War 2.021/09/2007 Written by tripwire
In the West, for the last 60 years or so, thanks to the continuous availability of cheap energy which allowed a massive inflow of raw materials and the mass production of any conceivable good, a “bigger /better /faster” lifestyle was purposely spread among the masses together with a generalized growth of wages, “rights”, and education, thus creating a huge middle class of happy consumers, on the whole improving everyone’s health and way of living.
Due to the conditions existing at the time, market driven liberal /social democracies created and distributed never-before-seen amounts of wealth among their citizens.
Since conditions have changed substantially from those times, we must look at reality in an unbiased way, realize that this historical period has reached its maximum and peaked, and that we are now living in the twilight of the Cheap Energy /Mass Hedonism Age: average health and wealth standards are recessing, signs that the Big Shiny Happiness Machine is chocking and breaking down are everywhere, and the already shrinking middle class is destined to disappear.There are at least three well-known reasons for this global downslide, which amplify each other, so that dismissing the evidence is becoming not only futile, but also quite dangerous.
One reason is that many fundamental, not-replaceable raw materials are depleted around or beyond 50% of the available reserves, including oil, copper, uranium, natural gas, and so on. Simply put, demand from now on will be capped by scarcity whatever we do to avoid it, and it is now clear to everyone that the good ol’ times assumption of a never-ending progress was plainly absurd and naïve.
Another reason is that we are too many. During the last century, Earth population grew from less than 1 billion to more than 6 billions, while the average energy use per capita grew exponentially by 100 times or more, and so the resource consumption, which caused an unsustainable level of environment exploitation. Problem is, at present growth rates population will reach 9 billions by 2050 (that is, in 2 generations: many of us could still be around by that time).
The last reason is that humans are selfish, cruel and shortsighted beasts. Instincts and strategies that were Good in the Kenyan planes half a million years ago, are Not Good anymore in our post-modern artificial jungle, but we still use them to take decisions and shape the future.
While everyone, despite the above conditions, still tries to maximise exclusively his/her advantage at the individual/group/national scale, the System as a whole is beginning to slide downhill, accelerating toward collapse.
So, to make a long story short, this is why I think the next Big Thing™ will be War 2.0.
War is the apotheosis of terminally-ill consumerism and capitalism, as we can already see: there is no need anymore for consumers.
Consumers are a pain in the ass, they “vote”, they believe to possess rights, they complain, the always try to lower prices and increase wages, and most of all, they are too many, so that it is simply impossible to give them all what they want. It’s not time anymore for that kind of economy, the “mass hedonism” game is over.
But the show must go on, so how are governments and mega-corporations replacing consumers? With soldiers and mercenaries/contractors, high tech weapon systems, private armies, endless reconstruction programs, while engaging a ghost enemy in an eternal, asymmetric, unwinnable war.
This allows for an enormous transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the government-corporations complex, helps to avoid economic collapse by inducing a certain level of demand, without the risks and fluctuations of a free mass market that cannot be sustained anymore.
Where’s the gain? As an example, consider that the Pentagon burns more oil barrels per day than Denmark, and in 2006 the invaders of Iraq fired more bullets that the industry was ready to supply (1.5 billion bullets, to be precise). Furthermore, for those who control global resources, it is now more convenient and more manageable to sell oil, copper and lead to the Pentagon and its corporate contractors than to the free consumer-oriented market.
This way resources are overused even if economy as a whole is in bad shape, and therefore paid a high price, factories work 24/7, soldiers march and blow up stuff that then must be repaired, money flows, and the elite becomes richer every day, while ordinary people go down the opposite path…The real “enemy” in War 2.0 is not who we are being told: the enemy is our leaders, both on the political and economical side of things, and because we allow this, thinking that we too will gain from it (but we won’t), the enemy is ourselves, in the end.