(A synopsis of this paper was presented at the Third North American Secessionist Convention, Manchester, NH, November 14-16, 2008. It is somewhat lengthy for a blog post, some 8,000 words in total. There is a link for the Word Doc version on the home page of the Novacadia Alliance web site for those who may choose to opt for that option. Reading the Word Doc is actually strongly suggested as there are several graphs in it on Peak Oil and global population depletion that did not copy over with this blog transfer.)
These are exciting and critical times for the NAmerican secessionist movement. The movement finds itself in the media spotlight and public aftermath of “post-Palin” and “post-Zogby,” for lack of better descriptions. The American debt-laden and seemingly criminal financial house of cards teeters on the brink, a major precursor of empire collapse, threatening to pull the entire global financial system into a vortex of unknown dimensions. It would seem that the NAmerican secessionist destiny is right on schedule. Viewed within the latter context, the secessionist political observations put forward in this paper are peripheral, marginal and cursory. To propose theoretical guidelines for an embryonic political movement there is, however, only one place at which to start. That is at the beginning.
At the very most, this paper reflects the views of its author as an independent secessionist. At the very least, the paper puts forward the political principles for regional secession as recognized by The Novacadia Alliance. The tentative founding of the proposed Novacadia Independence Party, to be registered in the province of Nova Scotia, is inclusive in the latter principles.
If any of the ideas and proposals laid out in this paper can be incorporated by other secessionist organizations or political parties is optional. As secessionists, we acknowledge and honor our political diversities, recognizing that the only principle that unites us is the principle of secession. As for the strategic and tactical predominance of recognizing the advent of the Post-Peak Oil era for the purpose of secession, such recognition may vary from political constituency to political constituency. This position paper is offered in good faith to NAmerican secessionists for consideration towards that end.
NAmerican secessionists are agreed that the NAmerican secessionist movement is a consequence of, and response to, the collapse of the American Empire. This general consensus has been endorsed by the first two meetings of the North American Secessionist Movement. It is put forward for consideration that this view is only a partial, though important, analysis of the secessionist phenomenon. A wider perspective incorporates the collapse of industrial civilization, which is global in scope and, of which the United States is but one player, albeit the central player. More to the point, industrial civilization is not merely in decline, it has entered the end-game. It is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that a civilization has outstripped its energy foundations, outlived its institutional purposes, and collapsed.
We live in an age that encompasses a colossal contradiction. On the one hand, there is the corporatist and technocratic thrust for globalization and a professed New World Order. On the other hand, there is the interrelated dynamic of empire collapse. Both tendencies stem from a diminishing supply of and access to cheap energy resources as evidenced by the imminent arrival of Peak Oil.
Both of these historical events, although diametrically opposed as political templates, are one and the same of a greater whole. The latent collapse of industrial civilization is the mirror image of the seemingly desperate and brutal grasp at the creation of a technocratic fascist state. It is a simple matter of political deduction to conclude that not both of these global tendencies can succeed. A clash of perceptions, of values and of political wills is inevitable. It is proposed that the balance of the 21st century will be the timeline for this clash.
It is necessary to clarify three premises that place the imminent crisis of a Post-Peak Oil world as the dominant condition and premise for the future evolution of secessionist politics. Even within the context of imperial decline, isolated and honorable positions such as ethnic and cultural identities, past historical wrongs, or calls for justice, freedom and liberty, strictly on their own and no matter how legitimate and worthy their merit, will not suffice to ignite or to carry the secessionist movement to completion. We need only look to the example of Québec and the waning political support for a cultural secessionist motive only. Such motive does not recognize nor carry the necessary spark of historical crisis.
Ø Firstly, only a historical catalyst of unforeseen magnitude that draws the latter secessionist motives together under the umbrella and guidance of a common political resolve will spark this new perception. It is proposed that this catalyst will be the arrival of the Post-Peak Oil era and that the common political resolve will be the secessionist movement.
Ø Secondly, to a degree this is already happening. Numerous political, economic and social events of note are related to the arrival of Post-Peak Oil. The inescapable entropic dictate of the world “dashing towards maximum disorder” is in effect, though not acknowledged. The principles of thermodynamics are alien to the public. The events of 9/11, the consequent 9/11 Truth Movement, global militaristic positioning and saber rattling, financial and economic decline, the push for North American Union, all are sub-elements to one degree or another of competing national interests clawing at the leftovers of an energy-depleted planet.
Ø Thirdly, of the several factors associated directly with empire collapse, i.e. financial and economic meltdown, militaristic overreach, diminishing returns on social complexities, social decay, etc. all are reflective of, at one degree or another, the supply of, control of, and access to an abundant and inexpensive source of energy, in particular, oil.
All of these sub-factors, relative to Peak Oil, are already positioned in the public psyche, with marginal social and political responses generated. The corporate media have endorsed these events for public consumption. In the process, they have become acceptable and by now somewhat safe and somewhat manageable. However, a conscious and orchestrated silence on Peak Oil and, to a lesser extent the 9/11 Truth Movement and North American Union, has been, and is, the position taken by the corporate media. It is a simple, short leap to make in order to contemplate: why?
