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realpolitik's Journal
Posted by realpolitik in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Jun 12th 2009, 07:45 PM
Beautiful friend.

Looking at the sweep of my life as history I think some overarching themes, and their possible meanings appear. As a child, the world was unabashedly anti-communist, but with a blind spot for the New Deal, which was seen as the real reason the depression did not look like the Weimar Republic in the 30s. Business leaders had finally, by 1960, regained some measure of respect. The cold war was serious, but was a 'good war' until the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. We learned absolutely nothing from the whole scary debacle, indeed, we became more obscessed with the space race (for bigger, better sputniks), bomber gaps, missile gaps. And at the hight of the madness, a 600 ship navy.

At that point, no one seriously thought about depletion of oil, no one realized the hot war the cold war was a proxy for was unsustainable even for the short run. At that point, no one saw that America was all dressed up for the wrong kind of war (it still is). Vietnam, came, and America's strategy became more brutal well before Tet, and impotently desperate after. This was the next important teaching moment America did not learn from. Pure Hubris. But at least America was working; buzzing furiously to make cars, roads, houses, weapons. Texas was pumping our oil.

That is why the oil crisis of the 70s was so devastating. It revealed a fatal flaw, a hard limit to American power and its captive markets. From that point onward, our global stance between Israel and the Arab world became one of being forked, and became a focus for the next series of proxy wars between us and the Soviets. Our industries fared unevenly. Old shipyards flourished, aircraft, and other military suppliers fared well. Petro support was still robust, Dresser industries was still merrily coating America with asbestos, Dioxin was being sprayed on dirt roads in Eastern Missouri.

But by the Reagan years, union busting was just a formality. Outsourcing was already happening to electronic component systems, gasoline engines, and more significantly to our desires for global hegemony, computer hardware had moved to Indonesia, and other states whose alignment was not assumable. By this point, the paradigm of capitalism had changed in America from manufacture to financial industries. Union membership started dropping. Soon after, we ignored yet another teaching moment. It was called Silverado. How do I say we did not learn? Neil Bush is walking free.

Through the whole sweep of these years, one fundamental idea propelled all activity: progress would continue unabated, growth and higher efficiency would outstrip Malthus. This idea was like many articles of faith, not much examined. No one seemed to question where the limits were.

Even now, if you listen to the media, we will soon return to the old status quo, with a few tiny tweeks. But here is what I see. We have reached the telos of the church of endless growth. Factories that run themselves hire no workers, and no widgets are sold, because Ford's rule has been abandoned in favor of the cult of finance and service. Now, that this is revealed as a non-viable economic model, going back to the status quo is not possible. Neither is the oil market going to help us, as the former large producers are at or past peak production, and neither exploration or refining capacity reflect an industry that thinks it has a future.

We are at the end of the old. Getting to the new is not going to be easy or pretty, but one thing is for certain.
The fat cats, war pigs, and hedge fund buccaneers are going down hard. I think we need to squeeze them like a bushel of hemp seed, until a social safety net for all Americans appears.

Because otherwise, getting to that new paradigm of lean energy budgets, new labor based economies in manufacture and agriculture is going to be unacceptably rugged. The assumption is not of endless growth, but the ability to provide and sustain with less efficiency

That is the new beginning.
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