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"Peak Oil" -- A Secular "Rapture" January 15, 2006 by RedStar2000


The perception is wide-spread in the "late" (or "senile") capitalist countries that things "cannot go on like this".

The traditional outlet for such feelings is found in various superstitious cults...one or another fundamentalist sect that proclaims "the end is near".

But in our more secular age, it's perfectly possible to use "Nature" for such a purpose. The perception that oil is "running out" and technological civilization will "collapse" invites visions of pre-capitalist utopias that dazzle the naive.

The case is made in these posts that it won't happen...and even if it did, it would not look anything like they imagine it would.


==================================================

The sky is falling?

No, actually it isn't.

Canadian oil sands: Vast reserves second to Saudi Arabia will keep America moving

But it makes one curious?

Who benefits from "peak oil" hysteria?

Surely people have noticed that an "energy crisis" is always followed by an enormous increase in energy corporation profits.

And getting dissident young people to play "urban survivor" is certainly preferable to any sort of revolutionary political activism...if you're a member of the ruling class.

Not to mention offering a "perfect rationale" for future American imperial adventures...from Venezuela to Central Asia to Africa.

Volunteer now or we'll turn off the power!

And fear is such a useful tool for manipulating people against their own real class interests.

Get used to working harder for a shittier "life"...it's not capitalism, it's "Nature" that's responsible.

I wonder what our masters have planned for the next "impending doom" after "peak oil" fails to materialize. And I wonder even more when people will stop falling for such sucker plays.
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 7, 2006
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quote:

Unless I've misconstrued the meaning of you posting the link, and you yourself are a believer in oil sands as a long-term solution. In which case you're advocating the increased pollution described in the article, as well as the accelerated global warming that goes with it. Or do you consider global warming to be hysteria too?


I naturally have no idea if our rulers will choose oil sands as a "long-term solution".

I do know that the power will stay on...and that anyone playing at primitivism is a sucker.

As to pollution, if that's what it takes to keep the power on, then that's what will happen.

As to global warming, the evidence in favor of that hypothesis looks very robust -- so go ahead and plant that palm tree in Brooklyn...it will thrive sooner than you think.

And, speaking from personal experience, do not live within 300 miles of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Say a sad farewell to New Orleans.

Otherwise, put aside visions of "technological collapse" and consider instead the overthrow of the capitalist class.

That's the only thing that will make a real difference...in anything.
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 9, 2006
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quote:

President Castro said that the crisis is just around the corner...


Same fellow had a lot of nice things to say about the late Pope.

Poor guy is getting old...and should really retire.

quote:

Cuba's recent history, in economic aspects, is an inspiration to those preparing for peak oil.


And from one of your links...

quote:

The introduction of a diversified market based system for food distribution has spurred increased productivity among agricultural workers.


Yes, Cuba is "on the capitalist road" and only a few aging Trotskyist ideologues are still in denial on that one.

quote:

Sorry, but real scientific socialists don't dismiss science whenever it presents facts that are inconvenient.


Real "scientific socialists" try not to be influenced by the "halo effect". Just because some guy in a white lab coat, wearing black hornrim glasses, and carrying a clipboard tells you something, that don't make it so.

In fact, one of the outstanding characteristics of late capitalism is the increasingly obvious fact that "science" is for sale to the highest bidder.

Look at "evolutionary psychology", for example.

It would be extraordinarily tedious to de-construct The Long Emergency -- which proposes a neo-feudal nightmare as a "religion of hope".

Believe that?

quote:

I will tell him/her that oil production is oil production no matter what the social context.


Tell me as often as you like. But don't expect me to take "doomsday" scenarios seriously.

It does occur to me that "peak oil" is kind of a secular version of "Armageddon" (for all of us sinners) and primitivist "Rapture" (for the virtuous).

Social orders in decay produce any number of such superstitions...which may say something about how long capitalism "has to go".

Meanwhile, start making those swords and shields while you have the chance. *laughs*
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 10, 2006
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quote:

Listen Marxist dumbass!


I always suspect that I'm "on the right track" whenever my remarks provoke sputtering outrage.

Jared Diamond is indeed rather unusual among modern thinkers in elaborating a geographical and ecological foundation to historical materialism. Put simply, I think the stuff he's right about can be seamlessly incorporated into the Marxist paradigm.

His latest work, Collapse, is about primitive "civilizations" in extremely harsh natural environments -- Greenland, the American southwest, Easter Island, etc. He emphasizes the role of ecological collapse and climate change in causing those very early class societies to "come apart".

There were very limited resources which those societies just "used up"...and then the weather turned rotten.

He suggests that we are now possibly in the same situation...but acknowledges that we have technological resources far in advance of those collapsed "civilizations".