The advent of Peak Oil is concrete and inevitable. All fossil fuels are finite in nature. Based on analyses recently released by ASPO-USA, world oil production will likely hit peak sometime between 2012 and 2015. The controlled media spin that endorses cornucopian economists and politicians, the abiotic theory of unlimited oil supply, nor the philosophical naiveté, deficiencies and public deceptions of Green parties, can avert this fate. Peak Oil is a bullet that cannot be dodged. We are a heartbeat removed from the greatest calamity and challenge to ever befall the human race. Few, if any, are prepared for it. Representative Roscoe Bartlett, a staunch Peak Oil advocate, is on record as saying that not one in a hundred is aware of Peak Oil or its consequences. He is being far too kind. The ratio of the public’s Peak Oil awareness is more likely at one in a thousand.
The non-acknowledgement by the public of Peak Oil and its relevance as the dominant premise for secessionist political conduct is likely no more evident than in the Canadian Maritime provinces. Due in large part to a corporate stranglehold on the printed and electronic media, there is not the least public awareness of Peak Oil. Due to 140 years of successful federalist conditioning there is not the slightest secessionist sentiment to speak of, nor a historical memory of Maritime intransigence to joining “the Canada’s” via the 1867 Confederation. And yet, for secessionist political and electoral organization, this is not a problem and is of no great concern. The political sentiment, will, and corresponding action, will be reflections of the Post-Peak Oil condition, a condition that is yet several years removed.
For the immediate future encompassing a 20-year strategic window of opportunity, the NAmerican secessionist movement stands to be positioned at the political forefront of spiraling empire collapse. The following three-point argument for the long-range political structuring and future evolution of the movement slowly comes into focus.
Ø Firstly, Peak Oil is not the problem; it is merely the advance condition signaling the social, economic and political crisis of Post-Peak Oil.
Ø Secondly, it is the era of Post-Peak Oil that is the problem, and how it is prepared for is the pressing political challenge for secessionists.
Ø Thirdly, the NAmerican secessionist movement is one of two historically natural political alternatives and responses to the immediate 100-year era of Post-Peak Oil.
It is acknowledged that the third point is an extremely loaded assertion to make. Obviously, it begs the question: What then is the other natural political alternative to the era of Post-Peak Oil? The answer to that question is stark and simple. It is the full-blown, deep penetration, technocratic, fascist state. We have arrived at a historical crossroads of black and white options.
The opportunity to act on this historical condition becomes more exposed with each passing day. To capture the opportunity allows secessionists, at the very least, to embrace the only real freedom there may be. This is the freedom of opportunity.
During the anticipated era of Post-Peak Oil, our global industrial civilization will implode upon itself and render as a memory the vanity and arrogance of a short 200-year interval on the passage of time. To fully appreciate the scope of this passage of time, it may help to picture the length of a football field to be the course of human history and the blip of our industrial era measuring a half inch in width at the end of the field.
A carefully considered perspective on our industrial era sheds light on the limitations of a crass and blind technological determinism. When cast against the rich and wide canvass of the human mystery and its evolution, the .01% of time that constitutes industrial civilization, in spite of its social benefits, comforts and gadgets, relegates this era as an anomaly, an ontological Frankenstein, a spiritual waste land. The only benefits to be gained from this condition are the dialectical opportunities that the condition itself offers and a reminder that history is not linear, but rather that it is cyclical.
The vanity and arrogance referred to above is the delusion that the human family can live outside of, separate from, and above the natural world. We are about to be taught a lesson in spades that this is not only an absurdity, but that it is also an impossibility. The lesson to be learned is that we owe the natural world a debt and it is coming to collect.
The types of economic, social and political institutions that await us on the other side of this 100-year watershed are unknown and open to conjecture. The immediate challenge will be to actually arrive at that place, to crawl through several decades of social, economic and political upheaval, to arrive at the other side of the crisis. Quite literally, secession equals survival and survival equals secession.
Needless to say, this will not be a smooth transition. There is no soft landing visible on the horizon. Global resource wars are a given. Should any of these pending conflicts go nuclear, then it is all for naught, the Post-Peak Oil scenario laid out in this paper inclusive. There is no magic potion to offset the degree of hurt and suffering that will befall our communities and general populations. There is no painless quick-fix to soothe the pampered psychosis of an industrial worldview that has become tragically and brutally separated from the natural world.
For NAmerican secessionists the latter challenge will constitute now, and in the immediate foreseeable future, numerous political decisions. How and why do we undertake our political conduct and to what end? How do we actually perceive the continental disintegration of NAmerica? Are we aware of, and do we agree, that secession equals survival and survival equals secession? How do we determine, and then incorporate, politically acceptable policy directives for such a world? Do we possess the collective wisdom, courage and stamina to take on and own the terrible incentive to see clearly and then act accordingly? And if not, what must we do to gain these political assets?
Post-Peak Oil: The Secessionist Political Opportunity
The geological collateral of a cheap and abundant energy supply that has bankrolled the progress and unlimited growth of industrial civilization is half gone and cannot be replaced. This is a geological and physical reality. Once Peak Oil is arrived at, the global production depletion rate is forecast to be at 2%-5%. Industrial nations will likewise be faced with a projected annual energy depletion rate of 2%-5%. Economic contraction, as opposed to growth, will be the order of the day. For the global financial and economic systems which are directly dependent on a cheap and plentiful supply of energy, this scenario translates into a problem that has no solution. It is not by happenchance that the Chinese symbol for crisis and opportunity is one and the same, open for interpretation firstly by how the context is viewed and, secondly, on which side of the line one takes a stand.
