Reject the Savior State and take back your self-reliance

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Partisan divides may be played. Particulalry when there's so much serious work to be done to get the country on the right track. Photo:

At some level peak-oil believers grasp the significance of peak oil. But at a more basic level — how we respond — they sometimes seem to miss it altogether.

If we don’t have the cheap energy— crude oil—to continue economic growth, how do we justify our federal spending? More importantly, if we won’t raise taxes, where do we make the budget cuts?

This disconnect about having it all, and using debt to pay for it, has only one end, and that’s disaster. Every time cutting some item in the budget is put on the table, the political outcry kills any chance of compromise. We can discuss sharing the pain, and we should, and where we should be investing for another future, but those are topics for another day.

Washington won’t save us

Visiting Charles Hugh Smith’s blog is a daily ritual of mine. In The Domination of Government and the Decline of Self-reliance and Community, Smith talks about how our how Savior State has weakened our sense of community and self reliance. After all, if we believe the state will never fail us, why do we need a Plan B for our local communities?

Speaking as someone who has worked at the community level for decades, I know first hand the frustration of talking to people about strengthening localities. Big Brother will never let us down, or so they seem to think, even when they’re otherwise ideological opponents of a large federal government. Such is the essential American disconnect.

Anyone who’s read James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency, or any writings by Richard Heinberg or John Michael Greer knows that there’s little consensus among peak oil analysts that the state will be there in the future. So why does the peak oil community keep engaging with or trying to shore up a failed system? Each of the above authors stresses localization and sustainable communities. Yet the government and its advocates keep pushing for the Savior State to play a bigger role in our lives. Few but the most libertarian talks about weaning us from it. Even the Tea Party Patriots show their schizoid side when balancing real world concerns on the ground with their anti-nanny state rhetoric.

Beyond the partisan divide

Neither the Republicans nor Democrats talk about realistic options for dialing down federal spending. Both parties are too beholden to their corporate puppet masters to really engage on equitable budget cutting.

Peak-oilers do a great disservice in this debate with their partisanship. Rather than being part of the solution, we become part of the problem, engaged with distractions and the daily political rants rather than focused on the issues beneath the apparent issues. In that, we support and defend the status quo.

One of the things I enjoy about Charles Hugh Smith is that I never know if he’s a liberal or conservative. He gets right to the heart of the matter without regard to defending some staked out party position. In today’s environment that’s a rarity, but refreshing. I’d recommend tuning into his website yourself to gauge for yourself the tension between being an average citizen who’s engaged with their community and reckoning with the machinations at the top of government and the implications on our lives and the future of our country.

— Steve Knox

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  1. GS says

    Liberatarianism places the boogeyman on government when it is more appropriately placed on corporations, or by extension, the human frailty of greed. If government doesn’t reign in corporations, nobody else will. So it’s easy to say that the two are one and the same, but what limiting government tends to mean is just more Reaganomics and the fox having the run of the hen-house. So sure, the government might get its fiscal house in order, at the expense of the EPA, new austerity measures, and allowing the “banksters” to laugh all the way to the bank. It’s basically the Bush administration without defense spending.

    Looking inward towards comminity won’t save us from the melting permafrost, future Fukushimas and oil spills that are caused by lax regulation, nor from tainted babyfood and other scandals caused by unrestrained greed.

  2. says

    I’m with you Steve.

    The path leading to the best societies humans can create – the democracy demanded by free people – will involve the dispersing of nation-states and mega-scale societies into a proliferation of locally-oriented ‘neopublics’ living in accord with their local situation (as in permaculture) and the basic moral-political principles of true democracy. And as Steve says, the path to democracy starts at home — we need to break down and deprogram our reflexive dependence on the far-flung social, economic, and political structures of modernity (which are constructed and managed to maintain and extend an immoral system of power concentration) and re-root our lives and societies with and among people around us on the same path. When we do that we are actually CREATING SOCIETY! And as humans who can think, talk, and work with others, we have the fundamental freedom and power and responsibility to do it.

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