I had to go away and think about this one for awhile. There are some broad, serious undercurrents in that question, probably three or four questions worth. (i apologise for the length, economy of words just isn't me.)
okay, first let us unpack that question:
1) you're pretending that the public statements of a politician mean anything ... we'll just call that a slip of the keyboard.
2) energy crises and bandaids...
3)"great deal of talk about energy and collapse.", military posturing etc...
4) "the United States is still in an imperial golden age, this is under threat due to the energy crisis" ... i don't know wtf to say to this? (I'll just pretend i'm reading that part wrong.)
(Reading my notes on this revealed a disturbingly reformist line to my references, can anyone offer some more radical readings along these lines? Please? I'm tired of yelling "bullshit" at my screens.)
- Energy crises and bandaids...
We should probably broaden this out to 'resources' instead of the narrower 'energy'. Since the u.s. dams the rivers flowing into mexico, at the border!, and diverts most of the flow to its own capitalist exploitation while leaving a dirty trickle to the ecologies downstream; and is hardly the only nation/state to abuse geography in this manner. And your vegetables are cultivated by immigrant labor treated somewhat between serfs and slaves. And, and...
This is really two threads: the capacity of a society/culture/civilisation to exploit a resource to extinction, and the capacity/stupidity of the ruling-class/aristocracy of a civilisation to waste vast resources instead of directly addressing a critical ecological/social crisis.
The first is obvious, yes cultures will exploit resources - be it ecological or fossil fueled - to extinction. The less obvious part is that (pre)historically this only happened when a diaspora was colonising new places and hadn't yet developed the customs to live within their new ecological bounds (such as the Polynesians exterminating the giant clams they found on new islands), or when a cultural shift destroyed the pre-existing cultural bounds (every fucking civilisation that ended up in tears and ashes - including ours). There is embedded in this an element of blind faith, that technology will find new solutions, that we'll find new coal mines, that the fish will come back, that the rain will fall this year, that the gods will provide, if only...
The second is also obvious, since it surrounds us everyday. But i'll give the examples of two American cultures, both critically dependant on water management (I can't recall if these are from Mann or Diamond, there is substantial overlap). Outside of modern St.Louis was a mound-building corn-growing culture; not with city as such, but a hundred villages crammed together until their fields merged, with irrigation channels, and a ruling class on their hilltop. In time, this was threatened by recurrent flooding and erosion, and other problems. Did the aristocracy address the water works? - No, they embarked a vast monument building program! - and thus failed to address the pressing problem while wasting the human labor that could have fixed the problem if left alone. The example of the Mayan princedoms in the Yucatan is similar - they occupied themselves with symbolic raids against their neighbors and neglected the water works critical to their own survival. Both cultures collapsed entirely.
Modern civilisation seems content to treat the symptoms of its disfunction while ignoring the underlying causes. Like a doctor administering an inhalor to a patient who is having trouble breathing - while conscientiously ignoring the sucking chest wound. Like a corporate/state poisoning its land and water through fracking to get a few more years of fossil junk - while ignoring the reality that its addiction to fossil fuels is terminal.
Two books i'd recommend for an anthropological viewpoint are:
1491: New Revelations Of The Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann, and (not so much) Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed by J. Diamond. Both available at your local library, no need to lift them.
Also various books by Jeff Rubin; he's an economist, and so subject to the usual blind spots, but his critiques are powerful, fueled as they are by insider information.
Also: Green Anarchism and Oil Depletion: How close is the Collapse?
by Richard Heinberg
This is dated, and I disagree with much of the article's conclusions, but it gives another take on the issue, and it obliquely references another related issue:
- the Fortress World concept, as outlined in
Great Transition (A report of the Global Scenario Group) by Paul Raskin et.al [a dated, reformist, grossly optimist work, but...]
"...As the crisis unfolds, a key uncertainty is the reaction of the
remaining powerful institutions - country alliances, transnational corporations, international organizations, armed forces. In the Breakdown variant, their response is fragmented as conflict and rivalry
amongst them overwhelm all efforts to impose order. In Fortress
World, powerful regional and international actors comprehend the
perilous forces leading to Breakdown. They are able to muster a sufficiently organized response to protect their own interests and to create lasting alliances. The forces of order view this as a necessary
intervention to prevent the corrosive erosion of wealth, resources and
governance systems. The elite retreat to protected enclaves, mostly in
historically rich nations, but in favored enclaves in poor nations, as
The stability of the Fortress World depends on the organizational capacity of the privileged enclaves to maintain control over the disenfranchised. "
Instead of a "population destroying war", this seems a more likely outcome/target of our current creeping ecological and social degradation. This would seem to be consistent with the mindset of our ruling aristocracy; it would be seen, by some sub-sects of the aristocracy at least, as a logical extrapolation or even a desirable outcome. Various powers compete for regional dominance but stop short of open conflict (that would be bad for business and the personal enrichment of their respective aristocracies...). The only populations destroyed are those murdered in 'police actions' to control the disenfranchised. In other words, the same as now, only moreso.
- Conditioning of the populace...
Here the military posturing comes in, and the relentless media babble of 'resource wars' (mostly oil and water, but also rare ores necessary for electronics) and zombie movies and survivalist spectacle. We've heard this all before, but ... media and punditry ('culture of experts') manufacture consent, trying to instill enough fear in the general populace of "Breakdown" to accept the necessity of Fortress World. ('Manufactured consent' only brings Chomsky to mind, surely there are more relevant references?) Interestingly, Peter Gelderloos in How Nonviolence Protects the State makes the point that reformists and mainstream pacifists manufacture dissent - a very safe, domesticated, non-threatening form of dissent; the flipside and complement of manufactured consent. Since 'manufactured dissent' won't break through the conditioning,...