What is becoming an iconic image for our age is the Peak Oil bell curve. It was first formulated by M. King Hubbert in 1957 when he successfully forecast the peak of American oil production for 1971. It is now known accordingly as Hubbert’s Peak. The same geological principles and methods that were applied for American oil supply and depletion have been expanded to identify global supply and depletion. This simple graph identifies in a snapshot the basic principles and geological premises of Peak Oil. It does no harm to quickly go over these basic principles to ensure that we are all working on the same page.
Ø The supply curve is actually a staggered reproduction by 30 years or so of the discovery curve. Obviously, oil that has not been discovered cannot be produced. No major discoveries have been made since the Alaskan North Slope and the North Sea fields in the late sixties. The amount and quality of Caspian oil is questionable. The 400 mb of Arctic oil is conjecture only.
Ø The equation signaling the Peak Oil paradigm shift is so simple as to be understood by a school child. It is certainly not Copernican in mathematical scope, although it most certainly is in philosophical scope. The equation is 2-1=1. Two trillion barrels of oil in the ground as created by geological conditions, minus one trillion barrels which have been consumed over the past 100 years, equals one trillion barrels, the amount left in the ground. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.
Ø The first trillion barrels were easily accessed resulting in a cheap and abundant supply, and acting as the collateral for global finance for the creation of industrial societies.
Ø Current global consumption sits at approximately 86 mb/d where it has been relatively stalled since 2005. Wild price fluctuations on the plateau of Peak Oil are to be expected and will be the norm.
Ø The remaining one trillion barrels will be more difficult to access resulting in diminishing returns and depleted EROEI (energy returned on energy invested)
Ø This results in an actual remaining supply of several hundred billion barrels, as the remaining 20%-30% may be too cost prohibitive to bring to the surface.
Ø The peak constitutes a plateau upon which the actual peak year has already occurred or will occur before 2015, depending on differing interpretations of public data released by Peak Oil analysts and the oil industry. A difference of several years on such an historical scope is irrelevant.
Ø We will only know when the actual peak year has arrived in retrospect, that is, by looking in the “rearview mirror” of reported declining production. Two straight years of declining production will be the concrete signal that we have entered the downward slope.
What Hubbert’s Peak does not readily make obvious are the following:
Ø Based on known reserves, if demand remains unchanged (which it will not, i.e. when the industrial growth of Chindia is factored into global demand), global depletion will be in 35 years.
Ø The 2030 projected demand for the United States and China to roughly double their oil demand to 30 mb/d and 15 mb/d respectively from current usage outstrips projected supply by 15 mb/d. This is not even counting the rest of the world’s demand. It would seem evident that something has to give.
Ø Of the world’s 40 or so oil producing nations, only a handful have not yet peaked, and most of these are in the Middle East. When the Ghawar field, the world’s largest field in Saudi Arabia peaks, the world peaks.
Ø Even if new oil reserves were discovered, i.e. the Arctic, to get to a level of production between 2007-2030 in order to sustain industrial civilization would require a cumulative investment of $26 trillion. Taking the global financial meltdown into consideration, can we get there from here?
This quick snapshot of the Peak Oil condition is based on geological data created by oil industry professionals. CIA documents reveal that White House administrations have been aware of the pending crisis dating back to the Carter administration, if not to the Nixon administration. The purported 9/11 false flag attacks were, hypothetically, a direct strategic undertaking to initiate internally a military coup and, externally, the geopolitical and militaristic positioning for pending energy wars.
Global Population and Post-Peak Oil
When global population is incorporated onto the descent slope of Post-Peak Oil, a clear picture of what is at stake and of the social, economic and political turmoil that will be unleashed emerges.
Global population did not hit the first billion until 1800, somewhat into the industrial age, but not yet into the oil age. The second billion was hit in 1930, the third billion in 1960. Today we approach the seventh billion. For most of the people in this room, global population has doubled in our life times.
When global population is charted, the spike over the last 100 years becomes all the more evident and ominous. This spike in global population growth corresponds directly to the spike in industrial growth over the last 100 years. What becomes evident is that the degree of global population growth has been made possible only by the growth of industrialism, which in turn has been dependent on a steady supply of cheap and abundant oil and natural gas. It should furthermore come as no surprise that the spike in global warming, if overlaid on the population and industrial spikes, is equal in scope and extremity.
To return to the depletion slope of Hubbert’s Peak, it is possible to forecast a rough picture of what lies in store. The carrying capacity of a living system, be that system a household, a community, a nation, or our planetary home, is nothing more than that. Access to energy equals the ability to do work, thus to survive.
The interdependent relationship of reduced access to energy and population decline as we enter the Post-Peak Oil era is evident. If an oil supply of 75 mb/d supported a global population of six billion in the year 2000, an equal supply will support six billion at about 2015. If an oil supply of 65 mb/d supported a global population of five billion in the year 1980, an equal supply will support five billion at about 2020. If an oil supply of 45 mb/d supported a global population of four billion in the year 1970, an equal supply will support four billion at about 2025. And so on down the depletion slope of Hubbert’s Peak until the finite, global supply of oil has been exhausted.
