Recently, President Obama said:
"Ultimately, if you think about all the youth that everybody has mentioned here in Africa, if everybody is raising living standards to the point where everybody has got a car and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over — unless we find new ways of producing energy..." (is it just me, or does this not sound up to his usual level of rhetorical-polish? Moral of the story, some artists just aren't as good live.)

So he is saying to the poorest people in the world - "Your lives can't get any better, because 'Better' is already used-up". This concept showcases the fundamental flaw in Neo-Liberalism, that now jeopardizes the world. A person who isn't sure they will be alive 6-months from now, isn't lusting for the decadence of consumerism; they want dignity and security, with a few nice things - and such are generally more than willing to share.
The President, and modern liberals throughout the world are assuming that progress is unstoppable, and the current standards of living, enjoyed by the world's middle-classes are unsustainable (bound for disaster). But that is only true, if the profit-motive is allowed to guide that progress. Many average Americans would likely be willing to sacrifice much of their consumerism, to have more security, better communities and QUALITY of life. The Millennials are proof, that the concept of "Want" is failing (and manufactured-consent along with it). The fatal flaw in the Liberal Elite's logic is, unsurprisingly - ELITISM.

U.S. Republicans, and conservatives in general, are born to fight for privilege and scorn need, but Liberals have traditionally spoke-up for the notion that the "roots hold the tree up, and should be protected". But what the GOP's around the World lack because of religion or defective training, the Liberal's have also lost because of distance and hierarchy. They've lost Conscience, Compassion, and the Golden Rule.
Hillary Clinton decries pollution and environmental dangers, but then takes handouts (bribes) from the industries most responsible for those risk-factors. How does that happen? Simple: cognitive dissonance (with a Dash of Narcissism). The Oil-Industry will make her president, and since she obviously means well, this is a good thing, and since they are helping a good thing, maybe they're not so bad afterall: Maybe its all those PEOPLE in the world, with their needs, and unrealistic-dreams forcing the oil billionaires and Wallstreet to do the wrong thing. The hallmark of Authoritarianism is progressively-reduced accountability the further up the pyramid one looks.
Instead, those that have (and have HAD - for so long) could take a bit of a haircut - donating a portion of their unused houses/cars and other wants, to combat the needs of the poor (especially abroad in the 3rd world) who don't have nearly-enough. If one person's life can be drafted, as has been done during times of war, why shouldn't another's wealth, and especially EXCESS WEALTH be called, by patriotism and duty to humanity, into service?

Obama's quote ends with "...unless we find new ways of producing energy..."; So let's get on that! And put public money into it like it matters, instead of killing innocent people around the world with Drones (to maintain America's Bully-Cred). And rather than only speaking to those with profit motive on their minds and empires to maintain, take Roosevelt's "No Wartime Millionaires" stance and make this an effort for the good of the planet, and people in general. The President's ego makes him completely unable to take opinions seriously from sources that do not measure-up to a scale of popular status (status at the mercy of a system founded on exploitation). It is likely that a number of potentially Earth-saving technologies have already been absorbed by the Fossil Fuel Industry or Department of Energy in the name of protecting business interests, or keeping The "Nuclear Football HOT". In short, capitalism's positive-feedback loops, and conflict's of interest, have completely Fucked-Up incentives in virtually all industries and government itself. Please excuse the profanity: this is an example of the very phenomenon in question today; so many Liberals are slaves to political correctness, and while bemoaning a stolen election by the D.N.C., are totally willing to "hope for the best", but then they hear an impolite word, and instantly raise their noses. It's honestly no wonder Donald Trump is so popular with dejected/disaffected Americans.

Oscar Wilde famously made fun of a certain man: "...who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Likewise, Mignon McLaughlin said: "Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers."

