May 2, 2018

Jesus is Coming Back THIS Time, Honest and For Sure!


We’ll all be gods, we’ll all be billionaires, we’ll all have infinite cars and fast food and video games and porn, and we’ll do it all in perfect harmony with the Earth and all her waters and forests and species. The day is nigh.

We can assume automatically that anyone who says anything other than “stop emitting, stop poisoning, stop destroying sinks, start rebuilding sinks” is running a con. Often they’re explicit about it, as the wingnuts who actually call upon this deranged species to use more energy. As if the obscene amount hominids already use hasn’t already proven enough to massacre Gaia’s ecology and destroy the human soul.
The “ecomodernists”, like corporate environmentalists in general, are nothing but another kind of climate-denialist, eco-denialist liar, promising capitalism’s omelette will come tomorrow, and that the high-consumption civilization will become ecologically sustainable tomorrow. They really want nothing but continued mass murder and mass enslavement, and their only audience is those desperate to keep the party going while continuing to believe that the eco-capitalist version of Jesus will return tomorrow.
The false religion of scientism, technocracy, and Mammon is based on nothing but lies, greed, and most of all the will to kill and destroy. Its preachers in every form are nothing but false prophets. More mundanely, they’re nothing but another gang of paid liars.
The great crisis of civilization and ecology is civilization’s campaign to destroy Earth’s environment, Gaia’s water, air, soil, all life, including all human life, our bodies, our souls. Congenitally it drives only toward goals of disaster, profit, power, control, war. Its attitude toward human beings and the Earth as a whole is identical to that of the Nazis toward the Jews: Exploitation, persecution, death. The “environmentalists” who think it possible to enact reform and true conservation within the framework of the productionist civilization are exactly those Germans who, according to their post-war mea culpas, “joined the Nazi Party because I was hoping to be a moderating influence from within.” We see how moderate this influence has been. We see every day how moderate goes the destruction of rivers and forests and species and biodiversity. We see especially how thirty years of eco-signalling about climate change has moderated the emissions, moderated the destruction of the GHG sinks of forest and grassland and wetland. Their latest trumpet call hailing the millennium of moderation, the Paris Accord, is indeed the climax of all moderation and promises the consummation of all moderate policy.
Actually, the purpose of mainstream environmentalism is at best to manage ecological destruction, negotiating how much is to be destroyed at what rate, in much the same way the Judenrate negotiated with the Nazis over how many Jews were to be killed how quickly. In both cases the conscious end goal is total destruction.
Given this context the mainstream environmentalists have set up for us, this context of seeking a “better productionism” and doing it via technocratic “management” which assumes total destruction from the start, it was inevitable that there would arise a gang of false prophets who would preach ecological salvation directly through doubling down on the technosphere and its infinite rapacity.
This ideological campaign has many advantages: It hooks up seamlessly with both corporate power and the scientism religion. It flatters the slobbish consumerism of the Western middle class which always wants to “have it all”, total crapulence along with ecological and moral integrity. It promises that “growth” can continue. It promises that the Progress religion will come true. It promises all these things with a shiny techno-sheen, so attractive to all the permanently retarded infants of this madhouse: GMOs (who cares that they’ve already proven to be an absolute fraud in every way), geoengineering, biofuels, fracking, the electric car, the “space” meme, all these genocidal-ecocidal frauds will turn magically into salvation at the ultimate moment of the Armageddon they’re currently generating, if only Homo domesticus stays the course, doubles down on the destruction, becomes ever more murderous and wasteful. As Stalinist doctrine had it, the class struggle reaches its most extreme level of violence right before the complete victory of communism. As Christian doctrine has it, the struggle of God vs. Satan reaches its most extreme level of violence right before the complete victory of Jesus over death. And now we have the terminal doctrine of civilizationism, the same among all strains of its ideology, now including the “eco”-movement: The struggle of man vs. nature reaches its most extreme level of violence right before the complete victory of a suddenly sustainable and free civilization, where human lion will lie down with human lamb and civilization’s lion will lie down with the ecological lamb. Finally we have the true guarantee of when and how Jesus will return, and unlike all such previous promises, this one is honest and for true.
The environmental movement began with the primal alarm of many people at a level of destruction they no longer could dissonate away. Within a few years this movement began to professionalize and domesticate itself (institutions like the EPA and NEPA handed the movement the government’s directives for how to go about this) and to seek a management role alongside the captains of destruction, with whom the increasingly professional technocratic environmental cadre felt an increasing affinity (since they’re the exact same social type). By the time of the climate change era this transformation to Big Green was complete; productionist civilization now had its own in-house corporate environmental movement, its own version of the Judenrate dedicated to helping the corporations manage the murder of Gaia in the least culturally and politically dangerous way.
The next logical step has been to extrude a strain of environmentalists who preach that the only management needed is the most extreme and destructive technological deployment possible. Destroying the environment will save it. These are the “eco-modernists”. And although the Big Green groups run a modest spectrum of support or opposition to this or that campaign of destruction (the existence of this spectrum helps with the illusion that real opposition actually exists), the extreme pro-corporate side of this spectrum (the World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, EDF, LCV etc.) already meshes near-seamlessly with the eco-modernists themselves. Since the entire trend of establishment environmentalism has been toward greater identification with the total destruction imperative, we can expect that the “spectrum” will accelerate its movement in this direction.
Productionism wants the total destruction of the Earth. As the transhumanist apostle Frank Tipler put it, the Earth ultimately must be literally dismantled, every possible molecule put to use build to build a self-running space-floating machine which then will begin the dismantling of other planets. (Cf. his book The Physics of Immortality). Does this sound insane? Logically it’s nothing but the culmination of every aspect of productionist civilization’s actions. I defy anyone to name a counter-action within civilization.
Productionism wants total domination and control of people, land, resources, and genetics. It wants the total destruction of everything it doesn’t fully control, and eventually of everything it didn’t fabricate itself. It drives toward the permanent eradication of everything that makes us human: The questing mind, our existence as part of the ecology, our community life, our ability to perform meaningful work for ourselves, our families, our communities, our physical and psychological well-being as healthy symbiotic organisms. Along the way it afflicts us with cancer, birth defects, autoimmune derangment, and decimates our microbiome.
Like I said above, the new eco-modernists are mostly a gang of liars, with tints of religious fanaticism. They politically and culturally organize according to the exaltation of the idea of technology over conservation and socioeconomic actions. Not the reality; the fact that literally every technology they tout is proven not to work and to be purely expensive, wasteful, and destructive is meaningless from this perspective of militant religious consciousness and organizing. That’s why technospheric activists are so impervious to evidence, that’s why they’re so shameless about endlessly regurgitating hundred-times disproven lies, that’s why STEM culture as such is primarily a culture of the lie. Their core faith is that given enough deployment of money, lab time, and ideological militancy, they’ll empirically reach the point where, by brute force, they’ll be able to deploy enough technospheric force to completely subjugate the Earth and humanity. This goal, this religious fantasy, they christen “science”, “truth”. The only fillip the eco-modernists add is the promise that this subjugation itself will result in ecological well-being.
Like the GM cultists’ “feed the world” lie, eco-modernism is the cult’s version of the miracle of the loaves. It’s the idea of the miraculous bread amid an industrially scorched wasteland of poison and death, this idea rendered earthly, provided magically by technology.
This sacralizing of poison and murder is also their way of preaching that people should feed physical and spiritual poison to their own children, that poison isn’t poison, that poison is beneficial. They substitute destruction and death for heavenliness.
While eventually Gaia shall put an end to this biological infestation which toxifies its environment, as she does for all other such vermin infestations, this may not come soon or comprehensively enough to save humanity. If we wish for a human future for our children and grandchildren, we must become fully ecological in every way including religiously, culturally, politically. This necessarily includes organizing on behalf of humanity and the Earth to abolish the cult.
Meanwhile Gaia and her New City are here now, have always been here, as soon as we decide to stop wandering and come home.


