The above articles present peak oil as a unique problem with inescapable and dire consequences for humanity. The dangers described are real, but disappointingly, the cause is unanimously misattributed to a convenient scapegoat - the oil itself - as if it were unusually significant among other scarce resources. Peak oil is an inescapable geologic fact - but the predicted dire consequences are far from inevitable.

The root cause of any of the disasters predicted above is in every case the institution of state socialism, which operates by forcibly separating cost from consumption. When actors cannot accurately assess cost, waste is the inevitable result.

Thankfully, state socialism is an institution that thinking humans absolutely have the power to abolish. Thus we should recognize peak oil - an unavoidable reality about which we can do nothing - as utterly insignificant in the grand scheme of human survival, and instead turn our constructive energies to neutralizing the true threat: pervasive state socialism.

The insignificance of oil

As any resource becomes scarce - petroleum, in this case - it becomes increasingly more valued by interested consumers, providing a natural impetus toward conservation and the development of alternative technologies.

In a world of abundance, where energy literally rains from the sky, viable alternatives to petroleum consumption already exist and continue to improve, and are certainly within reach of any free-acting individual, at any economic level, in any part of the world, seeking to avoid the economic pain of rising oil prices.

Peak oil only presents a danger to those societies which forcibly restrict their members to the oil dependent lifestyles they would not otherwise choose.

The role of state socialism

Tax-funded anything represents an economic cost to consumers which cannot be avoided. Resources confiscated by taxation cannot be conserved even if the taxpayer wants to - precious resources (not least of which is human life) are thrown away at the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen for state warfare and 'public works'. Thus, even the best intentions of the billions of humans who respect and seek to conserve the beauty of our earthly eden are rendered impotent.

Most insidious of all taxes is the property tax. Most other taxes can be effectively avoided through lifestyle choices, but the effects of this inescapable rent on land ultimately compel every actor to seek a monetary income far beyond peaceful subsistence, vastly increasing every actor's consumption footprint. Additionally, property taxes based on assessed market value penalize urbanization, thus encouraging suburban sprawl - leading to expensive road building and increased daily travel (both energy hungry), and a host of other inefficiencies and social costs. Abolishing the property tax would permit a widespread return to agrarian values as a response to dwindling oil, and encourage migration back toward efficient ubran communities.

Public road building is a subsidy of personal vehicle travel. Every actor has already paid for the existence of the road, whether they support its existence or not, so the only remaining decision becomes whether or not to drive on that road - a privilege usually granted free to everyone. Predictably, overconsumption is the result, in the form of gridlock and nonsensical daily commutes. Privately funded toll roads would discourage the wasteful use and expansion of the road system and encourage use of mass transit alternatives, thus alleviating traffic congestion and its associated pollution and energy consumption, and further discouraging inefficient suburban sprawl. Finally, allowing the true cost of transportation to be reflected in the purchase price of (avoidable, substitutable) consumption goods, rather than buried in (unavoidable) taxes, will yield a host of other benefits: relocalization of the food supply, for example.

State subsidy of energy costs is perhaps the most uncomplicated example of harmful state interference. The state taxes its people to pay for a portion of their gas and electricity consumption (plus bureaucratic overhead). Far more efficient would be to let people keep those taxes, but feel the true cost of their consumption. This would have the expected effect of investment in energy efficient housing and other sustainable living options. After all, why pay up-front for an efficient (but expensive) geothermal heat exchanger or solar array, when the state keeps on-grid gas and electricity prices artificially competitive?

Tax-funded warfare consumes enormous resources. This includes traditional military warfare, social warfare such as the war on drugs, and other social spending which forcibly separates consumer from cost. Warfare is unproductive, period. Warfare in all cases is a throwing away - an utterly wasteful squandering - of precious resources. The limited resources we do have would be far better used by market actors to develop or support sustainable technologies - rather than for killing each other.

Depreciation of state-issued money through monopoly, inflation, tax-backed easy credit, and market regulation reduces saving and encourages short-term consumption - a combination of "spend it while it's still worth something" and "when this runs out I'll just get another handout" attitudes.