Nothing could be closer to the truth of Modern Capitalism AND Modern Liberalism's abandonment of reason in favor of plausible deniability and victim-blaming. Ayn Rand's gospel of self-worship and expediency has not only "preached to the converted", but now also won-over many of the men of reason. And thus, reason and logic will not save us. Sadly, it's in the world of emotion and impulse, with all of their selfish-desires and short-range thinking, that humankind must place its frail hope for the future:

"Now I understand everyone's shit's emotional right now. But I've got a 3 point plan that's going to fix EVERYTHING..." — President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho

Humor aside, If a device meant to say - put out a fire, like a water-hose, begins hoarding the water for itself: failing to do its job, then the next, best hope is that the fire will burn itself out, before destroying everything. Those entrusted to protect us are completely useless, and likely sympathize with the predators far more than us, so only three possible scenarios remain to avoid the destruction of humanity and majority of life on this planet:

1. Collapse of world currencies: The power-base and "Game" that everyone is protecting their interest in, is money. If money ceases, they are freed-up to "do the right thing... after they've exhausted all the alternatives." — Winston Churchill

2. Fascist insurgency: Now everyone is picturing the White House with giant gold-letters that say "Trump" on it. Whether Mr. Trump is actually any more dangerous and corrupt than the U.S. D.N.C. is a topic for another paper, but as a history instructor in college once told me, "Strong men arise out of a need, or imbalance". Or, to use a medical analogy; a fever isn't much fun, but sure does a good job of fighting an infection. The Hitlers, Lenins and arguably George Washington's of the world arise because of power-asymmetry in their societies, and while they often do so for selfish reasons, the loss in power of the elites, does translate into much better power-positions for the masses - after the tyrant burns themselves out (which often happens quickly, due to their inherent instability).

3. The Old-Farts Die Off. With cancer and other diseases at all-time highs, the selfish, narcissism of the Baby Boomers may simply burn itself out through death or obvious incapacity. Vampires like Dick Cheney paint a rather worrisome picture of Dark Overloards that may well dominate the Earth forever, but the reality, is that 1/3rd of the US and comparable numbers of others, throughout the world, are much younger and have nothing to loose from the demise of this rigged-system and its side-effects. This percentage will only grow, and as the masses of people, animals and the land itself degrade, the corrupt support-systems will become harder to defend.

"Each time history repeats itself, the price goes up." — Ronald Wright

Things are DIRE, but the risk of everything calls everything into question. Each nook and cranny that human greed has traditionally run to, to evade the torches, now is at risk. We will live or we will die. But the good news, is that we may well never again have such a dire situation befall us, the planet or our future descendants.

Because the buck will stop with us.

Comments

.ren's picture
.ren 1 year 45 weeks ago
#1

In a general sense I have a feel for what you are trying to say, but I'm having some difficulty following your argument. I do agree that the DNC is now a conservative party and it represents the same neoliberal globalist (and elitist) principles that were brought back to prominence, after a very brief moment of reflective angst, in the 1980 election.

I'm old enough to have watched this process go from a brief acceptance of the very well articulated limits to growth realized during the 70s, when Carter was elected after a national Peak Oil wake up call in 1973, to the renewed belief in the economic principles of infinite growth based on cheap energy, which of course would have to now be supplied by (getting) our oil (from) under "their" soil. In his single term, Carter took an about face from his Administration's early, prophetic plans to transform the exuberant use of energy to "grow" the economy. He actually articulated that 180 degree change in a State of the Union speech (see The Carter Doctrine), before it became the Reagan-therefore-renewed-national policy. Thus in one fell swoop we quickly returned from a brief, revolutionary vision of an economy based on renewable energy to one based on the delusion of infinite and cheap fossil fuels, which was essentially a wealthy and powerful empire's property, no matter where it comes from.

But by 1980 the nation was no longer listening to Carter's earlier message. His original vision had already been systematically demolished and he was struggling politically to stay in the White House a second term. In effect he'd gone from a passionately compassionate president, hoping to make and spread the wealth in a new economic way, to what James Fallows called The Passionless Presidency.

I'm willing to give the corporate-constructed Reaganism turn of attitude all the credit for the rise of Neoliberalism that retook the American Imagination as our formal national policy in the eighties. After all, I watched as blueprints for corporate take over, like the Powell Memo, were initiated and began to systematically program key sectors of the U.S population (Eddie Bernays style) to create an anti-liberal and anti-environmental backlash even before Carter's term in office began. It happened so quickly it still makes my head spin to remember it. Those corporate-funded PR features rapidly grew to greater strength during Carter's time. Essentially, while the brand new corporate-funded think tanks dreamed up messages that told them they didn't have to change, American's suddenly balked at Carter's messages telling them that they could not all become the one percent the American Exceptionalist dream promised.

Not surprisingly, this programming helped bring about the election of Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile it created an unfortunate legacy of Reagan as some sort of mythically great savior figure that persists deep in the American subconscious. That is at least partly why we have the current turmoil with our extremely expensive military deeply involved in what some International Relations experts see as the Strategic Ellipse.

