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Welcome to the Petrolithic Era

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The most exploitative commodity today, comparable to tea in 1773 is fossil fuel, Texas tea, dino juice, bubbling crude, burning water, lube, black gold, oil, petrol. Texas tea is comparable to black tea as both are liquid and might appear the same color. They are more comparable and similar in that tea was, and oil is, a means of exploitation. Tea was a tool for exploitation centuries prior, while oil is today, only in an exponential fashion. The potential of tea to exploit was minute next to the potential for petrol to do the same.
There was merely a casual physical dependence on tea. There is an overwhelming, ever infiltrating, global, industrial, institutional and individual dependence on petroleum products. It is not a natural dependence, it is an institutionalized dependence. Today tea, coffee and all things caffeine make up the most widely consumed beverages on the world. Coffee is second only to petrol in global trade. Yet, tea, coffee and all things caffeine, are but a sideline venture in terms of global use and exploitation, compared to petrol and octane. Caffeine may be part of a nice drink, but petrol is literally and figuratively in everything.
Today petrol is needed in order to obtain and distribute everything, even petrol itself. The movement of people is dependent on petrol. Production and shipment of everything is dependent on petrol. The tea business and every other business are all dependent on petrol. Nearly all individual and institutional energy needs are met by burning petrol and its accompaniments.

FACT: Over 30% of world's electricity comes from burning coal.

Humanity's existence revolves around petrol and its accompaniments; the burning of petrol is a global phenomenon. The status quo of today is interconnected with fossil fuel; it is everywhere, in everything. All institutions and individuals are dependent on it and use it. Petrol is everywhere, burned up and spilled into in the world's environment. Take a breath, have a sip - it is in there. It is our greatest entrapment and detractor and yet, also our greatest liberator. There is no getting away from it, whether one lives next to a processing facility or in wild seclusion.
Petrol is decayed carbon matter from the distant past buried under extreme pressures. The decaying mass is pressurized and over time, creates carbon fuels. Coal is created from the same process and is essentially oil that has not aged as long and liquefied. A less acceptable theory is that instead of being pressurized and decayed biomass, fossil-fuel is from much older, Earth forming, geological processes. Either way, petroleum is a nonrenewable resource. Practically all of the world's industry, farming and transportation are dependent upon this nonrenewable resource.

FACT: Many new chemicals and previously unknown substances came into existence as a result of petrol experimentation. Many petroleum products such as plastics could be replaced or manifested through other renewable, less toxic resources. A short list of petroleum products includes: asphalt, antihistamines, aspirin, cosmetics, disposable diapers, linoleum, insecticides, fertilizers, pesticides, trash bags, bubble gum, shaving cream, crayons, plastics, synthetics, deodorant, dyes, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, paintbrushes, paint, stain, sun glasses, rubber cement, carpeting, preservatives, lotion, lip balm, balloons, toys, and on and on.

Oil enables the exploitation of people. Petrol disrupts ecosystems and beings through it toxicities, as well as enables war. The result of global institutional and individual use of petrol is directly a polluted environment. Indirectly, the global use of petrol results in war and olgarchical collectivism.
Tea was not nearly as integral to living in 1773, as oil is today. In 1773, the commodity of tea and the surrounding institutional exploitations came to symbolize institutions treading on individuals. Today the symbolism is the same, only exponentially magnified in petrol. The oligarchical collectivism, the institutional confluences and integrations around petrol, are more intricately intertwined and more significant in numbers.

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Tea was seen as a means for slanted exploitation and the people reacted to the wrong of the increased slant. All of the other related and unrelated unfair taxes and exploits did not go unnoticed; they were despised as well, but the tea became the symbol and catalyst for action. All the other exploitations and wrongdoings had accumulated, added up, but monopolization of the tea was the symbolic commodity that instigated action.
Why then is oil not seen in the same manner? It is all pervasive, it is everywhere. Tea provides caffeine, while oil provides octane. Both are powerful resources of revenue, but the power of octane dwarfs caffeine. Petrol and its accompaniments perhaps make things so easy that people ignore or choose to remain unaware of its exploitive capability and environmental side effects. If caffeine was addictive as opium or cocaine and if tea powered as much as petrol, the Boston Tea Party would have never happened. Great addictions result in great tolerations and the Colonists would have been waiting at the docks with their life savings for a fix. Petrol is as addicting. Petrol equates to everything, so people forego everything for it.
The similarity between tea and oil is somewhat constricted as the scope and power of octane is near limitless compared to that of the healthful beverage. Tea is the brew that provides and prevents, while petrol is the liquid that supplies and denies. Tea was exploitive to North Americans and Asians, but it was avoidable, petrol is not. Tea was exploitive directly, while petrol is exploitive directly and indirectly. If one was disgusted and sickened by tannic acid in tea, one could avoid it, but there is no avoiding petrol and its sickening accompaniments.
Despite all the wrongdoing perpetuated by the Crown, the item that represented the perpetuation of exploitation was tea. Tea was enjoyable and healthful, a hot drink in a cold world. A hot drink, to which there were alternatives in the expanse of the Americas. It wasn't until the abandonment of tea that new distinct and equally enjoyable alternative beverages were enjoyed by the Colonists. Herbal teas were harvested from the vast expanse of wild plants in the new world, introduced by Native Americans.
That was the new world, continents and oceans, an entire hemisphere open and new, undiscovered, never previously institutionalized. Wealth of wondrous proportions captivated and catapulted the pyramidal European Monarchies. European institutions recognized only other European institutions and stomped and swept over the Americas for land, timber, gold and skins.

