By DE CLARKE and STAN GOFF
In recent days, we have seen the rising price of oil and the devaluation of the dollar create two quantum shifts in the economy: the beginning of the collapse of the air travel industry and a global crisis of food-price inflation. These are related in ways that are crucial to understand — because we are seeing the outlines of an historic opportunity to change the terms of theory and practice for a politics of resistance. As air carriers have gone bankrupt, the knock-on effects on travel agents, airports, airport-colocated hotels, “package” vacation resorts, etc. are considerable.
This is how one cascade pours into another, as the manifold contradictions of our global system merge and co-amplify. Tourism, which was supposed to be a relatively benign, non-extractive industry for colonized nations — an alternative to brutal extraction and cash cropping — turns out to have been just as extractive all along due to the climate (and cultural) damage done by commodified air travel.
The end of cheap air tourism may seem like a good thing. And yet the collapse of tourism, in economies where the culture and scenery have become a last-ditch cash crop, can have effects just as disastrous as the collapse of any other external commodity market in a country that has been sucked into the undertow of global capitalism.
How much more devastating is the catastrophic cascade of food price inflation? (It’s also directly related, by the way, to the plateau of global oil production in the face of relentless expansion of “demand” — more on this below.) They’re intertwined; the downsizing of air tourism reduces money income for populations dependent on the global capitalist economy for staple foods, just at the moment when scarcity, uncertainty, and rampant speculation are causing staple food prices to spike.
It’s not a pretty picture, and the mainstream media are reporting on it with breathless alarm and utterly unjustified surprise; commentators from various perspectives (left, environmental, anti-colonialist, even libertarians) have seen this coming for a while.
Why Us? Why Now?
The airline industry has been very forthright about their problems. They are saying, “We were neither tooled nor organized for $120-a-barrel oil.” Most of us get this, because we associate transport technology with fossil hydrocarbons. We drive cars; and we buy the gas to put in those cars. Planes run on No. 1 Jet Fuel and if oil prices go up, so does the cost of jet fuel. Most of us are less likely… FULL ARTICLE