"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

May 18, 2010

The Enormity of It All

The population of the United States (2009): 307 million

Wealth statistics, United States (comprehensive data, at link):

Examples -

Percentage of capital income captured by top 10% of US households? 79.4%.
Percentage of total income (2006) for top 20%? 61.4%
Percentage of total wealth held by top 10% (2000)? 69.8%.
Share of wealth held by top 1%? 34.6%.

Finished domestic oil consumption, United States (2008): 17,500,000 barrels per day, of which 9000 barrels is gasoline. (55 gallons per barrel)

All domestic petroleum products consumed, United States (2008): 19,500,000 barrels per day.

Military expenditures, per year, United States (2009): $711 billion

Oil used by the military, United States (2004): 330,000 to 360,000 barrels, per day.

Total carbon released by the military, United States (2008):  75 million tons, or more than 139 nations, combined.

Percent of the world's population which lives on less than $10 USD, per day: 80%

Median yearly income, USA (2008): $52k, or $142.50 per day

US greenhouse gas emissions:

Global C02 emissions (in thousands of metric tons):

Top Five:

China: 6.1 million
US: 5.75 million
European Union: 3.9 million
Russia: 1.56 million
India: 1.5 million


Why all this?


And this:

"We face a dangerous future when the oil reserves around the world start to dry up. Those that have oil may find themselves faced with an American war machine ready to murder and destroy in order to take it. The myriad of products we depend on that require oil will start to become less and less available. The alternative energy sources that we need now will not be available or strong enough to carry our energy burden. Expanding our dependence, even domestically, only perpetuates a myth we have coaxed ourselves into believing and doesn’t prepare us for this sobering reality.

We can’t expect this to stop our country’s determination to exploit every ounce of oil and push off serious investment into alternative energy sources. The president will make an appearance, maybe wash the oil off a sea turtle or two (photo op!), proclaim that those involved in the clean-up are doing a great job, wait a few weeks for this to recede from the nation’s collective memory, and proceed with pushing for more drilling. After all, he has to if he expects to be able to count on the oil corporations’ donations for his reelection, and that is clearly what is important here."

And this:

(human poverty index, 2002)

(purchasing power, per country, 2002)

What does it all mean?

"...As the primary resource fueling later order capitalism - oil - approaches its revaluation as a luxury commodity, the surviving managing states must look for a new approach to stability; it must look to what populations it will protect, and which ones it will exploit and control. If international currencies can no longer depend on trade in fungible petroleum for their exchange value, then one of the final necessities of the modern nation state, and the international system of loans, debt financing and trade agreement, no longer acts as a pervasive bond between it and subject populations, losing its ability to discipline the citizenry with monetary policy. Without this oil based international order, the ruling factions must re-conceive the disciplinary nation state, configuring it to protect the wealth and welfare of a smaller class of beneficiaries, while retaining the power to police externalized populations.

Oil will not remain a widespread commodity into the next generation. If disciplinary states cannot retain their hegemony over captive populations their usefulness as delimiting organizations ends, setting into motion a period of intense competition for contested resources, as newly unrestrained actors search for advantages
without enduring systems for conflict mediation. No longer assisted in conflict management by nation states, and the application of captured labor receipts to the military gelding of underdeveloped populations who happen to sit on resources, finance and extraction firms lose the capacity to shield their actions under the aegis of national interest and public security, exposing themselves as direct agents of alienation, violence and systematic oppression.

Exposing their operational logic to the immediate pressures of rebellious populations.

The modern nation state, understood in this light, remains vital as a buffer against direct opposition to exploitation, absorbing the violence, outrage and justified anger of laborers and the dwindling classes of petty small holders. For an American example, see the Tea Party. Or liberal political advocacy organizations..."


In other words: the very wealthy in the US have neared the terminal point of their oil based power, and have begun the project of triage, dismantling the welfare state, shifting created wealth out of public systems and into private ones, increasing "national security" and "anti-terrorism" expenditures as a means of consolidating power using the rump of the liberal state. A similar process unfolds in Western Europe, and follows a pattern set in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. These measures, imposed first externally on Argentina, South East Asia and Brazil, as well as Mexico, now threaten Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain with the liberation of the wealthy from the reaches of the remaining poor. China and India will face crisis situations, driven by population and food/fuel consumption, which will precipitate resource conflicts within and beyond their own borders, so that "this disparity between the Euro-American dominions, the territorially expansive but unevenly developed nations such as Russia, Turkey, Brazil, China and Iran, and the 'underdeveloped' peripheries compel the several factions and combinations of capital and control to vie for access to remaining convertible resources, by simultaneously withdrawing public commitments to superfluous domestic populations and extending armed authority over regions ripe for extraction."

This may present a useful way of understanding the seemingly "knee jerk" reaction of American elites, to failed and minor acts of "terrorism," as well as to any protest or provocation which calls into question the means, methods or morality of their power.

