Monday, September 10, 2007

Progress as if Life really mattered

I've been wondering for some time about the juxtaposition of Peak Oil and climate change that is threatening to, and will, bring down Western "Civilization," if that's what it is, in this century. I'm beginning to think it's not so much a coincidence as an inevitability.

Peak Oil and climate change are symptoms of two negative aspects of capitalism: 1) inevitable resource depletion as a result of commodification of scarce resources, and 2) destruction of the natural environment as a result of producing wastes faster than they can be dispersed by natural cycles, an inevitable outcome of the externalization of the environmental costs of industrial production.

Peak Oil, as expected, is resulting in desperate imperialist adventures in resource rich country (invasion and occupation), in a last minute attempt to consolidate and secure the last remaining fossil fuel reserves. The US economy is being squandered on a militaristic fascist state at a time when it should be focused on developing renewable resources and conservation policies and procedures. The US will go down hard and it will go down fighting, thus aiding accommodation to the new environmental reality by reducing the surplus human population.

There doesn't seem to be much of anything we can do about it at this point, as individuals, at least, other than prepare for the inevitable. There is no political will to change the course of the United States government, and the political system effectively blocks public participation in the decision-making process. Those of us who are aware have so little influence on politicians and the process of making decisions about our energy future, we may as well take care of ourselves, our families and our neighbors and forget about the greed and power-mongering in the centers of power.

The best we can do is turn our backs on the central government and work locally to build an alternative political structure based on local, bioregional organization, mutual aid and anarchist decision-making. This means supporting local production for local consumption, local social structures for child care, health care, food and shelter. As the national government expends its resources in more and more outrageous wars and invasions, there will be less and less resources available to support the people at the local level. It will be up to us to support ourselves and our fellow community members.

This is a good thing. Perhaps when the central government completely and ultimately collapses, after expending all their centrally controlled energy resources, we'll be forced to take care of ourselves, produce our own food and energy and forget about all this imperialist, global economy stuff that economists keep waxing spasmodic about. Then we can get back to the task of local, anarchist, bioregional organization, aka Real Democracy, and consign the Growth Maniacs to the padded rooms where they belong.

So, it's not a matter of just gynning up the right technology to "solve" climate change and find a substitute for cheap oil to power our borge-mobiles. There is no quick fix. The central problem is not climate change or peak oil, it is capitalism. We don't seem to be able to find a 12 Step program to get off capitalism, so we'll just have to follow Marx and let the whole thing collapse as a bad idea that never got better.

That's just the way it is.