He does not predict that "doom" is "just around the corner"...probably because he knows better than that.

It's a "fashionable" book that will probably "sell well". But his earlier work, in my opinion, is much superior.

The gullible will seize on Collapse as an "iron-clad prediction" of primitivist "Rapture"...counting on the fact that most people won't have actually read it.

What are your feelings on cross-bows?
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 11, 2006
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quote:

Or do you think that there is a massive conspiracy by which oil reserves are underestimated in order create an artificial scarcity and jack up prices, at great benefit to oil companies but at great cost to overall economic growth and profit?


I don't have any way of independently determining the real size of "oil reserves"...but that recent "scarcities" are artificial seems to me to be indisputable.

Nor do I have any way to independently evaluate the "hot biosphere" hypothesis...but that existing oil corporations would do all in their (not inconsiderable) power to discredit it seems like a pretty straightforward proposition.

We saw during the Enron debacle the calculated creation of an "energy crisis" in California...generating enormous additional profits.

And we know that the Enron personnel were not "the smartest guys in the room". *laughs*

Would global oil corporations conspire to create the appearance of an "oil shortage" in order to increase their profits?

People do.

Consider this one: shortly after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, people in the northeast were paying $4 or $5 per gallon for gasoline.

Yet I know from personal experience that as soon as the power went back on in southern Louisiana so the gasoline pumps could operate, gasoline prices were around $2.70/gallon.

The public perception of a "shortage" was good for a hefty add-on.

Here's another one: when's the best time to shut down a refinery or power plant for "routine maintenance"?

When driving is at its peak and electricity use is at its highest?

Umm...yes.

The marvelous mythology of "supply & demand" can produce wonders without limit. *laughs*

quote:

You need to get past the "if a capitalist says it, it's a lie" mentality...


I'm reluctant to give up such a useful tool of social analysis...you see, it's worked out so well in the past.

By the way, how do you feel about the re-emergence of serfdom? Something to look forward to?
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 11, 2006
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quote:

Redstar falls into the usual cornucopian economic construct of modern human ingenuity.


Modern humans are rather ingenuous, aren't they?

Is that not what we have all seen with our own eyes?

Some can even contrive scenarios of primitive survivors battling with spears and swords in the ruins of Manhattan.

They even look forward to it. *laughs*

The rational majority will have other priorities...of which proletarian revolution and communist society will be paramount.

If anyone even remembers "peak oil" at all, they'll think of it as just one of those last scams by a section of the capitalist class to overcome the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.

Something that may have caused a lot of unnecessary hardship...but then that's been true of capitalism all the way through.

Now go practice your archery on tunnel rabbits.
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 11, 2006
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quote:

The rate of profit only falls on commodity production. Not services or extraction of natural resources.


To be sure, I am not a trained Marxist economist.

But here's how it works, according to my limited understanding...

1. A commodity is anything produced for sale in the marketplace rather than for use by the producer.

2. Its value is determined by the amount of socially necessary labor time to produce it.

3. In a competitive environment, capitalists have a built-in incentive to replace paid human labor power by machine labor.

4. But, according to Marx, machine labor produces no surplus value and hence cannot be a source of profit.

5. Thus, the rate of profit tends to fall for the production of any commodity over time...as humans are replaced by machines.

6. The "high tech" extraction, refining, and distribution of oil clearly meet this criterion...so the profitability of the oil industry would tend to fall unless it is artificially inflated by "production bottlenecks", "political tensions", oligopoly price structures, or contrived scarcities.

Should there be a real Marxist economist "in the house", I'm sure s/he could elaborate.

But, alas, they are quite rare these days.

Meanwhile, let's get to the real meat of "peak oil". Have you staked out your fiefdom yet?
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 11, 2006
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quote:

The reason the economics of industrial production don't work for oil is because there is a fixed amount of oil in the world. It's a finite resource.


But how much is there?

No one knows.

Yes, there are people who say they know. But those people have an agenda.

And that agenda is higher energy profits.

Would they actually lie to implement that agenda?

What do you think?

quote:

Are you paying ANY attention to world events at all?


You mean the press releases of the rich and famous?

Not a whole lot. *laughs*

quote:

That's why it's bad to try to sound smart by blindly parroting crusty old philosophers from the 1800s.


Yes, there are those who much prefer to blindly parrot the crusty young philosophers of "back to feudalism".

"Smart" is not one of the words used to describe them, of course.

One of you guys should get to work writing that new bible for the "religion of hope". Don't forget that the clergy had a pretty soft life under feudalism...so maybe you should try for Bishop of Holy Deprivation.
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 12, 2006
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quote:

Because of OPEC rules putting the amount of oil each country in the cartel can sell on the world market into direct proportion with their "proven reserves", there is actually an incentive for countries to overstate reserves.