In the nineties, Bill Clinton came along with a new version of the Democratic Party. I fought that version directly in some efforts I made, with a number of others, to produce arguments against his promotion of NAFTA and GATT. We lost at the bargaining table. Corporations won. The new version of the Democratic Party became substantially corporate and elite-oriented. Deregulation of the financial safety features envisioned as far back as the 1971 Powell Memo continued unabated and relatively uncountered by any substantial liberal counter force. Most of us who tried were moved to the margins. All that is well documented, and none summarizes it any better than did Thomas Frank in his recent Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

When I saw Obama's campaign advisers during the 2008 election, I saw a likely continuance of that neoliberal theme. I, therefore, did not buy into his Advertising Age Marketer of the Year Award for his election campaign of Hope. I remained skeptical throughout. Consequently, I am not surprised by the eight year track record of his Presidency. Hillary shows all the signs of a well-prepared neoliberal to take over for the next four years. And it is beginning to look like a slam dunk for the Democrats. I expect no difference in overall policies from her.

On the environmental side, what I've been watching -- with great sadness I might add -- is the continuance of what was predicted by the sciences I began to study and follow in the early seventies. Among those I focused on were ecology and cultural anthropology. One helps explain what exactly we are doing to this planet as a species, the other helps me to make sense of the senselessness of our species. I actually see no new predictions since roughly 1980. I can provide a list of some of the more articulate that I became acquainted with before 1975. The last I would reference from that era, and maybe the most articulate, came from a polyglot scientist/social scientist. His name, William R. Catton. His classic tome: Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change.

I don't find it possible to blame what is happening on a generation with its (generalized and labeled) way of thinking. I'm not sure if that's what you are trying to do or not. What I see taking place on a large scale is a battle between perspectives, or what Catton introduced (referencing Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions) as paradigms of thought. In this case the paradigms are not limited to scientists and their revolutions, but whole societies, in this case a neoliberal global paradigm vs many others. In my case, I've found myself to be in the outlier paradigm throughout my lifetime. Some in my generation are with me, it seems; given the direction this nation took after 1980, most are not.

The reality I see emerging, with greater and greater scientific detail, is a tragic global environmental degradation process leading to a human-created Sixth Mass Extinction event. As I tried to say already, this is not new to me, nor to many people I know in my small group of associates and friends. I understand that it might be to many millennials, because I am also wll aware of what has been accomplished by corporate-intitiated forces to reduce environmental education in the institutions that educated them. Not to mention everything they are capable of doing with the media that corporations own.

Selfishness and narcissism continues -- I see it unabated -- and I suspect it will continue within deeply programmed nations like the U.S. and most of Europe, until enough of the masses actually do manage to shift to a perspective that does not see their own futures, the world, in terms of a briefly wealthy nation's moment of middle class prosperity. A decades past moment some might call the peak of the Age of Exuberance. An age which one presidential candidate says he'll bring back; an age which the other says her party has somehow sustained strengthened.

So that's kind of my brief summary of where we are. Does that in any way resemble your thoughts?

Tom Dorricott's picture
Tom Dorricott 1 year 45 weeks ago
#2

I think that what would be very helpful, in the US, would be a concrete plan by legitimate clean energy advocates as to how progress would be technically implemented.

What clean energy sources would be implement to replace fossil fuels, and what would the timetable be?

would interim sources (nuclear power, cleaner burning coal) be used?

At present, not only are environmentalists dueling with politicians and climate deniers, they are battling among themselves as to how their climate preserving goals could be met. Without a concrete, realistic plan, people are naturally suspicious as to what clean energy conversion entails, and how it will affect their lifestyles and wallets.

Get the best people, come up with a reasonable plan, and sell the plan. I think this is necessary for climate protection.

.ren's picture
.ren 1 year 45 weeks ago
#3
Quote Tom Dorricott:

What clean energy sources would be implement to replace fossil fuels, and what would the timetable be?

None, not and keep the current economic system growing as expected.

Quote Tom Dorricott:

would interim sources (nuclear power, cleaner burning coal) be used?

In the last stages of collapse, everything will be used. All resources will be tapped. That will hasten the 6th mass extinction.

