You know how the bills can get– you can’t pay them, you borrow money, get a little further in debt but you put off the crash for a little while. Then your debt, of course, is higher and well, you keep finding ways to pay the minimum. Keeping yourself (supposedly) afloat from month to month is the kicker, no matter how bad the crash will be you put it off even if it makes the inevitable worse because, well, you have to. Otherwise everything stops– and you can’t just stop.
The same goes on a social level with oil production and costs. Conventional oil has peaked long ago, and while I realize it is very much in vogue during a temporary oil glut to believe otherwise, peak oil is not only still relevant, it is at the very core of what is going on right now. Because of many factors– most centrally peak oil– the price of a barrel has gone up, up, up. And the thing about oil is that to an industrial society based on capitalism, oil is as important as oxygen. If you were deprived of oxygen, is there a price you would not pay?
Oil barrels have reached a late capitalist/ peak oil double whammy that will see spikes and crashes of the type we are going through on a very regular basis. When the price becomes impossible to pay, the entropic dynamics of the oil-dominant economy crash. Everywhere demand drops ridiculously, causing a massive gaping hole in the oil price. Smart investors wait and then put their money in ridiculously undervalued heavy, dirty extreme oil reserves. Capital recuperates while the results of the crash are manipulated as best possible by those with global reach and power. In the current example, the Saudis are pumping out cheap oil for many, many reasons.
The Saudis are flooding the market with cheaper oil based on their reserves partly to maintain oil levels globally, but also to allow a recovery in the short term while aiming a dagger at the various states in opposition to the West that rely on higher prices– from Russia to Iran, to Venezuela and Nigeria. In the next calendar year the various imperialist nation states of the west will plunder their populations in a similar “too big to fail” manner (but not about banks).
Each crash and recovery session of several months reduces the overall economy closer to collapse, but each one has government theft and spending of the basic populations purse to dig out of the hole.
During all of these peaks and spikes, crashes and splashes, an ENGO movement that is completely married to capitalism, whose very decisions are dictated by big capital and whose vision includes the continuation of a system that treats the earth as a smorgasbord of resources rather than a life support system is not merely incapable of dealing with this crisis. They are structurally required to try and prop up that system which is coming apart at the seams.
Not one major environmental organization has stood up and bellowed “this collapse of oil price is but a symptom of the greater crisis of capital.” The valuation of oil via capital markets when the oil is simply not there is desperately needed to be confronted. Each and every price crash in the west is a systems crash in the rest of the planet.
Let me state that this way: a crash in oil prices starves tens of millions of people. Yet the ENGO’s of the imperialist countries have continued to push the idea that pricing oil out of the reach of many is somehow a climate solution. What do I mean?
For many years now, climate activists have demanded higher prices on extreme oil for the result, they hope, of reduced oil consumption leading to less carbon emissions and therefore a slowing down of climate change. But the market forces of the shocks to the economy inherent in peak conventional oil (for roughly ten years, conventional oil has been unable to grow at any remarkable rate, having more or less stalled [‘peaked’] while unconventional oil has grown, all over the planet), the pattern is a temporary crash (when the level of expensive, dirty and non-conventional “extreme” oil causes higher prices than ‘business as usual’ can provide) and boom cycle, each one sharper and more damaging than the prior. The ventures that survive such a cycle are those with the capital to float through the flood.
Just as is often the case, “demands” have been woven that involve leaving those with power in power, and trusting in the oil and gas powers-that-be to make changes for the benefit of all society. We are asking the playground bully to help create better conditions for all inside the sandbox. We should be wary of this analogy, however. Playground bullies are children that may yet choose a better path. Loving appeals to power in society at large, however– well, they don’t work.
Once again, environmental resistance must not seek to make green door frames on the corridors of power in a giant corporate skyscraper. The building must be torn down and built anew, for it poisons the landscape inside its very foundation. It was built on a faulty premise: that permanently shifting sands will not blow away in extreme weather events.
If the problems of state enforcement concern you– and with Harper’s new anti-resistance secret police alongside the Obama sponsored NSA, they obviously should– even greater power, the power that directs all of these agencies and their internal logic, encapsulates the economy. The economy itself is the concrete, the blueprints and the model. Growth cannot exist on an industrial scale without oil. The demands of oil consumption cannot be met without extreme extraction. This causes financial as well as climate chaos, and very misleading but wholly disastrous crashes. Capitalism externalizes the suffering, as always, mostly on the poorest and most dis-empowered populations around the planet.
This cycle is separate from but absolutely toxic when combined with advancing climate change. It is a contra-indicator for the non-medicinal. The only means out is not to demand the change in how these destructive practices are carried out, but to destroy that power itself that produces such results. The power– both political and economic– of the oil and gas juntas must end. It is a scary, seemingly invincible paper tiger. A paper that burns. Let the act of burning also be an act of true creation.