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Thread: Descent of Industrial Society

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    Decadent Charlatan Aquagraph's Avatar
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    Default Descent of Industrial Society

    I'll edit and add something to this later on but here goes:

    Throughout ages the civilizations have risen and fallen and this time it isn't no different. We have very much similarities fall of Rome, most notable one being currency debasement and other measures that grow more and more complex while pushing problems back a bit further while they grow in size. I believe that we are currently experiencing a long decline of the post industrial oil-dependent society. NASA-backed peer-reviewed study agrees with me though it seems to suggest socialism as a cure to reduce economic inequality.

    Even if many of you will not agree with me that recent Western aggressions are a matter of resource wars, isn't it staggering that every US president since Nixon has promised energy independent USA (who also happened to be the first one to "temporarily" cut the direct convertibility between dollars and gold)? Latest of these promises has been backed by the shale oil technology which is like shaking a can of soda and then opening it and then declaring that soda is abundant. However, fracking is nothing new. The investors have ran after the first year as the production declines, sometimes by 90%. Fracking is a bubble.

    People are saying that we will soon come up with something but we are only experiencing the law of diminishing returns. Many people don't realize that in order to harvest more energy, we need more energy. Technologies require more and more assets while providing less and less assets. Oil was a natural jackpot of energy that allowed the industrial revolution. It won't be depleted though. At one point its harvesting will just cost more energy than it will provide. We should seriously start investing in renewable energies, although they won't have a high enough EROEI to handle the current consumption. Maybe someday after the worst parts of infrastructural decline we will be able to recover somewhat using steam technology which became temporarily obsolete due to more efficient combustion engines requiring oil, but we might have already missed the opportunity to go to colonize space until we build a Dyson Sphere or something (expect at least a few hundred years).

    Am I crazy? Am I wrong?
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    No.

    You are simply coming to terms with the fact that technology, the productive capabilities of society and the needs of society are beginning to outstrip the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. Soon these fetters will become violent upheavals, society will polarize, and the whole superstructure will come crashing down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Villain View Post
    No.

    You are simply coming to terms with the fact that technology, the productive capabilities of society and the needs of society are beginning to outstrip the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. Soon these fetters will become violent upheavals, society will polarize, and the whole superstructure will come crashing down.
    Can you explicate? I think we agree on many things politically though I'm sure there are drastic differences. I hope that those political differences won't obstruct the fruitfulness of this conversation as we can probably already agree on, say, corporate fascism going on. This problem is real and same to us no matter which we see as an ideal society, brother (from another school of thought).
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ath View Post
    It's somehow hard to predict future that well. It doesn't downplay the energy crisis in their articles (here's one and here's another) but the other articles seem to assume that it won't hinder us too much and we are able to, say, mine the moon for Helium-3 by 2060s.
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    Well, sure, energy is more and more expensive, which means any kind of industrial product made in Europe is very expensive, which means we have to work extra-extra hard to make something very innovative, useable, hard to copy, etc.
    Obsequium amicos, veritas odium parit

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquagraph View Post
    Am I crazy? Am I wrong?
    Asking rhetorical questions like that isn't really the best approach when it comes to this thread.

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    western countries have only had a positive growth rate for the last +/- 40 years because of an exponential rise in private and public (mostly private) debt across that same time period: http://blog2.tshirt-doctor.com/image...vementatt5.png

    factor out the debt growth and the western world has been in "secular stagnation" for that long.

    you are right to point out the EROEI problem. the ceasing of the rise of oil consumption per capita around 1970-1980 is the strongest candidate for cause of the secular stagnation: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_F3I5WHO6uq...ey-Oil+101.png

    the 2008 crisis was the first among many crises to come where the integrity of the mound of debt deteriorates in one layer after another. the only response to the problem by the authorities has been a sweeping of the debt under the rug; from private to public holders under a pretense that government is a more stable guaranteur of repayment than private entities. the next stage in the process is for that illusion to dissipate.

    the problem for people trying to anticipate the dynamic and prepare for it is that the situation is in a constant superposition between deflation (1930s great depression style collapse) and inflation (Weimar germany style collapse*). so far a weak disinflation and asset deflation has been the intermediate outcome, but economic theory favors an inflationary long term outcome. people who take a purely deflationist view tend to be cranks.

    the only thing in the short- to medium term you can be sure of is increased volatility and increased misery.

    * which came after deflation, incidentally
    Last edited by krieger; 03-17-2014 at 07:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Villain View Post
    No.

    You are simply coming to terms with the fact that technology, the productive capabilities of society and the needs of society are beginning to outstrip the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. Soon these fetters will become violent upheavals, society will polarize, and the whole superstructure will come crashing down.
    Socialist revolutions are really just a primitive form of capitalism. Revolution begins with a demand. Revolutions succeed because, as is often the case, a group of revolutionaries are able to supply it, through a commodity called ideology...supply and demand no matter how you cut it.

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    Yeah, right. And my name is Jesus. Wonder what capitalist revolutions are the primitive form of, then, seeing you're treating it as some kind of development stadium. Of course, I can wait as long you want to so you can deliver a speech, @Kill4Me, and miss totally.

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    Hello shadows of Marx and Bakunin...

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    Hello, Cambodia.

