Friday, July 04, 2014

Mike's Story Part 69- Follow the Leader

The following email was sent by Mike to an accomplished Peak Oilist, cc'ing me.  The ellipses are placed to erase any trace of the recipient's identity.
Reread Matt Simmons's email again. McCain is "brain dead" on the issue [of Peak Oil] and Obama's camp is jumping into it. McCain ain't brain dead. He's the devil. And what do you want to bet Obama's answers are going to be half (or more) wrong? Who in the Peak Oil movement will even be prepared to comment, let alone offer something real? It doesn't have to be perfect, just honest and devoid of fantasy. (Fanatasies are good, but not around Peak Oil)...   You are young and stupid like I was once and you believe you're not only the best qualified but maybe the only one out there.  [In defense of the recipient of the email, it's highly unlikely that the person felt or expressed any such thing.]  You're right on both counts.  You have a brain and you have eyes. It's time you stepped a little closer to the big spotlight because you are ready-- and because you are needed there. I and Colin Campbell were probably the only two with any charisma.  X ain't got it;  he's an eggheaed.  [A sought-after one.  In certain scenarios, the media need eggheads.]  Y is not a writer or a speaker.  [I've never heard Y speak but Y is a marvelous writer.]  Z lacks the fullness of education and experience. No way would I ever put W on camera (God love him).  [Leaving aside the questionable criterion, it's debatable whether Mike himself was any cuter than W.  Colin Campbell, of course, is adorable(?)]  You have it all.  We can't let the business people at...  define our stance without incorporating honest viewpoints, devoid of self-interest. That will be the real battle. That's why I'm going to Sacramento... Matt will help us draft and so will many others.  Peak Oil needs a face and yours is ...articulate, trained and ready. What you walk out of here with will be your position paper. It will have your name on it. You can thank me and whoever contributes, but the world will need to see this as yours. It will be yours. Peak will be on the table before November and we need you to be on CNN and every place else, debating and teaching... There's nothing hanging on this except...-- MCR
He is back on his high horse, whether through his own chemistry or with outside help.  How long before he gets himself thrown off again? 
   Of course what angers me the most is that I’m not even on the radar screen.  Forget, “I want to write something with you,” and, “You’re eloquent.”  He's reverted to that Hollywood mentality which is at the core of our global problems in the first place:  the star system, the notion of hierarchy. 
I write the article below, later published in The Moron's Guide to Global Collapse and include Mike on the bcc list.

The Moses of a Post-Peak Oil World  
"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell
   Peak Oil is here or close enough, thank you. Those of us who've been dreading this moment for years are now waiting for the other shoe to drop, ie: the shit to hit the fan. When that happens, who will be the leaders who will carry us kicking and screaming towards the sustainable way of life that we should have been leading all along?  Will he be a Clint Eastwood type, far-seeing (you can tell from his squint), a man of few words? Or will he be possessed of that elusive quality, charisma, an Obama-type to whom people naturally turn because of his easy, loose-limbed command of the facts combined with that facility that Joe Biden kicked himself around the block for noting, "articulateness?" Will he be tall? Will he be a woman?
   What is "leadership" anyway?  As Justice Potter might have said, you know it when you see it (or hear it.) As in the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when The Leader speaks, the rest of the room falls silent. Sometimes this is because he's making sense. Sometimes it's because he's wearing a suit. Sometimes it's because he's the loudest.  Whatever the reason, people accord him authority. He's the closest thing around to Daddy. While everyone else is scared clueless about what to do, The Leader seems sure of himself so they figure his confidence must be based on something.  Maybe he'll be an actor who played a leader in a movie. Knowing how to act the part, he will bark instructions.  "Finally we're getting somewhere," the others will think, regardless of where Somewhere is.
   A few years ago a band of New York City Peak Oil activists were discussing suitable crops to plant when they finally moved to their respective sustainable communities. Since New York City is in the Dark Ages when it comes to Peak Oil, these activists were, by default, leaders in the field.  But - and the activists were acutely aware of this - they were not farmers. They were novices, trying to scrape together what knowledge they could from the internet and the occasional bank-breaking weekend at an intensive Permaculture course.  So the conversation, while earnest and, by New York City standards, enlightened, fell short of providing useful information.
   Until a young woman called X spoke.  "Potatoes."
   Her voice lacked the high-pitched excitement (the charisma factor) of the others, leaders all. And they seemed not to hear her.  But then a man who was sitting next to her said, "Potatoes! We forgot about potatoes!"
   "Yeah, potatoes!" said another.
   And so, by subliminal suggestion, X's idea took over the conversation.  (A by-product of that evening is that I planted two potatoes on my windowsill in the hope of later writing an article called, "A Potato Grows in Brooklyn." One turned into a slimy mess; the other disappeared which must mean it morphed into soil. But that's another story.)
   However, X is not considered a leader either by the meet-up or by herself. She just happens, time and again, to have the information everyone's looking for.
   The others know this. Sometimes they ask her for advice and she provides it, as when an adolescent ventures out on his own, only to turn back to ask Mom for money. The Peak Oil Leaders boldly go forth proclaiming X's information, having incorporated it into their rhetoric and made it their own.
   "We must change the paradigm!" goes the cry of the few brave souls who have for a long time seen what's coming and tried to warn those bits of the world to which they had access.
   They're talking about infrastructure and the economy and other vital issues. But so far no one's addressed the assumptions on which we base our decisions, the notion that for the sake of simplicity and streamlined organization, there must be one person to whom we all look for instruction.
   So it seems that when the world goes belly-up and the meek, if they know how to farm, shall inherit the earth, one thing shall emerge unscathed: that citadel, the grand social pyramid with drones at the base, some knowledgable folk in the middle and on top, the One, True Sun to whom all others turn for enlightenment; He or She who in Ancient Greece was a god, in 20th century America was a movie star and in the 21st century will be a Peak Oil activist - the Leader.

   I played with the idea of including an addendum to Mike saying, “Don’t bother writing a long. mollifying explanation.  I cannot be schmoozed or fooled."
   I need not have worried.
   MCR wrote back:
   Oooh, you're so beautiful when you're angry.

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