Volatility

July 6, 2009

Resource Fascism

Filed under: Neo-feudalism, Peak Oil — Tags: , — Russ @ 9:28 am
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As the reality of resource limitations becomes apparent, our societies seem determined to dig in to “defend” our god-given birthright to a high-impact, high-consumption lifestyle. This remains the measure of the standard of living, and it remains the ideological premise from which growth and debt spring as the basic strategy.
 
But in a world with a shrinking resource base, productive output and even fictitious paper wealth must diminish. The pie must shrink, and at that point, no matter what the economics textbooks say, high-consumption becomes a zero sum game. “The economy” becomes war by other means. It’s no longer a matter of defending an idol, but of aggressively propping it up. We no longer worship at a stone altar which anchors life and organizes the chaos around it into a harmonious order. Now it’s an altar of straw which permanently burns, and only ever more extreme, more destructive, more violent measures can contain the flames. The smoke obscures the rest of our sight, and our lives are diminished to tunnelling back and forth through the darkness and soot, carrying poisoned water which may run out at any time.
 
So it goes with fossil fuel civilization, with “growth”. Peak Oil is upon us, the great crisis, the great unfolding disaster. It’s clear that the First World will attempt to meet it with a corresponding social and political disaster. Activists call for relocalization, deconcentration of wealth and land, the dismantling of big banks and big agriculture, the descent of power. All these will come eventually.
 
But for the present days, everything is violently propelled in the opposite direction. Big government and big corporations, now in full disaster capitalist mode, are further increasing and concentrating wealth and power. The people have displayed their basic self-enslavement by accepting this looting regime. This is because in spite of their rapidly deteriorating material position they still cling to the consumerist delusion. It’s this concurrence of master and slave which will dictate the politics of the next two decades.
 
We have a corporatist oligarchy. Perhaps the more enlightened people care somewhat about environmental and energy issues. These have been so prominent for so long that, even aside from seeing their effects firsthand, those who consider themselves decent folk can’t help but accept that there are problems which must be dealt with. People want their personal air, water, and soil free of poisons. They want open space where they can enjoy the outdoors. Even if they never visit what passes for a wilderness nowadays, they still like the idea that such places are preserved. They fear the consequences of climate change and want action on the carbon emissions of points near them. They want to live a green (or at least greener) lifestyle, and they want to see affirmation of this greenness around them in society at large.
 
Or is that “greeniness”? Is there any real difference in a first world society today? The well-meaning ideals just described are still just a lifestyle accouterment amid the far more primal imperatives of power, greed, materialism, even the desire for violence. This is why we do not have a democracy but a corporatist kleptocracy. This is why no one in power or wealth has any true sense of responsibility or community. Instead each ruthlessly, sociopathically seeks his own narrow interest, with no shred of moderation, shame, or even in many cases self-awareness.
 
Men come together only as interest blocs to more effectively wage socioeconomic war. The result is the same on every front. Power becomes more entrenched, the rich get richer, the masses poorer, more disenfranchised, more dispossessed, more a rabble of serfs. These masses do not rebel, they don’t even question, for they too are cadres of the onslaught even where the result is their own cannibalization. They cling to the lie called the “American dream”. This lie is meant to obscure the reality of the class war and wealth monopoly by replacing it with the myth that anyone, however lowly, however impossibly disadvantaged, however many political barriers are set up against him, is just one good idea or some hard work away from prosperity. That this has been proven false for decades now, if it was ever true, doesn’t seem to discredit it in the eyes of those desperate to believe.
 
Since “prosperity” is defined as the accumulation and wastage of consumer junk, it has in fact been possible for the system to pretend this dream was coming true, through ever more explosive exponential debt. But now the debt binge, notwithstanding a few zombie convulsions which may still be jolted into being by “quantitative easing”, is over. Now the social war must throw down the mask and appear in all its baleful majesty: except for one last lie it can tell the serfs of the first world.
 
