To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change

To Govern the Globe: World Orders and Catastrophic Change

By Alfred W McCoy

Book Review

This book concerns the concept of “world orders,” which McCoy describes as over-arching global control by a single empire. He asserts there have been three world orders in the last 500 years.

The first was the Iberian world order, lasting from 1494 (with the creation of the first New World colonies) until 1815. The British world order (arising from the catastrophic Napoleonic wars and the replacement of slavery with fossil fuels) lasted from 1815 until 1945. The Washington world order (arising from the collapse of European economies after World War II) began in 1945. McCoy’s describes America’s world order as maintaining a strong official stance on human rights, while simultaneously using the CIA to overthrow multiple democratically elected governments. McCoy predicts America’s world order will end in 2030.

He provides a detailed historical account of the events leading up to each of these world orders. For example, he explains how the Age of Exploration was precipitated by the Black death and the loss of 60% of European and Chinese populations. This severe labor shortage meant serfs became free wage laborers, making European desperate for new sources of labor to exploit.

The book also examines the scholarly theoretical basis for forming and maintaining a new world order. Britain was very much influenced by naval historian Captain Alfred Thayer Mahal, writing in the 1890s that creating a world order required a powerful Navy and “an empire of islands” for naval bases. Mahal’s writings also influenced US strategy in their imperialist adventures following the Spanish-American War, German strategy in World War I and Japanese strategy in World War II.

In 1904, the opening of the Transiberian Railroad inspired Sir Hulford MacKinder to propose an alternative strategy for world domination: namely gaining control of the “World Island,” aka the Eurasian land mass. Zbigniew Brzezinski slavishly followed MacKinder’s approach in pressuring President Carter’s to launch a massive covert CIA operation in Afghanistan in the late seventies.

I learned a great detail about European history from this book that I never learned in school. I was intrigued to learn how labor shortages caused by the Black Death also led directly to important labor saving devices, such as the printing press and more efficient sailing ships.

McCoy’s history of the North Atlantic slave trade and Europe’s brutal colonization of India and Africa is also extremely comprehensive. I was especially intrigued to learn how active the British navy was in conducting anti-slavery patrols following Britain’s ban on the North Atlantic slave trade in 1807. In total Britain’s navy liberated a total of 82,000 captives from slave ships and transported them to Sierra Leone. There they were registered as British subjects, with some remaining there, some enlisting as soldiers and some returning to their homelands.

McCoy’s chapter on China is extremely disappointing, as it clearly reflects the US State Department-CIA view of China’s global role in the world. Likewise his final chapter (on climate change). The latter relies on he corporate elite’s exclusive focus on carbon emissions, neglecting the fact that global warming has numerous causes (with massive deforestation and industrial agriculture being far more important than fossil fuel emissions) and can’t be solved by simply replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy.

 

Orlov on US Collapse, the Great Reset, Klaus Schwab and the Apocalyptic Climate Cult

No Escape

Dmitry Orlov (2021)

Film Review

In this fascinating interview, Russian-American author and journalist Dmitry Orlov discusses the impending US collapse and the Russian view on what he refers to as “the apocalyptic climate cult,” Biden’s meeting with Putin, Klaus Schwab and the Great Reset, the impending cyber wars, geoengineering and the Russian closed cycle nuclear program.

10.00min The West’s “apocalyptic climate cult.”

According to some climate scientists, ice core records suggest the Earth is due for another Ice Age “any century now” (Orlov writes about this in more depth at https://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2019/11/avoiding-coming-ice-age.html). He predicts humankind would have to triple their fossil fuel consumption to prevent it, which would burn up the Earth’s entire coal reserves.

While he’s not advocating this as a policy (one downside would be catastrophic mercury levels), he deplores the reluctance of climate scientists to study the impending Ice Age – to better understand the potential triggers and the possibility of preventing it.

He states that no one in Russia takes seriously what they refer to as the West’s “apocalyptic climate cult.”  While he acknowledges the reality of the greenhouse effect, he questions the reliability of Western climate scientists’ doomsday predictions. The latter are almost totally based on computer models, and it will take at least 1,000 years to gather sufficient evidence to test the models.

