War 2.0

21/09/2007 Written by tripwire

In the West, for the last 60 years or so, thanks to the con­tin­u­ous avail­abil­ity of cheap energy which allowed a mas­sive inflow of raw mate­ri­als and the mass pro­duc­tion of any con­ceiv­able good, a “big­ger /​bet­ter /​faster” lifestyle was pur­posely spread among the masses together with a gen­er­al­ized growth of wages, “rights”, and edu­ca­tion, thus cre­at­ing a huge mid­dle class of happy con­sumers, on the whole improv­ing everyone’s health and way of liv­ing.

Due to the con­di­tions exist­ing at the time, mar­ket dri­ven lib­eral /​social democ­ra­cies cre­ated and dis­trib­uted never-​before-​seen amounts of wealth among their cit­i­zens.

Since con­di­tions have changed sub­stan­tially from those times, we must look at real­ity in an unbi­ased way, real­ize that this his­tor­i­cal period has reached its max­i­mum and peaked, and that we are now liv­ing in the twi­light of the Cheap Energy /​Mass Hedo­nism Age: aver­age health and wealth stan­dards are recess­ing, signs that the Big Shiny Hap­pi­ness Machine is chock­ing and break­ing down are every­where, and the already shrink­ing mid­dle class is des­tined to dis­ap­pear.

There are at least three well-​known rea­sons for this global downslide, which amplify each other, so that dis­miss­ing the evi­dence is becom­ing not only futile, but also quite dan­ger­ous.

One rea­son is that many fun­da­men­tal, not-​replaceable raw mate­ri­als are depleted around or beyond 50% of the avail­able reserves, includ­ing oil, cop­per, ura­nium, nat­ural gas, and so on. Sim­ply put, demand from now on will be capped by scarcity what­ever we do to avoid it, and it is now clear to every­one that the good ol’ times assump­tion of a never-​ending progress was plainly absurd and naïve.

Another rea­son is that we are too many. Dur­ing the last cen­tury, Earth pop­u­la­tion grew from less than 1 bil­lion to more than 6 bil­lions, while the aver­age energy use per capita grew expo­nen­tially by 100 times or more, and so the resource con­sump­tion, which caused an unsus­tain­able level of envi­ron­ment exploita­tion. Prob­lem is, at present growth rates pop­u­la­tion will reach 9 bil­lions by 2050 (that is, in 2 gen­er­a­tions: many of us could still be around by that time).

The last rea­son is that humans are self­ish, cruel and short­sighted beasts. Instincts and strate­gies that were Good in the Kenyan planes half a mil­lion years ago, are Not Good any­more in our post-​modern arti­fi­cial jun­gle, but we still use them to take deci­sions and shape the future.

While every­one, despite the above con­di­tions, still tries to max­imise exclu­sively his/​her advan­tage at the individual/​group/​national scale, the Sys­tem as a whole is begin­ning to slide down­hill, accel­er­at­ing toward col­lapse.

So, to make a long story short, this is why I think the next Big Thing™ will be War 2.0.

War is the apoth­e­o­sis of terminally-​ill con­sumerism and cap­i­tal­ism, as we can already see: there is no need any­more for con­sumers.

Con­sumers are a pain in the ass, they “vote”, they believe to pos­sess rights, they com­plain, the always try to lower prices and increase wages, and most of all, they are too many, so that it is sim­ply impos­si­ble to give them all what they want. It’s not time any­more for that kind of econ­omy, the “mass hedo­nism” game is over.

But the show must go on, so how are gov­ern­ments and mega-​corporations replac­ing con­sumers? With sol­diers and mercenaries/​contractors, high tech weapon sys­tems, pri­vate armies, end­less recon­struc­tion pro­grams, while engag­ing a ghost enemy in an eter­nal, asym­met­ric, unwinnable war.

This allows for an enor­mous trans­fer of wealth from the tax­pay­ers to the government-​corporations com­plex, helps to avoid eco­nomic col­lapse by induc­ing a cer­tain level of demand, with­out the risks and fluc­tu­a­tions of a free mass mar­ket that can­not be sus­tained any­more.

Where’s the gain? As an exam­ple, con­sider that the Pen­ta­gon burns more oil bar­rels per day than Den­mark, and in 2006 the invaders of Iraq fired more bul­lets that the indus­try was ready to sup­ply (1.5 bil­lion bul­lets, to be pre­cise). Fur­ther­more, for those who con­trol global resources, it is now more con­ve­nient and more man­age­able to sell oil, cop­per and lead to the Pen­ta­gon and its cor­po­rate con­trac­tors than to the free consumer-​oriented mar­ket.

This way resources are overused even if econ­omy as a whole is in bad shape, and there­fore paid a high price, fac­to­ries work 24/​7, sol­diers march and blow up stuff that then must be repaired, money flows, and the elite becomes richer every day, while ordi­nary peo­ple go down the oppo­site path…

The real “enemy” in War 2.0 is not who we are being told: the enemy is our lead­ers, both on the polit­i­cal and eco­nom­i­cal side of things, and because we allow this, think­ing that we too will gain from it (but we won’t), the enemy is our­selves, in the end.

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