March 20, 2018

The Exterminators Have Asked


(Today is this blog’s ninth birthday. Covered some ground since I turned a Baseline Scenario comment into my first post. And yet on day two I was already writing about geoengineering, the climate crisis, and GMOs. So the whole thing has been along one trajectory.)
The New York Times, leading propagandist for every form of Earth destruction, does it again: “Should Some Species Be Allowed to Die Out?” (Magazine cover story)
The only rational and moral answer is, yes, Homo sapiens evidently must die out if Gaia is to survive. Certainly the NYT would insist it’s an either-or.
Actually, what needs to go extinct is not true humanity – free, leisure-loving, usufruct-based, part of the ecology – but the debased, depraved, “civilized” humanity, Homo civilis. Only this will save both humanity and Earth. Thankfully this infestation has almost depleted its food supply (its accessible fossil fuel energy and therefore its industrial food supply as well) and must imminently go the way of the dodo and the many other species it murdered.
As for the innumerable species being exterminated by civilization, for which the NYT and corporate environmentalists* cry such crocodile tears, even the lowest microbe is worth more than the entirety of this grinder “civilization”, which is worth nothing. That’s why the only way it can exist at all is by destroying humanity and the Earth. That’s why civilization feels such infinite hatred for the Earth and for free humanity and actively wants to wipe them out.
*The purpose of mainstream environmentalism is at best to manage ecological destruction, negotiating how much is to be destroyed at what rate, in much the same way the Judenrate negotiated with the Nazis over how many Jews were to be killed how quickly. In both cases the conscious end goal is total destruction.

November 17, 2017

Corporate Liberals Want to “Put You in the Ground”


California’s Jerry Brown, liberal hero, speaks for climate-denying, car-worshipping corporate liberals everywhere:

The banner-carrying protesters yelled, “Keep it in the ground” and other chants, referring to the governor’s strong support of fracking, both offshore and on land in California, and cap-and-trade policies that could prove catastrophic to the Huni Kui People of Acre, Brazil and other indigenous communities around the globe.

“I wish we have could have no pollution, but we have to have our automobiles,” said Brown as the activists began disrupting his talk.

“In the ground, I agree with you,” Brown said. “In the ground. Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here.”

This is the way all the liberal climate frauds think. The quotes could be multiplied, e.g. this typical corporate-environmentalist shill. They’re liars to the core. They’re corporate flunkeys and racists. They hate democracy (cf. Brown in the same piece describing critics of his Big Oil-written legislative collaborations as engaging in “forms of political terrorism that are conspiring to undermine the American system of governance”), they hate the people, and they especially hate indigenous peoples and food-producing communities who really ought to just surrender their lands and cultures and assimilate already: “Let’s put you in the ground.”
Here is one of the core truths of our time:
There is one and only one way to avert the worst of the climate crisis and adapt to the level of crisis already locked in: 1. Greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 2. Stop destroying carbon and nitrogen sinks. 3. Rebuild sinks on a mass scale.
Anyone who says anything different is a liar and denier. They want to poison and salt the ground, and put humanity in it.
The climate crisis cannot be confronted, the worst of climate chaos cannot be averted, through the actions or the politics that have driven this very crisis. Liberalism, like all modern political ideologies, is an ideology of climate crime and ecological destruction. (The same goes for “leftism”.) Nothing short of a new consciousness and a new human movement, different from and opposed to the pathologies of productionism, shall suffice.

August 30, 2017

Sea Shepherd, Exemplar of Real Action


After a long run of incredible effort confronting whalers on the high seas, Sea Shepherd feels the need to take a break from its oceanic direct action campaign. Founder Paul Watson cites the need to reassess strategy and tactics in light of new Japanese “anti-terrorism” attainder laws specifically targeting Sea Shepherd’s actions against its illegal whaling fleet, and Japan’s threats to use its military as a thug arm of the whalers. Watson says, “We cannot compete with their military grade technology.” He extols the campaign’s acheivements to date.

Sea Shepherd has accomplished something absolutely remarkable over the last 12 years.

In 2005 we set out to tackle the world’s largest and most destructive whaling fleet. We were told it was impossible by some governments and a few NGO’s.

Hardly anyone even knew about Japan’s illegal slaughter in the Southern Ocean. It was out of sight and out of mind. They were targeting 1,035 whales a year including a yearly quota of 50 endangered Humpbacks and 50 endangered Fin whales.

We had few resources but we took our one battered and slow vessel, the Farley Mowat and we chased the whalers across the Southern Ocean, catching them only for a few hours at a time until they sped away from us…the tables began to turn as each year we became stronger and more effective.

Sea Shepherd was relentless in reducing the yearly quotas significantly and in 2012/2013 the Japanese whalers went home with only about 10% of their intended kills. We did this at the same time the U.S. Federal Court put significant legal obstacles in our path.

The results speak for themselves. Over 6,000 whales saved. Not a single endangered Humpback killed and only 10 endangered Fin whales killed in a decade where 500 were slated to die. In addition, the Japanese whalers lost tens of millions of dollars.

We exposed Japan’s illegal activities to the world with our TV show Whale Wars and our documentation.

We helped to push Australia into taking Japan to the International Court of Justice where their operations were ruled to be unlawful. Japan was ordered by the ICJ to cease and desist.

They did so for a year and then returned with a new program (also illegal) that reduced their bogus self-allocated kill quota to 333 each year. This means that since 2015 another 1400 whales were spared the lethal harpoons. This means that 702 whales will continue to be saved every year.

This testament is just part of the superb history of Sea Shepherd’s accomplishments, in action and publicity, while underfunded and persecuted by the governments of Japan, the US, Canada, Australia, and others, along with corporate goon squads in many countries. This proves what a small motivated group, driven by the right philosophical and tactical principles, can do. If only there were even a handful of people willing to commit to the anti-poison fight this way. By this I don’t specifically mean physical confrontation except where necessary or likely to work. I do mean following the evidence where it compels us and adopting the most bold and intrepid organizational principles, strategy, and set of tactics which are necessary to the historical, ecological, biological circumstance. There must be no bias.
The circumstance is the looming collapse of all life-sustaining civilizational structures, most of all the industrial agriculture/food system, and the totalitarian drive of corporate globalization and technocracy to drive out and destroy all of humanity, all of natural life. That’s why nothing short of the most aggressive boldness is sufficient to the need of the day.

