Decline of cheap surplus energy breeds fascism

austerity is a side effect of that process. Austerity does not breed fascism directly.

consider why that should be, within the context of what we regard as ‘civilisation’

America hit indigenous peak oil in 1969. That is why incomes have stagnated since then , fracking is an economic dead end.

300 years ago humankind lived a more or less balanced existence in a basically peasant society. The ‘elite’ formed a tiny minority, supported by the rest of us. Things had been that way for millenia.

they lived in grand castles perhaps, but they were not immune to the diseases and privations that afflicted all of us. available horsepower was of the four legged variety which couldn’t go very fast or far.

Essentially it was an autocratic fascist-inclined society. You could be executed for trivial crimes, the law was absolute in favour of the wealthy. (sounds familiar?)

then the fossil fuel era began. and suddenly (in historical terms) energy-wealth was available on a vast scale.

But the common man had to fight for it, the rich elite surrendered it reluctantly. A share of the wealth was demanded, and it came partly in the form of democracy. It was hard won. Check your history on that, no need to recount it here.

Democracy was allowed to exist only so long as cheap surplus energy, oil coal and gas, — — was freely available to support it. Cheap energy allowed the illusion of universal freedom: shorter working week, free education, healthcare, sanitation, to name just the obvious things. Cheap energy (mostly) abolished slavery, whether of the paid or unpaid variety. In other words, austerity was no more.

Or so we thought

Democracy is declining because the era of cheap surplus energy is over. But we refuse to accept it. It is a concept too difficult to grasp. It’s a hoax, a conspiracy. Think MAGA. We can have growth forever. And the masses believe it. (they have to). Windmills will save us.

All we have to do is surrender ourselves to the fascist leader and his promises. He tells us that our problems are the fault of others, the unter mensch. Fit that to the lunatics now arising. Brazil is burning, Australia is burning, The USA is collapsing — et al. Fascism is the common thread.

We cannot accept that we no longer have the necessary energy to hold onto democracy.

As our oil slips away, so fascism will return:

co-author of The End of More, in paperback and kindle on Amazon email

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store