4 January, 2008
In Part 1 of this analysis, “The Post-Bush Regime: a Prognosis”, I developed these main themes:
• The neocon agenda has been seriously reined in by our ruling clique of elite financial players. We are in for a ‘new story’ – the ‘Gore Agenda’.
• As the Industrial North continues to consume more and more energy and resources, and as resources decline, mass die-offs in the Global South are inevitable: we can expect to see the globalization of African-scale famines.
• Our elite clique is in fact covertly expediting these die-offs by means of destabilization programs of various kinds. They are engaging in deliberate and selective genocide, as a way of managing the die-off process in the Global South.
I would now like to bring in some economic considerations. Consider, for example, the state of the American economy. It is a total shambles: deeply in debt, operating at an astronomical deficit, and suffering from a chronic trade imbalance. The dollar is slipping in value, and could suffer collapse any time foreign holders start cutting their losses and dumping their dollars. On top of this we have the sub-prime mortgage crisis, which then led to a global crisis in the world of credit and finance. By all indications, the US economy is headed for a deep recession or worse.
In fact, under the neocon regime, many of us were expecting a total economic collapse to occur, to be followed by martial law, perhaps even of the Gestapo variety. That seemed to be the whole point of the ‘anti-terrorism’ legislation and Homeland Security – to create the infrastructure of a fascist police state. My own view at the time was that these jackboot methods were the clique’s answer to an inevitable collapse. But with the neocon agenda reined in, and an optimistic new administration on the way, the prospect of martial law now seems distant. It doesn’t fit with the new story. It is no longer in the cards.
This can only mean that our clique has found some other response to a collapse scenario, some other way to deal with an economy in shambles. And what other response really could there be, than to avoid a collapse altogether, and to instead engineer an economic recovery? That’s the only way that America can keep operating, in the absence of martial law. And besides, such a move provides a needed response to a critical political situation.
Under the neocons, Americans have increasingly been not only in dissent with administration policy, but have been losing faith in the system altogether. The loss of Constitutional rights, CIA torture, voting irregularities – these kind of things strike at the very heart of what America has always pretended to stand for.
It is never a good thing for rulers when folks start losing faith in the system, particularly if jackboot methods are not available. It would be a very good move for the clique to bring folks back onside, back to being happy campers. New-story rhetoric can help a bit, but only an economic recovery could bring back that feeling of, “Aren’t we lucky to be Americans!” That’s how the clique likes it. A content flock is an easily managed flock. So evidently, based partly on massive investment in Gore-agenda new technologies, we can look forward to a recovery program that will get America back on its feet.
In addition to investments, I think it is clear that massive government interventionism in the economy will also be required for a recovery program to succeed. In these kinds of situations there is always an important role to be played by government-funded programs that get people into employment and spur economic activity.
Given the dire state of our fundamental economy at the moment, these interventionist programs will need to be considerable, amounting to a kind of ‘mini-New Deal’. And as in the New Deal, we can expect some of these programs to be of a social-welfare nature. Funding some kind of universal health care program, for example, would be one way to get some economic activity going, and it would also help in bringing the masses back onside. Perhaps some kind of real solution to homelessness could be undertaken, and that would certainly be a massive undertaking.
Even the Federal Reserve has been calling for increased interventionism, to deal with ‘irresponsible lending practices’. When we take into account that the Fed actively promoted such practices and thereby initiated the crisis, my guess is that the whole sub-prime fiasco was contrived in order to justify the kind of economic interventionism that will be needed to enable recovery.
Given the growth in the biofuels marketplace already, it is clear that conversion to renewable energy sources is going to be one of the fast track, government-driven programs. Already the White House was directly involved in negotiating an agreement with President Lulu of Brazil, whereby Brazil will embark on a massive biofuels production program.
The government has a lot of leverage, in controlling how aggressively biofuel production will be pursued. They could, for example, mandate that all gasoline and diesel must contain a higher percentage of biofuels, which would drive up the price of biofuels, and farmers would rush in to meet the mandated production level. This shift to energy renewables will not be left to market forces alone. We’ve gotten too many signals that ‘new energy sources’ is going to be one of the flagship programs of the new administration, and promoting growth in the biofuels market is by far the quickest and easiest way for the administration to achieve real successes in such a program.