July 23, 2011

We First Say Grace, Then Enjoy the Meal

Filed under: American Revolution, Food and Farms, Reformism Can't Work — Tags: — Russ @ 1:21 am


Years back, when I was primarily an environmentalist, I had an epiphany while considering how reformist environmental policy was always expected to meet a rigorous standard of “cost-benefit analysis” (it always did, and I didn’t use the term “reformist” back then although I was already temperamentally more inclined toward the old EarthFirst! than toward what I’d now call mainstream environmentalism). It was clear that capitalism itself, based primarily on corporate welfare, and with so many of its costs and destruction externalized on the environment, was never called upon to meet any CBA standard whatsoever. The more I thought about it the more I saw how this wasn’t unique to environmental policy, but was a universal feature of capitalism itself, in all realms. Capitalism is destructive, wasteful, inefficient, irrational, and is never expected to meet any standard of rationality or efficiency except for its own Orwellian definitions of those terms. All attempts to regulate or reform it, on the other hand, always had to meet the most severe standards, both according to capitalism’s definitions as well as English language definitions. This was, to say the least, a double standard.
(That reformism always tries to comply with and overcome this obstacle, in good Enlightenment Myth fashion, is another measure of its fecklessness. Agreeing to play a game which is rigged against you isn’t very smart and isn’t likely to have a winning outcome.)
I induced a rule: The more rational and practical a course of action is alleged to be, the more it’s held to that standard, while the more insane it is, the more it’s absolved of any concord with the reality principle. “I believe because it’s absurd.”
At first I agonized over this. Even though I was never a fetishizer of rationalism in politics myself, I still thought it ought to play a far bigger role than it actually did. More importantly, I didn’t see how environmentalism or other important causes could prosper in the long run unless politics became more rational. But I also realized that I had to at least hedge my bets, so I became more interested in the moral and psychological aspects of political struggle (what I’d then call the “irrational”). I gradually learned that these are not in fact the debasement of politics, but their human basis. A rationalist may deplore this and wish it weren’t so, but them’s the facts.
Better yet, as I accepted this, I felt more at home in my own skin, since by nature I’m a moralist and mythologizer myself . My “rationalism” was actually a transitional stage, an attitude arising out of my years-long self-education program which bled over into my advocacy. Now I was finding myself again, in the course of recognizing strategic and tactical truth. We fight first and foremost because our cause is right, and second because it’s rational and will have the best practical effect.
(But I always include both in my arguments. As I’ve written many times, food sovereignty is the only legitimate basis for the economy, morally and philosophically, while agroecology is proven to be the most productive mode of agriculture, and will become relatively even more superior post-oil and as climate change sets in. It’s also the only way to provide full employment at fulfilling work. That’s also both a moral and rational imperative.)
So in order to bring home to victory a rational and practical goal, one must also be on the side of the angels, and be able to communicate this feeling to others. This goes to the core of our psychology. As Eric Hoffer says, it’s less absurd to be willing to die for an ideal than for a material thing (for some small thing we already have), because if you’re going to measure things materially, “rationally”, then what could be more real and valuable than one’s life? Self-sacrifice becomes intelligible only when we measure things according to an ideal. This puts in perspective our common laments that so many among the non-rich have no sense of their material self-interest and so often act against it. The answer is that they have a sense, but don’t know how to rouse themselves to find it worth acting upon. They need to find the spiritual key which could liberate them for action. They wait for the trumpet call which is so clear and bright that their feet rush to answer the summons before their minds even think about it. That’s the state we’re all in. (Not every individual, of course, but every group, no matter who they are, no matter how ostensibly rational. Scientists as a group, for example, are the same.)
This moral/philosophical/spiritual appeal must evoke the sense of right, and it must conjure faith in the future. Self-sacrifice always involves some kind of idealized hope. People with no hope don’t fight, even in direct self-defense. Those who cling to the present, for example clinging to some diminishing material base, won’t fight. Those who live for the consummation of the future will. We’re more ready to fight and if necessary die for the great things we want than for the things we already have, even if these are being stolen from us before our eyes. We won’t resist the thief for the sake of preventing the theft in the here and now. But we’ll fight back with great ferocity for the sake of redeeming all thefts in a future which shall put everything back in joint.
I cited Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in my previous post. It applies to everything we’re discussing here. Forget the little bit to which you cling. Demand the moon and stars. Fight to get it all. Demanding the seemingly impossible is actually an excellent practical tool. We fight for morale itself, and surging morale then spurs the fight onward. The victorious fight is always counteraggressive and affirmative, not negative and defensive. Calls to self-defense and self-interest are only supplemental to the affirmative call to fight to achieve positive democracy and food sovereignty. (I’d still be calling for these even if kleptocracy didn’t exist.)

August 17, 2010

Eschatology (Peak Oil vs. Techno-Class War)