Based on the correlation of past global energy consumption and population, the human race is very likely to be diminished by 3-5 billion people over the course of the current century. Most who make this prognosis hope they are wrong. Unfortunately, the data that highlights the relationship of access to energy and survival tends to trump such wishful thinking. The inherent political challenge of such a horrendous ecological purge is to be part of the planet’s inhabitants who survive the demise of the Age of Oil, to continue the ongoing adventure of the human race.
By making the dual-claim of global population depletion and regional secession, one runs the risk of being stroked as a Bilderberg stooge. After all, the purported New World Order supposedly champions both of these events as part of its mandate: firstly, population depletion to ensure the dwindling supplies of natural resources, in particular fossil fuels, for the benefit of an elite and chosen few, and; secondly, the undermining and eventual gutting of the world’s nation states in order to channel a future world government through the bureaucratic and militaristic global structure of the United Nations.
In order to pre-empt any such accusation, the following can simply be stated: a conscious, conspiratorial, eugenic effort to “cull” global population by unleashing an economic catastrophe, a nuclear Third World War, a designer pandemic virus, or a combination of all three, is light years removed from an ecological and systemic “purge” and correction, short of a complete die-off, by the natural carrying capacity of the planet, no matter how horrific such a correction stands to be.
Furthermore, nation state devolution is a single event seen either as precursor to global domination by the advocates of a New World Order or as the re-invention of geopolitical institutions to further human survival and social evolution by secessionists.
Again, to highlight the current historical contradiction, an alleged one-world government is diametrically opposed to hundreds of small, autonomous nations, although both global constructs require and envision the dissolution of the large industrial nation state in order to succeed. This contradiction cannot be stated emphatically enough. The pending crisis entails a showdown of worldviews with the large industrial nation state caught in the middle and cast in the role of historical albatross for both competing tendencies.
The bulk of global population depletion will be felt most severely and tragically in the poorer nations. Food riots in some of these nations have been occurring regularly; government granaries have been under armed guard. Large industrial nations, NAmerica inclusive, will not be spared the consequences of an energy-depleted world. With a pampered population of button pushers whose lifestyles are “non-negotiable” and who have little idea from where or how their several hundred energy slaves per capita originate, how could it be otherwise?
Let us return to the downward slope of Hubbert’s Peak and the 20-year window of opportunity for political preparation that it affords NAmerican secessionists. As one gazes through this window, I ask you to resort to your own imaginations, from whatever business, professional or life experience you come, to perceive what lies in store between this day and the year 2030. I ask you to perceive an almost unimaginable degree of social and economic suffering and political turmoil. I ask you to perceive of an economy shrinking at an annual rate of two to five percent, as matched to the oil depletion rate, with no option for correction. I ask you to perceive a world of double-digit unemployment and inflation. I ask you to perceive the confusion and the horror of a public that has been lied to, kept in the dark, and desperately seeking answers. I ask you to perceive how the physical consequences of empire collapse actually materialize and affect human lives when distanced from the intellectual comfort of cyberspace prattle.
I ask you to perceive an historical transition the magnitude of which has never been experienced by the human race. I ask you to perceive the political inter-relationship of crisis and opportunity. I ask you to perceive the stark severity of the political challenges inherent in this Post-Peak Oil era. I ask you to perceive the degree of political responsibility and related wisdom, courage and stamina to take on and own the terrible incentive to see clearly and to act accordingly, to harness a revolution of thought and social re-invention.
And lastly, I ask you to bundle these perceptions together in order to perceive the actual political potential contained within this 20-year window of opportunity for the NAmerican secessionist movement.
To clearly identify what we do, why we do it, and how we do it, it is essential to distinguish cause from effect and concentrate on the former as opposed to the latter. It is essential to identify first principles, the essence, the core nature of our movement and place secondary principles in their proper slots of secondary importance.
It is proposed that the meta-condition upon which all other conditions are dependent is the historical crisis of the end of industrial civilization, as is so concretely made evident by the onset of Peak Oil and the co-related implosion of the large industrial nation state. As such, the Peak Oil crisis constitutes a political window of opportunity for NAmerican secessionists. This crisis is the primary condition above all others. It translates into the opportunity to hinge the secessionist movement onto the advent of Peak Oil in the public consciousness and discourse, to evolve politically in tandem with energy decline, and to firmly position the secessionist movement in the public imagination to the degree that when one thinks “Peak Oil” one automatically also thinks “secessionist movement.”
This historical window of opportunity affords the secessionist movement a cauldron within which to stir and prepare the ingredients to engage in electoral politics. Until such measures are considered, developed, coordinated and introduced for public consideration, the movement remains largely dormant, frozen inside the Irish proverb: Every hound is a pup until it hunts.
If, over the course of the next two decades, NAmerican secessionists analyze the political landscape correctly and act accordingly, then by 2030 when the unfolding political crisis erupts like “a cobra stabbing at the sky” (to quote Arthur Koestler), they shall then rightly inherit, each in their respective regional, cultural and political jurisdictions, that for which has been prepared. The onus falls on secessionists to win first and fight later.