Quote Tom Dorricott:

At present, not only are environmentalists dueling with politicians and climate deniers, they are battling among themselves as to how their climate preserving goals could be met. Without a concrete, realistic plan, people are naturally suspicious as to what clean energy conversion entails, and how it will affect their lifestyles and wallets.

Get the best people, come up with a reasonable plan, and sell the plan. I think this is necessary for climate protection.

Attitude precedes the way people will view things. Attitudes and perspectives. Information and planning are useless if people's attitudes aren't with any planning. So the key to planning is to first work to form people's attitudes. That's Eddie Bernay's Public Relations 101.

Pro environmental attitudes, that is, attitudes in favor of doing what it takes at many levels, federal, state, and local, to conserve the environment in hopes of keeping it thriving and sustainable, was spreading rapidly during the seventies. The corporate response was to create think tanks and begin to disseminate crafted public relations messages that framed the environmental perspective in ways that changed many people's attitudes. This is well documented if anyone cares to look into it.

At present the attitudes of people at the grass roots are controlled by those who own the media and by other ways that attitudes are framed. Combinations of contrived doubt and confusion sway vast numbers of people from paying attention to the messages that do manage to get through the ever generated noise of confusion and doubt that humans are driving themselves and many other species to extinction. The confusion and doubt is laced with messages carefully selected to promote the science that demonstrates how energy and technologiy creates modern civilized growth, while simply ignoring the science that explores, and warns of the dark side of that process. That's known as framing the message in PR circles. Thom explained that -- if he's someone you listen to -- in his book, Cracking the Code. If you want to talk to a conservative about it, you could always talk to Frank Luntz. He doesn't hide what it's about.

Other factors include a wide range of culturally embedded ideological expectations related to ideas like the indoctrinated belief that technological progress is the way humans have achieved this current developed state. This indoctrinated preconception is held to be the highest achievement the species has yet attained -- a perspective that needs to be seriously questioned, of course, but won't be until after it collapses -- and, with hubristic certainty of most, though most aren't the elite experts, will solve all the problems that may arise. We just need to get the best ones together to do it, and of course, they are the ones who will determine they are the best, so no need to worry about who's doing the choosing.

Then there's the actual, i.e., existential economic entrapment of the population, whereby most of the people who have bought into the consumerist aspect of economics, are trapped in layers of debt to the banking sector, and thereby have to choose the carrot that's dangling in front of them. That carrot is a need for the jobs that put them into slavery within the very institutions that are designed to continue to plunder the resources of this planet like a parasitical virus for profit. Thus, like it or not they are part of the problem. Contradictions of that sort create cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance puts people in a position of making a Hobson's choice.

The Hobson's choice in complex societies funnels to the underlying presumption programmed into minds throughout the education as well as the entertainment system that an expert knows the answers. That a leader, current version would be like a Clinton or a Trump, will come along and provide it. That's the basis of the election cycle carnival we experience in this faux democracy. Thus, instead of self-actuated efforts at creating sustainable cultural innovations at the grass roots level, like engaging in practicing permaculture and community building, people will wait for someone to come up with a plan. Then we get the carnival of selling a plan. So they go to their jobs, if they have them, and the media entertains them while they wait for their next shift to begin, or maybe the next job. They get angry, they get sad, frustrated and mad.

Some will act as if they are critical thinkers, asking questions (obvious questions) then will say, "we need a plan," as if expecting someone to come up with one at some macro, authoritarian level. And of course, the institutions -- corporate and government -- that rule us already have a plan, and its working itself out everyday, while the majority goes along and plays a part. And so we get what Sheldon Wolin warns we'll get if we follow this pattern: inverted totalitarianism.

Strider54's picture
Strider54 1 year 45 weeks ago
#4

When 97% of scientists agree that man is causing global warming, no sane person, liberal or otherwise, is falling for anything.
just a note - I didn't bother to read your chapter on your reasoning so don't bother to try telling me why you think, I don't want to give you another reason to pontificate. People give Palin shit for producing word salad but you produce enough to feed an army.

citizen1956's picture
citizen1956 1 year 45 weeks ago
#5

Why are liberals FAILING on Climate Change? We are all FAILING.The CO2 level in the atmosphere is now at 407ppm(noaa), do you remember when scientists warned us that a level of 350ppm, locked us in to a 2C rise in temperture? The sea level is still rising,the Arctic ice cover is receding and 2016 will be the warmest year on record,as was 2015,2014 etc.