A big part of the consumer indoctrination program the kleptocracy is using to boil the frogs is to string them along with their faith in the cult of technology.
Today it seems both quaint and scary that anyone still believes in “progress”. If that terms means things get “better”, then we know there’s no such thing as progress, in any area.
Science and technology may accomplish lots of things that people consider good, but this has been accompanied by ever greater harms. Man has become more comfortable? He’s also become more harried and overworked and stressed. Medical technology had advanced? So has killing technology. We have this information cornucopia? Yes, and its core character is creeping totalitarianism. man’s technology has empowered him to remold the earth – yes, and destroy it.
And by now all of these things have become weapons of class war. Even advanced medical technology is an assault on the people if it’s available only to the people’s oppressors.
Modern tech is the destroyer of both the environment and the human spirit. There was a time, and perhaps post-oil there will come a time, where human beings walked the earth and not rump appendages of machines marking time for their existences in the ICU.
What does it even mean to think anymore? Given the fact that a necessary human attainment is the capacity for real thought, if from an early age one’s every moment is smothered in a bombardment of gadgets, electronic toys, idiotic texting and cellphone jabbering, when do you ever even learn how to think in the first place, let alone have time and peace for thought? What kind of ICU zombies is this “civilization” processing?
Then there’s the fundamentally totalitarian inertia of technology. This inertia is endemic to it and is operative even in the absence of bad faith on the part of corporations and governments (though as we know this bad faith is almost always present as well). Look at how today’s world accepts as the norm levels of intrusiveness and domination which would have immediately triggered a revolution fifty years ago. People stupidly say, “Orwell was wrong”, when we’re really 99% of the way there. All that’s lacking is for the elites  to intentionally use the technology that way. Today everywhere we look we see this will to use “progressing”.
9/11 only accelerated this process, which was already well advanced. To put it a different way, if a full-blown totalitarian system would be the car driving down the road, what we have now is: The road and the car are fully built, the tank is full and the engine’s running, and Bailout America is sitting at the wheel. All that’s lacking is to put it in drive and go.
Which is the salient step? If you wanted to go for a drive and nothing needed existed yet, what would you consider the most important, decisive step – to build the roads and the vehicle, and procure the fuel? or simply to get in and go once all that was done? Modern technology has already done all the real work. All that’s left now is the political mopping up.
Any lover of freedom hates a world of omniscient databases and omnipresent surveillance. It’s odd – in America we have so many who claim to revere things like the Boston Tea Party and the Underground Railroad, even as they celebrate technology which would’ve made those things impossible.
Technology implies that the will to freedom itself was only a passing mood. Who still loves freedom today? it has nothing to do with material luxuries, with “consumerism” (what most Americans evidently mean when they use the word “freedom”). Most of all you have to be free within yourself. But a slave to machines is the most condemned of all slaves, for there can never be even the thought of escape.
The craziest and most pernicious notion of the green cornucopians is that we’re somehow going to:
1. Transform the West’s entire automobile fleet to plug-ins.
2. Do the same for the putative auto fleets of the industrializing world.
3. Do all this with renewables.
4. Do it while at the same time renewables are also maintaining the accustomed energy consumption in all other sectors, again in both the West and the industrializing world.
They may claim that’s a caricature, but it’s implicit in everything they say. (Which is how we know that corporate environmentalism is an astroturfing campaign. None of this can ever help the people, but is only part of elite luxury concentration. But the green cornucopians want to string people along toward 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 reckless rush to deploy GMOs in the ecosystem without even the slightest idea what kinds of effects they’ll have, and the assault on all attempts to impose any sort of control and prudence, is a radical repudiation of the precautionary principle. Since this is one of the absolute core principles of environmentalism, it follows that it’s impossible to be a real environmentalist and yet support GMOs, at least the way they’ve been and always will be deployed. (So that’s one of the ways to recognize a sellout corporate environmentalist – support for GMOs, along with biofuels, nukes, cap and trade.)
2. With GMOs, whatever stupid rhetoric we’re subject to about prosperity and liberation, it’s really about patents, profits, and power. Monsanto has openly declared its goal is world domination of the food chain. Both morally and socially this is unacceptable. If the biosphere’s genetic code, upon which all biotech work has been done, belongs to anybody it belongs to humanity as a whole and can never legitimately be enclosed. The idea of a patent on an organism is on its face invalid.
What’s more, the food supply must be seen as first and foremost a social property. Even beyond moral considerations there remain the considerations of sociopolitical stability and national security. These demand that the integrity of the food supply not be held hostage by sociopathic corporations, that we not be reliant upon one strain of genetically modified monocrop, and that we diversify way beyond monoculture in general.
The human world view, while recognizing no bounds to imagination, also finds its freedom in self-control and in recognizing the physical limits of reality and the tyranny limits of power, unless we would wish to see freedom destroyed forever.
It may be a paradox to small minds, but the eternal struggle between freedom and power’s tendency toward tyranny, the core ideological precept of the Founding Fathers, decrees that if we would maximize freedom we must in turn harness it by restraining power.
So far the ideology which would place no limits at all on power and wealth accumulation has had its way. But their gains become ever more marginal and ever more expensive. Energy return on investment (EROEI) gets worse and worse. That’s Peak Oil setting in.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So far we’ve managed to hold off the reaction, even as the sum of our action becomes ever more monumental.
The potential energy being stored up is astronomical. It can’t, and it won’t, be long before that energy is rendered kinetic.
Do we really think we can keep it up forever? Do we really think our Tower of Babel will make it to heaven?

June 24, 2010

Nothing Works Anymore


Obama’s offshore drilling exploration moratorium was typical of him – too late, too limited, anodyne, more talk than action, taken only under extreme political duress though he obviously didn’t believe in it, so he couldn’t achieve any goodwill from it anyway. Yet even in that meager way it’s still something worthwhile.
Or it was for a few days before a federal judge, at the request of a minor special interest, the ferries serving drill workers, overturned the moratorium, declaring it “arbitrary and capricious”. People are having trouble following the judge’s reasoning, since it’s self-evident that deepwater drilling cannot be done safely and with all the risk accounted for by voluntary market participants. In principle, not just an exploratory moratorium but banning it completely is exactly what the executive branch should do as steward of these waters and resources. The only thing which looks arbitrary and capricious is the judicial activism here. (Unless you look at the judge’s oil investments. Then perhaps the decision might not seem so arbitrary.)
Corporatist judicial activism has been on a roll since the Citizens United decision. The SCOTUS seems especially keen to smash all attempts to impose any sort of rational limits on election buying, no matter how modest. Now, there’s no doubt about the “supreme” court’s conscious malevolence; four of the cadre are hard-bitten corporate activists, while the other four including Stevens (leaving out Sotomayor on account of insufficient data as of yet) are at best passively corporatist*, with demented prima donna Kennedy flipping back and forth based on whatever lets him be the center of attention. 
[* I’ve previously proposed that the right classification of judges is not something phony like “strict” vs. “loose” construction, let alone idiocy like conservative vs. liberal.
Rather, since the struggle of freedom and humanity vs. tyranny as crystallized in the struggle vs. corporatism is the defining issue of our time, and since the courts are today a lawless no man’s land where the civil war is already being fought out with one judge ruling that 2 + 2 = 4, while in adjoining courtrooms on either side his “colleagues” are saying it equals 3 or 5, so it follows that the only meaningful classification of jurists is as: either corporate activists on the bench (like the Citizens United majority), or as passive corporatists (those who accept corporate personhood and the basic corporatist structure, but who oppose judicial activism on its behalf), with perhaps a diminishing few public interest advocates and even anti-corporatists here and there.]
The SCOTUS as a whole is by now firmly against the people and for the tyrants. We should always remember that just as we can never expect there to ever again be good legislation from the Congress, so we can’t expect any kind of systematic good from the courts, only evil.
But even though the court is malevolent, by now money is so entrenched in the electioneering process that these decisions will probably make little practical difference. Here as everywhere else extortion is institutionalized.
But even given this level of conscious malevolence and entrenched corruption, there are still those like Glenn Greenwald whose public interest good will seems strong enough, but who often remain mired in the process mentality, such as in Greenwald’s case his myopic fetishized version of the 1st Amendment. As I said in my post on Constitution and Process, this fetish of process over substance and result ends up betraying the substance and helps guarantee a result which makes a repugnant mockery of the original ideal. The 1st Amendment, like0 the Constitution itself, is not a suicide pact, but the process myopics seem intent on making it one.
So it’s not just malevolence, but process issues as well which congeal as a blockage in many minds to constitute an objective barrier to political transformation.
Every attempt at reform is always opposed by one or more selfish, sociopathic special interests. The result is always at least one versus zero (the atomized mass which today passes for “democracy” and the public interest equals zero). In the case of the upset drilling moratorium it wasn’t even Big Oil who brought the suit (though I suppose they financed it), but some rinky-dink boats which ferry oil workers to the rigs. So there will always be someone, no matter how small, ready to assert the aggregate corporate prerogative against any value no matter how critical, like the very life of the sea itself, or humanly majestic, like democracy and the public welfare. These are all helpless in the clutches of this system.
I’ve written plenty of times about malevolence, and that will remain my focus. But for today I wanted to point out how the problem runs even beyond malevolence. I especially reject the notion that if the problem is “just” the criminal intent of gangsters, we can simply undertake the “reform” of replacing them, but otherwise leave the structure intact, and everything will be fine from there. No. The problem is the structure. Once we have  this combination of outdated structures and longstanding organized crime having suffused the structure with its mindset for so long and so deeply that the structure has become a veritable kleptocracy, and all institutions and processes within it are systematically corrupt, hijacked and suborned, or just plain rotted, the whole thing is beyond reform and beyond redemption.
So for the sake of argument, for the rest of this post let’s assume no criminal intent but simply the “innocent” process mentality and the “just doing my job” mentality. We can see how, no matter where we turn, no matter what we try, there’s always a seemingly insurmountable impediment to reform. We are bottlenecked. Even leaving aside actual assaults like the health racket mandate or “austerity”, nothing can be fixed.
I was thinking about this as I pondered the moratorium overthrow when I read a fascinating chapter early in Tocqueville’s The Ancien Regime and the Revolution. In Book 1, chapter 4, Tocqueville describes how the institutions and laws converged in all European countries, especially France, Germany, and England. By the 18th century, although everyone still was acting in accordance with the same Middle Age forms which once used to be progressive*, these now constituted stagnation. They were blocking movement, innovation, freedom.
[*I’ll take this opportunity to introduce one of my basic ideas. I think all historical threads (forces, ideas, entities) follow at best a life cycle of four stages. These stages are those of discovery, or when it is first evolving and pioneering; the progressive stage, where it reaches the best combination of healthfulness and utility; the decadent stage, where although its “quantity” may still be increasing, its quality stagnates, its usefulness hits diminishing returns, and it becomes a drag on motion and health; and the malevolent stage where all its effects are actively counterproductive and harmful to the people as a whole. (Throughout I’m of course speaking of the welfare and vibrance of the people, not of racketeers; their “welfare” tends to improve as the life cycle becomes decadent and then malevolent. Indeed their toxic flourishing is inversely proportional to a thing’s existential benevolence.)
Some obvious examples of spent life cycles are those of oil-fueled industrialism, mass capitalism, oil-fueled technology. Even the corporation may have had its brief progressive period, when it was still restrained within the bounds of the Constitution, before it quickly skipped decadence completely and became malevolent. Mass democracy first became corrupted and decadent and now, in its hijacked “inverted totalitarian” form, pseudo-democracy, is actually malevolent because it continues to prop up faith in vain reformism.]
So let’s read some Tocqueville. In several places I find myself substituting “Founding Fathers” for “Men of the Middle Ages” and today’s kleptocracy for sclerotic 18th century European structures.

It is no part of my theme to relate how this former European constitution gradually lost its power and fell into decay. I simply state that in the 18th century it was in partial ruins everywhere. The disintegration was generally less pronounced in the east of the continent and more so in the west but every country manifested this process of aging and disintegration.

This gradual collapse of the institutions peculiar to the Middle Ages can be followed in their archives. We know that each manor owned registers of land ownership called “terriers” in which, through the centuries, they recorded the boundaries of the fiefs, the holdings paying rent, the dues payable, the obligatory feudal services and the local customs. I have seen the terriers of the 14th century which are masterpieces of drafting, clarity, precision and intelligence. They become obscure, ill-formed, incomplete and muddled as they move into more recent times, despite the general progress of knowledge. It would appear that political society drifted down into barbarism at the very time when civil society was finally achieving enlightenment.

(I interject, this sounds similar to the current disposition of mortgage notes, specifically that the MERS regime was set up to systematically hide and lose those notes while the mortgages themselves became discorporated quiddities meant to fictively constitute “securities”, MBS and CDOs.
It’s part of Hernando de Soto’s depiction of the collapse of the rule of law itself through the destruction of the paper files.)

Even in Germany, where the old European Constitution had maintained its original features more effectively than in France, some of the institutions it had created were already everywhere being destroyed. But we can best judge the ravages of time less by observing its losses than by viewing the state of its remaining features.

Those urban institutions, which in the 13th and 14th centuries had transposed the chief German towns into small, prosperous and enlightened republics, still existed in the 18th but offered nothing more than an empty show. Their legal conditions appeared to be as vigorous as ever – the magistrates they appointed had the same names and appeared to perform the same functions – but the activity, energy, shared patriotic feeling, virile and productive virtues which they inspired had vanished. These ancient institutions had inwardly collapsed without losing their original shape.

All the powers of the Middle Ages that still remained were attacked by the same disease and displayed the same disintegration and the same slow decline. Still more, everything which was associated with the old constitution and had retained an almost clear imprint of it, without exactly belonging to it, directly lost its vitality. From that contact the aristocracy became infected with senile decay. Political liberty itself, whose achievements had permeated the whole Middle Ages, appeared to be stricken by barrenness wherever it still bore the particular characteristics it had gained from the medieval period. Wherever provincial assemblies had preserved their ancient constitution in an unchanged state they halted the progress of civilization rather than fostered it. It might be said that they were alien and almost impervious to the new spirit of the time. The antiquity of these institutions had not made them respected. Quite the contrary, they lost any credit even as they grew old and, strange to relate, they inspired all the more hatred as they seemed less capable of causing harm through their increasing decay. “The present state of things”, said a German writer, a contemporary and friend of this old regime, “appears to have become generally painful for everyone and occasionally contemptible. It is strange to see how people now judge unfavorably everything that is old. New impressions come to light at the heart of our families and upset their orderliness. Even our housewives no longer wish to put up with their old furniture.” Yet in Germany, at the same time as in France, society was thriving and enjoyed a growing prosperity. But everything which was alive, active, and creative was recent in origin, not only new but in conflict with the past.

Royalty shared nothing in common with the royalty of the Middle Ages, possessed other powers, occupied another position, had another spirit and inspired other feelings; the administration of the state extended everywhere, settling upon the remnants of local powers; the hierarchy of public officials increasingly replaced the government of the nobility. All these new powers acted according to procedures and followed ideas which men of the Middle Ages had either not known of had condemned. These had their links in fact to a state of society beyond their experience.