24.00min The Great Reset

Orlov doesn’t believe the Great Reset will happen, because it has no support whatsoever from either Russia or China. He describes Klaus Schwab as a “moneybag whisperer” for the super rich. It’s his job to “fluff up” their egos by publishing vanity fiction like The Great Reset. Owing to America’s weakening global position, the WEF was forced to invite Putin and Xi Jinping this past January. Both dismissed the Great Reset categorically – they have their own future development plans.

28.00min Putin/Biden Summit

Orlov quips that the purpose of the summit was to “negotiate the terms” of (US) surrender. He points to a dangerous hyperinflation the US is entering that will reduce living standards by 90% and lead to civil unrest. He predicts the US will be forced to abandon its global military bases in the near future and repatriate its troops.

Orlov believes Biden’s main goals for the summit were

  1. For Putin to affirm that Biden (not Trump) is the legitimate president.
  2. To persuade Putin to put the brakes on plans to sell its oil and gas in currency other than US dollars.

At present, Russia is the third largest supplier of oil to the US, which has no other source (due to US sanctions on Venezuela) for the heavy oil it needs for diesel, jet fuel and kerosene and can’t run its transport network without it.

1.20min Renewable Energy in Russia

Russia is focusing on solar and wind energy in Russia in remote areas where renewable technology is cheaper than the cost of transporting coal.

1.26min Russia’s Closed Cycle Nuclear Program

At present Russia’s main nuclear investment is in fast breeder reactors that reprocess depleted uranium by burning long half life isotopes and converting it to low level short half life waste (which can be safely buried). At present Russia is buying nuclear waste from other countries for reprocessing.

https://thebulletin.org/2019/06/will-nuclear-waste-disposal-challenges-limit-a-significant-expansion-of-global-nuclear-power/

The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future

RetroSuburbia: The Downshifters Guide to a Resilient Future

by David Holmgren

Melliodora (2020)

 

The online version of the book is available for pay-what-you-feel at http://online.retrosuburbia.com/ https://retrosuburbia.com/

With the global economic crash predicted to result from the COVID-19 lockdown, the publication of RetroSuburbia earlier this month is a happy coincidence.

This book is based on the premise that our current globalized economic system is inherently unstable. Although the exact mechanism that will topple global capitalism is impossible to predict, Holmgren believes it will most likely relate to one (our more) of the following three crisis points: 1) major resource depletion (oil, water, topsoil, phosphate, collapsed fishstocks, etc); 2) catastrophic climate change; or 3) the collapse of a massive real estate or share market bubble (as occurred in 2008).

Under any of these scenarios, the vast majority of us will experience a reduced standard of living. As jobs disappear and personal income declines, people will have no choice but to downsize their consumption levels. As it becomes harder and harder to rely on the capitalist system to meet basic needs (food, water, energy, Internet, postal service, health, security, etc), they will need to become more self-sufficient and rely more on family, friends, and neighbors. As they downsize their lifestyles, more extended families and even friends and neighbors will live together in the same households and produce most of their own food.

Holmgren predicts this catastrophic event may occur so suddenly that people will have no time to prepare. Securing a fertile rural homestead won’t be an option for most of us. For the most part, we will be stuck with the land and house we live in now.

In essence, RetroSuburbia is a manual we can use to “retrofit” the space we currently occupy to help us better cope with what he describes as “our energy descent future.”

Holmgren seems to have thought of everything, covering a range of topics, including how to assess a property for optimal food production, heating your home off-grid, water harvesting, gray water systems, recycling human waste, the mechanics of shared living, soil fertility and contamination, seed saving, sustainable transport, managing our own health and security, raising self-reliant resilient children, and conflict resolution.

Holmgren is the co-originator of permaculture* technology, in my view Australia’s most important export.


