Oil and overproduction

David Schanoes dmsch at attglobal.net
Thu Jan 23 16:26:29 MST 2003


You wrote:

 Perhaps I can articulate now a little better what I was trying to get at in
 mentioning Mark's Marxist "credentials". Mark ( and Lou) really are aware
 the Marxist critique of Mathus ,and the bourgeois perverted use of
of the ecological problems created by the bourgeois's own polluting and
 destructive system. They know the whole fallacy of bourgeois populationist
 demogogy that you explain so well in your post here. They both are very
 convinced of the ABC's of Marx's political economy, including the
 that you keep espousing on this thread.

 But they are also both concerned that bourgeois pollution and environmental
 destruction/exhaustion have reached a point where there has to be some new
 theory building which integrates the ABC's of classic Marxist political
 economy with a new priority of attention to Marxist ecology.

DMS:  I believe what you say, but that (the anti-Malthusian awareness) has
not been all that evident to me in their communications. Scarcity arguments
are likely to attract reactionary types who comfort themselves by adopting
socialist rhetoric.  I think all you have to do is look at the response Mr.
Brooks's homage to Malthus generated-- only one critique, and that not by LP
or MJ-- since the message was posted.  Now I would think if you want to
distinguish your Marxist ecology emphatically from Malthusian
"species-culling," you would jump hard, jump fast, and jump often at first
sight of this mask for eugenics.  Didn't happen. Why?  Not important? Maybe.
Some might construe silence as assent.

I have no problem with extending the classic Marxist analysis to the
problems of pollution, bourgeois or otherwise and destruction of resources.
But the extension should be able to account for the specific actions taken
at specific times, and trace those actions back to a history of the
production of precise conditions.

CB:Now oil depletion is also a sort of special or emergency dimension in
 at least for Mark.  He's saying that even if we had a world wide socialist
 revolution and total transformation to global communism TODAY ( mean in 24
 hours), there would still be a very difficult problem because fossil fuels
 are so critical in the universal human energy and technology regime of
 which wouldn't be switched to a wholly new basis with the worldwide

DMS:  He may have wanted to say that, he may think he said that.  But that
is not what he said.  He said the bourgeoisie were reacting to a scarcity of
resources.  He said that the war would be a war to secure supply of a
natural resource.  I said no, resources only exist as commodities.
Everything capital does it does  to try to secure the reproduction of
capital through the production of commodities.   It's about the terms and
conditions of exchange and not the pre-existing supply.  I have spent some
time since this discussion began reading the material of the "Peak
Production" theorists.  Let me, for ease of the discussion, refer to them as
the "Hubbertists."  It is clear that the supply of oil is finite and will at
some point reach a peak and then decline if no new "giant fields" are found
and make available.  The "peak" for the discovery of new fields was reached
globally in 1962.  Hubbert himself predicted in 1956 that US oil production
would peak in 1970. It did peak in 1970 and has declined to half that peak
in the ensuing years.  But not all of US oil production has declined from
its peak.  As a matter of fact, US offshore production has,   prior to the
recent economic slowdown, reached new peaks, this after extensive investment
in exploration, development, and drilling. But when you read the works of
the Hubbertists, and the Colorado School of Mines seems to be the loco foco
of the group, you will be struck by the absolute inability of the oil
industry to respond to this wealth of "better information" and raise the
price of oil, reduce the production of oil, spend more for the exploration
and development of new areas, alternative sources, etc.  The bourgeoisie
cannot adjust the terms of their own economy outside the categories of its
reproduction, the categories of value price and profit. It isn't David
Schanoes saying this is a condition of overproduction and the falling rate
of profit that circumscribes the bourgeoisies actions, its capital itself
that prevents the adjustment when times are good, i.e. the higher rate of
return, and doubly when times are bad.

This problem, the finite supply of oil, the inevitability of a peak at some
point will definitely not go away automatically with the ascendancy  of the
revolution.  But the revolution will provide the opportunity, the necessity
to create an egalitarian, non-Malthusian program for the mitigation of the
problem.   Does this represent a change from views I held before this
discussion?  Yes. That's why I continued the argument.  I learned something
through negation.

Never thought  LP or MJ were bourgeois Malthusians.  Just thought the logic,
the momentum of the arguments could be manipulated by Malthusians

 CB: Yes, and actually what you could have said to me here was that there IS
 (maybe) a general , whole economy crisis of overproduction in the U.S.right

DMS: Thought I did indicate that by referring to telecommunications, trucks,
hogs.  Could include semi-conductors, cement.

 CB:It is worth
 considering whether there are some "new" things going on in 2003, beyond
 continuous , permanent cause of crises of overproduction, no ? By the way,
 too agree that Margaret's point about no Soviet Union to curb U.S.
 imperialism is a new specific cause.

DMS:  Agreed, but there's overproduction and then there's acute
overproduction which is like super-saturation or over-determination.
Totally agree about the USSR.

 CB: I'm just thinking that there doesn't have to be a crisis of
 overproduction for the bourgeoisie to be motivated to conquer Iraq in order
 to grab production costs of 97 cents while they can sell for $30, no ? We
 could be in a boom for oil and they still would want to grab that
 by any means necessary.

DMS: Yes, and no.  This one occurs here and now, in the midst of
overproduction.  US went to war in 1991, five years after the price of oil
collapsesd, the S$L collapse,  16 months (I think) into the recession.  US
will go to war now 3 years after the inflation of oil prices, the collapse
of profits, as it now hovers in the purgatory of no growth.

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