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Richard Neville | 06.05.2007 10:44 | Analysis | Climate Chaos | Terror War | World

Today, as the fossil fuel era slouches to extinction, a new kind of counter culture is finding its feet. Not everyone is happy.

Regazzo - The Essence of Slavery
Regazzo - The Essence of Slavery

Greetings stranger, sorry we screwed up your inheritance. Did you make it to another planet or are you still Earthbound, scavenging the waste dumps and fighting over bicycle parts? Hope not. Perhaps the fossil fuel society did collapse and that has gifted you a miracle: a civilization driven by creativity and renewable energy, where every citizen plays a vital role and tanks are tractors. By the time you receive this I am long dead, so why this message?

In case the good guys lose and the bad guys re-write history. The West is now at war with itself and just about everyone else, which is draining our capacity to deal with a range of threats to human survival. Some of these threats have been unfolding for a long time and our leaders have been a long time looking the other way. Forests, water, coal and uranium are hauled from the Earth and sold for peanuts. For a fee of $180, Coca Cola is allowed to siphon 66 million litres of water a year from a pristine aquifer in Mangrove Mountain NSW, bottle it in plastic and ship it afar, while local farmers struggle.

If asked to imagine the distant future, our politicians can't think beyond the date of the next election. Until 2007, the Australian Prime Minister dismissed Global Warming as an invention of malcontents. He remains dubious of claims that it's linked to human activity. And yet, as our unsustainable lifestyle starts to fade, a new kind of society struggles to be born. It is the fate of this struggle, dear citizen of the future, that will have defined your destiny.


The encroaching web of perils should not have taken us by surprise. Warnings flashed 50 years ago in the 1960's, when I was young and the West was reeling from a social upheaval that ended a colonial war and extended civil liberties. It also exposed the nasty side of capitalism, including its fouling of nature. The mode of the music changed, the walls of the city shook. We marched, shouting slogans, flowers in our hair and smoking cannabis. Then came psychedelics. In this moment of madness we found that consciousness was king. It was a time when everything seemed possible, even a generational mind-shift. We saw a chance to live more lightly on the planet. Then winter came... and they put up a parking lot. With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot.

Consumerism was back. Gaia caught a fever. Today, as the fossil fuel era slouches to extinction, a new kind of counter culture is finding its feet. Not everyone is happy.

Our leaders are war crazy. Almost half a decade after the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, civilians continue to be massacred. On a single day in April, 312 Iraqis were killed and 302 wounded. Four million have been displaced. But still the perpetrators claim this carnage is justified by the removal of former dictator Saddam Hussein - a view rejected by almost every non Kurdish Iraqi. The cruelty of the invaders is boundless: "I don't think you're ever going to get rid of all the car bombs" says General Petraeous. "Iraq is going to have to learn to live with some degree of sensational attacks." Many of which are carried out by US forces, as in Afghanistan. As I write, 1,600 families have reportedly been displaced and many others require urgent assistance after the US bombed villages in Herat, killing 60 civilians. How can our brave Bible-bashing warlords keep spinning tales of freedom & reconstruction, while presiding over scenes of torture and slaughter? By the time this reaches you, citizen of the future, perhaps the air force will no longer be glorified. (Here's a small step in this process):

At last people are starting to rub the sleep from their eyes and looking more closely the edifice of illusion that for so long has held them spellbound.


Even Donald Trump looked down the barrel of CNN and said the war is a disaster, the President is a disaster and the White House a disseminator of lies. The head of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has endorsed the "feasibility" of Bush, Blair and Howard being docked at the Hague on charges for war crimes. Investigators from Europe found that 1,254 secret and illegal CIA flights have violated European airspace since 9/11, some carrying kidnapped suspects bound for torture. It was bloggers who blew the whistle, as the mainstream media slept.

We're finding that everything is connected. Corporate media thrills to war, as it is good for business, especially the businesses owned by its advertisers and board members, some of which peddle weapons of mass destruction (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon). Overall, consumers were fed flag-wrapped tales of rose petal welcomes and falsified heroics, often scripted by the Pentagon.

Over the years we learned a lot about Paris Hilton and little of the Tigris Hilton, soaring to the skies from the rubble of Baghdad, the sole construction project running on schedule. This is the new American Embassy, which features flash restaurants, a state-of-the-art gym, a cinema, tennis courts, and the biggest swimming pool in Iraq. In addition to plush digs for the Ambassador and a deputy, there are six apartments for senior officials, as well as two huge office blocks, where an 8,000 staff of diplomats, soldiers, FBI agents, torturers, spies and spin doctors can meddle in the Middle East.

This diplomatic fortress spreads across an acreage larger than Vatican City and is visible from space. All talk of pulling Americans troops out Iraq has nothing to do with pulling Americans out of Iraq. The Tigris Hilton is a glorified garrison, one of about 738 US bases criss-crossing the globe, some with secret prisons and nuclear missiles.

In short, citizen of 2057, what we face today is a global empire addicted to oil, armed to the teeth and run by a pinhead.


To escape this eco/geo political mess, the world will need to do more than lower the voltage of lightbulbs. The inevitable transition to a post-carbon economy and the peaking of oil will transform lifestyles, and not everyone looks forward to the adventure. Every week a new kind of policing or military device is unveiled. Neutron weapons, which destroy living organs but not buildings, could be a "weapon of choice ... for ethnic cleansing in turbulent world", notes a UK Defence scenario. "Lethal force without human intervention", we are told, will deliver chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear mayhem.

Major Ralph Peters, a respected military futurist, foresees a world where the "have-nots will hate and strive to attack the haves". Nations will "struggle for advantage or revenge as their societies boil", requiring the US to intervene. "We will win militarily whenever we have the guts for it. There will be no peace. At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe.
The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing. We are building an information-based military to do that killing".

So there you have it - tomorrow's world - your world?... in a nutshell, as envisaged by the warrior class. Forget about sustainability, except as an eve-of-election double speak. Never mind the hard mathematics of climate control, the need for rich countries to reduce emissions by 90 percent by 2030. Yes, it sounds impossible, but according to George Monbiot, this is what the science dictates. [ HEAT: How to Stop the Planet Burning, Penguin Books.] Australia's strategy is to beef up its military, burn more coal and go nuclear, even as our lakes and rivers dry up. No worries! We can drain vast areas of wetlands to supply towns, even if it ruins farmers and crops. Plan B, according to our Prime Minister, is "pray for rain". Plans are afoot to export uranium to Putin's Russia for "peaceful purposes".

Okay, where do we go from here? At least public awareness is rising faster than sea levels and TV is starting to promote sustainability in the suburbs. Still, all this is small beer compared to the killing field scenarios trotted out by today's military industrial futurists. Maybe protest power will work again, as in days gone by: universal suffrage, abolition of slavery, civil rights ... It will take zero emissions, borderless collaboration, and a spark of illumination. It will also take a global mind shift.

Did it happen, dear citizen of 2057, or are you extinct?

Richard Neville
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