The Empire Goes Even Bonkier or a Long Term Strategy for Post-Peak Oil

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March 5, 2011

An article by Michael T. Klare, over at Reality Zone, about what is going on in North Africa and the Middle East, got me to thinking about several things going on in the Empire right now.

While the chief economist of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, once again reminds us that, “The age of cheap oil is over …” and countries in North Africa and the Middle East continue their struggles toward something better than tight-fisted rule by mad dictators and aging monarchs, the American Empire accelerates its insane march through the streets of Bonkersville.

The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department shoveled literally trillions of dollars into the ravenous maws of big banks and large corporations through both the Bush and Obama administrations, while failing to collect taxes worth billions from the biggest American corporations.and Congress added almost seventy billion per year to the deficit by extending Bush taxcuts for the wealthiest Americans.  Now that the deficits of both the nation and the individual states are exploding under all this magnanimity for the rich, the newly elected Republicans in Congress pretend they are “cutting the deficit” by slashing the budgets of, defunding, or entirely doing away with any program that might help ordinary Americans – especially the poorest and most vulnerable – while the big corps maneuver for more.

Across the Midwest, as governors and state legislatures behave more like tin-pot dictators than elected officials, in their attempts to gut the public sector  unions, billionaires of both political stripes fund efforts to gut public schools and control education , women’s rights and are even sending out feelers for gutting child-labor laws at both state and national levels.,  All of this is being done under the guise of such rubrics as “giving the people more choice” or “returning to Constitutional values” (not too far from the truth, since the Constitution, itself, was mostly written by and for the rich, white men of the day and pretty much excluded everyone else from actually holding any power – until they were forced to add the Bill of Rights in order to get it ratified.  And, they’ve been whittling away at those as fast as they can.)

Why?  Are these the Machiavellian plottings of an evil cabal of elites?  The Illuminist plans for the much-feared New World Order?  Perhaps, but since I’m the storyteller at this blog, to put it in less dramatic terms, I think it’s just the Empire’s long-term strategy for post-Peak Oil.  After all, the concept of worldwide peak oil has been around since the late fifties, new oil discoveries worldwide peaked in the sixties and American oil production peaked in the seventies.  You can bet those one percenters who have made their livelihoods by building, maintaining and expanding an Empire completely dependant on cheap oil took notice of peak oil long before the idea began filtering down to the rest of us.

Are these evil people?  Perhaps.  But in this story, most of them – having convinced themselves that the One Percent Empire is the nation – see themselves as the heroes, as patriots who are saving “the nation” from the catastrophic effects of peak oil – perhaps even seeing themselves as the only ones capable of saving the nation.

So, having set up their story with peak oil as the villain, the one-percenters as the heroes and their belief that the Empire and the nation are the same thing as their “fatal flaw,” how might the story progress?

A mighty Empire, built on crony capitalism and a greed-is-good philosophy, backed by military bases and intelligence operations in two thirds of the world’s countries and an abundant supply of cheap oil, now spans the globe.  The elite one percent of the empire luxuriates in wealth undreamed of by ancient pharaohs and kings; its middle class lives in comfort much of the world can only envy.  Even its poorest citizens live better than the one third of the world living on less than two dollars a day.

Yet, even as the Empire grows, a villain lurks in the distance, a villain capable of bringing the mighty empire to its knees – a villain known as Peak Oil.

At first, the one-percenters dismiss the idea, ridiculing those who dare suggest it, or assuring each other by saying, “With enough investment, supplies will always rise to meet demand,” or “Technology will take care of us.”

Yet, as supply disruptions become more frequent, recessions deepen and profits drop, some of the one-percenters begin to say, “Look, we’ve got to find a way to deal with this before the people start asking questions.  This could potentially bring down the Empire, if we don’t.”

“How?” a manufacturing giant asks.  “It’s costing us a bundle to keep placate these working class people with their constant clamoring for a better share of the pie.”

“Ship their jobs overseas,” another suggests. “Where low wages make things cheaper to manufacture.  We can bring the goods back to sell here and still make a profit.”

“Nah, the unions will never go for that.”

“So, destroy the unions.”

“Yeah, we can convince people the unions are greedy bastards that only benefit a few while they drive down wages for the rest of them.”

“As the unions are defanged, we can substitute service jobs for the manufacturing jobs they lose.”

“They don’t pay as well.”

“I know,” a banker says.  “We can offer them credit.  Talk up ‘the Consumer Society’.”

“Look, we’ve got to sit down and figure this out.  Once we do, we can convince the politicians that it’s best for the nation. Okay, pump out those ideas.”

