Friday, December 27, 2019

Real Supremacy: 6.5 Billion'a'Y'all Gotta Go, Gotta Go, Gotta Go!!!

redflag |  In the event of disaster, the response of the rich hasn’t been to work with others to ensure the collective security of all those affected. It has been to use all resources at their disposal to protect themselves and their property. And increasingly, as in New Orleans, this protection has come in the form of armed violence directed at those less well off – people whose desperation, they fear, could turn them into a threat.

The most forward thinking of the super-rich are aware that we’re heading toward a future of ecological and social break-down. And they’re keen to keep ahead of the curve by investing today in the things they’ll need to survive. Writing in the Guardian in 2018, media theorist and futurist Douglas Rushkoff related his experience of being paid half his annual salary to speak at “a super-deluxe private resort ... on the subject of ‘the future of technology’”. He was expecting a room full of investment bankers. When he arrived, however, he was introduced to “five super-wealthy guys ... from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world”. Rushkoff wrote:

“After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own ... Which region will be less affected by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? ... Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked: ‘How do I maintain authority over my security force after the Event?’

“The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr Robot hack that takes everything down ... They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for survival.”

There’s a reason these conversations go on only behind closed doors. If your plan is to allow the world to spiral towards mass death and destruction while you retreat to a bunker in the south island of New Zealand or some other isolated area to live out your days in comfort, protected by armed guards whose loyalty you maintain by threat of death, you’re unlikely to win much in the way of public support. Better to keep the militarised bunker thing on the low-down and keep people thinking that “we’re all in this together” and if we just install solar panels, recycle more, ride to work and so on we’ll somehow turn it all around and march arm in arm towards a happy and sustainable future.

The rich don’t have to depend only on themselves. Their most powerful, and well-armed, protector is the capitalist state, which they can rely on to advance their interests even when those may conflict with the imperative to preserve some semblance of civilisation. This is where people like Morrison come in. They’re the ones who have been delegated the task, as Karl Marx put it in the Communist Manifesto, of “managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”. In the context of climate change, this means taking the steps necessary to ensure the continued ability of the capitalist class to profit even if the world may be unravelling into ecological breakdown and social chaos. 

There are three main ways in which Australia and other world powers are working toward this. First, they’re building their military might – spending billions of dollars on ensuring they have the best means of destruction at their disposal to help project their power in an increasingly unstable world. Second, they’re building walls and brutal detention regimes to make sure borders can be crossed only by those deemed necessary to the requirements of profit making. Third, they’re enhancing their repressive apparatus by passing anti-protest laws and expanding and granting new powers to the police and security agencies to help crush dissent at home.

Military strategists have been awake to the implications of climate change for a long time. As early as 2003, in a report commissioned by the Pentagon, US researchers Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall argued that “violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate pose a different type of threat to national security than we are accustomed to today. Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food, and water rather than conflicts over ideology, religion, or national honor. The shifting motivation for confrontation would alter which countries are most vulnerable and the existing warning signs of security threats”.