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Under Strains of Peak Oil and Gas,
Ideology Stretches to the Limit

Jamey Hecht

Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications, All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

January 20, 2006 0800 PST (FTW) - Stan Goff, Chalmers Johnson, and other writers on U.S. military affairs have explained the economic nature of America’s “empire of bases”: it’s a massive State-Socialist society, built to service the machinery of death for the enforcement of capitalism.  Similarly, Ralph Nader’s half-century of work shows beyond dispute that despite “free market” ideology, major corporations in the U.S. (and in the international system at large) are partly dependent on massive government subsidies.  Privatize the profits, socialize the costs. 

While the Left articulates this economic reality by debunking its various spokespersons,  they keep pouring in from the Right like myriad clowns from a phone-booth. Thomas Friedman’s “flat” world of omni-beneficial globalization is as absurd as the disc-shaped Earth it conjures in the reader.  Richard Perle writes from a moral Disneyland whose prize is “An End to Evil,” brought about through twin means: heroic violence that somehow spares the innocent, and the national beast of America, the chimera with Capitalism’s body and Democracy’s wings.  The common theme of rightist discourse these days, from Conservative to Neocon to Realist, remains the sanctity of the Free Market. 

As FTW has shown in articles by Tom Wayburn, the Rightist paradigm has special implications for Peak Oil and Gas.  An “Apollo Project” for coping with energy scarcity can only work if it centers on conservation and eventuates in some kind of rationing and rational planning, which are anathema to the Right.  So here’s the dynamic: as climate change destabilizes the weather, increases energy demand, and plays havoc with the oil and gas infrastructures of the world, depletion speeds up and shortages occur more and more frequently.  Ideologically, there are three ways to deal with this: the Venezuelan way, which uses barter and credit to keep people warm; the Russian way, which builds up a giant monopoly company under central State control and leverages its power to control satellite states and ethnic undesirables; and the American way, which deregulates everything so that Godzillacorp can profit from the crisis while repaying government’s gift of laissez-faire with concessions to the police state, like selective blackouts and freeze-outs targeted at political opponents and ethnic undesirables.

For “our” Establishment press and book trade, the trick is to use free market ideology to justify America’s Rightist approach and deride those of our geopolitical competitors.  The trouble is that free markets and free trade are inadequate to the realities of Peak Fossil Fuels and the gap is widening all the time.  A fuel bailout in the wake of Katrina just ended in the last week of December, but now the Winter is hitting.  Russia won higher prices for its gas, but now the cold forces her to cut back on exports anyway.  And Venezuela?  The Celtics fans in Massachusetts get cheaper fuel with a dash of Latino dignity, courtesy of the man we’re supposed to consider “authoritarian.”  Contradictions galore!

(see related articles here)

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