Recently I was talking with a friend, and she had a point saying that our society is in status quo and that there won't be any revolution to change anything.
People of today are feeling cozy and secure in their consumer world, so nothing can move them. Not to mention their attention spans as of a hyperactive 5-y-o kid. Combine that with the lack of will for any change and you get the impossibility of the revolution.
She has the point. Everybody's more interested in their new piece of plastic than in the society they live in. Call it social myopia, if you like. But still, I beg to disagree.
Capitalism really did the good job in keeping social peace.
Roman recipe for stable society made by bread and games is mastered this time.
We treat our conformity as a birth-right. We were all born rich. Seriously. No matter how empty your valet might be, you do have a roof over your head, you ate today and you do have a computer with Internet access somewhere around. You probably can afford come kind of toy from time to time to amuse you.
Living in the insanely rich civilization, even on the economic outskirts of it, is a comfortable thing. We don't have much reason to complain, right? Well, I do.
What I do complain about is the social myopia around me. And this time I'm not complaining about it because of justice, human and civil rights and other noble things (though all of those are legitimate reasons to complain).
I'm complaining because all this luxury we live in is not going to last.
And I don't mean it will disappear in 50 or 100 years. It will disappear in our lifetimes. In the following decade probably.
The most important part of the colossal mechanism we call our civilization are we. Humans. Billions of people working. A huge beehive producing stuff, spending energy and consuming the produced stuff. Sounds like a closed system, but it is not. All that energy and material for the stuff we produce must come from somewhere. And in the last 150 years, it comes from oil.
All this is built on and from oil. All. Everything. Everything you touch and see. Even if it's not powered by gasoline or electricity (which we mostly get from burning oil), even if it's not made of plastic (which is an oil-derivative), there was a huge amount of oil burned for its production and transportation. There is not a single man-made thing that doesn't have an oil stamp on it.
photo by Richard Masoner
Capitalism, and its recipe for social peace is based on permanent growth. We work more and more, we spend more and more, we consume more and more. And for that, we need more and more energy. The bad news is, there is a definite amount of oil under the surface of the Earth. Even worse news is, we're seeing the bottom of the empty barrel.
We are actually on the peak of our oil production and consumption. Or we were a couple of years ago. Bad thing about peaks is that they are the point from where the things go only downwards.
Our civilization is an oil-junkie. As every junkie, we always need more, not less.
Now you know where the recession came from. We spend much more than we can possibly make and nobody can live the whole life on credit, let alone the whole civilization.
image from Revolution in South Asia
Suddenly the comfort that keeps the capitalism safe is not that available anymore. As the time goes, more and more people will be more on the revolutionary side. It won't matter if they care about WikiLeaks stuff more than about the new iPad. The end of the capitalism is not the matter of people's willingness to start a revolution. Capitalism will end this way or the other. Question is if we are going to start working on the next system before it is too late.