I am a professional analyst of society; my training is in social research, my primary employment – my bread and butter so to speak – requires me to engage in ongoing research and analysis of social, economic, environmental and political trends. So what follows are not the observations of your ordinary citizen observer or even of a journalist (not at all sure why so many people these days accept journalists – such as Thomas Friedman – as experts on social and economic trends). I spend my days immersed in data, examining the nitty-gritty of income distribution, education attainment, crop reports, tuition costs, energy production figures, employment trends, Arctic melt patterns and extreme weather events, economic investment patterns.

What I see emerging from all this data is stark and disturbing for advanced capitalist industrial nations, but more so for the United States than countries that have made an effort to blunt the contradictions of industrial capitalism with social policy.  We are simply running out of places into which to “bury” the toxic effects of industrial capitalism.  Two types of contradictions exist within industrial capitalism: one has to do with the fact that every single successful capitalist enterprise must draw in more revenue than it gives out in wages/salaries and other costs; the second with the impossibility of the constant growth in production required by industrial capitalism meeting the barrier of finite resources.

For two hundred and fifty years we managed to avoid the first problem by finding sources of revenue that were outside the realm of industrial capitalist societies (undeveloped or underdeveloped nations), and avoid the second problem because we had yet to come close to the limits of key resources like petroleum and natural gas, or the limits of sinks for waste products like carbon dioxide and toxic chemicals. But today, there is no country where capitalist industrial enterprise has not taken hold and converted nations of peasants and artisans into wage earning laborers. And today the limits of resources like petroleum are all too visible, as are the limits of sinks for carbon dioxide and other wastes.

The United States is heading straight for an economic, social and ecological brick wall. To all those Tea Partiers who “want my country back,” I’m sorry, but your country is gone, irretrievably broken and disintegrated, and even if the majority of Americans actually wished to return to days of racial, ethnic and gender inequality that you hold with such great reverence it cannot be recovered. To all the liberals who have “Hope” for the future based on “Change,” sorry, the course is set, there’s not enough resources left to pull us out of the dive we began more than a generation ago.  The next several generations of Americans will have less in the way of material goods, less time, less energy, less ease, less of everything.  There is no changing this. Conservatives who want to reclaim the past can’t stop this from happening. Liberals who want to subsidize the future can’t stop it from happening either.

We are in the condition of “overshoot” warned against by Meadows, Randers and Meadows in their 1972 The Limits to Growth, and then again in the 1992 follow-up Beyond the Limits, and yet again in their Limits to Growth: Thirty Year Update in 2004. Industrial capitalism is the 52,000 ton Titanic. The iceberg is right in front of us. There’s no way to steer a ship of that size around the obstacle. We are going to “crash.” There’s no avoiding it.

So why not give up? Why vote? If the course is set, the disaster is unavoidable, decline is inevitable, why does it matter who wins in 2012? It does matter. Because every disaster, including the Titanic can have survivors. It matters, because the two parties have very different views on how many “lifeboats” and “life preservers” there should be and who should have access to them. I’m going to vote for the party and the candidate, that is going to do its best to make sure that both rich and poor have a chance at surviving. The party that will provide enough life boats for everyone, and won’t be excluding people because of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or income. Life boats may not be a luxury liner, but they are the difference between death and survival. Not everyone will survive, but I intend to vote for the party and the candidate that’s going to do it’s best to make sure that the cards aren’t stacked against those in “steerage” and in favor of those with “first class tickets.”  If you can’t figure out for whom I’m going to vote you aren’t paying attention to this election.

Last night I watched the SyFy channel’s new series Caprica, and I have to say I’m worried. It won’t be that long before we have the technological capability to create cyborgs and human clones and what happens when these creations demand the right to vote. They could both easily out number us real humans very quickly. Do you want to live in a country where the political power of soulless cyborgs dominates and controls the lives of us ordinary soul infested humans? [Okay you quibbling SyFy junkies, I know that one of the premise of Caprica is that Cylons have souls — they believe in a monotheistic god — but really now, can a machine have a soul?).

I mean we already have the political precedent established — you don’t have to be flesh and blood to be a person and have political rights. Corporations have had personhood since the 19th century–the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution was perverted by the Supreme court of that day to achieve that. And this week, today’s Supreme Court reasserted that the corporations as persons have the same political rights as flesh and blood persons. The problem of course being that corporations have a hell of a lot more money and power than most flesh and blood persons.