Let’s look briefly at a few examples. Again, I’m trying to leave out the main factor, intentional gangsterism and greed, and just mention the underlying structure and process factors, as well as some “innocent” motivations.
We started out with Obama’s energy policy, if one wants to call it that. Really Obama has no energy policy other than continuing the doomed status quo of corporatism, the technology cult, and massive consumption. It’s these very prejudices, ingrained far beyond the imperatives of greed, which help set up such objective psychological barriers to a rational energy policy. There’s also the refusal to accept resource constraints like Peak Oil, this refusal bolstered by all the dogmas and delusions of economic ideology (as well as the delusion that economics is a science). There’s also the tremendous sunk cost of cars and suburbia and the mass-energy infrastructure, entrenched Big Oil and Big Coal (not referring to their greed but their silhouette on the cultural horizon) and the new ethanol racket, trying to become Big Ethanol through the nurturing of its father, Big Ag and its mother, corporate environmentalism.
All of these represent big chunks of existence whose gravity serves as a form of propaganda in itself. People look at the sheer size and media presence of structures and become resigned, even if they wish they could sweep the landscape clean. They end up passively embracing what they consider laws of being.
As for the legal laws, everywhere you look these are set up to put up massive passive resistance to change even where the enemies of change don’t actively attack. Thus the 2005 and 2007 energy bills massively entrenched existing rackets and set what are meant to be “accepted” levels of renewable energy development. Since these were bipartisan bills enacted with great media fanfare, they’re meant to encode the status quo energy regime in our very spiritual and political DNA. Obama’s would-be energy bill is meant to continue this totalitarian process, adding cap and trade to the racketeering mix. (Needless to say, it would do nothing to mitigate greenhouse gases nor is it meant to.)
The same enshrinement exercise played out with the Bailout, with the health racket bailout, and is now continuing with the sham finance bill. The way the bills have been negotiated is also meant to further entrench the new legislative paradigm (there was a time where majorities sometimes really did want to legislate as per their constitutional mandate; no more) where everyone commences in the full understanding  either that nothing in the Status Quo will be changed, or else its assault on the people will be escalated. Maybe nobody even knows which of these it’ll end up being; either way the process is to put on a political show, with various cadres either delegated or self-appointed to play doomed heroes or misdirectional villains, while in the end they try to smear out responsibility for the real villainy among themselves while the flacks call it all “progress”. I stress that although everyone’s intent may be villainous, they’re also enshrining a process whose mechanism is meant to be immutable. Even if you came into Congress sincerely seeking reform, you’re quickly made to understand that that’s not Congress’s business, and you can either fall into line or get out. So far they’ve all fallen into line.
A similar but cross-branch process boondoggle is the net neutrality mess, where nobody in the government can seem to figure out for themselves where the power should be – with the executive (the FCC)? or the Congress? or the lawless courts (as the DC appellate court recently claimed in its own piece of judicial activism)? The result, of course, is that the telecom rackets win. All this squabbling imprints people with the process notion that process is both inscrutable and critically important, thereby fogging their eyes against the fact that either the FCC or Congress can enforce net neutrality at will; who does it doesn’t matter much; the point is for someone to do it.
Those are a few examples of how the existing system, not only on account of the malign intent of the actors, but also on account of its own inertial processes and mindsets, is a pit of stagnation and obstruction where no constructive change can be accomplished. It’s the same existential congealment as that which confronted the rising people of France and Europe in the 18th century.
There’s one big difference between the world Tocqueville described and today. Writing of the days of the ascent of fossil fuels, the ascent of the Industrial Revolution, of mass democracy, of the aspirations of the Enlightenment, he described an ascending new vibrance running into a bottleneck. But today, in the time of Peak Oil, the collapse of exponential debt, the permanent stagnation of capitalism and its calcification into corporatist oligopoly, in our post-democratic, neo-feudal time, we’re more like fugitives who are bottlenecked as we try to escape.
Can we find our own vibrance? Something like the cooperative movement of the 19th century Farmers’ Alliance, and the political self-respect it engendered according to author Lawrence Goodwyn? Relocalization as a movement needs a focusing action which involves cooperative work toward real economic self-reliance and political rediscovery. Such a movement, flowing as water around and under the dead rock of the kleptocracy (in the best Sun-Tzu tradition), is clearly the only possible solution. But we need to find the ideas and actions to render it vibrant. 

May 6, 2010

Renewable Democracy?


I recently came across this NYT Green blog piece on proposals for a nationally centralized electric grid based on Great Plains wind farms. Between this and the oil spill, it got me thinking about energy, centralization, and the Tower of Babel.
I’m all for greatly expanded renewable energy – as a means toward a more robust, sustainable, democratic way of life. Small-scale off-grid wind and solar (primarily for heat, not electricity) are promising relocalization technologies. But of course that’s not what today’s “green” corporate nexus, including corporate mainstream environmentalists (MSEs), call for. Instead, as always they want large-scale, integrated, interdependent structures (physically, economically, politically). This is the basic 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 piece, I can see that in opposing this I seem to end up in some strange company. No doubt there’s a mixed bag of motivations among the utilities and politicians who oppose it. So be it. Centralization and interdependence are always the wrong direction, and we’ve had more than enough of the privatized-profits-socialized-costs way of doing things. In this case, a few energy barons and the gluttonous end users would free ride while the regions subjected to the corridors would not. They’d not only take the destructive burden of the transmission lines themselves, but be forced to help subsidize the energy price itself so that the already free-riding end user could free ride even more, while the energy rackets extract even more rents.
Community can’t exist at the level of this political and economic monstrosity. People should be unwilling to send wealth out of their regions and communities, either as purchases of globalized products, or as taxes to kleptocratic alien governments, these taxes including corporate protection money like a health racket mandate or having to use a private bank to receive a public benefit check which is paid for with our taxes.
This plan for a national grid also defeats what would be the most worthwhile thing about renewable energy. It should supplant dirty fossil fuels, and be a bridge technology to a socioeconomic order of lower energy consumption. But this plan, again, wants to head in the opposite direction. It doesn’t want to replace coal nor does it envision conservation. It wants only to feed the monster. It envisions only greater consumption, more “growth”, more debt, bigger corporations, bigger government, more bailouts.
In realizing how even such an idealized technology as renewable energy itself becomes corrupt and malevolent once taken up by the bloody hand of corporatism, kleptocracy, “growth”, we can see how not just the normal political processes but technology itself has been turned against us and is now a weapon in the hands of those who want to harm us. 
For me the basic definition of technology is using materials to achieve material results. Within the realm of human ingenuity I differentiate it from, for example, creativity, which I regard as an attribute of the mind (or soul, to use a more figurative term). The same goes for animal cleverness.
So in my terminology, creativity can be self-sustaining, and is the quintessential human activity. Cleverness, however clever it becomes, is an animal trait. Technology is developed in the first place through either a combination of creativity and cleverness, or just cleverness. Then, how technology is deployed could in theory be dictated by creativity, but in practice usually ends up being dictated by cleverness in the service of materialism, greed, and powerlust. Eventually, these also dictate which technology is developed at all.
We’re living under a terminal kleptocracy which can never be reformed. It’s a foregone conclusion that all further steps in the direction of centralization and high capitalization will serve (and be intended to serve) only to further concentrate wealth and power for the criminal elite.
Since I place all things in this political context, given e.g. any technological proposal I ask cui bono?, and the answer always seems to be that the elites will benefit while the position of the non-rich is further eroded. So it always looks like we’d be better off if something didn’t exist than if it exists only to further enslave us. (For example, what good are even the wonders of modern medicine if they are ruthlessly rationed by wealth? Even these become a weapon against us.) This would be true even if something really did improve our material situation while further enslaving us politically and spiritually.
That’s what it boils down to – if we love freedom, it must follow that we’d rather live free even under spartan material conditions than enjoy luxury but as a slave.
And of course, all the lies about trading freedom for material well-being are now coming undone anyway. The “middle class” who made the pernicious trade is now being economically liquidated anyway.
There are some (very few) among those who exalt technology who agree that it must be kept out of the hands of corporate elites, but they fail to explain how this can be done. It seems that large-scale energy generation, high capitalization, and high tech as such imply the existence of large, centralized structures. It’s hard to see what alternative political and economic structure would support such massive and intensely coordinated projects.
I’m content to live as a spartan, materially speaking. I think the artists, philosophers, and spiritualists of antiquity proved humanity doesn’t need massively materialized and capitalized technology to exercise its ingenuity or its creativity, while ample production of food, clothing, shelter, and consumer goods was always possible, and only thwarted by flawed political structures. But in principle we’ve learned enough by now that we could be more sapient regarding our politics. We don’t need hyper-tech for that either. So it’s puzzling why anyone who’s not a corporatist would claim that it’s necessary to keep building these massive high-energy high-maintenance structures, always at such dire political risk.
The system is unsustainable and must collapse anyway. It’s simply our choice whether we do it the hard way or the not-as-hard way. Whether we make it a complete disaster, or can salvage something from it.
If we resolved to live within our means, in all ways, and renounced all versions of trying to get something for nothing, which in practice has always meant exploiting others and trashing the planet, we’d find that we’d still have sufficient material lives (probably more bountiful than under the serfdom toward which we’re now heading), while our truly creative existence could be as boundless as our imaginations. We never needed material crutches for that.
Political centralization and big government have always corresponded with integrated technological structures, no matter what a system’s proclaimed ideology was. Today we have intensive political and technological concentration, yet as we see with electricity the impetus is to integrate even further. But it was the same way with the alleged ideological opposite of “capitalism”. Lenin’s formula for what the revolution was trying to build was “soviets plus electrification.” [A soviet was a directly democratic council and legislative body elected by a small or relatively small group – a factory, a peasant village, a military base. It’s the same thing as a town or regional council (if these were directly democratic), or Jefferson’s cherished idea for wards, or the New England town hall government. These are all versions of the kind of relocalized political bodies we should be trying to establish.] They already had the soviets but little electrification. But in practice the Bolsheviks fought to integrate both technology and politics, to destroy the real authority and freedom of the soviets and achieve centralized political power in the course of building centralized technological structures, and justifying the political betrayal by the alleged exigencies of the technological imperative.
So we can see how “growth” and centralized industrialism always head in the same corporate direction. Lenin came to explicitly call what the Bolsheviks sought “state capitalism”. It was the mirror image of the state capitalism, a contradiction in terms, that we have today.
The direction of the solution is the opposite of these: the decentralization and relocalization of politics and electricity (meaning all technology). This will be physically imposed upon us by nature regardless of our political choices. But politically, morally, spiritually this is also the choice in the direction of better health and the renaissance of freedom.
In the end, the cult mantra “technology will save us” is reactionary and anti-political. It implicitly supports corporatism and tyrannical government, and most of its professional propagandists are conscious agents of tyranny. Lenin’s formula, and today ours, seeks the separation of  economics/technology from politics. It’s the ideology of technocracy, of totalitarianism. We who want to relocalize and redeem freedom must restore the old unity of concept, political economy.
We no longer want to be ruled by technocracy, by bureaucracy, by the machinery of big government and of big corporatist structures. When they call for the same old “electrification plus democracy”, they tell the same lie the Bolsheviks did. Both really want corporatist tyranny. (The only difference between the “capitalist” and “communist” versions of corporatism, between the modern US and the USSR, is the presence in the US of private racketeers extracting private rents, while in the USSR the Party maintained a racket monopoly directly via the state.)
No. We want the truly human, democratic politics of town halls/councils/wards, and then the level of electrification and of all technology which corresponds to this decentralization and is politically safe for it. This too is part of freedom’s vigilance. “Consumerism”, in choosing to throw away all citizenship and freedom for the sake of an illusory material and technological improvement which is now being rescinded anyway, chose the opposite path. And today with things like a nationally integrated grid we see the continued attempt to prop up the consumerist zombie, and by extension the whole Babel of debt, “growth”, and the Bailout.
This is all one comprehensive battlefront. Everywhere it’s centralization vs. relocalization, helplessness vs. independence, weakness vs. robustness, fragility vs. resiliency, corporate pseudo-politics vs. true democracy, materialized greed vs. human morality and spirit, tyranny vs. freedom. Nowhere will we see any large-scale issue where the positions aren’t defined by this line. It may sometimes be hard to find the will to see things this way, where we find that something we once cherished and thought to be good has been corrupted beyond redemption. That’s part of the enemy’s crimes against humanity, that they’ve thrown their filth upon so many things which could have been good and beautiful. But it’s too late for nostalgia. if we’re going to fight for our freedom and any hope for future prosperity, we have to fight it out all the way down the trench line.

