positive goals that can be achieved if they are pursued with forethought and a sustained willingness to try.' Additionally, Greer issues a clarion call to psychotherapists and helping professionals to move through their own denial and learn the realities of our predicament because they will 'find themselves called upon to deal with the individual and collective psychological impacts of the arrival of a future unpleasantly different from the one most of us expect.' I wholeheartedly recommend Not the Future We Ordered. Just as we face a future that we did not order, Greer suggests strategies that we may not have 'ordered' for preparing emotionally and spiritually to navigate it. These require commitment and a great deal of personal introspection, alongside dynamic engagement with the community in order to create more resilient lives. Not the Future We Ordered abandons all hubris and radically redefines 'hope,' moving it from passive expectation to pro-active empowerment." (Carolyn Baker, Speaking Truth to Power)

About the Author

John Michael Greer is the author of four books on peak oil and the future of industrial society, The Long Descent, The Ecotechnic Future, The Wealth of Nature and Not The Future We Ordered, and also writes the widely cited peak oil blog “The Archdruid Report.” He lives in Cumberland, Maryland, an old mill town in the Appalachian mountains, with his wife Sara.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Karnac Books (February 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780490887
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780490885
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in the gritty Navy town of Bremerton, Washington and raised in the south Seattle suburbs, I began writing about as soon as I could hold a pencil. SF editor George Scithers' dictum that all would-be writers have a million words of so of bad prose in them, and have to write it out, pretty much sums up the couple of decades between my first serious attempt to write a book and my first published book, "Paths of Wisdom", which appeared in 1996. These days I live in Cumberland, Maryland with my spouse Sara; serve as presiding officer -- Grand Archdruid is the official title -- of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a Druid order founded in 1912; and write in half a dozen nonfiction fields, nearly all of them focused on the revival of forgotten ideas, insights, and traditions of practice from the rubbish heap of history.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Lisa A. Sammet on April 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
I have read many of Greer's works. This is probably not the one to start with, or if you do, it will compel you to read his other works and many of the works in his bibliographies. This is a short work. Its intention is to force us to look at the very mythology that we are blind to, yet, which controls our actions, our decisions and our society right now. He details the myth we are living in right now. It is hard to step outside any age's contemporary myth. Our contemporary myth is the myth of progress. Human societies, for the vast majority of humans, have not seen this "progress." Having lived in a hut in Senegal I can attest to this fact. Having lived in the Cote d'Ivoire, currently living now in the economically poorest region of Vermont, I can attest to this. The "progress" that we think is the cutting edge of the 21st century is certainly not shared by the vast majority of humans. The abundance, shared by few, has been created by the vast energy that petroleum has given to humans. But, we have used half of that abundance and the second half will be harder to extract. We are on the long road to decline. But, as Greer so succinctly elucidates, our cultural myth is not ready for the change. We will go into our next stage of human existence, kicking and screaming, because the promised future of abundance (all predicated on the abundance of oil) is not attainable, and the forces that are supported by this myth, keep the myth and have not allowed us to prepare for the certain collapse of its presuppositions.
Perhaps a reader should start with Greer's other works first in order to dispell the charms of our current cultural myth (especially The long descent and the Ecnotecnic Future). This is a short, but great and insightful description of our mass delusion. But.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By DLD on May 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Greer's latest book, "Not the Future We Ordered" is a compelling read that takes a long, hard look at the psychology of peak oil and industrial decline. If you haven't read his other titles, I would recommend reading The Long Descent first, and reading this one second (in the Long Descent he makes an extended case for peak oil/industrial decline, which you need to understand before reading this book). In this book, he discusses the "myth of progress" as a cultural religion, and examines a number of reasons why we hold onto this myth despite the quickly mounting evidence that it is, in fact, a myth. His arguments, combined with sound research and historical examples, are clear and compelling.

I grew up in a rust belt city, in a declining area, and I think because of that, this book really resonated with me in the sense that I had experienced most of the psychology and cultural conceptions already. What this book did for me, then, was to give me a framework for understanding decline in ways that were productive and helpful, to frame my experiences in an age of rust belt decline. I think this is one of his strongest titles to date.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bryan on May 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the sort of book that a person reads to challenge his/her perspective on just about everything our civilization stands upon. We think, as humans, that we are boundlessly intelligent and our civilization is the story of progress but what if we are, through our hubris, fooling ourselves? What if, instead, our progress is less about our ingenuity and more about our tapping into the energy source that we call oil? Could it be that our long run of progress is nearing its end? Read this book if these questions intrigue you and if you are willing to consider answers that challenge the answers the status quo have been feeding you all these years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dick_Burkhart on October 1, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Greer is, as always, a provocative writer. His portrayal of “progress” as the civic religion of the modern era certainly rings true in some respects. Even more so for his 5 stages of peak oil denial. Yet it seems to me that free market capitalism is more the reigning ideology than progress, and that most people are welded to consumerism more than the ideology.

As to psychology, Greer trained as an historian, not a psychologist, and psychology is full of bizarre theories. Greer does cite a few of these with appropriate disdain, including psychological explanations for why slaves ran away before the Civil War and why suburban housewives were so unhappy in the 1950s. Yet he is more approving of Freud’s bizarre theories and derives his own bizarre theory of social “deviance” from Freud and Jung.

Greer cites Christian fundamentalism, New Age spirituality, and Environmentalism as examples of social “deviance” (p. 89…). The bizarre part is that to Greer these movements arose, or were shaped, because the new world view of “scientific materialism” needed a “loyal opposition”. I find it hard to imagine how scientists would want, or need, Christian fundamentalists to hound them about evolution. It seems more likely to me that Christian fundamentalists, being less educated and more working class and used to Calvinist doctrine, simply felt a loss of social power as the scientific world view became more visible in society, especially with the rise of metaphorical interpretations of the Bible. Becoming fundamentalist was simply a way of uniting themselves to reject this perceived assault on their social dominance. In turn, the political exploitation of fundamentalism was opposed by educated society as a theocratic threat to their freedom of thought, as well as to science and technology.
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