I was in my daughters class for her ‘book look’ and I saw something interesting. It was a map of the world by climate zones. The colder countries in the north and the warmer climate to the south. This struck me because it’s a map of why colonialism happened.
The cold, sun-poor regions stole solar energy from the south, and the sun-stained people that lived there. Then ‘they’ dug up even more stored solar energy (fossil fuels) and colonized even harder. Now it’s all ending in tears as the climate ‘they’ exploited is falling apart. To understand this just follow the money, I mean the energy, I mean the sun.
My daughter’s map is a map of where the sun hits the earth. This is really where the energy is, the source of almost all energy in the world. We take the sun for granted in our fallen age, but the ancients worshiped the sun for good reason. The sun doesn’t just keep us warm, it grows and feeds all plants and animals (including us), powering all labor. Even energy sources we don’t think of as solar-powered — like wind and hydropower — actually are. As Dr. Tom Murphy writes in his physics textbook:
Wind is replenished daily by the sun heating the land and driving air currents. Solar energy drives the hydrological cycle, refilling the reservoirs behind hydroelectric dams. Plants grow back to replace harvested ones — again thanks to the sun. Ocean currents and waves are also driven by the sun, via wind.
This energy framework is vital to understanding colonialism because under all the history, all the politics, and the philosophy there is an exercise of raw power across the globe. Of energy. Beneath all the gold, all the stock markets, all the filthy lucre, that’s what it comes down to. The universal currency. As Vaclav Smil said, “Energy is the only universal currency: one of its many forms must be transformed to get anything done.”
The sun is also vital to understanding colonialism because that’s the source of most power. That’s why people from the cold north came here and we didn’t go. As I think every time I go to England to eat shitty food and freeze my toes off, fucking why? The colonizers were following the sun. The reason for colonization of the south is the same reason Willie Sutton gave for robbing banks. “That’s where the money is.” That’s where the energy is. That’s where the sun is. Same difference.
Colonialism was the sun-poor regions of the world going to the sun-rich and robbing them. Colonizers sent up plantations to capture that solar energy into crops then used secondary solar energy (wind) to move them around. This was all done with human and animal slaves, who got just enough secondary solar energy (food) to get the work done.
All of the wealth that colonialism ‘created’ was in fact captured from the labor of the sun-darkened slaves, from the green of sun-kissed crops, and ultimately from the sun. That wealth was all laundered into different currencies, but those are just claims on the universal currency (energy) and the celestial bank that issues it most abundantly. The sun. Hence the climate map of the world my daughter was looking at is also a map of wealth. Not where it ended up, but where it comes from. It’s actually a curse to come from a warm climate, because people with cold hearts will come and wreck it.
The ironic thing is that colonialism was powered by renewable energy in the beginning — solar, wind, and slaves. This goes to show you how ‘renewables’ don’t solve anything. In my country (Sri Lanka) alone, ‘renewable’ colonialism wrecked entire ecosystems to grow plantation tea, over-exploited oysters to effective extinction, and periodically killed the male human population when they rebelled. This was repeated this all over the world, to the destruction of many ecosystems, species, and human cultures. And this was all done before fossil fuels, mind you. Injecting fossil fuels into colonialism was just like giving cocaine to someone that was already an asshole. It definitely made them worse, but they were already awful.
Before we get into fossil-fueled colonialism, a brief digression into the ‘them’ I’m throwing around so blithely. When I talk about colonialism the assumption is that I’m talking about bad Europeans, or Americans, or the whole structure I call ‘White Empire’. But people are just cogs in a machine. When we talk about colonization, I am actually talking about the emergence of an entirely new species.
My country, among others, was colonized by corporations. These corporations were cyborgs with human parts and ostensible ‘royal’ masters, but in reality they were artificial beings running riot across the world. Corporations are legally recognized as artificial persons because they are. There’s no need to look for artificial intelligence in the past, it’s been ruling and enslaving us since 1602!
