[I found this article very insightful and I agree with most of his points – it’s well worth a read. Trevor]

With the US presidential election campaigning in full flow, news and social media has descended into the depressing blue team versus red team idiocy that experience tells us leads nowhere.

The supporters of both teams blindly claim that voting for their side is the only way of bringing about positive change; or, at least, of warding off the evil posed by the other team. But experience tells us that whichever team wins, the same dreary process of decline which began back in the 1970s is going to continue. (Cue howls of indignation from the blue/red team supporters who earnestly believe that their guy can deliver where nobody has delivered before).

It is not that politics doesn’t matter. On the periphery it can have important impacts; although never as profound as promised. The point is that four years from now the supporters of the winning team in November are going to be left with a sense of betrayal (cue more howls of righteous indignation from teams blue and red) because past experience tells us that it always turns out that way. And there is good reason for this. Since the 1970s we have been plunged ever deeper into an “overshoot predicament” that neither red nor blue team even perceives; still less has a viable solution to.

Oil refinery plant at night

Oil refinery plant at night

For the most part, politics is driven by something similar to a curious ritual which took place in Cardiff in the early 2000s. Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium – previously used for the rugby world cup final – was chosen as the best neutral alternative while London’s Wembley Stadium was being rebuilt. It didn’t take long for “the curse of the south dressing room” to become newsworthy. As the BBC reported at the time:

“The stadium is used for some of Britain’s biggest footie finals – but the last eight teams who’ve used the south dressing room have all lost. This includes Arsenal, Birmingham City and Spurs.”

The apparent solution was to use feng shui in an attempt to cleanse the evil spirits (I kid you not) from the afflicted dressing room:

“Feng shui is an ancient Chinese art used to create a positive feeling in a room. Specialist Paul Darby from Nottingham will try to change the ‘energy’ of the dressing room by redecorating it, scattering incense and sea salt and lighting candles and chanting.

“Stadium bosses said: ‘The unlucky south dressing room will be given the full feng shui treatment ahead of the Football League’s LDV Vans final between Blackpool and Cambridge on Sunday’.”

In sport as in politics, people are all too quick to believe nonsense and act accordingly. For the most part, the mainstream economic prescriptions employed by politicians to remedy the supposed evil spirits afflicting countries and economies are different to feng shui only insofar as they cause far more harm when they go wrong. Nevertheless, they employ similar spurious correlations – things that happen independently of each other, but appear to have a causal relationship. For example, the upswing in economic fortunes in the USA and UK from the mid-1980s appears to have been the result of the neoliberal economic policies pursued by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Both, however, were merely the beneficiaries of the opening up of new oil and gas deposits in the North Sea, North Alaskan Slope and the Gulf of Mexico. In the same way, Trump’s pre-pandemic economy owes more to the unsustainable temporary benefits of hydraulic fracturing than to the various policies pursued in the past three years. It goes without saying that irrespective of who wins in November, the collapse of the oil industry in general and the fracking industry in particular during the pandemic, suggests a prolonged period of decline which can only be reversed with a new, cheap and energy-dense energy source.

Read more: The Consciousness Of Sheep