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Counterfeit World – Part Three – Hubris

I was in my teens when I came across the idea that “cool” was a bell curve.  You’re at a party, for example, and some guy picks up an acoustic guitar and gives a rendition of the latest hits… that’s cool.  Add a harmonica and you’re getting toward “peak cool” – particularly if the guy writes his own songs.  But once you add the big bass drum on you’re back, you’ve blown it.  It’s a radical idea in a society based upon the myth of infinite growth, in which if some is good and a lot is better, then surely more must mean best of all.

This no doubt tells us something about our inability to face up to the raft of crises which have become existential as our insatiable lust for more runs headlong into the limits imposed by a finite planet.  Consider that only a relative handful of campaigners talk about the various crises which go almost unnoticed by the establishment media, including but not limited to:  Resource depletion, Energy shortages, Soil depletion, Biodiversity loss, Microplastic contamination, Chemical pollution, Nutrient run-off, Ocean acidification, Water shortages, Famine, Antibiotic resistance, Pandemics, War, Weapons of mass destruction, Governance failure, Infrastructure collapse, Natural disasters, Migration waves, Cyber-attacks, AI consequences.

Notice that I did not include climate change – the one crisis the establishment harps on endlessly about – in that list.  The odd thing about climate change is not – as a growing number of opponents of the ruling technocracy claim – that it is not happening, but that it has become the raison d’être for almost all public policy.  And the important thing to notice about this focus is that the proposed (non)solutions to climate change do nothing to address the other growing crises and will actually make many of them worse.  As geo-security specialist Olivia Lazard recently warned:

“We could actually lose the future of humanity trying to save it on behalf of the climate. And this is the ultimate irony, right?”

The imbalanced public policy of the past few decades tells us that there is a lot more than mere crisis response going on here.  After all, as any five-year-old will tell you, if producing too many greenhouse gases is the problem, then the answer is to stop producing them!  This though, would be to admit that enough might be a thing and that the perpetual quest for more might be doomed to failure.  And so, the “solution” to too much growth simply has to be more growth.

The origin of our particular – and primarily Western – response to climate change was a speech given by Margaret Thatcher to the United Nations on 8 November 1989:

“Of all the challenges faced by the world community in those four years, one has grown clearer than any other in both urgency and importance—I refer to the threat to our global environment…

“What we are now doing to the world, by degrading the land surfaces, by polluting the waters and by adding greenhouse gases to the air at an unprecedented rate—all this is new in the experience of the earth. It is mankind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways…

“We are seeing a vast increase in the amount of carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere. The annual increase is three billion tonnes: and half the carbon emitted since the Industrial Revolution still remains in the atmosphere.

“At the same time as this is happening, we are seeing the destruction on a vast scale of tropical forests which are uniquely able to remove carbon dioxide from the air…”

That part of the speech could just as easily have been given by Saint Greta herself.  It was though, the prescribed “solutions” offered by Thatcher which indicated who the winners and losers of the new “green” movement were going to be:

“It is no good squabbling over who is responsible or who should pay. Whole areas of our planet could be subject to drought and starvation if the pattern of rains and monsoons were to change as a result of the destruction of forests and the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

“We have to look forward not backward and we shall only succeed in dealing with the problems through a vast international, co-operative effort…

But as well as the science, we need to get the economics right. That means first we must have continued economic growth in order to generate the wealth required to pay for the protection of the environment. But it must be growth which does not plunder the planet today and leave our children to deal with the consequences tomorrow.

“And second, we must resist the simplistic tendency to blame modern multinational industry for the damage which is being done to the environment. Far from being the villains, it is on them that we rely to do the research and find the solutions.

“It is industry which will develop safe alternative chemicals for refrigerators and air-conditioning. It is industry which will devise bio-degradable plastics. It is industry which will find the means to treat pollutants and make nuclear waste safe—and many companies as you know already have massive research programmes…”

There was to be no return to the rural idyll of the pre-industrial English village with its Marxian means of exchange.  Rather, the digital green future was to be dominated by technocratic – and supranational – forms of government and multinational corporations in a neo-feudal economy in which the mass of the population is reduced to the status of powerless serfs.  But the means of achieving this green technocratic utopia were barely available at the end of the 1980s.  The first mass produced desktop computers had only arrived in the middle of that decade, along with the first “mobile” phones which were as big as a brick and required batteries as heavy as those used in a car.  Even the embryonic internet was in its infancy.  And yet, just a decade later, the proposed digital future seemed far more plausible both to those who saw it as the saviour of humankind, and to those who saw the spectre of Skynet waiting to enslave and devour us.

Miniaturisation and mass consumption in the twenty-first century have given the appearance of technological progress to the point that communist activists and fascistic technocrats put forward the same techno-utopia in the form of Fully Automated Luxury Communism or The Fourth Industrial Revolution – differing only in whether we mere peasants get to be ruled over by the self-identifying vanguard of the proletariat or a bunch of technocratic gauleiters led by the world’s favourite wannabee Bond villain:

“We have yet to grasp fully the speed and breadth of this new revolution. Consider the unlimited possibilities of having billions of people connected by mobile devices, giving rise to unprecedented processing power, storage capabilities and knowledge access. Or think about the staggering confluence of emerging technology breakthroughs, covering wide-ranging fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage and quantum computing, to name a few. Many of these innovations are in their infancy, but they are already reaching an inflection point in their development as they build on and amplify each other in a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds.”

There is more to this though, than the use of digital technology to empower a new technocratic elite.  This is more than a simple power grab for the sake of mere power.  It is a more profound attempt by the technocracy to use what looks like infinite digital power to recreate the world in its own image… on Earth so shall it be in heaven.  What makes non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies so central to the process is that they appear to be providing ethereal energy different to the messy fossil carbon which is drawn from the Earth itself.  In this sense, they sit alongside laboratory-grown meat substitutes, robotic pollinators and vegan eggs – simulacra of the real world.  The end point of the proposed revolution being the uploading of human consciousness – most likely only of the true believers – into the virtual metaverse in order to transcend the Earth entirely.

There is great hubris in this, of course.  Setting out to play God seldom ends well.  And we must surely trust our own experience of digital technology to see through the illusion.  How many hours have you spent working your way through an automated telephone switchboard which was sold to us as “technology making life easier?”  And how are you enjoying your life of leisure now that computers and robots are doing all of the hard work that used to be done by humans?

This mismatch between the sales pitch and the reality, partly explains the political chasm which has opened up across the western states – one which largely explains the 2016 votes for Brexit and Trump – between so-called “Virtuals” and “Physicals.”  Virtuals tend to be university-educated metropolitan dwellers who spend most of their working hours in front of screens.  Physicals, in contrast, work in the kind of occupations which require getting dirt beneath one’s fingernails.  As Mike Boyd explains:

“The Virtuals are now unambiguously the ruling class. In a world in which knowledge is the primary component to getting ahead or being somebody, they have been the overwhelming winners, accumulating financial, political, and cultural status and influence.

“But the Virtual ruling class can be had. They have a big problem that has not yet been solved. The cities where they occupy mundane physical reality, require a whole lot of physical infrastructure and manpower to function: electricity, sewage, food, the vital Sumatra-to-latte supply chain, etc. Ultimately, they still remain reliant on the physical world.”

A large part of the support for some kind of Green New Deal comes from the usual suspects in the energy and banking and finance sectors… and for much the same reason – they expect to continue to enrich themselves on government subsidies, ESG consultancies and Ponzi carbon trading.  The only surprise here being the manner in which so many self-identifying activists have taken on the role of useful idiots in promoting this final corporate feeding frenzy before Planet Earth is finally exhausted.  But for the technocratic priesthood which drives policy across the western states, the proposed non-solution to climate change is an ideologically-driven attempt to digitise the physical world out of existence… it is about using technology to replace the real world – including those pesky Physicals – altogether.  The drawback though, is that the proposed fourth industrial revolution only exists inside the heads of the kind of ungrounded Virtuals who fly into Davos on private jets to lecture the rest of us about carbon footprints.  That is, the technologies either don’t exist in the real world, or have yet to make it off the test bed. 

The give-away can be found in the absence of infrastructure.  Just as we could predict the current Brexit clusterfuck by the wilful failure of government to invest in the infrastructure needed to make it work, so we can already see the failure of the energy transition in the absence of the uprated energy grids and the massive storage capacity needed even to scratch the surface of a move away from fossil fuels.  In the same fashion, the proposed Great Reset depends upon an impossible upgrade and expansion of the global communications system – including, most likely, the melting of the polar icecaps (oh the irony) as a consequence of locating the necessary new datacentres in the last cold places on the planet. 

You may breathe a sigh of relief that Elon Musk is never going to install a computer chip in your brain.  And it is for the same reason that you can’t buy the promised fridge which automatically orders food from your local supermarket… the infrastructure doesn’t exist.  The same goes for genuinely renewable energy technologies and driverless cars.  Wannabe global Führer Herr Schwab and his followers might have wet dreams about imposing authoritarian rule over the world population using social credit scores and programable Central Bank Digital Currencies.  But the infrastructure not only doesn’t exist, but it never will…  And once the fossil fuels deplete, the digitised artificial meat and vegan eggs – along with the cryptocurrencies required to pay for them – will be disappearing faster than children from a Dalai Lama seminar.  But that won’t stop the technocracy from destroying everything in pursuit of their proposed utopia.

The illusion – for that is all it is – which we are being sold is little more than the digital version of the eternal life that humans have pursued ever since we began to notice that our days on this planet are numbered.  It is largely a geek version of the cosmetic medicine industry’s claim to offer us – at huge cost – the façade of eternal youth.  And there too, enhanced beauty, it turns out, is also a bell curve.  Certainly the post-First World War development of cosmetic surgery allowed many survivors to go about in public.  And even today, those with disfigurements benefit hugely.  But that good is all too easily undone when those without disfigurement seek to improve that which was already good enough.  Sure, a small amount of cosmetic enhancement may work.  But the ever-present danger is that you end up ruining everything.

The same goes for the proposed Great Reset.  Not only will the digital technology fail to deliver – because what is promised won’t work in the real world – but it will destroy all that we previously had in the attempt.  We will certainly end up owning nothing… but I doubt anyone is going to be happy about it.  Because the end result will be a real world so profoundly broken that even the technocrats themselves will finally understand the folly of pursuing their fourth industrial simulacrity… most likely when they face the same fate as the last cabal of corporatists to attempt to shape the world according to their fantasy utopias.

As you made it to the end…

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