The time is right to prevent the future take-over of our nation by cylon-like cyborgs and human clones. We need a new amendment to the Constitution that defines once and for all that a person is only a biological human created by the combined sperm of a male biological human and a female biological human. This would not only protect us against future threats (think not only cyborgs and clones, but also aliens from other planets — you think we have an alien problem now!) but would also end the tyranny of large corporations in our political process. If they are no longer persons, then their political rights would disappear. The humans within them would still have full rights, but not the corporations.

This is an amendment that both the Tea Partiers and commie pinkos like myself could get behind. Those Tea Partiers don’t like big banks, big insurance companies, big oil, etc. any more than I do.

Read something just now that hit me square between the eyes:  our economy is a relic of the 17th century.  We’re trying to deal with 21st century problems with an economic system (capitalism) whose basic principles and mechanisms were designed in the 1600’s. 

This is one of those facts I’ve always known, but some how it took someone else to point out the absurdity of this.

Today I read a piece that touted the objectivity and disinterest of science as an enterprise when it comes to global warming.  This completely ignores the fact that most of the people involved in the political promotion of anti-global warming policies are not scientists, and are motivated by many different agendas. Even when scientists enter into the political arena their activities in that arena are no longer governed by scientific review.

I’ve heard some people say that the real test in the difference between those who support the idea of anthropogenic global warming and those who deny it, is that no one who supports the idea really wants it to exist -they’d rather be wrong than right, and their acceptance of the rightness of it is reluctant. Well I’m here to say that’s bullshit. Of course there are people who want humanly caused global warming to be real, and I’m one of them.

First let me make a distinction between the scientists, who has a professional interest in not having his/her career go up in smoke because some one comes up with contrary findings, and some one like me who actively is rooting for a warmer earth. Most of those scientists may have career investments to protect, but they’d really rather be wrong than right, because the enterprise of science is highly dependent upon a stable, high tech, wealth industrialized society, and that’s precisely what global warming threatens.  Folks like me on the other hand, and there are quite a few of us, actively detest highly centralized, large scale, global, industrial capitalism and would really like to see a very different kind of social system in its place. We’re opportunists who see global warming as a chance to either convince people to make changes we think are necessary anyway, or force them by circumstances to change.

Now I don’t agree with the “mother earth” lovers, who whine about the earth dying and view humanity as a form of locust that should be exterminated. I think humans are a fine species. I like being human. I like most other humans.  I just think we’ve gone a very long way in the wrong direction, and need a course correction to a simpler, more localized, more decentralized, more humane way of life.

I’m not talking about reverting to foraging, or even becoming true agricultural societies. There’s not a thing wrong with computers or the Internet, or with electricity. However, I have overcome a prejudice of my youth that held flush toilets to be the epitome of civilization, and can now see that composting toilets, with the compost recycled back into local farms would be far more sustainable.

I’m a big fan of the writings of Murray Bookchin (Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future, South End Press, 1990), who envisions “decentralized communities, united in free confederations or networks for coordinating the communities of a region, …[reflecting] the traditional ideals of a participatory democracy…” (page 181).  Bookchin sees the “need to rescale communities to fit the natural carrying capacity of the regions in which they are located and to create a new balance between town and country” as an “ecological imperative” (page 185).

As I see it, if the climate scientists are right, and I suspect that they probably are, environmental circumstances will force upon us changes that will disrupt global capitalism, and combined with the loss of fossil fuels will result in greater localism whether we want it to or not. However, if we wait to be forced into this chances are the changes will come about due to more oppressive governments to deal with the extremes of dislocation and social unrest almost certain to appear.

So I’d rather use the fear of global warming as a tool to get people to willingly, gradually restructure society. Even if it turns out that the world doesn’t get warmer and the environmental catastrophe’s don’t happen, the end result of a restructured, more localized, slower, less energy intensive, more democratic society is more than worth it. But all in all, I think humanity — a  least what’s left of it — might be better off in a warmer world.

From time to time I will be recognizing others who go out on a limb. Today’s nod goes to Dr. Glen Barry at Earth Meanders – http://earthmeanders.blogspot.com/ – who really goes to the edge with his dark visions of earth’s future.  Dr. Barry does have other, more fact oriented websites, but Earth Meanders is where he really lets his visions fly.  Unfortunately, his posts are only periodic.