This will be the lie of technological transformation to a greener and more energy-efficient civilization. It will play into many of the best impulses of well-meaning but naive people. It will co-opt organizations and movements which are commonly considered on the progressive side of things. It will tie in with longstanding recommendations of environmental and energy activists, as well as with economic ideas which were supposed to confront wealth inequality. It will promise to solve our energy and social problems while sustaining growth and the material lifestyle to which consumers have become accustomed, to which we feel entitled.
 
It will all be a lie. Of course “growth” is now impossible, and has been for some time. (America’s alleged growth throughout this decade was a sham, just phony numbers pumped up by debt and bloated stocks and real estate.) Economically, there is no productive base for it. With Peak Oil, there can no longer be an energy base for it. As for the environmental and socioeconomic virtues of what we can call green cornucopianism or green capitalism, these too will be lies. The environmental devastation of resource extraction and industrial activity, to the extent it truly is ameliorated in America (I’ll refer to America although I include Europe, the Pacific Rim, the GCC and elsewhere as well), is simply being exported to the global South. Carbon “offsets” are an example of this. So are aggrofuel plantations. Both are meant to export the emissions mitigation and the ravages to the third world so the first world can keep emitting and partying.  
 
The same is true of the direct economic assault. Rich predator countries gobble up energy resources which could be used for the benefit of impoverished populations. Instead they are used for frivolous Western consumption. They seize farmland to grow food and feedstock for liquid fuel to bring back home to feed their gluttonous lifestyles, even as the people of those countries (many of them farmers driven off their own land) starve.
 
Meanwhile back at home the same colonization process will continue internally. It is already well advanced. While it will no longer be possible to prop up a potemkin middle class on debt, it will probably be possible for some years to keep feeding them the American dream propaganda. Indeed, as their real situation radically deteriorates, we can expect a good portion of the masses to cling ever more cultishly to the American mythology. This, the hardcore 20% who still support Bush, a number probably to be augmented in years to come, constitutes the fascist base.
 
So the basic plan is clear. The power elite will seek to maintain its power and wealth through a new intensity of resource imperialism abroad, and continued concentration of wealth and land at home. The American populace, who will sink further and further into serfdom, will be played off against one another with promises and scapegoating. In this way the fortress elite will try to navigate the perils of energy descent and a revolutionary situation for as long as they can.
 
I call this resource fascism. If you are a feudalist seeking to maintain and aggrandize your position under Peak Oil, the logic is impeccable. There’s no other plan which can work. Since the feudalists do want to carry over their wealth and power, and since they aren’t stupid, we can assume this is their plan. (The 2001 Cheney energy plan is an excellent example.)
 
All the evidence of the last ten years supports this – the resource wars, the ever more aggressive looting on the part of the finance sector, intensification of the land and intellectual property regime for the benefit of Big Ag, the corporatist privileging of the military-industrial and security-industrial complexes, the militarization of the police power (and the transformation of the military into police cadres; posse comitatus is under assault), the assault on civil liberties, the crushing of wages and shredding of the safety net, the reduction of the media from power center to PR flunkey.
 
Although none of these are new in themselves, all are being pursued with accelerated vigor. Nor are any of them partisan. On the contrary, the entire power structure, political and economic, both of these so-called two parties, are completely on board. No one who believes in democracy, civic responsibility, environmental responsibility, or a responsible energy policy, would support anything which has been happening. Therefore we see almost complete support. This is because the ruling structure is a corporatist oligarchy. Mass capitalist democracy itself was a fossil fuel outgrowth. Therefore the neocons have it just right. If you want to maintain this top-heavy, overshot high consumption/high waste civilization as the permanent oil crunch sets in, you’ll have to become more aggressive abroad and more repressive at home.      
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11 Comments

  1. […] Resource Fascism « Volatility No Comments Leave […]

