After the 2nd World War the corporations that had set up and run the massive war industries, and who made vast profits from the war via those industries and the armaments they had produced, switched to producing consumer goods using the same mass production methods. Following the mass production techniques of Henry Ford it was easy to switch the machines, and the human workforce slaves of the machines, from producing tanks to cars. At the same time discoveries of vast reserves of easily accessible oil across the planet coincided with the discovery of new forms of plastics that could be used to produce cheap new commodities.
The Plastic Age that has dominated the late Twentieth Century was a product of this cheap oil. Our present Consumer Society is built entirely upon that cheap oil supply and as a result of this easily accessible oil is predicated the Throwaway Principle of Consumerism, that the plastic products created by the industries catering to social demand could be made so cheaply with plastic that they could be used once and then thrown away.
Alexander Parkes in 1862 Great Exhibition in London demonstrated the first plastics. The early 20th Century laid the scientific foundations of the Plastic Age that began in the late 1940's in America. The principles of mass production as demonstrated by Henry Ford in relation to automobiles could now be combined with a cheap new resource, plastic, that could always sustain perpetual consumer demand. As the post-war society switched from austerity and rationing under a wartime Command Economy model to a Corporate Fascist quasi-free market model, the Consumer Society was then created. As new forms of plastic were discovered, then new commodities could be made from those plastics that would then drive consumer demand for ever more new goods. As the oil was able to be extracted easily and cheaply, and the energy unlocked from cheap oil able to manufacture goods cheaply, the new Consumer Society began to boom. At the same time the present Corporate Fascist economic and political structures of our Consumer Society began to take form. The oil companies and the corporations they owned and controlled sat atop a pyramid of power in every nation of the world. Without the oil to power society, that came from the corporations who located, extracted, refined and sold the oil, then modern society could not exist.
It is not often appreciated by people that the primary measure of the complexity of a human society is based on its ability to unlock energy sources in the environment. The change from the roaming hunter gatherer hominid bands of the Neolithic to early agricultural societies was itself an example of an energy transition. The energy transition was in the form of calories.
Agriculture produced more calories in relationship to the Energy In / Energy Out ratio of the hunting gathering lifestyle than that contained in meat. Major human societal changes at this time from a nomadic lifestyle to a settled community lifestyle occurred as a result of this energy use transition. Also religious changes and social changes happened with the transition from an Earth mother worship and matriarchal social system of the early nomadic societies to a paternalistic warrior caste elite in a socially stratified society based on settled communities where a hierarchical social command structure was required in order to defend the agricultural land and the established community itself.
Then came the technological transition from wood to coal and the unlocking of this energy once again changed the form of society. The transition from wood to coal use was first recorded in The Abbey of Peterborough in 852 and in 1239 a charter was granted to the Freemen of Newcastle to dig coal from the castle fields. In 1379 the first tax was imposed upon coal and in 1421 the first environmental tax was imposed upon all those who bought coal without a franchise in Newcastle. This was an example of the nexus between business, the Crown and taxes forming that was to lead to the taxation issues at the heart of the later English Civil War.
The invention of the steam driven water pump unlocked the deep coal seams and allowed coal to be replaced with the coke that was to be the basis of the iron foundries that powered the Industrial revolution. This change from coal to coke was followed by the rise in the capitalist and merchant class in society who funded and founded the great Iron works and big businesses that ushered in the Industrial Revolution and the birth of the British Empire.
The next great change in human societies was the discovery of and use of oil. The change to oil engines for ships in the Royal Navy that was authorised by Winston Churchill during his time at the Admiralty, and the transition from coal, was the first act in the modern era in that it unlocked the power of the Royal Navy to go global and police effectively dominions of the Empire. It was this transition to oil powered ships, and later aircraft that allowed Globalism to be born.
Under the old British Empire run with coal fired ships it was mainly expensive and highly taxed goods that were shipped into the country such as silk, rum and tobacco as the cost of shipping and the time it took to bring the goods back to Britain meant only expensive goods were worth shipping into the country. In this Mercantilist model Britain still needed its home grown industries to produce goods for the home market that could not be made and exported cheaply abroad and then shipped into the UK. In the Globalism model the cheap oil allows us to fly in Kenyan peas in the holds of 747's that still bring the grower, importer and seller a profit. At the same time all those manufactured goods that could only be made in Britain in the past can now also be made and shipped into the country from countries like China more cheaply than if they were made here. All of this was made possible by cheap oil. When the cheap oil goes then we will have to start manufacturing the goods again we need back in the UK and importing in luxuries that cannot be made here as we did in the past. Its back to the future again.
Contrary to the assertions of historians like Kershaw the central dynamic both for Hitlers invasion of Russia and Japans attack on British lands in the far east was the necessity of capturing oil. Hitler required the oil of the Caucas's for his future industrial and economic development plans for a European Union and the armies of the Third Reich would have driven through Russia and then into Iraq to seize the oil in the Middle East. Japan required British oil reserves in the Far East to power their industrial and military development. Oil and its capture and use is the defining dynamic in human and political affairs in the 20 th Century. Whether we wean ourselves it off oil slowly, or suffer a catastrophic collapse when it runs out, will be the defining dynamic of the early 21th Century. As part of that dynamic we will also face the threat of energy security issues relating to the last of the oil being held by unstable Islamic fundamentalist regimes in the Middle East, increasingly desperate attempts by nations like China and America to seize the last of the oil from nations such as Iran or to secure remaining resources and oil in Africa and also security issues around Russia domination of the gas that we see as a essential in the future for us to keep the lights on in our homes and the businesses going.