Politics, when all is said and done, is about turf. Particular rules of law, constitutions, judiciaries, fiscal structures, bureaucracies, social institutions, etc. are all sub-elements of an overriding geographical destination and jurisdiction. For secessionists, of course, the fundamental issue lies with the most proper, the most reasonable, the most balanced, or the most optimum size of the jurisdiction, primarily as relates to population size and only secondarily as relates to physical size. The most reasonable and most optimum size, in turn, translates into optimum rights and liberties, optimum safety and civic integrity for its citizens, and the optimum functioning of a free market economic system. This principle of reduced size is the bedrock of secessionist philosophy.
When contemplating optimum size for national re-inventions on the NAmerican continent, it is essential to identify the regional parameters of secession, as opposed to individual state and provincial secession. To take the Lower 48 as an example, it is somewhat far-fetched to think in terms of 48 independent nations.
The most recent regional designation to be brought into the secessionist discourse is the region of Novacadia. It is the region that consists of the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and the Québec region of the Gaspe Peninsula, and the American states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. There is an alternative designation for the same region which further includes Newfoundland and upper New York state that is tentatively called Atlantica.
The southern states and the notion of Cascadia on the west coast are now well positioned to becoming regional designations as opposed to single state designations for future nationhood. The proposed secessionist designation of Novacadia is barely out of the gate. As the physical term-of-reference for the secessionist movement is the continent of NAmerica and, as the two notions of Cascadia and Novacadia straddle an international boundary, unique and uncharted legal and constitutional challenges abound. The same challenges may hold true for the prairie regions. To this end, the proposed Novacadia Independence Party has included a clause in its draft bylaws for party membership to consist of both Canadian and American citizens.
To aid the process of regional identification for the purposes of NAmerican secession, there exist at least two geographical models.
The first of these models is that put forward by Joel Garreau in his 1981 best seller, The Nine Nations of North America. Within this model, the southern states have been clearly designated as a region called Dixie, although overlapping into Texas. The notion of Mexamerica is likely very contentious. Cascadia still goes by the designation of Ecotopia as first identified by Ernest Callenbach in his novel of the same name. Novacadia is lumped together as an extension of New England (and is called such) and more closely resembles the geographical notion of Atlantica.
The second model is the bioregional model. Within this model, a political designation based solely on geographical factors such as mountain ranges, watersheds, prairie land, rivers, etc. quickly becomes convoluted for practical political purposes. Although the evolution of events and political context over the last two decades have largely made bioregionalism as a concrete political tool redundant, it is not necessary to throw the baby out with the bath water. From wherever it is possible to realistically borrow and most effectively aid secessionist goals surely does no harm. After all, natural and geographical designations have contained since time immemorial the cultural ingredients for nation identification.
There is a third geographical model that is of extreme importance. This model recognizes the same field of play of NAmerica, but does so at a polar opposite from the secessionist model. This model is, of course, the notion of North American Union with the related political appendages of the Security & Prosperity Partnership and U.S. NorthCom. As do secessionists, the advocates of NAU think in long-range terms of a Post-Peak Oil world, but with drastically different motives and goals. That the mandate of NAU is motivated by energy concerns is obvious to the politically astute. The vision for NAU is likely best symbolized by the proposed NAFTA Super Highway. This mammoth engineering concept linking Mexico to Canada is an entropic travesty and is as unachievable as is the political concept that allows for it. However, the bureaucratic efforts to proceed with both, by federal governments of both the United States and Canada, are well underway.
Irrespective of whatever the situation may be above the political surface, it is reasonable to claim that beneath the surface the two nations of the United States and Canada are in distress. The two national flags flown upside down are indicative of this distress. Quickly in passing, it is proposed that the pending official recognition of NAU by our respective national governments strategically works to the secessionist advantage, and not against it. This is so for two reasons. Firstly, the likely sanctioning of NAU in several years time is very likely to coincide with the initial stages of Peak Oil, therefore creating a perfect political storm for our little secessionist dinghy, so to speak. Secondly, by virtue of eventually finalizing NAU, our respective electorates in Canada and the United States will no longer have the option of resorting to their national political representatives with their outrage. New political and electoral options will be entertained, if not immediately endorsed.
In the age of Post-Peak Oil physical and social infrastructures will collapse, the infrastructure of the gargantuan state inclusive; they will grind to gridlock due to severely decreased energy input and flow-through. Business failure and unemployment will be astronomical, and the federal government’s tax coffers will decline relatively. This scenario is a general’s and a mainstream politician’s worst nightmare: the center will not hold. It is the meeting ground of the radical left and the radical right.
Within the context of a Post-Peak Oil world, the identification of Novacadia as a future autonomous nation remains an element of conjecture. But we are all as secessionists, with our hopes and our visions, currently constrained by conjecture. We tread on uncharted political territory. There is no secessionist crystal ball. There are no maps, no charts. We are pioneers. We are the mapmakers.
The literature on how to deal with and survive within such a world ranges from marginal to nonexistent. As example, how does a society learn to concretely deal with a constantly contracting economy and exist within its means when all economic theory and discipline are based on growth and related fiat debt creation? No one knows. Literature on regionalism in the United States is sparse and what there is, as is the case with Canada, deals with regionalism and economic development. There is no literature on regionalism and economic meltdown. The one regional guideline that secessionists may resort to is that during times of crisis one looks to one’s neighbors.
As a conjectured rationale then for the regional determination of Novacadia, the following preliminary sketch is offered. It is a barely visible point on a blank sheet of paper. It will hopefully contribute towards a degree of endorsement by Novacadian secessionists and the eventual drawing of a map. As mentioned at the outset of this paper, there is only one place to start and that is at the beginning.