“We can start think tanks to come up with rationales, write papers, manipulate data …”

“We can buy up the major media outlets.  That way, we can control what people hear and think …”

“With the unions defanged, when peak oil finally makes it too expensive to export jobs and  import good here, we should be able to ‘bring jobs back to America” at third world wages …”

“How about education?  We’ll have to convince people that their kids aren’t getting a good education …”

“Then we can privatize the system and crush the public sector unions … Two birds with one stone.”

“If we get rid of those unconstitutional child labor laws, we’ll have all the workers we need to replace the oil driven work force …”

“With education unaffordable except for the kids we choose, we can put all those other kids to work for pennies a day …”

“Ah, those good old days.  People really do want to go back to them, you know …”

“We’ll have to keep people divided, so they’re not sure who’s to blame.”

“It’s for their own good.  The security of the nation. The Empire must survive at all cost.”

Over the next twenty years, the plan progresses.  There are occasional surprises – an oil producing nation “goes rogue” here, a dictator gets uppity there.  The Empire has to slap down a recalcitrant player occasionally.  But dangers grow as peak oil creeps ever closer.  The “people” become restless; the elite grow greedy; developing countries begin to challenge the Empire in ways unintended.

Technology, once the province of the elites, spreads to the masses through credit, availing them of information and subverting the Empire’s message.  Some people actually begin to question whether the Empire and the nation are one, whether, in fact, the one-percent Empire might actually be detrimental to the founding ideals of the nation.

The one-percenters strike back, applying ever more pressure to the fault lines of dissent they’ve sown within the nation.  “Much learning,” they think, “hath made them mad.”  Dissent grows among the oil nations, too, as the Empire pressures dictators and kings to produce more oil for the benefits we’ve provided them, but the people of those countries receive few of the benefits from the increases and anger against the Empire grows.

A group from one of these countries strikes at the Empire, killing 3,000 in the heart of the Empire’s financial district.  The savvy one-percenters turn what could have been a financial and p.r. disaster in to a propaganda coup.  “They hate us because of our freedoms,” they tell the nation.  “But we will prevail.”  The Empire strikes back.  In an orgy of greed, the military-war industry kicks into gear and invades Afghanistan, the country that harbored the group of terrorists.  The financial industry is delirious with greed; Wall Street kicks into high gear.  The Emperor, overcome with the delirium, cries, “Tax cuts for everyone!  Especially, the elite.”

Alas, Hubris.  The Empire’s military-war industry sucks up more oil than many of the world’s other countries combined.  The one-percenters, led by the vice-emperor and the oil industry decide to invade Iraq, hoping for a swift victory, a quick privatization of their oil supply and a place from which to control most of the Middle East.

The two countries fight back; the wars drag on; oil production plateaus; oil prices begin to rise.  Peak Oil now licks it’s chops in anticipation.  Oil prices shoot up to unanticipated highs; the greed economy stumbles, reels and plunges toward unconsciousness with the punches.  The Empire lurches toward the cliff.

Millions of ordinary people lose their jobs and homes across the nation.  As the mortgage boom goes bust, credit dries up, millions more lose their homes.  The financial sector stares into the abyss.

“Not to worry,” the one-percenters cry.  Over the next three years, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department shovel literally trillions of dollars into the ravenous maws of big banks and large corporations through both the Bush and Obama administrations, while failing to collect taxes worth billions from the biggest American corporations.and Congress adds almost seventy billion per year to the deficit by extending Bush taxcuts for the wealthiest Americans.  (Sound familiar?)

The Empire goes into full propaganda mode for the 2010 elections.  The big push is on to elect Empire-friendly politicians by a small group of citizens angry with the sudden spurt in federal debt and carefully cultivated by the one-percenters to push the Empire’s final objective – control of the empire to “save” the nation.

But in that way of complex systems, things “gang aft agley”.  Amidst the hate speech and division consuming the nation, a U.S. congresswoman is shot down and six people killed in Tucson.  In the aftermath, some people, across the nation, actually begin to question the propaganda.  Wickileaks releases thousands of documents about the two wars – including shocking video of a helicopter attack on Iraqi civilians – and hundreds of diplomatic cables showing both the pettiness of our dealings with other countries and the shallowness of the dictators we deal with toward their own people.

The Empire, as pointed out before, goes into full battle mode to stop the leaks and punish those who had dared to reveal the Empire’s flaws – including the young soldier accused of stealing the documents.

Across the world, a desperate young man sets himself on fire and entire countries in North Africa and the Middle East erupt in flames as the people begin to fight back.  The Empire’s oil supply is threatened and, still economically fragile and still enmeshed in two wars, the Empire can do little but watch.

Here in the nation, as the newly elected state legislators begin the one-percenters’ final assault against the public sector unions, ordinary Americans – both union and non-union – march by the thousands in protest.  Contrary to the propaganda, polls show that, two to one, Americans support the unions’ right to collective bargaining.  The protests spread across several states.  The one-percenters’ legislators and governors dig in, threatening those who refuse to go along with the plan.