Under the influence of these incentives, society becomes accustomed to ignoring future consequences in favor of instant gratification. It's not because people are inherently stupid and shortsighted - they've just been instructed repeatedly by their well-armed governments, "this is how it's gonna be - obey us and we'll take care of your future... unless we decide to kill you first." It's hard to say whether people raised in fear are more motivated by the blatantly unfounded promise of security (which we see failing every day) - or by the very real threat of harm (which we see made good every day) - but the result is the same: we all live increasingly in the present, with no regard for the uncertain future.

The list of examples goes on forever, with the same pattern repeating: conservation is a fool's errand when resources are confiscated to provide for someone else's costless consumption. This argument applies to all resources, of which oil is merely a somewhat important one at this moment in history.


The 'inevitable' disasters predicted by the above articles are not inherent consequences of peak oil. The inevitability of disaster arises purely from state socialist practices, which separate cost from consumption by threat of force - a universal phenomenon in no way limited to oil, or any other particular resource.

From this, we can take hope. Our demise is inevitable only to the extent that we cling to the failed promise of state socialism. Don't worry about oil. It is going to run out - but that was never the problem.

Worry, first and always, about the wasteful state.

Based on some comments I've recieved, perhaps a clarification is in order. Above I argue simply that the dangers of peak oil are symptoms of a deeper (but curable) disease. As this seems unconvincing on the surface, the nature of the disease needs greater explanation.

The state does two things only: it confiscates certain means, and it forbids certain ends. It does this as any thug or villian would: it secures your fearful cooperation by threatening to hurt you in various ways.

The more ends and means which are taken away, the more difficult it is for anyone to achieve anything of value. By way of metaphor: it's much more difficult to cross through a barbed-wired, landmined, cratered battlefield with bullets flying and chains around your ankles, than it is to stroll across a flowering meadow in the sunshine. Chances are, you'll cross the former face-down with your belly in the mud, advancing by inches, with little or no concern to spare for your neighhbor's desperate plight - and everywhere the bodies of the fallen serve as signposts that you probably won't make it.

In other words - life is harder when you are subjected to omnipresent threats and encumberances, holding you to a narrow and unpleasant path.

People live diverse lives, pursuing diverse values in a diverse world, and interact in complicated ways. Consequently the state's interference is refracted throughout society into a kaleidoscope of effects which defy comprehension - neither mine, nor yours, nor the comprehension of today's flavor of bureaucrat who pretends the ability to control it all. Sometimes the effects are just a pain in your ass, like having to go renew your license plate sticker (why this nonsensical ritual?) - but other times it's life and death, like the enslavement of children to fight and die in faraway lands, or the wholesale destruction of our planetary habitat. Between the extremes of the trivial and fatal, we witness the impoverishment of every imaginable value, material and ephemeral both.

The state is never a benevolent protector and savior - cannot be - because its means are rooted always in the threat of harm. The state gives nothing which was not first plundered from someone else. The longer and stronger the state operates, the further we spiral down into poverty and suffering. The state is a disease, a condition of weakness and delirium where every goal moves further and further beyond reach, until survival itself is in question - and as the predictions of peak oil show, it threatens to kill us all.

Versus the comparative state of sickness, the alternative - market anarchism - is defined not by what it is, but by what it is not: it is the absence of threats, compulsion, and perverse incentives; it is a condition of health from which a society is empowered to secure ever-increasing health and happiness. Market anarchism offers no false promises. It does not guarantee any particular outcome, unlike the decieving state. But it does offer the best possible chance of each person getting what each person wants - by allowing them to try, to keep and build upon the fruits of their efforts. If the people desire conservation of our world, for themselves and their children (as most genuinely do), then market anarchism is the best bet to provide it.

What prosperity and hope we have, we find in the freedom that remains to us - and thankfully, freedom is a powerful tool. The liberal west prospers, not because of its democracies and their wars, but despite them. The liberal west prospers, because its people have enjoyed an unprecedented personal freedom - a freedom latter-day witch doctors demand (with ever more shrill voices) be cast into the volcano god's mouth.

Shall we continue on the path back into darkness and superstition, allowing ourselves to be ruled against common sense and what we know to be right - or will we empower ourselves and others to heal in freedom the damage we've done in slavery?