As justifications for the militarization of the commons, and the capture of the creative class as dependents of the corporate-state.

As the world approaches a climate tipping point for which no solution present itself, coupled with the collapse of the one hundred year historical anomaly of cheap, reliable energy, the ruling factions approach a final plateau - sacrifice their power, luxury and wealth, or sacrifice the rest of us.

What do you think they'll choose?

h/t today's energy bulletin post: John W. Smart


A common theme today:




h/t BlackDogRed


fwoan said...

Perhaps this is me trying to cheer myself up, but aren't the ruling factions ruling simply because the rest of us exist? I'm interpreting your last paragraph to mean that the ruling classes will kill us off in order to preserve what little remains but we create their wealth, we fight their wars, we feed and clothe them. Doesn't that present a necessity to keep us alive in some capacity?

p.s. thanks for the quote!

Jack Crow said...


We are oil people. The world population in 1850 was 1.2 billion. It is approaching 8 billion, not because the human race suddenly developed enhanced fertility, but because of oil inputs in transportation, manufacture, agriculture, warfare, energy and all others sectors of production.

We are, literally, a surplus oil population.

Oil has passed its peak, which means that all of the billions of people sustained by it can no longer count on the oil platform.

It also means all the people employed in transforming oil, oil platform products and oil dependent industries (including agriculture) will no longer be productive, or necessary.

They - We! - will still have mouths to feed, but we won't instrumental in maintaining civilization, since the inputs upon which we depend, and toward which our labor is used, will be captured more and more in the maintenance of elite, ruling class power.

Welfare states *or* military-policed commons.

Captive creatives and technocrats, dependent upon and loyal to the corporate state *or* socialism, barbarism and/or collapse.

Ask yourself a question - if you were a member of the ruling class in any western nation, or in the large catch-up nations like India, Russia or Brazil - and *you* had to choose, what would you do?


~ Jack

fwoan said...

Christing Fuck. I see what you're saying.

Jack Crow said...


FWIW, I didn't post this out of a sense of hopelessness, or even emergency urgency.

(heh...that sounds funny, aloud)

I don't think the future is fated, even if I do accept the determinism of contingency.

Hell, we could manage a global socialist revolution and then get hit by a planet killer asteroid.

I do think that we have a window of opportunity that obligates us to live less safely, less embedded in our western atomization and more open to resistance - real, active resistance.

A resistance that includes withdrawing our labor and our own inputs, before they can liberate themselves from our existences.

We have hunger and need whether or not we let them extract our labor - so why not take a multi-pronged approach to knee-capping their power, right?

fwoan said...

That cheered me up. I think I read your first response 10 times with a teary-eyed denial just repeating to myself, "But I don't wanna die."

It's a hell of a downer message but maybe one that needs to be said more often. When I talk of it, it's always a future event that "will" occur, but I never think of it as something that "is" occurring right now.

Your vision of a socialist victory suddenly doomed by an asteroid made me smile. Thanks for that.

Jenny said...

Honestly, I think K punk has a better idea:


Jack Crow said...

I guess I could string list of concepts together, aping postmodern french argumentive deconstruction - mentioning Le Guin, Deleuze, Guattari and Freud - so that I could justify the money my parents spent on a liberal arts education...

...if it interested me to waste my life on "philosophy."

Jack Crow said...

Seriously, how the hell does this address the crisis of peak oil, or the dismantling of the welfare state in favor of a recreation of the Commons as a policed militarized space?

"As to libido... Who, apart from a resentful-nihilist inheritor of the Christian passion for eschatological annihilation, would want to live in a restored "organic" world? We ourselves - and the death drive that makes us what we are - are that inorganic disequilibrium which always disrupts quiescence and harmony. Part of the reason that capitalism has been so successful has been its flatness with the plasticity of libido."

...from your link.

JM said...

Weren't you sort of advocating a deconstructed back to nature lifestyle of sorts?

Jack Crow said...


Ethan said...

Jack, even without the analysis, this type of post that you do from time to time would be enormously valuable as a resource. With the analysis it's even better. So thank you!

Also, thanks for the "oil surplus population," another way of looking at things that had never occurred to me until a few words completely changed my perspective.

Jack Crow said...

Glad to be of some use, Ethan.

Credit where it's due, though: the sometimes wildly conspiratorial and erratic Michael Ruppert devoted a full chapter to this idea, in "Crossing the Rubicon."

I just coughed up a catch-all phrase, to avoid wasting everyone's time with a winded explanation.

Jack Crow said...

The "this idea" was "oil surplus population."

Since I'm an exhausted maroon, I forgot to clarify that point.

Ethan said...

The nice thing about the catch-all phrase is that it made me rearrange everything I already know into a full-fledged understanding without having to read any big ol' chapter about it!

almostinfamous said...

i had bookmarked this old post by the good monsieur fish to provide some perspective.