    Pingback by EnjoyLivingWealthy.Com - Discover How To Create A Truly Wealthy LifeStyle — July 6, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  2. […] Filed under: Uncategorized — Russ @ 5:54 am In an earlier post I laid out the basics of “resource fascism”, the blueprint according to which the power […]

    Pingback by “War Socialism”? « Volatility — July 11, 2009 @ 5:55 am

  3. […] malevolent nature of all consumerism, including the “green” kind. I’ve written before about how green consumerism is an element of resource fascism. Here we see an example.   […]

    Pingback by Disaster Capitalism Institutionalized « Volatility — October 15, 2009 @ 9:03 am

  4. […] Put the bailouts and the Global War on Terror together, see them being used to pursue the policy of resource fascism, and you have a complete precis of what this power structure intends to do in the coming decades […]

    Pingback by Bailout War « Volatility — October 30, 2009 @ 11:01 am

  5. “The well-meaning ideals just described are still just a lifestyle accouterment amid the far more primal imperatives of power, greed, materialism, even the desire for violence. This is why we do not have a democracy but a corporatist kleptocracy. This is why no one in power or wealth has any true sense of responsibility or community. Instead each ruthlessly, sociopathically seeks his own narrow interest, with no shred of moderation, shame, or even in many cases self-awareness.”

    Russ, I honestly don’t understand why we are like we are. I remember when I was a believer and I heard a sermon by a guy I really liked (John MacArthur) and he said, “Man will always kill, will always lie, will always destroy, will always cheat, will always make war…” And a few other choice things along those lines. I’ve never forgotten that. Of course, his point was that “we’re sinners and have to be redeemed, blah, blah, blah.”

    I do believe the basic part of that about man – or humans if you prefer. But why are we like that? I honestly do not know. Sure, I understand we all do things from time to time that we’re not proud of, or get into annoying habits that we should break, or what have you, but people destroying other people, or the planet around them, or robbing millions of dollars for themselves, are things I just don’t understand. How do you hurt innocent people and not give a fuck? I’m rambling, so I guess I should just shut-up. And I will, right after tell you how this was a great blog that really made me think. Thanks.

    Comment by Bloodgroove — April 15, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

  6. “Mass capitalist democracy itself was a fossil fuel outgrowth. Therefore the neocons have it just right. If you want to maintain this top-heavy, overshot high consumption/high waste civilization as the permanent oil crunch sets in, you’ll have to become more aggressive abroad and more repressive at home.”

    Wow. Nail, meet HAMMER. Russ, how do you see all of this? Also, you have a way of taking things I felt, but didn’t know how to verbalize because I wasn’t sure of myself, and putting it to electronic paper.

    Comment by Bloodgroove — April 15, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  7. Thanks. I think men are probably not very good by nature, and therefore where the system they set up encourages greed, vandalism, and violence, they can become extremely bad. It doesn’t take much. We’re seeing that today.

    But, while I don’t believe in utopias, or that people can ever be perfected, I do think that we can be much better than we’ve been. That if we set up a real society where community values were encouraged, upheld, and defended, that people could live in basic decency, accord, and prosperity.

    Comment by Russ — April 16, 2010 @ 4:41 am

    • If man is to survive at all, it would be as Huxley envisioned in ‘Brave New World.’ Better than nothing, perhaps.

      Comment by 86proof — August 19, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

      • I wouldn’t call that better than nothing. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother writing this stuff.

        Comment by Russ — August 20, 2010 @ 3:35 am

  8. […] trait of green cornucopianism, a branch of corporate liberalism. It’s part of the strategy of resource fascism. That’s the case with the national grid and its transmission networks.   Reading the […]

    Pingback by Renewable Democracy? « Volatility — May 6, 2010 @ 4:14 am

  9. […] the false idol of a renewable utopia. That’s their designated role according to neoliberal resource fascism.)     As for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), here’s the two main points.   1. The […]

    Pingback by Eschatology (Peak Oil vs. Techno-Class War) « Volatility — August 17, 2010 @ 1:56 am


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