Thursday, December 19, 2013

and detroit will set you free


What is it about libertarian fiction writers?  Do you have to be optimistic to the point of myopia to hold your political views?  I myself am an anarchist, a point of view much sunnier than libertarians because if you want to shoot for pie in the sky dreams you might as well abolish government 100% rather than doink around with it like they do and want to be just a little bit pregnant, and I challenge any of you to accuse me of being anything other than a cynical paranoid.  Granted, I don’t search out libertarian sci-fi on a regular basis like I do post-apocalypse.  I’m no where near as knowledgeable with that genres authors.  But at a casual glance it seems that a very strong theme running through LibSciFi is energy independence, or energy as a mere academic puzzle to be solved.  You can’t EVER run out of energy, as long as we are as smart as twentieth century moon landers and not a bunch of naked savages like in Newton’s time, so the thinking goes.  Well, they are correct.  We never will run out of energy as long as the sun keeps shining.  But what they want is concentrated energy.  Dinosaur juice.  Earl.  Black Gold.  Texas T ( is the theme song from Beverly Hillbillies running through your head yet? ).   L. Neil Smith  in “Pallas” ( I think “The Probability Broach” and this one are two of the best of the genre out there ) had abiotic oil and now we have “Goldstein” by Troy J Grice playing the Fracking card ( “why, there’s 15 trillion barrels of oil under those mountains alone!” ).


I laughed uproariously on that one.  In this story, the FedGov causes the engineered peak oil to better control the serfs.  As if the FedGov wasn’t the number one beneficiary of cheap and abundant oil in the first place ( think WWII and near global domination )!  Good Christ on a pogo stick!  Okay, I liked the book, and it was both worth $3 and my time ( caution: the first third is slow ), but it neither holds up to his “Indivisible” nor other LibSciFi’s I’ve read.  And it is rather implausible ( small libertarian village almost achieves Singularity!  Small town owns force field! ).  Here’s another whopper to go along with frac oil.  Owning motor vehicles gives you freedom, and taking away those cars is government control.  Really?  Ninety nine point something percent of all roads have always been government built and controlled.  Just like the airwaves ( not built, but controlled ).  Drivers must be given permission to drive.  All drivers are taxed.  All non-drivers are taxed to support the empire that brings drivers the fuel they need to drive ( fracking gives us one million more barrels of fuel a day, out of upwards to twenty we need. It is NOT energy independence. We still import 14 million a day now, rather than 15 ).   The freedom to decide when to use your government controlled car, and then the freedom to decide how far to drive over roads you are permitted to use, these are illusions of freedom.  And I haven’t even brought in corporates and regulations and bankers into the mix.  Libertarians are delusional blowhards. 


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  1. Haven't you read the Bloomberg Business News story this week about Mexico about to open the oil fields to foreign companies for fracking? The state owned PEMEX has limited capabilities, but they want to be fracked, and I mean fracked hard!

    The projections are for North America to actually be an oil exporter by the year 2040. Between fracking the hell out of Mexico and getting the Canadian tar sands pipeline built, we will have many, many more decades of late-night coon hunting expeditions powered by our V8 pick-up trucks. Yee Haa!!

    Plus, we can lift the current embargo on super cheap Brazilian sugar cane ethanol. We only have the embargo to 'help the farmer' here in the U.S. That will give us even more time behind the wheel. Vroom Vroom!!

    Then we will frack the Middle-East, the North Sea fields, Nigeria, Venezuela, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and finally, Russia. After that, we will kill all the remaining whales in the ocean to get their oil.

    Yes, bicycle transportation is in the future. But it's the distant future. You were way ahead of your time, Jim.

    1. Prior to fracking, all the Saudi gulf wells ( to make up for declines in the desert ) caused well shortages. I imagine Dakota will cause the same issue for the rest of the world. Declining well availability coupled with the need for extra wells with fracking added to economic contraction equals frack oil costing more than $100 a barrel equals our economic end. Very soon, oil goes much higher even if availabilty doesn't drop too fast. Get your bike now while you can-you heard it here first.

    2. Pedal on, Lord Bison, pedal on!!

  2. Son: Dad, what does 'gay' means?

    Father: It means 'to be happy'.

    Son: Are you gay?

    Father: No, son. I have a wife.


    1. As a lad, I over heard a similar conversation between my father and younger brother. Let's listen in:

      Little Brother: Dad, are you a homo?

      Me: !!!!!

      Dad: ....No....

      Little Brother: Well, my teacher said people are homo sapiens; so that means you're a homo.

      Me: ???!!!!?????