And the OPEC countries always dutifully abide by their quotas. *laughs*

quote:

It's also important to separate the drives of individual capitalists from the needs of the system as a whole. Oil is the lifeblood of the system. The great majority of capitalists would never permit the select few in oil production to throttle global economic growth for their minority gain.


Capitalists do indeed have severely conflicting interests.

And as they say: "sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug".

Major corporations respond to a perceived "oil shortage" by substituting other energy sources, by stringent conservation measures, etc.

Do you imagine that the corporations with the technical expertise to build nuclear power plants are not watching this "crisis" unfold with barely disguised glee?

So it's true that the oil corporations have the world by "the short and curlies" at the moment. But it won't stay that way.

It never does.

quote:

See why you can't base your analysis on gainsaying the capitalists? Because some say one thing and some say the opposite. Then what's a contrarian to think?


It's not a real good idea to believe any of the bastards. Lying in their own self-interest comes as naturally to capitalists as breathing.

You'd think people would know that by now.

quote:

By the way, would you stop whaling on that hunter/gatherer strawman?


Feudal...not "hunter-gatherer". Lord Kustler tries to make it sound all "warm and fuzzy", but he admits that "these masses of disentitled people may enter into quasi-feudal social relations with those who own land in exchange for food and physical security."

In case you've forgotten, that's called serfdom.

quote:

No, I mean the press releases of world governments through state media.


Another well-known source of reliable information. *laughs*

quote:

Nor do they look forward to what might be returns to feudalism in certain areas.


Perhaps Lord Kustler does not wish to explicate in depth on the droit de seigneur at this time.

Understandably so. *laughs*
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 12, 2006
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quote:

What [Kustler] does say is that the world will look more Luddite over the next century. Something which turns me on...


Of course it does. How much simpler to live in a society where everyone has his place and knows it.

And if your kids get sick, they just fucking die. Your wretched wife can always have another...until she dies too.

Everything that happens is simply "God's Will".

Sounds like a big shithole to me...but you probably think otherwise.

Until you actually had to live that way.

quote:

If you understand the logic of technique and scale in regards to this issue, then the peak oil argument should not be hard to understand.


It is not a "difficult" argument to grasp. All one need do is accept their numbers.

I decline to do so because I find their conclusions unacceptable. Consequently, I assume their numbers are wrong or faked or both.

If you think their numbers are valid and technological civilization is about to collapse, then it logically follows that you must prepare yourself for feudalism (at best!).

In fact, the restoration of slavery cannot be ruled out.

The basic proposition of historical materialism is that your level of technology determines the kind of society that it is possible for you to have. If the "peak oil" nutballs are right, then feudalism, slavery, or both are inevitable.

Consider what happened in New Orleans when the power went off. For a couple of days, people were very helpful to one another. Then things got serious and groups of young males banded together to take what they needed to survive. The old and the sick just died.

If your "peak oil collapse" is precipitous, the result will be savagery.

What is most curious about the "peak oil" nutballs is that they think of technological collapse as a "lifestyle choice"...we'll all just settle down in communal bliss after all those nasty old machines stop running.

Fortunately for the civilized majority, that's not going to happen ever. Every country in the world is going to get more "high tech" and use even more energy. And sources for that energy will be found.

The primitivist "Rapture" is no more possible than the Christian one.

But both "have their uses" to the ruling class. Anything that distracts people from their real class interests always does.

Still...no con lasts forever.
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 13, 2006
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quote:

Hillary Clinton is promoting the story that oil companies will exaggerate scarcity where it suits them, and even profiteered off of Katrina. The story is a ruling class press release from the Washington Post.


I share your evident disdain for Senator Clinton and her presidential ambitions. The Democratic Party is well-known for its occasional flirtations with populist rhetoric...no one but the hopelessly naive takes them seriously anymore.

quote:

Or maybe it could it be that price-gouging, peak oil, capitalist exploitation and global warming are all real and we have to face them like grown ups. It may take some thinking outside of the historical materialist box, but hopefully civilization (I'm personally pretty attached to civilization, no matter what Redstar says about me) is up to the task.


You got three out of four...better than most people do.

But if you want to "think outside the historical materialist box", you're in deep trouble. Whether you choose one of the "western" mystical superstitions or one of the "eastern" varieties, you still end up in the shit!

If you are, as you claim, "attached" to civilization, then you have no choice but to reject the primitivist "Armageddon" of "peak oil" and the "Rapture" of "technological collapse".

If the "peak oil" primitivists are right, then everything really is hopeless.

Have you read anything about what Tibet was like before the Chinese took over? One of the most hideous combinations of slavery and serfdom in the history of the planet. Imagine societies like that...for the next 8 million years!

That's the "average life expectancy" for mammalian species. After 8 million years or so, humans without technology will probably go extinct.