August 27, 2009

Physical and Moral Cornucopians

Peak Oilers and core environmentalists recognize the debt/growth economic model as physically unsustainable, while social reformers recognize it as spiritually and morally malevolent. There’s a lot of overlap among these groups.
But also overlapping is our mirror obverse, physical and moral cornucopianism. These are the faith-based people who reject resource limitation, believe growth can be infinite and benign, and think even wealth concentration can lift all boats.
We can split these into two broad groups, the green cornucopians (mainstream environmentalists and renewable/alternative energy and “efficiency” evangelists), who believe in physical boundlessness, and the economic liberals who believe in the taming and benevolence of growth and wealth. As I said there’s much overlap among these two as well.
In a nutshell greens think the problems of civilization can be solved through being more eco-friendly and energy-efficient about our growth, our wealth accumulation, and our consumerism.
Further (and endless) exponential growth is to be accomplished through an alternative energy transformation.
Wind, CSP, solar PV, smart grids, and far more efficient use of electricity will continue to power civilization at something near its current level.
2nd, 3rd, 4th generation biofuels will allow us to continue driving our cars the way we have been (and allow the rest of the globe to hit the road as well).
These cars will be PHEVs and EVs.
Meanwhile new technology will render vestigial fossil fuel extraction and burning far less carbon intensive.
New technology will everywhere render us ever more energy efficient and less emissive. 
(In every one of these it’s assumed that new technology will forever come along to continue the process.)
Meanwhile corporations will happily join the environmental and energy crusade. All stages of manufacturing and distribution will be ecologically and efficiently rationalized so that consumerism can continue unabated but in a green way.
This new infinite green consumerism will in turn economically power growth forever, which will in turn afford the investment to keep developing and deploying the eternally new green technology, which will in turn allow continued growth and consumerism without running up against resource or pollution limits, and so on.
Throughout, corporations will be more profitable than ever, the rich will get richer than ever, all boats will be lifted, everyone will be ecstatic, and this will all be done in a earth-friendly and resource efficient way.
Finally, any rump carbon issue which wasn’t cleared up by the genius of the green market and green technology will be mastered with a market-oriented mitigation policy, based on traded emissions permits and offsets. (If the caps look a little iffy, what with the offramps and safety valves, don’t worry. Given how wonderfully our market mechanism is going to function, those will never be triggered. They were only put in there for political show. And don’t worry about the anemic reduction goals. In our new green corporate utopia, we’re going to be mitigating so much carbon the plants won’t have enough to breathe.)
These permits and offsets, and derivatives from them, may blow up a finance bubble, but don’t worry. Unlike in previous Neanderthal economies, our new green economy will know how to control bubbles and prevent them from getting out of control. No more capitalist crises for us!
This is no doubt on account of our newfound moral virtue. For just as the greens think technology will save us from the environmental and energy crises and still allow the Tower Of Babel to keep rising higher, so liberals think there’s a way to morally redeem growth and superconcentration of wealth so that these continue even as all of society benefits and we achieve the end of poverty.
I won’t bother trying to hack my way through the tangle of liberal reform proposals which have somehow not worked for decades now, which years have seen only wages stagnate and decline, unionism clobbered, the safety net shredded, corporate power enhanced, and wealth ever more concentrated. You would think anyone who doesn’t like these things would’ve learned by now, but the Democrats’ version of corporate liberalism remains a popular ideology even as everyone deplores every development it has presided over.
The basic problem is the belief that growth, capitalist “innovation”, and wealth concentration are morally neutral or even inclined to be benevolent, except that mean old Mr. Potter perverts them from their right usages. Even a real philosopher like John Rawls still bases his otherwise excellent difference principle on this bad foundation (so we’ll let him stand in for the liberals).
(Even Marx believed in the intrinsic benevolence of growth and technology, objecting only to the capitalist mode of production.)
Rawls was willing to champion every aspect of capitalism and growth so long as it was done in a way which truly would lift all boats. (The difference principle means in theory that the measure of any policy must be whether or not it even slightly betters the condition of the poorest. Excellent principle with insuperable practical difficulties given the industrial premise.) In the end it’s another version of trickle-down, but which would use taxation and other government mechanisms to cause the trickling.
But we know that trickle-down does not work, both systemically and morally. Capitalism simply does not create enough constructive investment opportunities for bloated wealth to find a way to trickle down. That’s why wherever it accumulates this wealth always blows up bubbles instead. And even if such investment opportunities could be found, they’re not as profitable as rent-seeking through asset bubbles, so the entrenched wealth structure acts aggressively to defend its rentier prerogatives.
We know that throughout history, from all large ancient civilizations through today, concentrated wealth is used as a weapon to further concentrate itself. Even where a society has a real economy and generates real wealth, concentrated wealth invariably seeks to concentrate further at a rate greater than wealth is created.
So wherever a society seeks to grow economically, we have an eternal zero-sum game, where if the public isn’t gaining it is losing.
The American people have been losing now for forty years.
So the cornucopians are just as wrong about the progressive possibilities of continued growth as they were about its physical possibilities.
The only way to help the poor, and seek the public interest, is to distribute wealth the right way in the first place, not to let it concentrate and then expect it to “trickle down”.
(In a subsequent post I’ll explain why this would not be harmful to innovation.) 

