Friday, August 13, 2004

To All We Mr. Jones

Tired of the screeds from both Republicans and Democrats? Read something clear for a change: Matt Stoller on The Blogging of the President:
I often think we're living in a proto-populist period. There's deep angst, and a general gut recognition that things cannot go on the way they are. Whether on the right in terms of apocalyptic tomes and screeds against society-ending threats like gay marriage, or on the left in terms of the marketing hysteria nonprofits have been using for years to sell their wares, it's obvious on all sides that the political and cultural stasis we're in is untenable.


That truth is hard to tell, but it is basically this. For the last fifty years, we have built an economy based on oil, and a politics based on the need to protect our sources of oil (snip). Because the American military machine is a voracious consumer of oil, we have dotted the globe with bases to protect this critical resource and our domestic economy with companies designed to protect, promote, build, and maintain this machine.


The underlying dishonesty of an oil-driven nation that has to conquer its oil has forced to appoint elites who will do our dirty work for us. They do our dirty work, and in turn, we hate our elites (Republicrats, anyone?). They also take a disproportionate share of the economic and political power, and build into our culture a huge dividing line between insiders and outsiders. They sow divisiveness, because our bargain is corrupt. We take the oil in the form of chepa consumer goods and cheap gasoline, and get cynical. We don't vote. We stop caring. We turn to Star Wars and the Matrix.


But the unraveling of the bargain is nearly upon us. In order to genuinely stave off crisis, we must face the dishonesty of the bargain in the first place. That our elites still tell us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear suggests that we are still content to buy cheap oil and blame our elites for our problems instead of acknowleding that we negotiated this bargain, and that we must give up what we get from it in order to change it.
In your heart, you know he's right.


Stuart Greenhouse said...

There are alternatives--not that it changes much, but my brother's made a hobby of his new-found alternative gasoline source, vegetable oil. You can read what he has to say here:

if you like. It's pretty astonishing, actually. Apparently you can take used vegetable oil (as in from fast food restaurants) and run a converted diesel car on it. Off the grid, so to speak. The guy who invented the diesel engine (Rudolph Diesel) originally intended his engine to be used thusly, to allow for a domestically independent energy source (he was German)--but of course the oil interests gave it a twist, and here we are.

aum dada said...

Very cool! I wish I knew this the ten years I drove my diesel Rabbit into the ground. But you're right. It doesn't change things. It actually points (again) to the problem. The oil companies et al (ie Haliburton) don't own exclusive rights to vegetables (or the sun). Until they do, we're screwed. (But I have an inkling they soon will, like, say, ADM).