Turning to Obama and our Government for leadership is a mistake,they have been bought through "Citizens" United by the "good" folks at ExxonMobil,KochIndustries etc. This election won't change a thing.Donald is a Denier and Hillary is a Neo-Liberal.

Americans want SUVs',bigger houses and digital gadgets,with a chance to win Capitalisms'Lotto and they too, can be just like Trump.The third world is not part of the "American Dream", they are there to provide the cheap labor and resources to make it come true.

Unless Americans have been directly affected by the drought,floods,wildfires and superstorms.They won't give the climate a second thought,the government will take care of it.One small problem, as the temperture rises these events will become, more frequent and more intense.

We as individuals have to make the choice to step off the American Dream merry-go-round and that will take Courage.

PS ren.,Great Posts.

.ren's picture
.ren 1 year 45 weeks ago
#6

Thanks, citizen. I agree that individuals have to make that choice. It's not an easy one because there are very few systems of support out there that will look appealing from someone's comfortable living room, or from their cars as they drive around in their little isolated energy powered containers with steering wheels.

We need to relearn some self sufficiency survival skills because the institutions that rule us are implacable to our interests and concerns. They now have the crowd control tools to manage any efforts to make demands, so mass rebellions in the streets won't do much.

One primary survival skill for humans is our ability to work with each other to survive. We did it well for a long and undocumented period before we invented institutions as problem solving technologies. We've traded a face to face cultural process away for false sense of individuality and the right consume. And for hope of careers in those institutions, which become our lives of being ordered about, or if we are a tiny percentage of "lucky" ones who rise through the ranks, getting to do the ordering. One of our current presidential candidates actually made a public entertainment show of what to me is a horror. And his followers slavishly now follow the leader.

Slavery is not as nakedly brutal as it once was on the surface in our work places, but its ugliness is still in place and expressing itself in what these institutional systems are doing to the biosphere of this planet, and to communities where people are not sharing that corporate wealth.

Nevertheless, some people are finding positive ways to walk away, here and there, though it's of no interest to the news or entertainment media, so their success is not obvious to most. It's possible to find those folks and connect. It will take courage make the effort.

artphotodude's picture
artphotodude 1 year 45 weeks ago
#7

Tom - What makes you think that Reason has ANYTHING to do with public policy?

This issue is either about getting-rich or being 'right'. Both completely impractical at this point.

TomDorr's picture
TomDorr 1 year 45 weeks ago
#8

artphotodude: Sad but true. Trying to find middle ground is sometimes like being in the crossfire of a gang war.

artphotodude's picture
artphotodude 1 year 45 weeks ago
#9

WOW - that is the reply that "Eats like a Meal".

I think it is very possible to loose the forest for the Blister-Rotten trees on this one. Neil Howe really does make this as plain as Yogurt.

There is a constant war between populism and elitism. The actual facts are far less relevant because in one century, it might be that capitalism is the populist-choice and communism the elitist one, or Socialism vs Imperialism, or Technological progress vs Luddism. The point is that over an 80 or so year period, the parasites begin pulling the life blood out of the middle of the group and the predators attempt to seize power at the top (whether financial, political, or religious), until the lack of equity between their ambition and ability reveals that "The Mandate of Heaven" is over. Then their is a revolution and the whole system gets remade. There is no such thing as incremental progress. Only the corrosive effects of culture-wars on working social constructs and then the over-through of said culture-warriors to once again favor the majority.

The 'Inconvenient Truth' of this cycle, is that the POWER that the few have is based on things like oil, coal and nuclear materials that make this crisis different. It will now be about our very survival.
The paper's overall message is that we can't OBVIOUSLY hope the conservatives will do the right thing, and it becomes clear that the majority of Liberals (now in their 60's and 70's) are just as fucked as conservatives.

So unless we can, as a species cultivate a Limbic-Avoidance of Elitism, we will parish. What used to 'create misery like a product' now threatens our very survival - so maybe we will finally fix it.

Or more likely we will all DIE.

Worst of all, the most likely to survive are the evil people who caused it (will have the best bunkers and protections) and the DNA that might survive will be even worse and whatever mankind is like in 100 years, will have none of the virtues we have acquired over time.

"...The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity."
- William Butler Yeats (The Second Coming)

Rosy isn't it!

Now time for Ice Cream and a few episodes of "Shameless" ;0p

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