July 11, 2009

“War Socialism”?

Filed under: Peak Oil — Tags: , , — Russ @ 5:54 am
In an earlier post I laid out the basics of “resource fascism”, the blueprint according to which the power elites of the First World will attempt to maintain their privilege and high-consumption lifestyles under conditions of increasing resource scarcity. I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. In this post I want to discuss two similar visions/nightmares.
 Alexis Zeigler describes the same prospect, with the same foreboding, with what he calls nationalistic environmentalism. Environmentalism here means not real solicitude for ecosystems, but the forced compliance with resource limits, which will then be dressed up as “green”. Zeigler rightly sees biofuels as “emblematic of the dark side of green capitalism”. Few things are so intrinsically or symbolically evil as taking food from the mouths of the global hungry so a fat Westerner can fill his gas tank to continue his frivolous enslavement to the car (a luxury by any real-world measure).
This predatory global stance will necessitate a “very aggressive foreign policy on the part of the industrial powers”. Everyone from hard-right neocons (who want to seize the oil) to mainstream environmental organizations (who want “greener” high-consumption, powered by aggrofuels and “clean coal”, but high-consumption nonetheless) will get on board. “We will see the rise of a passionate, chest-thumping environmentalism, built on the foundation of green capitalism, that dwarfs the current movement”. There are historical analogues for this, in Russia in the 1990s and in Britain right now with the BNP. So far we have more and more of the policies in place – biofuels, importing tar sands bitumen and syncrude, the SPP. We don’t quite have the “chest-thumping” yet, primarily because the Republicans have made environmentalism into a culture war issue, and it’ll take some time to reshape that political template.
“There is no way the US and the global consumer class can maintain its dominion without powerful military pressure, and that martial stance will favor authoritarian political development”. We are all too familiar with a political space defined by the Global War on Terror and the Patriot Act. But this will be and can be only for the benefit of the power elite. “The global elite have more in common with each other than with their fellow national citizens. Civil liberty has always been largely defined by class”. This class elite will try to establish a permanent two-tiered world, elite consumers riding the backs of a mass of slaves. “It is possible for a limited number of people to transition to a highly efficient consumer society, but only if a couple billion of our fellow humans suffer deprivation, or perhaps even outright destruction, along the way”.
One big gated community. That’ll be the fortress world.
This brings us to Jay Hanson’s war socialism.The terminological similarity to the Bolsheviks’ War Communism probably isn’t accidental. There’s an affinity between the two programs, for both involve a beleaguered elite attempting to maintain its power while at least claiming to seek the weal of all. Hanson doesn’t seem to regard war socialism as optimal, but rather as the best America can do if it insists on trying to prop up its high-impact energy-intensive hedonism.
America as it is today has no discernable end or goal or purpose at all other than feudal wealth accumulation. Therefore the existing system cannot solve any problems, since its inertia is completely along the status quo vector. So it will have to meet the Peak Oil challenge in the familiar way – the “green” scam, outsourcing and offsetting environmental destruction, economic colonization, generate energy at any cost however wasteful, boost luxury consumption at all costs. The main difference in Hanson’s vision is that unlike resource fascism (or environmental nationalism), which will seek to internally colonize and indenture every bit as much as it externally colonizes and indentures, war socialism would really seek to lift all (first world) boats.
So we have the war socialist platform:

“Once a new form of government is in place, the following nine strategies would provide a start towards mitigating the net energy shortfall:

1)       Increase our fraction of global net energy (divert energy from competitors) directly by military action.

2)       Increase our fraction of global net energy economically by increasing asset values (e.g., pumping-up the stock market and real estate prices).

3)       Reduce energy demand by eliminating unnecessary economic activity.

4)       Reduce energy demand by reducing human population levels (e.g., closing our borders, deporting as many as possible and discouraging births).

5)       Plant “Victory Gardens” throughout the country.

6)       Heavy funding for basic energy research.

7)       Pollution control rollback, streamline permitting (no EIS, etc.) for alternate energy. No more permits for fossil fuel power plants. No more funding for roads. No more building permits except in special cases.

8)       Full-on conservation, local energy production to minimize grid vulnerabilities, and a crash alternate energy production program. (Conservation will help under a government that limits economic activity).

9)       Free mass transit.”

This program would be “enlightened” for the predator society as a whole, however wicked from the point of view of the global South. It can never happen, since there is no such thing as “America” to be socialistic in such a way.

Rather, we shall have the continuation of planks (1) and (2), the core of the program. Meanwhile the austerity of (3) and (4) shall be increasingly imposed on the masses while the elite continues to party. None of the others has any attraction for the corporatist elite, therefore they shall not be enacted.

Rather, we can rewrite them as:

(5) Further concentration of industrial agriculture and CAFOs. Outlaw (i.e. render impossible through regulatory and economic barriers) small farms and even individual gardens. Various laws to this effect (for example here, here, and here) are already working their way through Congress.

(6) Funding for energy research, yes, but in order to prop up continued high consumption. Especially whatever will maximize fossil fuel extraction, without reference to economic cost-effectiveness.

(7) Remove all regulation for fossil fuel. For alternative energy as the elite deems desirable. Same for infrastructure work.

(8) and (9) will continue to be the subject of policy assault as they are today.

Resource fascism is a horrible prospect. But there seems to be little will to fight it. The great majority are still committed to the consumer growth economy and are desperate to believe any lie which can prop up their faith. This is what the oligarchs are counting on.

Can this be prevented? I don’t know, but I imagine it would require coordination among activists of all sorts to first put together the one big picture which brings it all together, to clearly see how all battlefields are part of one war. This would help us decide once and for all which are the extinct principles now become lies, which are the true principles now springing up, offering to replace them, what strategy and tactics stem from these, and how to live from there.

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