An incisive appraisal of our situation, much in line with my own.

Bannon is correct in realizing that democracy is going to vanish, but has he figured out why it should? The above article, while examining our future prospects at some gloomy depth, does not appear to answer that question either.

It is important, because the flip side of democracy is dictatorship, not hard to figure out Bannon’s ambition there, but dictatorship cannot assert itself without cause.

Those of us lucky enough to be cossetted by western-style civilisation regard our “now” as infinite. Which is why we choose to believe, with perhaps very minor doubts, that our existence and current democratic system can only continue as it is forever.

So we vote for the promises of prosperity and infinite growth.

Who wouldn’t?

But democracy, in the sense that we understand it, has only existed for a century or two. (allowing for different definitions of it). Before that, since the inception of the most rudimentary form of civilization 10000 years ago, our normality of living has been under some form of dictatorship. Some benign, but mostly brutal. Systems that demanded a fight for survival at a very basic level.

So that throws up the next question: why did democracy appear in this time period, and in no other?

(The Athenian version was a slave supported male dominated society, so doesn’t qualify.)

The slave labour of cheap oil, coal and gas

The answer is very simple: cheap and abundant energy; in particular coal oil and gas.

It was the steam engine that allowed us to shake off the bonds of dictatorship, not the magnanimity of the ruling classes.

Steam power and oil allowed the building of factories, and demanded workers to fill them. Had it not been for hydrocarbon fuelled industry, the United States would have gone the way of Europe, into numerous disparate nations. No doubt at war with one another.

Industry allowed worker mobility, accelerated prosperity and created the base for democracy because aspiring politicians needed the support of the people.

This has worked fine until our own time. As long as hydrocarbon fuels were available in cheap excess, everyone was prosperous, A gallon of gasoline delivers the same work output as 50 men working a 10 hour day; that meant we all had an army of personal slaves so we could enjoy our democracy.

Now energy resources are no longer cheap or so abundant, and as a result, living standards are falling, and everyone can see they are falling without knowing why. We can no longer afford our ‘gasoline slaves’, despite promises of hundreds of years worth of coal and oil being available.

This is the big lie. Without hydrocarbons, we have no future prosperity. There are no “alternatives”. Technology is not going to deliver an amazing new energy resource. Without abundant energy availability, the nations of the American landmass cannot hold together as a single entity. Without oil, transport, food and water supplies cease to function. (In addition to everything else that makes civilization work).

This is why the EU is falling apart, the prosperity that created it 50 years ago is no longer there. That era of the 50s and 60s was, coincidentally, also the time of the “American dream”.

Ultimate collapse

Remove prosperity and democracy becomes an orphan that is certain to starve to death. Without prosperity for all, democracy cannot exist for all. This is the truth that has to be faced, and provides the backdrop for the rise of fascism, even though we might deny it. ‘Others’ must be blamed for misfortune and discontent.

The divisions are already obvious, along lines of race, geography, religion and ethnicity.

Bannon is aware of our dependence on hydrocarbon fuels, and that without them, civilization as we know it is over. He also knows that when (not if) the breakup comes, societal collapse is certain, and conflict will result, and global politics will destabilize completely.

That will require “emergency powers” and he sees himself in a position to take over. Nobody in existing government has experienced war, and will submit to a ‘strong man’ assuming overall command. To lend credence to this it will be based on some form of religious necessity. The end product will be a theocracy far worse than those of the middle ages and the times of the inquisition.

The ‘constitution’ ? The military will fall in behind whoever pays their wages when faced with national collapse. History shows that the warrior class are the ultimate survivors.

Welcome to the (dis) United States of America

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

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