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How investment banks encourage America's hidden addiction to petroleum

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By Emanuel Pastreich

I have watched the sad sight of high school students led by Greta Thunberg and other climate activists demanding of political leaders that they change their policies and receiving sorrowful apologies and inspiring promises only to discover, to their surprise, that absolutely nothing has changed in six months, or in a year.

This tragic-comedy is no accident; it is the result of a systematic strategy of misinforming the public through the media and through educational materials as to how policy decisions are made and why we are paralyzed in the face of climate disaster. The truth is that all important decisions are made by banks and corporations, and not by nation states and their governments. The leaders who appear on television have no more impact regarding economic policy than Bozo the clown has over the acts in the three rings at the circus.

Let us start with the basics: The global economy has been taken over by a small group of investment banks, sovereign wealth funds, and, above all, the super-rich. The direction of United States policy (and that of other countries) is determined by these players and then passed down by consulting firms and law firms to the politicians below.

The end of the Cold War produced a global system in which there is no serious ideological or philosophical analysis of policy or of the economy. The media, and the textbooks used in schools, and the writings of the famous experts do not offer any critical perspective, or even an alternative perspective, on society, on the economy or on the environment. Deep thinking about the future of the nation has vanished.

At best we are fed a sad litany of complaints about politicians that ignores structural issues and assumes that all problems flow from the selfishness of specific people, not the flaws in governance.

Imperfect as the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China were before the rolling 1990s, they at least had experts in Marxist economics who pressured Western scholars to think more critically about the world. That exchange kept us on our toes. We have fallen asleep at the wheel since then.

Journalism has decayed into fluffy reporting aimed at creating an emotional response. Most news is aimed to distract and to mesmerize, not to inform or to inspire. Education, similarly, has lost all ethical and scientific imperative to demand the truth.

The politicians involved in the formulation of policy have turned into entertainers and clowns who feed pre-digested slop to citizens. Intellectuals, who once played a leadership role, are forced to write articles for obscure academic journals and are barred from any meaningful participation in policy.

Global investment banks and their proxies have stepped in to fill this space.

Moreover, advances in technology have produced banks of supercomputers that make the real decisions for investment banks, calculating ruthlessly the monetary value of every drop of water, every Amazon tree and every worker in the world. The only real long-term plans are for efficiently exploiting both humanity and the environment to the hilt while using artificial intelligence (AI) and complex algorisms to distract and mislead the public as to what is going on.

As far as those supercomputers are concerned, it does not matter if the Earth ends up a smoldering bare rock in 20 years. All that matters is short-term profit.

These investment banks will do everything in their power, legal or otherwise, to make sure that every action taken by every citizen in the world produces profits for the multinational corporations that they own stock in. They do not want citizens to produce their own food, their own energy, their own cultural content or their own organizations. Similarly, these banks do everything in their power to make sure that this system of economic parasitism is hidden from your sight, never treated seriously in the media, or in academic research.

If you eat food, drink water, travel, receive an education, seek treatment at a hospital or are buried in a cemetery, the bankers want to make sure that they get a part of the required monetary transaction.

They do not want you to eat food that you grew on your own land using your own seeds. They do not want you to use tools, or furniture, or to live in a house that you built with your own hands. They do not want you to cure yourself of diseases with herbs that you grew in your backyard. They do not want you to enjoy art, films, novels or dramas that you and your friends produced for yourselves.

Above all, they never want you to produce your own energy, or to reduce your use of energy. They want to make sure you are addicted to petroleum.

Petroleum has been the primary means that allows investment banks to get their pound of flesh every time that you need energy (although they also have their claws in coal and uranium and control renewable energy in a manner that assures its full implementation is delayed for as long as possible).

They do not want you to know that citizens once produced most of their energy, most of their own food and most of everything that they needed without a penny going to investment banks.

The investment banks have spread their money around, paying off experts in just about every field to create a world deeply dependent on petroleum.

They designed your cities, they set your priorities in life ― from kindergarten on ― glorifying a world dominated by automobiles and airplanes and by wasteful consumption so as to make sure that you are so addicted to petroleum that you cannot even conceive of an alternative society.

At the same time, the banks, and the companies that they own, pay writers, consultants and politicians to make sure that the horrible consequences of the consumption of petroleum are hidden from you, that you never associate your use of petroleum with the environmental crisis that we face. The policy debate in the political sphere never allows anyone to ask what the long-term costs of using petroleum are.

If we want to save the Earth from climate collapse, we must first make sure that all citizens know why we have been forced to rely on petroleum and by whom. They must know which banks and which billionaires are involved and why. They must comprehend the manner in which those players forced us into an addiction to fossil fuels.

When the hidden strategies of investment banks like Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Bank of America and Morgan-Stanley are made clear, when the massive investments in fossil-fuel-related industries by billionaires like Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Bill Gates ― men who cultivate a positive image in public ― are revealed, only then will the true conspiracy become manifest.

The Plan

These international investment banks have worked relentlessly over the past 80 years to make sure that oil-producing countries are run by selfish dictators and that the money produced by the sale of the petroleum in those countries is pumped back into financial institutions controlled by those banks. They want to create political economies that are incapable of surviving without the production of petroleum. That means that these oil producers also will spend billions of their own dollars to block any effort to limit the use of petroleum. We may blame Saudi Arabia, but the hidden hand remains as it always has, on Wall Street.

Oil-producing nations are made dependent on petroleum by reducing the diversity in their economies. The powerful global banks have made Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Nigeria into intellectual and cultural wastelands that lack the cultural diversity and self-awareness required to demand an economy independent of petroleum.

The titular rulers of these sad nations toil away at the only business they know, digging a grave for humanity by releasing deadly pollutants. But it is the banks, not the dictators, who wrote the script.

Of course, investment banks create complex plots that include real battles between investment banks in London, New York, Moscow or Beijing, battles over the division of profits. Such battles give the audience the impression that there is a struggle for change. But those battles are but acts in the play that leave the system untouched.

The confusion of petroleum and security

Investment banks that derive wealth from petroleum provide the funding for research, and the formulation of policy proposals at think tanks and research institutes. The assumption in all of these bogus reports is that the fundamental role of the U.S. military should be to defend the production of petroleum and its shipment around the world.

That is to say, in all these discussions on security it is assumed that the United States is dependent on the import of energy and that it must be ready to defend that petroleum militarily.

The possibility that security can be obtained by the development of........

© The Korea Times

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