Corporations were legally encoded to convert energy, labor, and resources into profit and given limited liability or even awareness of the consequences. They were then let loose to feast on the natural world, eating and shitting wherever they want (the same place, ultimately). As 21 Savage — channeling the id of capitalism — said,“Know we walk around the world, Steppin’, not givin a damn ‘bout where our feet land at, yeah, Get your ass mushed, smooshed.” Artificial beings were given the rights to entire continents and limited liability for their actions, is it any wonder that things have gone wretched?
I’ve written more about this, but this is the ‘them’ I’m talking about. Artificial life, genus Capital, species corporation. While humans get the secondary benefits of capitalism, the biggest clue is in the name. It’s not called humanism, it’s really the rule of Capital. And you are not Capital. Like bacteria inside a human’s gut, humans inside Capital’s guts can get plenty of energy for themselves, and feel quite good about it. But in the end, we all get shit out. As Michael Jackson said, “All I want to say is that ‘they’ don’t really care about us.”
Fossil Fuel Colonialism
Now imagine this sociopathic species of artificial beings, given carte blanche to abuse colored people and poor ‘white’ people if it feels like it, plus unquestioned domination over plants and animals. All of this shit destruction feeds into ‘the economy’ as a positive, and what is lost isn’t even measured. As long as that artificial line goes up, nobody cares what natural lines are completely dying out.
Where do you think this leads? Like bacteria let loose in a Petri dish with no concept of an ecosystem to balance it, this artificial species we call ‘the economy’ (with no concept of an ecosystem) is both running out of ‘food’ and taking massive shits where it eats. This leads to the phenomena we call ‘overshoot’ and ‘climate change’ and attribute to ourselves. But we are the wrong species. Do the emissions come out of you? This is the age of the corporate machines, and has been for centuries. Ask anybody colonized. We’ve been living through the ‘predicted’ apocalypse for generations already.
Fossil-fueled climate collapse is just the accelerated collapse that began with centuries of ‘renewable’ colonialism. Indeed, it’s still exploiting the same energy source. Fossil fuels are just stored solar energy. That’s all they are, buried plants that you don’t require a plantation. It’s millions of years worth of energy slaves, ready to do ‘your’ bidding. It is the same shit different day, just in a much more intensive way.
Colonialism is still happening, as you should be able to tell from the British and Americans still cruising the Red Sea, shooting natives. These shady motherfuckers are still attacking the solar-rich. Why do you think so many people are deceased in the Middle East? In this case, it’s not for what solar can do on the surface, it’s what solar did beneath. Fossil fuels are why the Carbon Crusaders are in the Middle East in the first place.
The program is still the same. Feed the natural world to the new artificial lifeforms, and live off their metabolic byproducts like color TVs, and microwaves, and airplanes. Like any bacteria in your gut, we’ll end up in the shit eventually, but it’s a living. That’s how corporate colonizers went from ‘weak’ cyborgs powered by human blood and renewable energy (solar, wind) to absolute gods among men, able to rain death across the world and devour life constantly. While the early colonial companies did all that, fossil fuels poured literal gasoline on the flames.
The Inevitable Collapse
So how does this all end? In tears, obviously. Europeans unleashed a resource consuming algorithm in the form of the limited liability corporation and — after ruining the Global South for centuries — now the whole planet is feeling the heat. The capture of solar energy from the South turned into the capture of stored solar from the Middle East. Solar panels won’t change the destination, which is the overexploitation of the Earth and mass extinction. That’s already baked in.
Understanding why colonialism happened is honestly cursed knowledge. So you understand how colonialism chased solar energy, and how modern colonialism is chasing stored solar energy, and then how‘green’ colonialism is the same thing. What are you, pathetic human, going to do with this information? That energy has already flowed into the metabolism of corporations that already used it to literally trade humans and destroy entire ecosystems hundreds of years ago. How much later are we?
Perhaps we had a chance to harness the beast with communist revolution, but it’s too late for that also. In 1972, The Club Of Rome predicted collapse starting right about now, and that’s precisely what’s happening. This is cursed knowledge I think, as I look up from my daughter’s schoolbook. She’s already off playing with her friends and not paying attention to me. That’s the way to be.