Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Energy Manifesto or,
Zeb Borrows from the Past (cont.)

...January 21, 1848. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto. Little did they know (or cared) that some 160 years later one Zebediah would hijack their work to further his cause of recouping his sardine loss...

The Energy Manifesto

"A spectre is haunting the World -the spectre of Oil Depletion. All the powers of old energy regimes have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre: President and Czar, Saud and Blair, CERA and IEA.

Where is the scientist in opposition that has not been decried as Depletionist by his opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Peakism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Two things result from this fact:

I. Peak Oil and Global Warming movements are already acknowledged by all Establishment powers to be themselves powers.

II. It is high time that Peak Oil should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of Oil Depletion with a manifesto of the movement itself.

To this end, Depletionists of various nationalities have assembled in The Net and sketched the following manifesto:

Energy Producers and Users

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of energy struggles.

Producer and user have stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of energy production, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of energy production into various orders, a manifold gradation of EROEI rank. In ancient Rome and in the Middle Ages and up to the Modern Era we have wind, water, wood and charcoal.

The modern Fossil Fuel society that has sprouted from the ruins of limited energy resources has not done away with energy antagonisms. It has but established new fuels, new conditions of utilization, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

Our epoch, the epoch of Petroleum, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified energy antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other -- Oilmen and all the rest....."

...Zebediah was stunned. He could take the Manifesto and with minimal alterations in the text use it as a rallying cry for a New Energy Regime...Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

People need to wake up from their oil-induced torpor. Society must realize that the future shall not be as the past. Blithely sleep-driving down the six lane Oil Highway leads not to a shopping heaven of well-stocked malls, but off the energy depletion cliff. Combined with an enormous debt load, America is in deep trouble already and the more she delays in implementing a sweeping program of socio-economic change the more she will fall behind and ultimately fail.

But there is absolutely no reason for this to happen. It is not Destiny or Fate that drives the future but vision, planning, competence and the determined application of proper policy. America has enormous dormant powers of patriotism and community spirit that must rise above the meanness of self-aggrandisement and personal isolationism. We must recapture the vision of America as one nation indivisible, not as an agglomeration of 300 million independent contractors. We must strive for our own and common wealth, not just the wealth of the top five percent.

We can no longer each of us hide, cocooned within a baby blanket of plasma screen virtual reality. We must arise to accept and assume responsibility for our own future, shape our desires according to our needs and not by what is available at a discount in the nearby mart. We must all realize that wealth does not arrive in speculation, but is created by perspiration. The invisible hand of the market must also drive a plow, strike a hammer, thread a needle and hold a piece of chalk.

There is no such thing as a free lunch and anyone who says otherwise is just eating yours. Capitalism is the proper application of scarce resources to where the benefit is maximized for all - not just the very, very few. We must thus all and each of us decide where our financial, social and knowledge capital is best properly directed: towards yet more worthless consumables or for the creation of a New Paradigm?

My sardine story ends here - as do all such stories, with a moral lesson. If you have enjoyed it or even gleaned something of value, I am well satisfied and thank you. If I have tired or bored you, the fault is but my own. I will revert - as Mae West used to say - between the holidays (or shortly thereafter) with some concrete policy proposals. In the meantime...

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season


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SimplyTim said...


I liked your story of Zeb.

If he had a million pieces of paper to buy a can of sardines, we could perhaps presume that he has a job and could start to pay off his debt as well as save some more paper.

The paper will still be of questionable value. But paying off his debt will add honor and bring a sense of justice.

Wait for policy changes from you know where? Are you kidding? The people who brought us this whole mess will just create another bubble.

But if you insist on waiting for policy with substance, may I suggest that in the meantime you look radically into the process of overconsumption.

With every purchase, ask yourself:

"Is this useful?"
"Will this enhance quality of life (not just comfort and distraction) for both myself and my family?
"Is this moving me towards freedom from having to work longer and harder?"
"Will my choices bring me and my family closer to a self sustainable lifestyle?"

To me, that will bring me and you and the country closer to the sanity which you are hinting at.

Back to basics, enough of this illusion of prosperity, and simplify, simplify, simplify.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your story, and in general for your blog, very enlightning.

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