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    Quote Originally Posted by labcoat View Post
    western countries have only had a positive growth rate for the last +/- 40 years because of an exponential rise in private and public (mostly private) debt across that same time period: http://blog2.tshirt-doctor.com/image...vementatt5.png

    factor out the debt growth and the western world has been in "secular stagnation" for that long.

    you are right to point out the EROEI problem. the ceasing of the rise of oil consumption per capita around 1970-1980 is the strongest candidate for cause of the secular stagnation: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_F3I5WHO6uq...ey-Oil+101.png

    the 2008 crisis was the first among many crises to come where the integrity of the mound of debt deteriorates in one layer after another. the only response to the problem by the authorities has been a sweeping of the debt under the rug; from private to public holders under a pretense that government is a more stable guaranteur of repayment than private entities. the next stage in the process is for that illusion to dissipate.

    the problem for people trying to anticipate the dynamic and prepare for it is that the situation is in a constant superposition between deflation (1930s great depression style collapse) and inflation (Weimar germany style collapse*). so far a weak disinflation and asset deflation has been the intermediate outcome, but economic theory favors an inflationary long term outcome. people who take a purely deflationist view tend to be cranks.

    the only thing in the short- to medium term you can be sure of is increased volatility and increased misery.

    * which came after deflation, incidentally
    IMO, under any sort of situation, economic collapse is inevitable. I think public holders are more stable in some ways than private holders, however a collapse of public holdings result in destabilized government which is a far more destabilizing even than a single private entity collapsing.

    Also imo inflation has a very important role in economics which is equalizing the wealthy and poor, there's a huge benefit to wiping out the wealthy in a society although this generally only happens after a revolution. This has occurred to a certain extend in some societies due to progressive taxation and other economic events but of course the effects are temporary. The current stagnation has to do with the same old ills of peace, aging population, cheap resources becoming more expensive and wealth concentration in the hands of a few. I think many of the effects we see in economics have their root cause in demographics and energy availability, however once transformed and re-imagined by political and economic rhetoric, the problems become more ideological in nature.

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    Well, the world population is as large at it is because of the abundance of fossil fuels, which are quite finite. Once we approach a certain point in time, the worldwide population will begin to slow as there will be less energy available to sustain agriculture, industry, and our population in general. Diverting energy into alternative energy is misleading because it takes fossil fuels to make the parts to build the components used to make solar panels and windmills. All alternative energy will do is buy time during energy shortages. I think though, that over the next couple hundred of years, societies will begin redesigning themselves to adjust to the huge changes that are going to take place. There will be large parts of the world that will unaffected, or minimally affected because they do not build their lives around such high energy consumption. The Amish come to mind as being a self-sustaining community that would do rather well.

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    You may very well think that, but they'll never take my Sunshine away.

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    Predictions

    Debts will be paid off.
    Western economies will re-industrialize as living standards in China and india rise inevitably leading to a greater need for self sufficiency.
    Nuclear fusion will be used as a means of generating power in our lifetime.
    The EU will become a glorious economic powerhouse as it becomes increasingly germanized.
    Putin will come out of the closet and Russia will become a peace loving liberal utopia.
    Global warming wasn't that bad after all
    religion stops being a thing
    i become rich

    I'm so ready.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquagraph View Post
    Can you explicate? I think we agree on many things politically though I'm sure there are drastic differences. I hope that those political differences won't obstruct the fruitfulness of this conversation as we can probably already agree on, say, corporate fascism going on. This problem is real and same to us no matter which we see as an ideal society, brother (from another school of thought).
    These growing concerns you expressed about the world are, as you say, real- objective. Profit is pretty much the guiding motive of the modern era, and nothing is build or set into motion without the direction of those who possess the ability to make it. The more of it you have, the more powerful you are and vice-versa. So when we apply this notion to energy in particular, we find that those sources of energy (and what amounts to the same thing- that which consumes it) which are most profitable are those which are most produced. The consequences of it are damned until they become a fetter on revenue. Oil, for example, has dire long-term effects on the environment and has resulted in senseless blood-shed, both of which most people can agree run contrary to humanity's well being (the "needs of society" I mentioned above). This illustrates what I mean- production and distribution in capitalist economies are not guided by what is actually needed, useful, or beneficial to society in general but rather by that which guarantees the highest pay-off. More and more people become aware and are negatively effected by this at which point profits will begin to shift to those industries which are less harmful, becoming bolstered by the growing percentage of the public outcry (economic data reveals a rampant growth in "green" alternative fuel sources, as well as the value of their stocks, in the years since the Bush administration when the question of foreign oil became a question of war and occupation). All of this of course assume the market can rectify these issues pertaining to this industry, requiring a tug-of-war between the oil and "green" energy be fought to a decisive end. What we must also bare in mind, however, that this occurs in every industry, not just energy, and as industry diversifies, so too do these constant socio-economic backlashes. Sooner or later, such fetters become so common, society is pretty much forced to concede that it's root lies in the economic system itself.
    "We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.".

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    Our way of life is unsustainable. You only need to look at our societies effects on the natural world to know that. I'd like it if we all reverted to growing our food for a while... but we definitely need some cleaner sources of energy. THey exist. I'm not sure why we aren't using them in mass. Probably a lack of economic incentive. One more reason I am looking forward to economic collapse. Maybe a collapse & reformation will make room for new incentives....

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