End of story.
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 14, 2006
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Whoops, I overlooked a real beauty here.

quote:

He would do well to read people like Jacques Ellul or Lewis Mumford and of course Virilio.


Wikipedia to the rescue!

quote (Wikipedia):

Jacques Ellul was a French philosopher, sociologist, theologian, and Christian anarchist.
-- emphasis added.

quote (Wikipedia):

Lewis Mumford was involved in numerous research positions and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. In 1943 Mumford was made an honorary Knight of the British Empire.
-- emphasis added.

quote:

Throughout Virilio's books the political and theological themes of anarchism, pacifism and Catholicism reappear as central influences to his self-proclaimed "marginal" approach to the question of technology.
-- emphasis added.

So what have we here? One bemedaled darling of the ruling class and two superstitious dolts!

That's not to say, of course, that any one of them could not have had an interesting idea at least once in their lives.

But the odds are very poor.

And, I might add, Wikipedia is really beginning to impress me very favorably. Whenever someone tries to intimidate me with some "authority" that I've never heard of, I can check them out in seconds.

Something rather difficult to do when you're a serf!
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 14, 2006
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quote:

Waiting around to see who is right about peak oil or when and if it's gonna happen is like those few citizens of New Orleans who stayed behind partying in the French Quarter when they were told to evacuate and go to shelters, because they thought the hurricane would pass them by like it always had.


Unfortunately, there's no way to "evacuate" from "peak oil".

Except into feudalism and slavery and, if worse comes to worse, savagery.

(And by the way, most people in New Orleans who did not evacuate lacked the transportation to do so. Within a few days of the storm, thousands of people were walking out of that dying city. The suggestion that we were "all partying" and willfully "blind to our peril" is frankly just insulting!)

quote:

We need to consider that Peak Oil is or soon will be a real possibility and we have to see what can be done about it...alternative sources of energy...whatever.


Who's "we"? Unless you have a truly enormous amount of capital at your personal disposal, you can't "do" anything about "peak oil".

Except yap about it. Tell us over and over again that "we're doomed". Or that we should "prepare" ourselves for lives as serfs and slaves.

Or savages.

quote:

For one thing if we are going to reject people's ideas due to the person's class position then you might as well throw out all language altogether. Red pretty much downgrades the power of ideas and thinks it's all about class position. A dying marxist position.


Yes, I think the "power of ideas" is a discredited bourgeois notion. And while funerals for Marx are regularly celebrated by his critics, the old ghost seems remarkably unwilling to be laid.

quote:

He then takes a bigoted attitude toward anarcho-christians.


Guilty! I have no "tolerance" for reactionary superstitious bullshit whatsoever. One of my numerous criticisms of Stalin is that he never got around to demolishing all of the cathedrals and churches. Gross blunder doesn't even begin to describe it.

quote:

And I have far less a fear of anarcho-Christians sending me to gulags then I do vulgar vanguardists like red fascist star here.


Wrong again. In my view, 21st century Marxism will reject the Leninist "vanguard" paradigm altogether.

Moreover, if "gulags" worry you, you'd better concern yourself with being sent to one of AMERICA'S prisons...by Christian Fascists.

Unless you "repent", of course. Something you'll probably manage without difficulty.

quote:

The world is not part of some linear progression dude. When it comes right down to it, humans are existential animals.


You certainly have a real taste for mysticism, don't you? "Peak oil", "anarcho"-Christianity, and now existentialism.

quote:

As if humans cannot existentially create an egalitarian society using egalitarian techniques.


That's right...you can't do it! Saying you'll do it "existentially" is just waving a verbal "magic wand". Like 20th century Leninists used to wave their "dialectical wand" to verbally transform defeat into "victory".

Your verbal con is no more impressive than theirs was.

quote:

The best thing we can do is usher in the age of permaculture and if possible combine it with hunting and gathering.


*laughs*

It was only half-way up this page that I was criticized by one of your fellow tribesmen for "whaling on that hunter/gatherer strawman".

And behold, the "strawman" is made flesh and dwells amongst us.

Picked out your cave yet?

quote:

Anyway I always say to people like you that the idea of progress is predicated on the transition from paleolithic to neolithic society being a progressive step. You still believe that? If so your views mold pretty well with those British Empire Club members who got drunk and joked about those "savages".


Yes, I endorse the transition from paleolithic to neolithic society as indisputably progressive.

Compared to you, an old-fashioned Colonel Blimp was an Einstein of social progress.

And after all, those guys were effectively constrained by their class position. A guy like you has no such excuse. You choose the most reactionary possible position and do so with positive relish.

What's next, an essay on the benefits of ritual cannibalism?
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First posted at NYC Indymedia on January 14, 2006
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