Biofuels are an attractive crop to Brazilian farmers, or to any farmer in the Global South who has suitable land. They can get a good price on global markets relative to other agricultural products. And every farmer loves a strong and reliable market for his products, and for biofuels we have that in spades – all those cars, trucks, ships, and planes running around in the world. If global energy prices go up, that's all the better for the farmers; the biofuel prices track up along with them. For Lulu, closing a deal with Washington for biofuel production scores easy political points with the whole farming sector. But what does it mean for Brazil? And how much do the farmers really benefit?
For the Brazilian people, it means their ability to produce their own food will be reduced by the same amount that biofuel production increases. At the same time global food prices are rising sharply, due largely to biofuel production, so that importing food is no answer to the problem. If sufficiently many farmers switch to biofuel production, there will be famine and starvation in Brazil. If the new administration pushes really hard for more biofuel production, as it seems they will be doing, they are in effect waging a campaign to starve as many Brazilians to death as possible.
When you take away a people's land, their source of sustenance, for your own use, you are condemning them either to death, exile, or virtual serfdom on the land that was theirs. This is true whether you occupy the land, as we did when we Won the West, or whether you gain control over the land by other means, such as a strong market price for biofuels. As we run our fuel-efficient cars, and our Industrial North, increasingly on biofuels, we are as surely invading Brazil as if we were doing it with covered wagons and the cavalry. To the extent we can maximize the conversion of suitable land to biofuel production, to that extent we are pursuing a path of genocide in the Global South.
As regards the farmers, they will be little more than serfs, whether on their independent farms, or as laborers in industrial farming operations. As in all agricultural sectors these days, the farmer gets a subsistence price for his products, the consumer pays a premium price, and the middle men – the distributors and the financiers – get the lion's share of the profits from the overall transaction. The ultimate biofuels vision would turn the global South into one big biofuel plantation, and the only people living down there would be the plantation slaves and their bosses. Once again we'd have the Industrial North, and the Slave Plantation South, only this time the South would be producing something the North could use, instead of growing cotton for export elsewhere.
Who knows, by following such an exploitive vision, it might actually be possible for the automobile, much improved, to survive peak oil. Given people's attachment to their cars, they'll be able to rationalize whatever is required to keep those cars purring along.
Keep in mind that it was only a minority of pioneers in frontier America who actually encountered the Indians, and who thought that 'the only good redskin is a dead redskin'. The bulk of the population, back east, was comparatively liberal and sympathetic to the Indians. And yet they acquiesced in the systematic genocide, as their 'great nation' pursued its ‘eminent domain. In general liberal Northerners have adjusted very well to imperialist excesses of all sorts, particularly if they perceived themselves as being well off. If it means people can keep their cars, they won't be in any mind to connect the dots to mass famines 'down there', which the media will be only to eager to blame on unfortunate natural causes.
I've been focusing overmuch on biofuels, I fear, as they provide such a rich picture of the nature of the Gore agenda. In fact, the appropriation of the resources of the Global South has been the hallmark of European imperialism from the beginning, and a fully exploited South would not be devoted exclusively to biofuel plantations. There would also be mines, oil wells, cattle and coffee plantations, slum factory zones, etc, each area producing whatever it is most efficient at producing. What is special about the biofuel program is that it signals a final assault on the Global South, the launching of a final solution to the problem of exploiting the resources of the South.
Instead of interventions and intrigues, tinhorn dictators and market forces – instead of all these troublesome mechanisms of indirect resource management, we are now going for the jugular, the food supply. We are setting out to clear the land for our use, so that we can keep the engines of the Industrial North running. Most of the people on the land are for our purposes now redundant, what Kissinger – author of that infamous Government report (NSSM 200) on depopulation – allegedly refers to as “useless feeders”.
We can see this final solution in operation already in Sub-Saharan Africa, where millions of children die each year from disease and starvation, and the genocidal process is helped along by destabilizing interventions of various kinds, while the media blames it all on droughts and tribal conflicts. With this new strife in Kenya we see the consequences of an ongoing intervention episode, as the Pentagon’s new AFRICOM command seeks an excuse for a foothold in the Horn of Africa.
