April 21, 2020

An excerpt from the work-in-progress Dry Your Tears To Perfect Your Aim


A few days later something else happens that is not entirely unexpected but, at the same time, is entirely unexpected (at least at that specific juncture.) The world market for oil collapses. When I was living on the thin strip of land, I was always worried that, sooner or later, they would be invaded for their oil. But now, quite suddenly, that possibility seems considerably less likely. I’m certainly not an economist and have only a rudimentary knowledge of speculation and the stock market, so my explanation of what occurred might be somewhat less than complete. But I will do my best.

When the world market for oil collapsed, to put it a bit simply, some countries were in the process of becoming prepared for such an eventuality and others were clearly not. The country I lived in was extremely unprepared. Predictably enough, travel of any kind, especially long-distance travel, became difficult. (I could still ride my bicycle to get where I had to go.) The stock market crashed. Companies declared bankruptcy. Stocks for renewables such as wind and solar quickly skyrocketed. I don’t believe in green capitalism, and certainly don’t think anything so innocent happened as the market correcting itself, since the market was in a complete nervous breakdown, but something was happening that involved capital at its very core. Much like during some other great depressions, many who lost their life savings committed suicide. Many of the frontpage newspaper stories concerned such spectacular details. I read everything I could, wondering if this was the moment we’d been waiting for, a paradigm shift in the way markets organize themselves around resources.

A continuous stream of newspaper stories focused on different sites of resource extraction that were shutting down or on hiatus. Sucking oil from the ground was suddenly no longer profitable, or at least startlingly less so, and no one wanted to continue losing money at that rapidly accelerating rate, or at least no one wanted to lose money in ways that so deeply went against the current economic zeitgeist. However, no matter how much I read, perhaps only because my grasp of the underlying economics was not thorough enough, I never completely understood what had happened to first trigger this economic tailspin. Over the past few years massive protests against, and sabotage of, pipelines had been on the rise, making business as usual ever-more-difficult to maintain. To what degree had protest and sabotage made this collapse and emancipatory opportunity occur. Public opinion had already turned ages ago, almost no one could now say, with a straight face, that oil has a secure place as part of humanity’s future. So – at least this much I think I correctly understand – when everyone started pulling their money out, everyone else started to panic and follow suit. I thought back to my time walking through the war. So many of the wars fought during my lifetime and before were fought over oil or similar resources, or more specifically the price of oil and similar resources, though those giving the orders would often not admit to this. (I knew wars in the future would most likely be fought over water, but all that was yet to come.)

- from the work-in-progress Dry Your Tears To Perfect Your Aim

[What made me think of it was this: The day oil was worth less than $0 — and nobody wanted it]


No comments: