Peak Oil Anarchy

Peak Oil is indisputable, inevitable and -- probably -- imminent. As the Cheap Oil era ends & oil supplies grow ever more scarce, our consumerist, earth-eating economy will go into convulsions & industrial civilization will teeter on the brink of collapse. Best be prepared! Peak Oil could herald a Golden Age of Anarchy. In Leviathan's ashes, we could create new decentralized communities of mutual aid, solidarity against oppression, & egalitarian harmony. May this be a map to the terrain ahead!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Disaster Capitalism In Action: "The rich know that society is collapsing"


a radical travelogue

I'm writing to you as I travel through places full of destroyed homes, uprooted lives, and the stark contrasts of wealth and poverty side by side...This week I'm participating in a fact finding delegation on poverty, race, neoliberalism, and the effects of Hurricane Katrina with a group of about 50 people including folks from the Philadelphia Independent Media Center, students participating in the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary, students at Columbia Univeristy's School of Social Work, and members of the National Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. I'm part of the media team and mostly working and travelling with a group of nine people, some of whom are good friends and others folks I'm just getting to know. We're here to talk to people, do our homework, and produce media that matters.

More and more I feel that the rich and powerful in our country are figuring out ways to benefit as things collapse. 9-11 was one example of this. No matter who you think did it, or how you think it really went down, the point is that a lot of people benefited and it wasn't you and me. The Bush government benefited by putting into place plans that had been in the works for years - the Patriot act, increased control and surveillance over massive sectors of the population, the squelching of dissent and questioning authoirty, suspicion of anyone that does. The owners of the military industrial complex benefited by the propanganda about a future of continuous war, successfully securing their piece of the pie for a long time to come. Anyone who has a stake in control, of people, capital, natural resources, or the national political culture, benefited from this disaster. While we're fighting with each other over scraps, the elite are laying in wait, playing their cards right, and figuring out how to manipulate the chaos. I've got to hand it to them - they know how to turn disaster into opportunity.

Writing to you from the South, I can say from my observations that Katrina and to an extent all of the natural disasters that happen here follow the same pattern. 'Natural disasters' aside (but after all how natural is global warming) there are sectors here that absolutely benefit from the suffering, the dying - people who have come to expect and in fact rely on periodic disasters for their very survival. Big developers, for example, rely on the crises that are wreaked on average people, and the destruction of their lives, to periodically make a killing on new construction. When we wonder why politicians never moved to remedy situations that they knew would produce disaster, we should think about these dynamics instead of wringing our hands at the sorry and unpredictable state of the world.

The conclusions are mind boggling but they are also real. We all know that people are exploited every day in their jobs, and their communities. But when we really tally up the death toll - from stress, exploitation, and oppression, it is plain to see that not only are the poor the first to die as victims of circumstance, they are actually the first to be sacrificed by those who understand what is coming, and how global economics really works. I want to suggest that the devastation I've seen - and I'm talking about Pensacola Florida, Ocean Springs and Biloxi Mississippi - we haven't even gotten to New Orleans- constitutes not an unfortunate tragedy exacerbated by inequality - but a sacrifice on the altar of global capitalism.

Neoliberalism. The dismantling of the welfare state. Every (poor) person fending for themselves. New markets can't last forever. The majority doesn't have enough wealth to buy everything that is being produced. But production has to continue and in fact it has to grow in order to increase profits. So how can profits increase? Use new technology to eliminate the need for human labor. Convince people that the state has no responsibility for human welfare and defund the social safety net. Start wars to control resources and create phantom enemies for people to attack when they become angrier about the collapse. Even when you've gotten all these projects under way, if you are rich and powerful - the Waltons, for example, who collectively control 100 billion dollars, (that's 100,000,000,000) you've still got to realize that you have a problem - surplus poor people. People who, for all intents and purposes, are in the way. In the way of 'development', in the way of the riches that the already rich are trying to secure in the only industries still experiencing growth - finance, insurance, real estate. What will happen to the neighborhoods that were leveled by Katrina? They happen to be sitting on prime real estate. How about that! A hurricane did what our government won't yet do - eliminate an unwanted population...

We've got to wake up and prepare for the long haul. The rich know that society is collapsing. They're banking on us being convinced that it's not. That way by the time we realize we need to be building the leadership and making the plans to take over, it will be too late because they will already have orchestrated the collapse down to the last pathetic violin. The global economic system cannot hold...So start thinking big, and strategic, because you're going to have to put a lot of the prejudices you've been nursing, against people who don't act right, or talk right, or think right, away. As things collapse around us, we have to learn our lessons and understand that these are Golden Opportunities for us as well. Opportunities to educate. Opportunites to organize, and develop leadership. We have to turn tragedy into triumph. (by Nijmie Dzurinko)

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