In the decades following World War II the Industrial North experienced a boom period, under capitalism, based on opening up the Global South ('Free World') to exploitation by capital generally, no longer restricted by the old colonial boundaries. Once again the North needs to find a way to more systematically exploit the resources of the Global South. The time has come, evidently, to take a final-solution approach to that exploitation.
We need to be clear here: this is not a case of the people of the South being sacrificed so that the people of the North can survive. It’s not about over-population per se. The people of the South are being sacrificed so the North can keep its exorbitantly wasteful systems going, not only its flagrant over-use of long-distance transport, but equally its water & energy-intensive agricultural methods.
While access to petroleum has been the most critical enabling factor in industrial societies for the past century, access to land in the South will become the most critical factor in the future. This will lead to a dramatic change in geopolitical dynamics: a resurgence of territoriality as a principle of economic well-being. If nation-sized plantation operations are necessary to keep the engines of the North running, then the nations of the North will be seeking to secure access to Southern territories, on a sufficient scale to supply their needs.
In particular, rising food prices and rising food scarcities will motivate Northern nations to secure territories in the Global South, in order to provide food for their own needs. In general, the more the North depends on a large-scale transfer of resources from South to North in order to continue operating, the more the securing of Southern territories will become an economic imperative for nations in the North.
Such a territorial focus will naturally lead to regionalism, and a thoroughgoing reversal of the tides of globalization. Already China is getting its region in order, with the SCO and related initiatives. China has long expressed the desire, nay the natural right, to regional hegemony, and it seems sincere in wanting only that; self-containment is a very long tradition in Chinese culture. In the expansion of the EU into the former Soviet realms, we see the creation of another viable regional block, even if it might have been created for other reasons, under an earlier game plan. Russia fits nicely into a game of territories, being so vast on its own, and with a wealth of resources that its neighboring blocks are eager to buy at market price. A reunion with some of the old Soviet Block to the south would make a lot of sense for both parties.
Interestingly enough, this regional picture is in many ways similar to the world described by Samuel P. Huntington in his Clash of Civilizations. In his scenario however, our own Anglo-American clique, along with the Pentagon, are supreme rulers of all, with each region being managed by a subservient ‘core state’. It seems that Russia and China have risen to peer status much quicker than Huntington imagined they could. “Today Iraq, Tomorrow the World!” does not seem to have panned out. I suppose when our grandkids study The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, the PNAC document and Huntington’s book will be on the required reading list, under the heading, "their last great dream" – how they were going to conquer the world.
This brings us to the North American Union, and the new Amero currency. Canadians seem to be a lot more aware of the NAU than are folks in the US. To most Americans (by which I usually mean the US variety), the NAU is just another conspiracy theory – “If it’s not on TV, it couldn’t be true.” Canadians on the other hand have long felt colonized by the giant to the south, both culturally and economically. Particularly recently, with both free-trade treaties and heightened security malarkey, Canadians can see that they are becoming more and more integrated into a North American system of some kind. They have been much more alert to what's going on, and they've been tracking the somewhat covert progress of this other regional block, the North American Union, which is to be made up of Canada, the US, and Mexico, and which is to have a new currency, the Amero.
Canada has lots of resources and relatively few people. It's got uranium, timber, water, wheat, claims to the Arctic and the newly opened Northwest Passage, and much else. Mexico brings to the party lots of cheap labor, lots of good agricultural land, some oil, and a variety of resources that can be more systematically exploited with the help of some investment in modernization. The NAU amounts to a colonial expansion on the part of the US, a bit like England absorbing Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in earlier days. On paper there might be some kind of equality in the arrangement, but in reality it will be the US operators and the US part of the economy that will get the lion's share of the benefits. For Mexico, the NAU may turn out to be a blessing nonetheless, if it spares them the holocaust being prepared for the Global South.
Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution cause us to consider two alternative possible futures for South America. The Bolivarian alternative would be by far the best one for the people of South America. This alternative would lead to South America as a regional block in its own right, with its own relatively adequate resource base, oil and all. This alternative would however save South America from the fate of the Global South, and hence would seriously reduce the total resource base available for exploitation by the Industrial North.
