[Marxism] Nader and Peak Oil

bauerly at yorku.ca bauerly at yorku.ca
Fri Jun 6 07:09:07 MDT 2008

---As can be seen, production has been essentially flat for three years.
How can these numbers be reconciled with the claims that a) demand is
growing but b) supplies are adequate?---

You are confusing production with reserves.  Production is flat because global
extraction is at approx 80% of capacity and US refineries are running at approx
70% capacity.  This is a manufactured shortage not peak oil.  Also, as someone
else mentioned there has been little increase in price of production (I love
how they call extraction production in the oil business).

The whole theory of peak oil is based on neoclassical theories of supply and
demand equilibrium which obfuscate the political (read class) aspects.  It is
based on an acceptance of the idea that an economic formula can predict how a
complex social system will allocate a scarce resource.  While there are
obviously limits to oil use, the particularities of the current conjuncture
have more to do with capitalism than with a declining resource base.

---Obama is much, much closer to the mark when he
HONESTLY tells people there is no real solution to the gasoline crisis
except for developing alternative energy sources and breaking "our"
(the United States's) "petroleum addiction."---

I think everyone agrees that US society uses too much oil, this is not a
leftists position. This does not mean that the only solution to the oil price
rise (is this really a gasoline crisis?  Europeans have had $5 gas for a
decade), and therefore the only problem, is the overuse of a finite resource. 
While I agree that SUV's and the whole US consumerist lifestyle is
unsustainable, the bourgeoisie has figured out that they can profit from this
by using the MSM to over-hype peak oil and sell you the necessary goods to
consume our way out of the 'crisis'.  While at the same time they can cash in
on the hysteria by raising prices through manipulation.  When Obama says we
need to break our petroleum addiction he mean we, individual consumers, need to
use our liberal individualist power to consumer our way out.  It operates just
as Marx explained, it obfuscates the true power relationships that created the
problem.  It is not that our things are bad, or that we are bad because we
'choose' them.  It is the objectified human relationships in the form of things
that prevent a more ecologically benign society.

The Krugmanite solution- increased mass transit, downgraded lifestyles,
increased population densities- are all necessary steps.  However, there is a
difference between seeking them within the parameters of capitalist social
realtions or exposing how production and a society oriented toward profit
maximization have both produced these problems and will produce new problems if
the solutions simply shift consumption towards 'green' alternatives within
capitalist society.

---In other words, I believe the battle the U.S. left needs to wage today
is a battle of ideas and fundamentally about *values.* This is, to be
brutally frank, NOT NOT NOT a "class" message as that is traditionally
understood on the left, but first and foremost a message addressed to
the intelligentsia, and most especially the youth.---

If you really want to influence the youth you need to stop talking about the
1960's and about 'values'.  I would also fundamentally challenge the notion
that we should not talk about class (not sure what you mean by traditionally
understood on the left).  Class needs to be THE message (I would also dump the
'battle of ideas' 60's mantra).  Class as the way to understand the lack of
true democracy and control over our own society.  Class as the inability to
elect a true representative of the society that we want.  Class as the driving
force of war, ecocide, hunger, racism, despair....  Class as the analytical
tool to uncover the connection between society and the economy.  These are
issues that everyone can understand, not just the intelligentsia and youth.  We
must move beyond being a sect that is attempting to build a secret movement of
intellectuals and college students.  Our analysis and ideas must become common
sense.  As Ralph Milliband explained; culture is not what supports the
capitalist systems repressive apparatus, culture is the repressive apparatus of
the capitalist system. Values and culture as political strategy reinforce
bourgeois rule.

---And I can see myself just as easily or more easily starting a
useful discussion from Obama's vague statements about oil addiction
than from Nader's (frankly) demagogic anti-corporate muckraking. The
problem is not just that corporate interests are in control, but what
they DO with that control, and not mostly in terms of the marginal
immediate material well-being of people in the U.S., but in terms of
the fundamental sustainability of human civilization as a whole.---

I don't understand this.  If the problem is what certain interests do with their
control, than how would Obama's postion, which denies that there is even any
class aspect to oil or food prices, offer a better starting point than one that
is too anti-corporate?  It would appear to me that the Obama position is to
shift the chairs on the sinking Titanic, while Nader is complaining about where
he has to sit.  I agree that the whole point needs to be about the large whole
in the ship.


More information about the Marxism mailing list