[Marxism] Peak oil

rrubinelli rrubinelli at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 1 21:57:34 MDT 2005

I think we have to "tease apart" the strands of several arguments here
that get tangled up and actually prevent developing a clear alternative
to both fetishism of capital's technical/economic capabilities (i.e.
"supply and demand"-- investment as a cure; unbounded endorsement of
increased capitalist expansion of production); and the risk of
pseudo-socialist austerity that proclaims standards of living cannot be
supported, cannot be raised for all, worldwide, due to resource
scarcity, environmental damage, or just plain old simple Malthusian

And in both strands  is where I think the peakist arguments clearly veer
to the right, away from Marxist analysis-- the problem, the predicament
of society is divorced from the organization and property, from that of
class-- it is either a predicament of defined inelastic geological
determined scarcity, or a problem where, as Paddy Apling put it, "the
adjective,"  capitalist, doesn't matter-- these are problems inherent in
production as production.

We can say what we want about 40 years from now, but truly that's
speculation.  Thirty years ago, the wall was supposed to be hit in 20-25
years.  Thirty years from now, nobody knows.

But we can assess the damage the overproduction of capitalism has caused
through the increased price of oil, the war in Iraq, the attack on
living standards and the components of social welfare, the draining of
profit from less developed to more developed countries, and destruction
of protective legislation for labor and the environment.

Despite what Jon Flanders might think, nobody is arguing for an SUV
society, but do Marxists really think that it is not possible to bring
electricity to rural China?  That the price of doing so is a measurable
decline in living standards in "advanced" countries?  That the
environmental damage of bringing that energy makes it inadvisable to do

And the alternative to not bringing forth such rational electrification,
rational amplification and development of energy sources?  Burning
biomass?  Much of the world's population burns biomass, and the
environmental costs of that use are enormous, certainly  more enormous
than a rational, socialist, use-based plan of development and production
of "industrial" energy supplies.

The social costs of that biomass use are just as staggering, and that
burden falls upon, mainly, young women, who are forced out of urban
centers, out of schools, out of manufacturing jobs, and into the tasks
of gathering wood and water for their families.

I think there are definitely socialist answers to the problems of global
warming, and those answers start with the expropriation of the
production for exchange value and organization of production for real
use, real needs, including the needs of the environment.

The more "equitable distribution of the populace over the country" that
Marx writes about is impossible without increased development,
distribution, and use of energy.  Even then it's going to be a long long
road as an even distribution between town and country is pretty
difficult when so much of the "countryside" is first 75% water, and even
on the land masses, so uneven in its suitability for sustained,
developed agriculture-- with increasing that suitability requiring true
revolution in techniques, and the availability of energy.


Do ----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2005 8:11 PM
Subject: [Marxism] Peak oil

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