As much as I love and support Chavez, and pray for his noble democratizing efforts to succeed, I fear that a resurgence is very likely in covert interventions in the left-leaning South American upstart nations. Perhaps there will even be a return to the era of the dictators and the disappeared. The rest of the world, busy building their own regional havens, would be quite happy to tolerate US interventionism in South America – its traditional back yard – if in return Washington reduces its meddling in the rest of the world's affairs, hence another reason for the PNAC rein-in.
Our clique cannot afford to let South America achieve its liberation. In a regionalized world, an Industrialized North America needs South America as its own regional share of the Global South, along with whatever it can grab in Africa and elsewhere. The Monroe Doctrine lives on. The new biofuel program in Brazil is the harbinger of the onslaught to come.
Let us now consider the nature of a regionalized world, where the North is living off the resource base of the South, and where the South is partitioned into vast colonial territories – as in the old days of Grand Empire. We’re probably talking about a comparatively peaceful world, as each regional block would be a major nuclear power, and its Southern territories would in fact be essential to its ‘regional interests’. There would be no independent territories left in the South to squabble over, so we’d have the strategic stability of the Cold War, without the proxy wars that might bring in the potential for escalation.
In our existing regime of comparatively small nations, where the critical resources (eg oil) are concentrated in a few places in the world, geopolitics has been oriented around ‘controlling the straits’ – competing to control the critical resources themselves and the access routes to them. Power struggles have been inherent in geopolitical dynamics. In a regionalized world, where the critical resources (ie land) are much more uniformly distributed, there aren’t any special straits to compete over. Competition and struggle are no longer an inherent part of geopolitical dynamics.
What happens to the notion of economic growth in such a world? If the engines of the North depend on the resource flows from the South, and if the Regions of the North are not competing over each other’s Southern territories, then the rate of Northern resource consumption will need to fall to the level of available inputs. The paradigm of growth no longer makes sense. This implies there will be a major shift in Northern economic paradigms, and in the cultures themselves.
Instead of capitalism, whose core dynamic is growth, we will evolve toward a more feudal kind of economics, where control over resources is the measure of wealth, rather than the value of growth-oriented investments. Northern societies will become more stable and static, and each generation won’t be faced with new infrastructures, based on new technologies, requiring people to learn new kinds of jobs, migrate to new locations, and adapt to new residential and transport patterns.
To a large extent, our economies and cultures will come to resemble those of the Middle Ages. People will compete to rise in static hierarchies, and we may get a more class-based society, where children tend to follow in their parent’s footsteps. No doubt religions will change as well. Protestantism has always been closely linked to growth and capitalism, and we are likely to see a return to something more like the Medieval Church, organized hierarchically, and teaching its congregations to be good sheep rather than to exhibit the uppity Protestant Ethic. And at the top of our own regional hierarchy will be the descendents of our current clique, behaving like monarchs and aristocrats of old, rather than being manipulators behind the scenes.
If we want to avoid this kind of future, and the holocaust that goes with, it is up to us to take the initiative to do so, us ordinary people. There is no inherent reason why we cannot create sustainable societies, in both the South and the North, and base our exchanges on mutual benefit rather than exploitation. Our real problems are not about economics or resources, but rather the fact that our societies, and their future paths, are controlled by cliques who are concerned only with their own self-interests.
Our challenge, and the only way to achieve a sensible future, is to establish genuinely democratic societies, where the wisdom and will of the people can be manifested to guide the course of our societies. What prevents us from doing this is the fact that we are divided against one another, and the fact that we have no idea of what a democratic society might look like. We have no experience in that area. Our competitive electoral systems have nothing to do with democracy. They are instead efficient mechanisms to keep us divided and to enable power brokers at the top to control the political process. As voters, we are corralled into the hopeless dilemma of voting for the lesser of two evils.
Our first task, if we want to move toward our own democratic empowerment, is to abandon the myth that we already live in democratic societies. Only then can we can begin to learn what democracy is about and how to achieve it. That’s been the focus of my own research and studies for the past five years or so: