[Marxism] Peak oil

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Oct 1 18:11:27 MDT 2005

Let me repeat a point I made the other day. Even if you accept the 
"optimistic" projections of oil supplies at current market conditions, we 
are supposed to hit a brick wall in 40 years or so. Homo sapiens has been 
around for around 190,000 years. So 40 years is a wink of the eye. As 
socialists, we should be presenting an alternative to the current 
*irrational* use of dwindling energy supplies. This means presenting 
entirely new ways of organizing society so as to be environmentally 
sustainable. Part of this includes preservations of species that don't 
necessarily serve some immediate material need for our own reproduction. We 
have to become much more the conservator of the planet rather than homo 
economicus. The problem with traditional Marxist thought is that it has not 
considered this angle sufficiently except in some of Bukharin's writings 
interestingly enough. It has put much more of a priority on rapid 
improvement of working people and peasants in places such as Cuba or China 
or Vietnam. As humanity begins to grapple with broader questions of 
survival, much more emphasis will have to be placed on the capacity of the 
planet to sustain an industrial system such as we have known for the past 
300 years on the basis of an ever-increasing population. However, this runs 
into all sorts of contradictions since the basis of such a system as we 
have known it requires the burning of fossil fuels that produce greenhouse 
gases. There is no "socialist" answer to the problem of global warming. It 
requires a rethinking of how we live as social beings. Marx was grappling 
with such questions when he called for the following in the Communist 
Manifesto: "Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; 
gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more 
equable distribution of the populace over the country."

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