      Dad: Shut your mouth, Billy B, or I'll slap that smirk off your face.

      Me: But I didn't say anything.

      Allow me to draw the curtain of Christian charity on this scene.

  3. Ahem, ahem,

    Lucifer's Hammer, which I have been re-reading, is a drippingly optimistic Libertarian rant-fest within a really cool catastrophe/survivalist mashup. In its case, nuclear power was going to save us. Or if a comet strike intervened, rebuild society.

    1. Hmmm. Ooops. You are right. DAMAGE CONTROL!!!!! It gets a pass because it is THE kick-ass post-apoc book of all time. ( did it work? did I duck the issue? ) Excellant point, Russell. I give you full kudo's. :)

  4. You are right about the cost of oil. They have quit drilling lots so many new wells in the bakken because the cost of oil took a dip of about $20. Lots more wells will open up if we hit $150+ a barrel. The price will top out for a bit, new wells will quit getting put in, Basicly there is plenty of OIL but CHEAP OIL is gone for good. right now we are at 'not _too_ expensive oil' and look how the economy is (bleh), but overall the price trend is clear - UP. How quickly the price climbs will effect everything, So far it seems like it will likely stair step up, whith each large step up followed by a smaller step down. And each step up will hurt the economy, and each little step down will be acclaimed as 'PROOOF PEAK OIL IS BUNK' ignoring that the price never descends fully. At the current rate I expect 2-3 major steps up before 2020.
    Perhaps by 2020 they will get fusion going or some such pie in the sky concentrated energy source, or a charismatic forceful Carter MK2 president who will force alt energy and conservation to really take off. But I doubt it.
    Instead I suspect we will see more revolutions famine and wars globally, coupled with more and more extreme political views being embraced.
    If we are lucky the USA will embrace Libertarianism or Constitutional Conservativism. But more likely it will descend into a rural v urban civil war.

    Which means the economy we currently have is going to be the best we have for decades.

    Which means you need to be ready for the economy to get WORSE, the politics to get RADICAL and the quality of everything you can buy to get poorer quality.

    Buy your supplies amd goods now. Expect the next 70 years to make this year look like the golden age.


    1. I question the length of the bad times. If an agrarian economy could collapse and start a 500 year Dark Ages, ie plenty of folks already doing sustainable ag, how can our indstrial age fair any better?

  5. Oh, I wasn’t listing the length of the bad times in my previous comment, just how long it takes them to devolve into the full PODA that are coming. (damn Can – Kicking!, can’t we just get it over with already!)
    I am personally hoping the new dark ages are reflecting the other historical trends- aka faster than the previous cycle. Dark Ages have fallen upon various empires and areas before but the time for recovery has been accelerating of course the age of empires have also been shrinking Each empires fall was followed by an at least local 'dark age' for their nation and often if they dominated all that could reach them, their region, that lasted a good proportion of their golden times- but the golden times have been accelerating, as have the local dark ages.
    And empire WILL arise again –. Sailing Ships Horses and Swords were enough before, with enough surplus of fundamental resources (provided by sufficient die off either slow or fast) They can be sufficient again. But that is long(er) term. First comes the decade to generations’ long declines (we are at least 5 years in possibly a generation or so depending on where you want to draw the line.) That decline is what I am discussing above.
    Our decline is all about the OIL our prime resource. With sufficient concentrated portable energy we can do anything. Recycle all the minerals, clean the air waters and lands, fake the fertility of the soils, give circuses to entertain the masses, even synthetically produce food for them from their own waste (look up that experiment some time to be disgusted) And those are talents that won’t be long lost if needed. But, though we have some interesting ideas on how to move and store energy, the sources are still Sunlight, Geothermal, and Radioactive – the last two suck for various reasons. And the only concentrated form of sunlight that can provide what we need is Fossil Fuels- we are in agreement to where that is leading our current global empire.
    I think because we are less agrarian than ever before and more powerfully destructive, so that the DIE OFF will be worse in almost every way than before, BUT that is a good thing for the survivors, as it will free up (relative to total population) more surplus than during the decline period we are in, allowing the survivors to waste some of that surplus on getting the resources that are sustainable over many generations hopefully including energy. Which means the re-flowering of Empire and an end to the dark ages sooner than previously with the cause and reality of our collapse more freshly in mind to spur wiser decisions.
    (Hey I aint denying there is piss in the glass, just saying it might help put out the fire since we don’t have water...)

    - Grey

    1. My issue is that I think EVERYTHING will be used up by die-off and almost no population still has nothing left to use.