Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Examining Some of the Sources of Fossil Fuel’s Power

Using Gene Sharp’s The Politics of Nonviolent Action, here are some of my thoughts on what the fossil fuel industry depends upon to fortify it's position of power.  If I’m wrong about any of it, or missing anything, feel free to comment.

Sharp: “A ruler’s power is affected by the number of persons who obey him, cooperate with him, or provide him with special assistance…the ruler’s power is also affected by the skills, knowledge, and abilities of such persons."

The fossil fuel industry’s workforce is key here.  Most of these people are living in regions already hit by devastating heat and drought.  Even if they have bought in to climate denial all the way, they see what’s going on with the weather, that’s got to nag at them.  They see how it’s affecting their communities, that has to give them doubts.  And they have kids who will have to live their entire lives with the depredations of climate change, if that doesn’t give them second thoughts, maybe their kids will insist upon it.

Sharp: “Psychological and ideological factors…affect the power of the ruler in relation to the people.”

The climate denial machine is well-funded and sophisticated and its message is repeated frequently on Fox News, talk radio, and go-to right wing websites.  Climate change shouldn’t be a political issue, we should all be pitching in to save the planet, but this denial machine has deliberately made it a political issue.  Hardcore conservatives consider climate denial a major part of their identity, so even though Mother Nature has forced many on the right to believe climate change is underway, there are plenty out there who can never accept reality.

Sharp: “The degree to which the ruler controls property, natural resources, financial resources, the economic system, means of communication and transportation helps to determine the limits of his power.”

This is the big one.  These guys not only control our power sources, they’ve worked with allies in our government to undermine the development of alternative energy sources such as wind.  They have us by the balls.  But we must stop them or our civilization will collapse.  We must break the stranglehold. 

They also frequently have sanctions on their side, depending which judge hears the case.  The Bush administration packed the courts with right-wing ideologues, so if an activist goes before a judge, there’s a decent chance he will be tried unfairly.  When climate activist Tim DeChristopher went before federal judge Dee Benson, the judge forbade his lawyers from presenting Tim’s motive for his actions, so the jurors were to judge only on whether he had done what he was charged with, which he’d already admitted he had.  So he spent over a year in prison, and will not be free until next June.  Those sanctions have worked.  DeChristopher has been silenced and hated the experience, and people don’t want to go to prison and have that on their record.  

Sharp: “All rulers require an acceptance of their authority, their right to rule and command…Just as subjects may accept a ruler’s authority because they believe it is merited on grounds of morality and of the well-being of their country, subjects may for the same reasons at times deny the ruler’s claims to authority over them.”

This is HUGE.  The fossil fuel industry wants us to believe they are supplying us with a needed service,  They want us to accept their position of power as a good thing.  But what they are supplying us is killing the world. They’re like heroin dealers, feeding our addiction.  We need to, on the “grounds of morality and of the well-being of our country”, strip them of their capacity to keep forcing this dirty energy upon us.

Sharp:  “If the subjects deny a ruler’s right to rule and command, they are withdrawing the general agreement, or group consent…This loss of authority sets in motion the disintegration of the ruler’s power."

That’s what we all have to do.  REMOVE OUR CONSENT.  It's unacceptable for them to destroy the climate that's sustained us.


I’m including little snippets, but if we’re going to break Dirty Energy’s stranglehold you need to read Gene Sharp’s stuff.  Please muster up the $34.85 (plus shipping) and purchase The Politics of Nonviolent Action.  You can order it HERE.

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