*Permaculture is a set of design principles centered on whole systems thinking, simulating, or directly utilizing the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. It uses these principles in a growing number of fields including regenerative agriculture, rewilding, and community resilience

A Practical Guide to Saving the Planet

The Race is On: Secrets and Solutions of Climate Change

Global Documentary Films (2019)

Film Review

Unlike most climate change films, which emphasize doom and gloom, The Race is On assumes a surprisingly optimistic tone. Its point of departure is that we already have all the technology we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040*: all that is needed is to widely implement this technology in a smart and efficient way.

This is also one of the first films to address the economics of climate change. British economist Kate Raworth advises climate activists to challenge the dogma of perpetual economic growth. Heavily promoted by mainstream economists and policy makers, the growth dogma is over 150 years old. Raworth maintains it’s totally obsolete. Decades of evidence establish that economic growth benefits vested interests at the expense of working people.

Raworh also urges climate activists to lobby government for policy changes that make it easier for working people to adopt the necessary lifestyle changes to achieve net zero emissions. They need to campaign for carbon taxes (on carbon polluters, not working people) and feed-in tariffs** and subsidies to help capitalize renewable energy infrastructure and public transportation projects.

Carbon Zero UK points to the rapid shift to renewable energy that’s already occurring in the UK – due to its low cost compared to fossil fuel energy. They also point out that only 20% of UK’s energy usage consists of electricity. This will need to shift to 80% to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Likewise the organization advocates for what they call “polycentric governance” to help drive the transformation that needs to occur. Polycentric governance is a partnership between top down and bottom up leadership. They point to many innovative programs (eg Transition Towns) helping communities reduce their fossil fuel energy usage all over the US and UK. We now need to lobby government at all levels for to recognize and expand these initiatives.


*IPCC scientists advise that we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 to limit global warming to 2° C – by 2030 to limit it to 1.5° C. The latter target is preferable because millions of vulnerable Third World residents will die with 2° of warming.

**A feed-in tariff is a payment above the market rate to a small scale producer of renewable energy by a large scale fossil fuel energy provider.

 

Losing Louisiana: Life in the Disappearing Mississippi Delta

Losing Louisiana: Life in the Disappearing Mississippi Delta

Al Jazeera (2019)

Film Review

This documentary concerns the steady disappearance of the Mississippi delta region in Louisiana. The erosion stems partly from climate change and rising sea levels, partly from channels petroleum corporations have dug through the wetlands and partly from decades of diverting new Mississippi sediment out to sea.

The gradual disappearance of the delta has means many coastal residents have lost their livelihood. Due to salt water contamination of their ground water, farmers are no longer able to grow sugarcane and rice or graze stock. Meanwhile shrimping industry has collapsed. Because shrimp require require freshwater marshes to reproduce, their populations have been have been decimated.

In this remake of their 2009 documentary, Al Jazeera filmmakers revisit an area of the Mississippi delta they first filmed ten years ago. They learn the rate of delta shrinkage has declined from 70 to 15 square miles per year. Subsidence is worst in poor communicates which have no real protection against hurricanes. This contrasts with well-to-do communities, which have built massive hurricane levees.

For some reason the 2019 segment makes no mention of the 2010 Deep Water Horizons disaster and the toxic effect on wildlife of the massive oil spill and the poisonous oil dispersant Corexit BP dumped into the Gulf of Mexico.

Here are 2013 and 2016 accounts summarizing the long term effects on Gulf marine life that will take decades to repair:

Corexit BP Oil Dispersant

New Oceana Report Highlights Long Term Impacts Deep Water Horizon Oil

 

Climate Change: A Really Inconvenient Truth

 

A Really Inconvenient Truth

Directed by Cambiz Khosravi (2007)

Film Review

This film, a moving tribute to the late radical psychiatrist Dr Joel Kovel,* is a critique of Al Gore and his signature documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Owing to his failure to make important links between capitalism and global warming, Kovel believes Gore deserves much of the blame for the failure of the current climate movement to stop global warming.

