The Storm Gathers Pace


This blog, amongst others, has been warning about the crisis which has come upon this generation since before it was mainstream. For the benefit of a new reader, here are the ingredients.

Firstly, oil reserves are running down or out across the world and new supply at viable prices--that is, below $120 dollars a barrel or so--seems impossible. This has been predicted for years and the consequences are available at excellent sites such as this one.

Secondly, vast government deficits in the developed world, plus lunatic speculation on the back of the inflated money--in particular in the futures markets--have resulted in an imminent monetary crisis. This crisis will either drive up market interest rates or the availability of credit, regardless of whether or not central banks pretend to 'lower' their central lending rates or not.

I think that the European Central Bank gets this, but unfortunately can do little about it, whereas the American Federal reserve does not or cannot. This credit then drove the development of an economy in which attractive lifestyles and property could be acquired by the proceeds of this vast shell game, which would then turn into electronic profits and paper that could be fed into the derivatives and futures markets--until the time when it fell into the sea.

In reaction to this second problem, the United States has over the years adopted a variety of procrastinating measures, including the promotion of the dollar as a world currency, which the world needs, for instance to buy oil. This has put off the moment of reckoning quite handily until now, and has also allowed America to avoid seriously confronting inflation.

In most countries, in fact, but especially in Britain, official statistics have been so amended and doctored to disguise the overspending and the monetary sources of inflation that they are now almost worthless. I say almost, because it is clear to me that whatever state the United States is in, southern Europe, but also and especially Britain, are in a far worse way.

Thirdly, the growth of new economies has placed huge pressure on farming. It is not simply that 'biofuels' have driven up farm prices. Strip biofuels away, and 'growth' based on being able to transport outsourced goods across transport links based on cheap energy would still drive up key food prices. The grain and wheat industry may in fact be able to respond to this, but the meat industry cannot without producing population extinctions in the seas, more mad cow disease, or huge pressure on grain for animal feed. Food price riots are then a given, and have in fact been happening across the world.

It is not enough to say 'oh well then, the US, the EU and Japan should just give up their food security programmes of agricultural support'. If they do, they make themselves dependent upon oil-driven transport of food (unless we reinvent sailing ships) from unstable regimes in the third world which cannot even feed themselves. Such a policy would also devastate society outside of the suburbs in the developed world. States are in one sense machines for producing food for their peoples. It is a basic responsibility.

We have allowed the creation of a planet of slums and consciences have been salved by throwing a miniscule proportion of aid, mostly at corrupt local elites, and contraception and palliative drugs at the poor. Some of that has saved lives and helped sustain people, so it was not wholly invaluable. I can't help but think most of it was about making the western middle classes feel better and avoid their own problems at home.

The fourth problem is war. War is raging, at 'low' levels--not so low if a bullet or a piece of molten metal is heading your way--across the world. It has focused on 'arcs of instability'. These correspond to areas where there has been a huge rise in the number of young men, who have no realistic hope of marriage or economic advancement within their societies.

In some places, these young men have given themselves over to wicked globalised death cults that represent as dark a side of Islam as fascism and communism were of the west. Modern weaponry, and the likelihood that one of the usually multi ethnic or historic states in these regions, probably Persia-Iran, possibly a post-coup Pakistan, will go nuclear, has made the existence of these arcs a deadly threat.

These problems were evident before the Bush administration took office. There were solutions which could have calmed things a little, but they we decried at the time because the media, political, and financial wings of a globalised middle-class benefited from the developments.

Their few children, for example, could monopolise and nepotise apparently meritocratic jobs, and 'acquire' lifestyles through the global surge in credit secured upon inflated property, 'acquired' by credit. The cheap energy that produced supermarkets where the exotic became everyday also allowed people to shut themselves up in their own little i-pod worlds. Trade unions and any source of socially conservative politics could be sidelined by money, the civic religion of a secular state, immigration, and outsourcing.

Global individual liberalism was and is attractive and is accompanied by a culture of narcissism of the sort Christopher Lasch warned about thirty years ago. But stand up, open your eyes and look around. It has produced a hollowed out society where children are described as the product of 'breeders' and have become commodified, adults have been infantilised, sources of opposition to the state have been or are being neutralised and the inevitable gathering storms have not been prepared for.

I am not a conspiracist, and I pretend to no special knowledge about anyone 'doing this'. That would be tawdry stupidity. Instead, networks of influence, greased by finance, spring up everywhere among human beings in history. Their operation plays to the basic wishes of most people to acquire friends, preferment, food, social respect, and to avoid confrontation or isolation.

Flocks and collectives form which then begin to serve a whole as ants serve a colony whilst requiring far less of a mind than we are gifted with. Follow the Money, Follow the Self interest--and ask yourself what worthwhile things stand against it, and whether most people can afford to demonstrate these virtues.

The environmental issue in this has been extraordinarily useful to global elites. 'Doing something' that hobbles economic development in the third world, gives the appearance of action (and profits to modernising firms) in the first world, and which makes individuals think they can make a difference alone, is an excellent wheeze. Conditioning people to conform to dodgy science by consensus, and brow-beating those who stand against environmentalism morphing into a sort of vague religion much less obstructive than traditional Christianity, is an added bonus.

Now, however, what if the climate is really changing because of some combination of events which we have not really spent enough time trying to grasp? Changes in the sun's cycle, undersea volcanoes, clear volcanic instability, magnetic shifts, cloud cover imbalances, and regionalised global cooling are not the stuff of science fiction. Each and every single one of those ideas is more credible, according to people who ought to know, than anthropogenic carbon-based global warming alone as an indicator of what is happening to the world.

I have recently, in these odd July days, had a while to think. I cannot believe that the world-order that exists at the moment has very long to go. I'm becoming convinced that what was once over the horizon, and then around us, is now gathering above us. Pay down your debt, think about growing your own food, be conservative in your investments and do not believe a word that comes out of the media-political class until you have thought about it first. Something is building now, and we are, as societies, barely equipped to cope.

The Picture at the top of this blog is of course 'Destruction', part of Thomas Cole's course of Empire series. Rome has haunted the western imagination. It fell three times--once as a republic, once as an Empire in the West, and once again in the East. Social collapse, even in the greatest of Empires, recurs and recurs. Read about it.

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