THE PARADIGM IS THE ENEMY: The State of the Peak Oil Movement at the Cusp of Collapse

A Speech by Michael C. Ruppert for the Local Solutions to the Energy Dilemma Conference
April 27-29, New York City, at Cooper Union

[This is the most important speech of my life. If you read anything I’ve written this year, read this – MCR]

April 28, 2006 1630 PST – (FTW) – NEW YORK - As a matter of necessity, in the course of a turbulent and often very difficult life, I have developed a pretty warped sense of humor. As most police officers, nurses, ER doctors, paramedics, and military combat veterans know, the best time to find humor is when things are at their worst. Sometimes the humor that emerges from these situations is strange, to say the least. And yet sometimes it remains the most memorable humor of a lifetime—humor that can actually sustain you in tough times. Humor is energy.

Too often Peak Oil activism reminds me of a statement that I found a long time ago in a book of famous quotations. In the section containing the last recorded words of famous people I found a quote that has stayed with me ever since.

The quote was simply, “We’ve got them now.”

The person who wrote those last “recorded” words on a dispatch to his commanding officer, General George Crook, was George Armstrong Custer.

During the course of this conference I have heard precious little attention paid to events in the world around us indicating that Peak Oil is about to have its global “coming out party” and what that might mean. In almost every nook, cranny and corner of the planet, stress points are beginning to fracture. For the past five years I have argued, emphasized, and repeated endlessly that perhaps the biggest mistake of all time was made on September 11th 2001, when the only real global operational plan to deal with Peak Oil was put into effect. On September 11th we began a war, now infamously known as “the war which will not end in our lifetimes,” to decide who will control the last remaining oil and gas reserves on the planet.

In Crossing the Rubicon I wrote, “Events in the five-year period that began on September 11th, 2001 will determine the course of human history for several centuries to come.” We are just months away from the end of that five-year period. What has been accomplished?

The painful answer is: not enough.

Where are we in the real world and how do we judge our current activities in light of real-world events? To sum it up in the words of one of the most senior members of the Peak Oil movement I know, Jay Hanson, “I see my worst fears unfolding right in front of my face.” Jay wrote those words just about a week ago.

Jay started the first Peak Oil website in the 1980s, almost even before there was a web. We should listen to Jay, and I could not agree more with his assessment; my worst fears are unfolding right in front of my face.

Perhaps the greatest flaw in the Peak Oil movement’s current operating paradigm is that, a part of the movement at least, instead of building lifeboats in the face of an immediate disaster, is delusionally focused on trying to build alternative-powered luxury liners that operate just like the paradigm we as a species need to be abandoning. Not only is this a futile effort, it may well be responsible for killing or destroying the lives of people who at least partially understand Peak Oil and who are trying to find the best courses of immediate action for themselves and their families.

Some parts of this movement however—and tonight I intend to honor two men who are lea
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