Thursday, December 20, 2012

Question for Employees of Exxon and Koch: Do you have kids?

More thoughts on Gene Sharp’s The Politics of Nonviolent Action: Power and Struggle.

Sharp: “Contributions to the ruler’s power will range…from the specialized knowledge of a technical expert, the research endeavors of a scientist, and the organizational abilities of a department head to the assistance of typists, factory workers, transportation workers, and farmers….The ruler’s power depends on the continual availability of all this assistance.”

Obviously mega-corporations like Exxon-Mobil have legions of people working for them, and I would imagine that they have been fed a line about how global warming is a hoax (the ones I’ve talked to in Colorado certainly have). But if they live in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (as many of them do), they’re seeing firsthand the devastation of the early manifestations of this catastrophe.  And they have kids!  At what point does their current paycheck pale in comparison to their children’s entire adult lives?  There will be no refuge from climate change.  It will devastate humanity everywhere.  The employees of these corporations will not be spared.  When will they realize their work helps bring about the collapse of civilization?   

Once these employees “get” the urgency and severity of global warming, they won’t want to cooperate anymore.

(Note:  By far the scariest thing about climate change is the natural feedback loops that atmospheric warming will trigger, particularly the melting permafrost and the release of vast reservoirs of methane gas.  There’s twice as much methane waiting to be released as there is heat-trapping CO2 gas already in the atmosphere.  And methane traps 72 more effectively than carbon over the first few decades.  No one knows when it will happen, but the Arctic is heating with a rapidity that is shocking to scientists.  We could live in a world that is much, much hotter in a decade or two.)

Sharp: “No complex can carry out a superior order if it’s members…will not enable it to do so…If the multitude of ‘assistants’  reject the ruler’s authority, they may then carry out his wishes inefficiently, or take unto themselves certain decisions, or may even flatly refuse to continue their usual assistance.”

This not only applies to the industry’s own employees, but also to government bureaucrats, such as in the Department of the Interior, tasked with granting industry permits, leases, and cooperation. 

Sharp: “Because of dependence on other people to operate the system, the ruler is continually subject to influence and restriction by both his direct assistants and the general populace.”

These government bureaucrats can frustrate industry’s progress even within a fossil-fuel-friendly administration.

If the legions of industry employees become aware of the damage their corporations are doing to the fate of humanity, they can create real problems for the executives who have chosen to put profits over people.  Once their efficiency starts to falter and their internal “machine” slows, profits will stagger.  Then they’ll be receptive to change.

Now, the worker who on his own decides to gum up the works runs a huge risk of getting fired.  This is another form of sanction.  But what if a bunch of ‘em begin to do their jobs not quite as well?

Sharp: “The effectiveness or ineffectiveness of sanctions…depends on the the response of the subjects against whom they are threatened or applied…The greater the voluntary obedience, the greater the chances of detection and punishment of deviations….The weaker  the compliance pattern, the less effective enforcement.”

Final thought:  So far I only have a small number of daily readers, but I always imagine some of them are hired by industry to keep an eye on bloggers like us.  First, as I’ve stated before, we have no secrets.  Second, if you’re that person, do you have kids?  What if your bosses are wrong and 98% of climate scientists are right?  What if the feedback loops kick in within a decade or two?  What will your kids think then of how you’ve made your living?


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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