The combined population of the three Maritime provinces and the three New England states of Novacadia is approximately five million people. This is an optimum population size for civic conduct and administration as Leopold Kohr may have recognized it. More importantly, it is an optimum population size to house, feed and employ within greatly reduced economic parameters and expectations. Economic self-sufficiency will be at a premium. Within this regional population of five million, the three largest cities are Greater Halifax with a population of 370,000, Saint John at 122,000, and Manchester at 108,000.
The vast majority of Novacadia’s population is rural. With a pre-determined economic shift to a predominantly agrarian economy complimented by small-scale secondary industry in a Post-Peak Oil world, this is crucial. An agrarian economy, coupled with a small population and compact channels of distribution, makes the economic challenge of self-sufficiency that much easier to attain. Novacadia is novel in that political power already resides in the country, and not in the city. This is a political opportunity of extreme importance.
It is largely due to this particular designation of Novacadia with its rural nature, small population and relatively limited urban sprawl that the New England states of New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut have been excluded. The Second Vermont Republic made the same distinction with its initial hypothesis for New Acadia. In a Post-Peak Oil world, with limited options in the governmental budget, the carrying and maintenance of a large city will be a liability. Also, if and when secession negotiations commence with federal authorities, it will be prudent to keep off the table a book value that the federalists see as an asset and Novacadians see as a liability.
Except for Vermont, Novacadia is endowed with ocean coastline which directly implies a seafaring nation. The craft and skills of shipbuilding are not completely lost. The natural resources to support this industry are in place. A serious development of tidal energy, as opposed to corporate posturing, could make Novacadia energy self-sufficient. The shared coastline more than compensates for a rough, but useable, highway infrastructure. Upgraded and new rail lines would be welcome. Most importantly, the sea is a cultural tie. It is a common point of identity. This cultural tie highlights a bioregional social dynamic that a people “are of place.” A regional identity is innate; it evolves naturally. It does not have to be artificially hammered into minds beginning at kindergarten age and relentlessly reinforced with gaudy symbols and social spectacles for the duration of a lifetime.
In many ways, the economic possibilities for Novacadia are merely a return to the pre-industrial economies of New England and The Maritimes when natural north-south trade relations existed. These economies were primarily agrarian and, due to seafaring capabilities, mercantile in nature and in practice.
With due respect to Libertarian secessionists, although the market and legal principles of free enterprise will need to be safeguarded, in a time of social crisis a certain degree of state involvement with social programs is likely unavoidable. This will be a precarious economic balancing act, especially in light of limited governmental resources and a new, deflated, non-fiat and unproven regional currency.
As a region that has largely been bypassed by industrial development, the peoples of Novacadia share a relatively undamaged natural environment and a shared history of hardships, of living within material means, and of a condescending arrogance displayed by the “more developed” metropole.
In a Post-Peak Oil world, in many ways, social and economic relations will be turned on their heads. What once was a liability becomes the richest of assets. Underdevelopment becomes an asset; a rural political base becomes an asset; traditional community ties become an asset; small population becomes as asset, and so on. There is almost a poetic justice, a long overdue karma of sorts, to identifying the Novacadian secessionist adventure on the very soil where European settlers first stepped to embark on continental expansionism.
In conclusion, it is not necessary for NAmerican secessionists to advocate a blind and groundless act of secession based on questionable and quite possibly reactionary and redundant motivators. There is little, if any, need for animosity that is rooted in past injustices. What is of greater tactical importance is to acknowledge the historical conditions for secession as they exist in the present, conditions which were not created by secessionists and which quickly approach a crisis and, as such, call to be acted upon. To undo the institutional construct of the large industrial nation state, an artificial imposition that has been in place for two centuries, is no small task. Fortunately, secessionists need not overly concern themselves with having to “do” such task. It is the historical condition with corresponding opportunities and synergies that will unravel the artificial identity of large-scale nationalism. Secessionists need merely to perceive such and adapt accordingly. This is the unfolding of history; it need not be taken personally. There is a clear and important difference of motives, a difference that may at some point carry crucial legal merit.
There is much work to be done. There are no guarantees and there most certainly are no freebies. Secessionist adversaries are many and have at their disposal the full resources of the state. If, as according to the Zogby poll, secession is more favorable to traditional liberals than to traditional conservatives remains to be seen. Within the context of an energy-depleted future, empire implosion and related depletion of a nanny-state social infrastructure, the support of liberal, and largely urban centrists and statists could easily wane while support of conservative, and largely rural decentralists increases. No one yet knows how the hybrid political initiative of “radical right meeting radical left” will actually present and play itself out. However, the political hybrid does slowly begin to come into focus and, as with any other birthing process, will carry like dynamics.
The most dangerous adversary to be faced by secessionists and the one that overlaps all political affiliations is a massive, brain-dead, lumbering brute. This adversary is the Leviathan of large-state nationalism and its blind handmaiden, a fawning patriotism. Fortunately, neither are genetic pre-conditions for human survival and Pavlovian learnt behavior can, over time, be unlearned towards the establishment of new, scaled down regional identities.
