27 November 2002

Monday's Beneath The Surface, beneath the surface

Night before last, the KPFK radio show "Beneath The Surface" had as its guest-star this economist Michael Hudson, advertising his new book "Super-Imperialism". His appearance on this radio show (usually hosted by Nation writer Jon Wiener) would be otherwise uninteresting (he's a Georgist) except that, apparently, his new book contains an explanation of how the US is going to con the rest of the world into paying for the coming invasion of Iraq and subsequent destabilization of the Middle East.

We have often heard, from the likes of Doug Henwood and Robert Brenner, that the world economy does not collapse (despite its weaknesses) because the rest of the world holds this great faith in America, the US, as the last great consumer of its surplus inventories of cheap consumer products. Well, now that many individual Americans have maxed out the credit cards for said products, the idea appears to be that the US government is going to just keep digging the national debt hole deeper in order to keep buying the world's goods, this time so that said US government can purchase a global invasion or six. Control of the Persian Gulf oil fields will apparently reinforce the game of blackmail the US is playing upon the rest of the world -- accept our dollars (which will be spent by foreigners on the Treasury bonds that finance the national debt, according to Hudson) or be declared an "enemy nation." But what happens if the war occurs and the rest of the world decides that it is no longer going to take our dollars? In that case, Hudson said, the world economy would "fracture." (I don't really care about his "solution": his depiction of the problem is enough.)

So, world: be blackmailed, or fracture the globe's economy? The 15-0 Security Council vote against Iraq, according to Hudson, was a vote for blackmail. Time, of course, is running out for the world to decide otherwise: the global Hubbert Peak will happen in eight years, at which time the global capitalist supersonic stagecoach will gradually start to turn into an immobile pumpkin. US policy, according to this metaphor, is to outlast the world in the role of Cinderella, with midnight coming sooner for Europe and later for the US. The Bush economic strategy, as you can see, is futile over the long run. Co-operation may bring about the paradise of alternative energy, but this strategy won't, as it is based upon tightening the noose of the world's oil dependency in order to keep the US economy on life support.

You and me against the world, baby. Given the failure of the rest of the world to resist the US, though, it's only a matter of time before the (ecosocialist) alternative to the status quo should come into plain view, and the co-opted capitalism of the European Left should subsequently shrivel up and die.

25 November 2002

Rolling Stone Dares to Address The Future, But Fails

A recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine (dated November 28, 2002), has an article ("Beyond Oil," by Amanda Groscom, p. 70+) contains a panel discussion about the "possible" coming future depletion of oil reserves. Rolling Stone occasionally prints "alternative" news, despite occasional rumors that nobody who reads Rolling Stone reads this stuff and that Rolling Stone's national affairs column will be slated for removal. After all, this magazine does for rock music listeners what People magazine does for TV-watchers. At any rate, Rolling Stone used to have a column by William Greider, and it featured one of the only pieces to be published during the 2000 election season criticizing GW Bush's atrocious record as Governor of Texas. This issue features a panel discussion on tomorrow's most important political event.

Unfortunately, it's not much of a debate. The panelists mostly respond to prepared questions, so (for instance) we don't get to contest the panel chair's question "What about the people who say we're going to run out of oil by midcentury?" That's not the problem -- the problem is that the price of oil is likely to get out of control long before then. Nor do we get to contest the corporate shill's response: "At BP we believe there will be plenty of oil for a long time" (yes, but at what price?) and "The question isn't whether there will be supply in the future but whether there will be demand" (since the world makes practically everything out of oil today, how is demand supposed to be a "question" in the future?). Nor do we get to contest the self-appointed "expert"'s assumption that "what drives change is price signals," with the least suspicion that it may be too late by the time the price signals kick in.

In fact, one of the strongest arguments for ecosocialism is that the world must band together and create an alternative energy infrastructure in disregard of the capitalist system's price signals because price signals (and the impending rush to wean the world from its oil addiction that they will bring) will not save us from the coming oil shortage. Further discussion can be found at the Running On Empty site.

24 November 2002

Are the conservatives a hate group?