And the military adds another 22 charges, one of which can carry the death penalty, to those already brought against the young soldier who – in spite of the Army’s guarantee of “a speedy trial” – has languished in solitary confinement for over eight months now.  The Army says he will be tried in July “pending an assessment of his mental state.”

Even as this goes on, a group of hackers calling themselves Anonymous, fights back against the one-percenters and their Empire.

Such drama.  Will the Empire prevail?  Will the people of the nation, newly aroused, thwart their plans?  Will the people’s struggles across North Africa and the Middle East push the Empire headlong into the arms of its mortal enemy, Peak Oil?

Tune in again, tomorrow, friends for the next thrilling episode of “The Empire Goes Even Bonkier.”

(In the meantime, get those gardens planted, folks.  It may get hungry out there.)

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11 Responses to The Empire Goes Even Bonkier or a Long Term Strategy for Post-Peak Oil

  1. Dee in OK says:

    Perhaps there is another 1% – people like you that can see through the veil of lies and stupidity and express it so elegantly. Thank you for the effort.
    I am ready to find a little bit of land in Ark. (again) and hunker down. In the meantime – gardening and prepping.
    May I ask where in Ark. you are?

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Dee, I think a lot of people know something is wrong and that they’re being lied to, but there are so many competing voices that it’s hard to figure out who, where, what. It probably helps to be seventy and have lived through a lot of the history that’s being so mangled by special interests, too. 😀

      Actually, I live in the Missouri Ozarks – in Springfield. What areas are you thinking about moving to?

      • Dee in OK says:

        I lived in NW Ark. south of Fayetteville 25 years ago. That was my first experience with gardening, frugal living and developing a community of like minded people.
        Since then I’ve moved around a bit and spent most of my time in Tulsa, OK when my family needed me. So now most of the family is gone, I’m 63 and living on the edge of a city that will probably go bonkers WTSHTF.
        I know the Springfield area – used to go to Bennett Springs with my dog several times a year. Pretty area.
        Hope that wasn’t too much information. You cause me to long for the country life again and I feel that I know you in some “like-mind” kind of way.
        Keep piercing that veil!

      • theozarker says:

        My grandparents were born and raised in northern Ark. around Harrison and farmed most of their life in southern Oklahoma. Much of what I know about frugal living I learned from watching them. And of course my dad kept a garden even after he left the farm for the city life. Good people to have known.

  2. Pingback: Empire oil | CheapArt

  3. Dee in OK says:

    Just found 29 acres near Alton, MO for $29,900! Might be too close to recreational areas but looks interesting.

    • theozarker says:

      Not sure where Alton is, but it does sound interesting. Let me know how things turn out. There’s some beautiful little acreages in the Ozarks. Be sure there’s a water supply handy.

  4. Dee in OK says:

    Thank you for the replies.
    I have come to my senses. I am too damn old to do that again. Almost killed me when I was in my 30s and 40s. The 60s is no time to do it again.
    I love raw land – the potential, the opportunity to work with nature, the gratification of being self-sufficient or at least less dependent. I also like running water, heat on demand and a flushing toilet. Talk about conflicted.
    Am now going to rant with Mayberry against PTB .
    You inspire me.

    • theozarker says:

      LOL, been there; done that. Which is why I decided to just stay where I am and try to work with neighbors and friends. Lots of things to wrestle with as events go down, aren’t there?

  5. Ras says:

    I’m not sure exactly what to say, other than that I really needed to read something from someone who felt the same way about the state of the World as I do…. Reading this helped, to as much of an extent as is possible, me to not feel so alone….

    You mentioned in another entry that you were once a young, single mother. Well, if you consider 36 as young, then I fall into that category. As such, and without having a lot of family nearby, and not having any friends that feel as I do about a lot of things, I end up feeling very alone going through life. So I needed to remind myself that, even if they aren’t within driving distance, there are people like me out there, with my same views on things….

    So I thank you for having your blog [and the others who have blogs like this] and not feeling afraid to voice your thoughts on them for others to see…. It does help people like me, and for that I’m grateful.

    • theozarker says:

      Hi Ras, it’s scary to feel like you’re in this by yourself. I don’t know how you’re doing finacially as a single mom, but if you haven’t already, you might read through the “Doom and the Working Poor” series at the top of the blog. (At least, I always felt like the working poor as a young mom!) Also check out the links in the other parts up there – food/food storage and shelter/warmth (and cooling) for ideas to plan ahead for catastrophies when you don’t have much money.
      Glad you dropped by and hope you find these essays and their links helpful.


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