By Pinchas Landau /
As a general rule, it is safe to say that matters of importance are not prominent in the media and that things that are prominent in the media are not important. Of course, that is a searing indictment of the media and, by implication, of the entire democratic system in which the media are meant to play a key role. However, once you reach the conclusion that Orwell’s “1984” dystopia has largely been realized and that the general public is today merely a gigantic herd of sheep, lulled into somnolent stupidity by the endless barrage of bilge directed at it via ever more ubiquitous electronic gadgets, the derivative conclusion regarding the degradation of participatory democracy follows naturally.
The antics of Israeli politicians, which have reached new heights – or plumbed new depths – in recent days, merely confirm that politics is primarily a variant entertainment form. That is why its better exponents, such as Bibi, insist on presenting their acts during “prime time.” But anyone inclined to the view, very prevalent among the chattering classes in Israel, that we are much worse than what they ludicrously refer to as “civilized” countries, obviously had no exposure to the recent election circus in the U.S. This contest pitted two lousy candidates: an incumbent who was eminently defeatable and a challenger who, together with his weirdo party, made every possible effort to ensure he could not win. Their rival campaigns totally ignored the critical issues facing the U.S. at home and abroad, relying instead on endless repetition of vacuous slogans the content of which was either negative or non-existent.
Nevertheless, most sheeple – and especially “educated” sheeple – profess to believe that the POTUS (President of the United States) is “the most powerful man in the world.” By extension, other political leaders are seen as having power and influence in accordance with the apparent clout of the countries they supposedly lead. This approach is encapsulated in the compiling of lists of persons variously defined as “the most powerful, ” “the most influential, ” and so on. An example – one among very many, but it appeared a couple of days ago, so it’s fresh – is the list of the most influential people in the world, as put together by Forbes magazine. Almost needless to say, Barak Obama is number one – not because he has done anything significant, but just because if he is POTUS, he must be the most, etc.
Meanwhile, far from the media’s beloved “news cycle, ” the world is undergoing a staggering, far-reaching upheaval, of which the epicenter is the United States. Obama has nothing to do with it. Nor does Romney, or any other politician. Over the last few years, oil production in the U.S. has increased by leaps and bounds – and this is onshore production, not offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico or the Arctic. More important still, huge amounts of natural gas are being extracted from newly-identified geological formations across the United States, driving a massive shift in the production and use of energy – less coal and nuclear power, much more gas and more oil.
All this has happened within a relatively short period against a background of growing consensus among educated and knowledgeable people that the world had reached “peak oil, ” i.e. the amount of oil left to be extracted from the planet was known and what was left was increasingly hard to extract, so that oil prices would rise – basically forever. Five years ago, this was the received wisdom and anyone doubting that this was so and that any alternative future awaited mankind was considered ignorant and potentially dangerous.
However, as 2013 beckons – and despite the severity of the financial and economic crisis in which the developed world is mired – the prospect is for oil prices to fall, perhaps far and probably for a long time. The impact of oil and natural gas from shale formations, and the shift to using natural gas for electricity generation, are still in their early stages. But achieving the goal of “energy independence, ” at least in the sense of having domestic energy sources sufficient to cover domestic needs, for the U.S. (and certainly for Israel) is a realistic proposition.
Over and above the economic impact, the geo-political implications of this development are truly phenomenal. Iran, the Arab Gulf States and Russia are facing what is for them a disastrous scenario, as the world’s energy sources are redistributed with stunning speed.
All this stems from a few technical, technological and engineering inventions, made by a few people. Those people – whom perhaps one in a million Israelis or Americans could name – have influenced the world far more than all the top 50 “leaders” and “statesmen” combined who appear on the Forbes list. But nevermind – the sheeple, including the “senior executives” and “high-powered” people who read glossy business magazines, need to think that they and their ilk run the world.