As there is an exact correlation between the rise in human numbers around the late 18th Century and the discovery and use of oil. Oil has allowed human numbers to rise to massively as it has allowed us to create agricultural and industrial systems able to feed those vast numbers of people. Without cheap oil then we would be unable to produce cheap food to feed the numbers of humans on the planet and this is why Peak Food is as much of an issue as Peak Oil. The next major change in human society was the discovery and use of nuclear energy. This resulted in the creation of the Military-Industrial Blocs in society and the creation of strong national security structures in societies with nuclear energy to prevent other nations using nuclear energy research for weapons production.
In this model of modern society we have the Corporate Fascist system, and the Corporate Oil Power Pyramid, that control the political, industrial, corporate and media systems and also the National Security Structures within the State to control the Nuclear Power structures. Some say that Human Society reached the energy peak in the middle sixties, and hence its peak of social complexity. At this point the amount of energy available to every individual on the planet from all combined energy sources reached its peak. If this is true then this evidence that human societies have reached their peak as regards social complexity.
Unless humanity is capable of unlocking new energy sources from the environment, either via Cold Fusion or through a transition to a total renewable energy economy and national based renewable energy power system, then humanity will suffer a catastrophic environmental, social, economic, agricultural and demographic crash within the next fifty years that may return human population levels to the level of the Middle Ages. Seeing as most scientists now agree the environmental and agricultural carrying capacity of the British nation is a population of about thirty million, then when the cheap energy goes for good then modern societies will collapse and so will human population numbers.
The only welcome casualty of the coming energy collapse will the Throwaway Model of the Consumer Society itself and the Globalist model. The challenge will be to phase the change into an Ecological Nationalism social model based on renewable energy systems (with a back up system of nuclear power) without the country descending into a new Feudalist society where the rich dominate the ownership of land and resources, or the descent into a new form of Communism powered by the middle class as they see their wealth stripped away in an endless economic recession. Society can either begin to evolve now, or be thrown into chaos later. The logic of mass immigration as regards economics is predicated on perpetual economic expansion being capable of keeping people in work. This is a facile analysis as the earth is closed system with a finite amount of energy and resources available. Once those resources in the environment are gone then they cannot be replaced. Therefore the idea that perpetual economic and social development is possible is being in breach of the laws of physics. Both Capitalism and Marxism suffer from the same insane delusion that both economic, human, industrial and social development are not limited by our se of the environment or limited by finite resources of energy and resources. What we steal from the environment today, we take from the hands of future generations. The cheap commodities of today are stolen from tomorrows world.
The most pernicious example of this theft from future generation was the creation of the Throwaway Model of the Consumer society. Consumer goods in this model were designed to be discarded. Made with cheap plastics made from cheap oils they were designed not to be kept but to be thrown away. The factories could then be constantly busy producing the transient throwaway consumer goods that needed to be constantly replaced as they were created to be used once then thrown away.
The factories went from mass producing bullets and bombs to mass producing plastic Christmas trees and shampoo bottles.
The use of propaganda techniques refined during the war to indoctrinate the masses with political ideas or to generate hate was then utilised in order to create consumer demands within society. The Psychological Warfare Units that had directed propaganda to change and manipulate social opinion during the war, were moved from their government barracks to the boardrooms of the corporations. They were the first of the advertising agencies that today create and sustain consumer demands in society. Without advertising agencies to generate social demand then commodities would not be bought by consumers. The consumer must be persuaded that they need to buy and own the particular commodity. The advertising agency creates propaganda that is then pumped out by the media owned by the corporations to the masses in order to create social demand for new commodities that profit the corporations. The corporations that control the media (either by direct ownership or via the media dependence on the money the corporations pay to advertise their products in the media) then use the media to tell people what to think and who to vote for. The political parties that are funded and supported by the media then get voted into power and then pass laws that give more power to the corporations and media. The media then have more power to promote the products produced by the corporations that control the Consumer Society. It is a sordid and reactionary system. Political change is impossible unless it is sanctified and permitted by the corporations that control and own the media. If the needs of the nation conflict with either the interests of the politicians or the corporations that control the media then change is made impossible. If the politicians put the nation first then the media do not support them, the corporations do not fund them and they get voted out of office. It is the media and the corporations that control the country, not the lickspittle dogs of the political parties that are dependent on their money and media promotion.
Humanity is entering a period of fundamental change. We either live with Nature or we will be destroyed by Nature. The pernicious belief that Man has dominion over the earth, and its capitalist and marxist manifestations, have to be replaced by a new Environmental Contract that is a fundamental part of the Social Contract. Man must live within the limits of nature and not within the confines of his own ideological delusions.
The Consumer Society has severed the link between indigenous national cultures that cared for and revered their national environments and replaced those national cultures with a consumerist model that sees the environment as merely something to be exploited for profit. The globalist model of open borders and its linked ideal the free movement of capital and labour has to be stopped. Fair Trade is merely Free Trade painted with a pseudo-moral gloss. Fair Trade is merely globalisation opening up new markets, environmental resource bases and previously closed nations to new development and exploitation. there is nothing moral about Fair Trade or Globalism, it is merely a product of the same advertising agencies that once sold us wars and hate.
The only solution is resistance. We must each, as nations and cultures, resist the encroachment of the corporations and consumer culture. The free man on his own land becomes merely a slave in a factory owned by foreign corporations when the logic of Globalism infects his nation. Environmentalism through the UN is just another mechanism for the removal and nullification of national defence systems.
Resistance must be local and national, not global and through the UN and other supra-national institutions. The struggle for the survival of our global environment, our nations and indigenous cultures is the defining struggle of the 21 st century.
The resistance must begin now.