For some secessionists it may be time to deal with the political schizophrenia of attempting to be both a secessionist and a national patriot; tourists will need to be shown to the tourist compartment of the secessionist vehicle. Once the Rubicon has been crossed, there is no turning back.
Most of the work to be undertaken over the next two decades will be to agitate and to educate, as the revolution we propose is largely a revolution of thought, a revolution of perception. People fear what they do not understand. Education will be just one of many political responsibilities for secessionists in order to placate those fears. As a simple example, is the public capable of understanding the secessionist dynamics inherent in thermodynamics and cascading entropy? Not very likely, but the public will understand the image of a runaway freight hurtling down the slope of an uncharted mountain. Scolding the public for its lack of comprehension, of course, accomplishes nothing.
As we go forward with our diverse secessionist initiatives to re-invent the political topography of NAmerica it is strongly and sincerely hoped that, however one may understand the notion of a God at work within their lives, may God’s speed be with us all during these turbulent, demanding and crucial times. We will need it.
Addendum: Peak Oil, Bailout Bunk, and the Coming Recession
By Tom Whipple and Steve Andrews
(Note: Tom Whipple writes a weekly peak oil column and edits ASPO-USA newsletter. Steve Andrews is a co-founder of ASPO-USA and publisher of the newsletter. This article is taken from the October 6, 2008 issue of The Peak Oil Review, published by ASPO-USA. Commentaries do not necessarily represent ASPO-USA’s positions; they are personal statements and observations by informed commentators.)
The concept of peak oil started as a geological theory* that went like this: if you knew the amount of oil produced in the past, the rate at which it was produced, and roughly how much oil remained under the earth’s surface, the theory could help you determine when oil production would likely start declining. Over the years however, proponents and critics alike recognized that more factors than just the size of oil resources and the ease of exploiting them would determine when world oil production would peak and plateau.
In the inimitable words of Frenchman Jean Marie Boudaire, “it ain’t the size of the tank [the resource], it’s the size of the tap.” And a veritable suite of factors can tweak “the size of the tap,” or how fast oil can be extracted or produced.
Wars impact production rates. Iraqi production is down because they’ve had bullets flying over their oilfields off and on for about 30 years. Nigerian rebel factions attack and take down oil production facilities with alarming frequency. Nationalism has converted most of the world’s oil reserves to state-controlled national oil companies that in many places produce oil inefficiently. International and domestic politics keep the efficient, well-funded, experienced international oil companies on the sidelines, away from many of the world’s best remaining oilfields. This plus rapid inflation in the cost of oil production equipment and operations has resulted in serious under-investment in projects to produce new oil in the four-years-and-beyond time frame. (The upside here: “inefficient production” will likely lower the ultimate world oil peak and lengthen the plateau production period, thereby giving us more time to plan an adaptive transition.)
It now looks as if a new factor has come into the game, one that could severely limit the rate at which new oil fields are developed over the coming years. This factor is the financial/liquidity crisis and the rapidly deteriorating world economic situation.
At present, financial markets are telling us that without a “solution” to the current credit squeeze, a major recession or worse is in the cards and that recent meager growth in world oil consumption will likely grind to a halt. But don’t bank on further large drops in gasoline prices as the OPEC cartel is already pondering production cuts to keep prices in around $100 a barrel. While OPEC may not be able to produce oil much faster, they (read Saudi Arabia and her closet allies) sure can dial down production, force up prices and end up with the best of two worlds – more unproduced oil in the ground and more money in the bank.
Congress just passed a $700+ billion bill to free up the credit markets which were said to be totally or partially paralyzed. Some seem to think that in a couple of weeks, this bill will grease credit markets and the recession will be minimized. Many others, however, find this absurd. The US bubble economy appears to have problems measured in trillions of dollars, so bailouts in the 100s of billions are unlikely to have more than a short term impact. While an “affordable” bailout may eventually unfreeze some loans, it certainly will not solve the myriad economic problems that have been piling up for a long time. (Wake us when the housing bubble has fully popped.)
In recent months US and world oil consumption have been dropping due to high prices and the worsening economic funk. Whereas in recent years worldwide demand for oil increased by about 1.5 million b/d every year, that number will shrink to a few hundred thousand b/d annual increase for 2008. If the economic situation gets much worse, demand for oil probably will go into actual decline.
If, as seems likely, the omnibus financial bailout does little good and the world goes into a prolonged recession, then we probably are on the peak/plateau of world oil production right now. Demand will drop, production will be slowed, and new multi-billion dollar oil projects that are not already well underway will be delayed or cancelled due to lack of demand or capital to pay for them.
The world, however, will still produce on the order of 31 billion barrels of oil and other combustible liquids this year. That number would likely drop if the situation deteriorates, though we are still likely to be draining tens of billions of barrels from the world’s oil fields each year. But if current economic travails continue and new production projects slow, annual depletion will overwhelm annual new additions. Playing that scenario out, we would never again exceed the production levels we have seen in recent years. We would fall short of reaching 90 million b/d. Just keeping production levels flat may require heroic efforts.
Peak oil, however, probably has another even more important message for us. In recent days there has been much discussion of the “business cycle” and the “rebound” that has always occurred as each past downturn ended. Some believe that the rebound started last Friday with the passage of the bailout bill, others say in a few months, some say in “a few quarters,” or if you are really pessimistic, in a few years. No one outside of those who understand the meaning and imminence of peak oil recognize that the traditional business cycle of the industrial age is about to be turned on its head.