Kovel’s main criticism of Gore, who first learned of the link between carbon emissions and global warming in the late seventies, was his failure to use his immense power as Clinton’s environmental point man to pursue government action to reduce carbon emissions. Instead Gore “played the game” and continued to advance the interests of the Wall Street corporations responsible for skyrocketing emissions (eg fossil fuel companies, car makers, etc). And the banks and PR and advertising companies responsible for unrelenting psychological pressure on Americans to over-consume.

Kovel believed Gore was deliberately dishonest about labeling climate change a “moral” issue. Instead of blaming capitalism and the corporate oligarchy for climate change, Gore blamed human nature. In the process, he played along with a system that seeks to “commodify” every human need and desire for its profit making potential. Ironically his documentary resulted in the creation of two brand new commodities: carbon credits and green technology.

According to Kovel, ending climate change is impossible without ending the continual economic expansion that is fundamental to capitalism.** Individuals are helpless to stop climate change through behavior change .

Kovel, who died in April 2018, was a presidential candidate in the 2000 Green Party primary but lost out to Ralph Nader.


*Commodification is confiscation of human needs and wants (land, goods, services and ideas) into products that can be sold for a profit.

**Kovel is a bit fuzzy about why continual expansion is essential under capitalism. I suspect it relates to Marx’s failure to address the role of private banks (in creating 98% of our money as debt) in infinitely increasing debt and the necessity of continuous economic expansion to pay it.

Melting Arctic Opens Northwest Passage

For people who still have lingering doubts about the reality of global warming, this brief documentary reminds us that the Arctic Ocean (for the first time in recorded history) is now open to navigation during the summer. Prior to 2007, it was frozen solid year round.

During summer months, China, the US, Canada and European countries routinely save travel time and money by shipping freight over the top of the world.

According to filmmakers, Canadian treaties allegedly guarantee indigenous Inuit “input” into the new Arctic waterways – to protect the pristine environment their livelihood (hunting seals) depends on.

Expect Resistance

This was us yesterday protesting seismic blasting in a proposed sanctuary for the endangered blue whale and Maui dolphin. The Amazon Warrior, which is exploring for deep sea oil, lets out loud seismic explosions every eight seconds that disrupt their feeding, breeding and ability to communicate.

Climate Justice Taranaki is campaigning to fight climate change by leaving the fossil fuels that remain in the ground. Fossil fuel mining (mainly in the form of fracking) has been enormously destructive to our local environment and people’s health and lives.

The protest was reported in Taranaki Daily News and on  Maori TV

How to Build an Alternative to Capitalism

How Do We Build Movements That Can Win

Naomi Klein (2017)

In this presentation, Naomi Klein  outlines the strategy she feels grassroots activists need to pursue to resist the growing attacks on working people while building build a genuine alternative to post industrial capitalism. It’s very similar to the one Kali Akuna proposes (see Don’t Just Fight, Build).

While she begins by focusing on climate change, she heavily emphasizes that environmentalists alone can’t solve the crisis of catastrophic climate change – that it will require a large diverse coalition of activists organizing around a broad array of environmental and social justice issues. While she doesn’t state directly that it’s impossible to prevent climate change under capitalism, this is strongly implied.

Another concept Klein stresses is the importance of radical ideas in creating the conditions for major reform. She gives the example of the calls for socialist revolution following the 1929 Depression and during the Vietnam War – how serious discussion of revolution scared the corporate elite so much that they granted major economic reform (the New Deal) under Roosevelt and major environmental reform under Nixon (creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, etc.).

Klein also gives the example of the Leap Coalition in Canada, which is working for bold social and environmental justice reforms, as well as the development of community controlled energy systems (similar to Germany’s) – where the profits from energy production fund community services, such as teaching, daycare and senior care – rather than distant corporations.

Shutting Down the Petroleum Conference

blockade

 

Two hundred of us blocked all the entrances to the New Zealand Petroleum Conference for five hours yesterday.

Some great video footage at the Greenpeace website below.

Source: The People’s Climate Rally – 21st – 23rd March 2017