Today there is a different new world, though no new previously unknown isle has been discovered. Today, it is literally a new world, an altered environment. Every hemisphere is changed in this new world, rather an altered world, manifested by global pollution and environmental destruction at the hands of mankind. The new world is the petrolithic era.

The petrolithic era is represented by a distinct layer of polluted sediment on the Earth and all the elements. The pollution preceding the petrolithic era has also laden the waters and air and all life on the planet. The petrolithic era is a distinct, physically detectable time period leaving a permanent mark on the Earth, its waters and its inhabitants.
Pollution and smog ride the tide and wind the world over. The legacy of the petrolithic era may not be the cities, highways and global trade. The legacy of the petrolithic era may be simply the pollution and waste scattered about, from the depleted resources. Whatever the temperature, the planet is layered with petrolithic toxins.
Asphalt is a petroleum product. People in Persia, Asia and Japan used petrol millennia ago for fuel and building material, but the petrolithic era began much later in history, when petrol became a worldwide phenomenon, a permeation encompassing and surrounding everything, reaching into all the elements through and through. The petrolithic era began with the unheralded globalization of, by and for petrol.

Petrol pollution has been growing since the early 1900s, the ongoing effects of which are still being calculated and accumulating. Petrol and its accompaniments are all pervasive, measurable in every climate on the planet, detectable in every stratum. Millennia from now, the consequences and conditions of the petrolithic era will be a stain in this geological layer, physically defining the time.
Rudolf Diesel was born in France in 1858. Rudolf invented different types of engines and received his first patent in 1893. He was a dreamer, a thinker, and a doer and was nearly killed when one of his early engine designs exploded. He had to spend months in the hospital and suffered throughout life due to the accident.
After years of work, he invented his Diesel engine. Rudolf moved to the U.S.A. to make and sell them in the biggest market. Originally, his design used and was intended to use, a mixture of bio-fuels. Rudolf promoted and advocated bio-fuels to power his engines, along with petrol if it was locally accessible. At the time, petrol was the alternative energy source, as bio-fuel is today. Bio-fuels and renewable resources were the accepted, sensible norm.
Rudolf believed that his engine would enable local individuals. He envisioned his engine would be powered by locally available fuels to enable local industry. Rudolf never wanted to use petrol; he wanted to use bio-fuels. Of course if petrol was accessible locally, he wouldn't argue its use. Still to name a petrol fuel after Rudolf is insulting and misleading. He became a powerful business figure when the Diesel engine exploded on the world market instead of on him. His ideas for bio-fuels were not environmental or extraordinary departure, just sensible direction.
Rudolf and his invention eventually were caught up in the arms race leading up to WWI. Before his death, he was paranoid and suffered several nervous breakdowns. He was of Germanic heritage, but did not support the German build-up to war.
While crossing the English Channel on the S.S. Dresden, Rudolf disappeared, lost at sea. He was on his way to sell his new technology to the British for their submarines amid the arms race leading up to WWI. It is unknown whether Rudolph committed suicide or was murdered; either way, Rudolf disappeared at sea. Ten days later, his possessions were removed from his presumed corpse and the badly decomposed body was set off to sea. There are better ways to kill oneself than submit to the sea, but there are not many better ways to murder than to plunge someone overboard.
After Rudolf died, people would forget about the bio-fuels, his engines would be petrol powered. The petrolithic era began September 30, 1913, when Rudolf mysteriously disappeared.

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"The fact that fat oils from vegetable sources can be used may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become in course of time of the same importance as some natural mineral oils and the tar products now."
Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf intended his engine to be powered by bio-fuel and/or petrol, enabling people. He did not intend his engine to be used specifically with petrol to enable global corporations. Today, petrol is presented as the standard while it is just one option. Petrol is the best option for institutional monopolization or oligarchical collectivism. Bio-fuels are the best option for individuals and independence.

At the beginning of the 20th century, John D. Rockefeller, of Standard Oil was the world's wealthiest individual and the U.S.A. was the world's major supplier of petrol. John D definitely made petrol standard, institutionalizing it the world over. At the 1900 World's Fair, one of Rudolf's engines was featured running on peanut oil. After Rudolf's death, the petrol would flow, the submarines would go and the bombs would blow. The War to End All Wars, now known as World War One, began soon after Rudolf's untimely end.
The petroleum business began to globalize, as did weapons manufacturing and sales. The June 1914, assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand by a member of a Serbian secret society was the catalyst for WWI. Yet in reality, the war was bound to happen and sprouting before Rudolf ate his last meal. Since the death of Rudolf and WWI, war and oil have been as intertwined as science and math.
Black Gold is today black death. Texas tea is puts Texas and Louisiana and the entire Gulf in jeopardy. Welcome to the petrolithic era. Petroleum products are in you, in the air you breathe, in the water you drink. The oil spill that resulted from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oilrig is likely going to devastate life and livelihood and such continued occurrences are likely on the figurative horizon unless people instigate already existent alternatives to the oligarchical petroleum business.



About Ethan Indigo Smith:

Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan's work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humor.

The events of September 11, 2001 inspired him to write his first book, The Complete Patriot's Guide to Oligarchical Collectivism, an insightful exploration of history, philosophy and contemporary politics. His more recent publications include:

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

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