Talk of “rebounds” during an era when oil production will be declining shows a failure to understand a fundamental critical reality: we depend on prodigious quantities of cheap energy, especially liquid fuels, to run our cars, to farm and distribute our food, and to move people and goods by ship, train and plane. Unless we stumble upon some miraculous breakthrough—either in the world of energy supplies or financial market fixes, or both–we likely face a very tough economic transition that could last for many years. Softening oil prices of late will only serve to delay awareness about the need to proactively select a more intelligent transition path than the one we’re trapped on today.
Back in 1988, geophysicist M. King Hubbert, the father of the peak oil theory, said roughly the following during an interview: “we have a window of opportunity to change our oil consumption habits, but that window is slowly closing. Eventually it appears that we’ll have to deal with a downward spiral of adversity before things can get better.” If Hubbert’s words sound prophetic, let’s work to make sure that his “things can get better” prophesy also plays out.
* Some supporters of the oil constraints story are troubled by the demeaning linked use of the words “theory” and “peak oil.” We’re not. Other notable and highly respected theories that make us feel that evolving peak oil theory is in good company include atomic theory, germ theory, theory of relativity, etc.
 Middlebury Institute/Zogby Poll, July 2008. Survey finds that one in five Americans believe that states have the right to secede.
 See: Burlington Declaration, First North American Secessionist Convention, November, 2006; and, Chattanooga Declaration, Second North American Secessionist Convention, October, 2007.
 Amongst Peak Oil advocates, the arrival date of Peak Oil is hotly debated. For the purposes of this paper, the arrival date of 2012-2015 is relied upon, a date corroborated by ASPO-USA. Even within a severe global economic downturn, the basic parameters of Peak Oil do not vary: global supply remains at approximately one trillion barrels and decreasing, while global demand remains at a population of approximately seven billion and increasing.
 The current financial meltdown with related bailing out of banks holding junk derivatives by G8 governments has literally unfolded on a daily basis during the writing of this paper. That a global recession/depression will follow seems imminent. At final edit, crude is trading at $65/barrel, a far cry from the high of $147/barrel in July. At an emergency meeting, the OPEC cartel decided to cut production by 1.5 million barrels in order to bring the price of a barrel in around the $80-$90 mark. The motive to regain lost revenues is self-evident. What is not so self-evident is that producers in Canada’s tar sands require crude prices at the $90/barrel level to show a return on production costs. The financial interests of OPEC coincide with those of the oil majors. Also note, that even with the projected economic downturn, OPEC forecasts 2009 demand to be at 87.2 million barrels per day, resulting in a net increase over 2008 demand by 700,000 barrels. Even within conditions of severe economic recession/depression, especially in G8 countries, global net demand is projected to increase. This is a strong indicator that the world is very likely on the plateau of Peak Oil.
 The Peak Oil breakthrough occurred in 1998 with the publication in Scientific American of a seminal paper co-written by Colin Campbell and Jean Laherrere. Mr. Campbell today is the head of ASPO International (The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas). Other prominent names that have popularized Peak Oil and likely social consequences are: Richard Heinberg, James Howard Kunstler, Matt Savinar and Mathew Simmons. Peak Oil internet sites are numerous with the most respected likely being The Oil Drum.
 One has to wonder if the simplicity of understanding the Peak Oil equation is the motive for its neglect by the corporate media. The Peak Oil paradigm is “Copernican” in nature in that it tends to drastically alter the human perception of worldly phenomena. An argument can be made that social debate is about to shift from the Copernican stage to the Keplerian stage, i.e. from hypothetical Green philosophy to more concrete Peak Oil and thermodynamic philosophy.
 International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2008. It should be noted that of the $26 trillion energy investment in the timeframe 2007-2030, just over half goes simply to maintain the current level of supply capacity. Much of the world’s current infrastructure for supplying oil, gas, coal and electricity will need to be replaced by 2030.
 Leopold Kohr, The Breakdown of Nations
 Regional political determination blends with the principle of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is an organizing principle wherein matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. It recognizes the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. The concept is applicable in the fields of government, political science, cybernetics and management.
 The notion of Atlantica has been championed for several years by the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies. AIMS is seen to be a right wing, neo-con think tank with the designation of Atlantica falling under a wider continental agenda. A fledgling Atlantica Party has been launched and, although the party steadfastly claims there is no affiliation to AIMS, the suspicion that the party is a shill for the latter is widely held in the Maritimes.
 The notion of the radical left meeting the radical right gained considerable public attention by an Associated Press article written by Bill Poovey on the Second North American Secessionist Convention held in Chattanooga.
 The notion of New Acadia was first introduced by Thomas Naylor, founder of the Second Vermont Republic, in a widely-published op-ed piece several years ago. The article has been incorporated as a separate chapter in his recently published book Secession, published by Feral House.
 In Canada, the option for provincial secession is recognized by the federal Clarity Act. Although heavily weighted in favor of the federal government, the Act nonetheless does recognize the legitimacy of a secessionist initiative. In the United States, the situation is considerably more clouded as to the legal merit of state secession. In all likelihood, a secessionist legal precedent may need to be established in order to determine the future of federal devolution. This historical responsibility may very well fall to Vermont as the state most likely seen to secede.