[Marxism] Does Peak Oil Theory Help the Bourgeoisie?

bauerly at yorku.ca bauerly at yorku.ca
Thu Jun 12 11:25:42 MDT 2008

---That is the second most ridiculous statement I've heard recently. It's now
passe to claim there are limits to the exploitation of the natural

I am not sure if this post is in response to mine or not, but it has part of
mine attached so I guess so.  I never said it was passe to claim limits to the
exploitation of the natural environment, only not radical (ie: not based out of
the root of the problem).

It is not passe, only a very limited and widely accepted position.  From Bush to
BP oil all make the same claim.  My point, that I obviously did not articulate
very well, was that we must be careful and we must add to any statement on the
limits of the biosphere a more critical and deeper analysis.  Peak Oil simply
makes a statement about the finitude of a resource.  O.K., that is great, but
does it tell us anything about how we got here, what the social drivers of our
over use are?  Is it simply that we like to drive too much or that we have too
many things (puritanism)?  Worse, peak oil precludes a non-radical political

--Whether recognition of these limits becomes a tool in the hands of the
bourgeoisie or not is absolutely irrelevant: they exist.---

Whose hands a theory is in or being used to advance is of utmost importance (and
who said limits don't exist?). The theory of democracy can be a very useful
emancipatory theory or it can be used to push through show elections in a
recently invaded country.  Likewise, ecological limits can serve socialist or
liberal capitalist goals (or fascist and reactionary ones).  The same is true
of Marxism as we all know.  I don't see how a statement of fact- there are
ecological limits to our oil use- is anything Marxist or will help us build a
movement by itself.

---And sticking our heads in the sand (or in the idealist version thereof) and
pretending there are no limits, or worse, preaching faith in the Holy
Technological Magic Bullet, will neither turn the masses against the
bourgeoisie, nor assure a material basis for our survival, much less the
construction of socialism.---

This is obviously not aimed at me as I never posted anything remotely
idealistic, technologically oriented or denying eco-limit.

I would only add that we should be equally critical of those leftists who argue
that this is *the* terminal crisis of capitalism, that there is *no* possible
way that capitalism can shift this crisis somewhere else.  This type of
theorizing is quite rampant and smacks of evangelical epocoliptics and
historical stagiest determinism.

--On Wed, 2008-06-11 at 17:07 -0500, Carrol Cox wrote:
> True or false, it simply bores me, and bores most of the non-Marxists
> out there we need to mobilize in mass struggle.
> Carrol

Really? About the only thing I hear about these days at work are
discussions of gas prices. It would seem to me that a marxist ought to
have some answers to the questions people are raising.

Jon Flanders---

I agree with Jon on this, and it is why I instigated this debate in the first
place.  Everyone has this issue on their mind and I think that the current
available analysis are not satisfying the masses.  A Marxist or anti-capitalist
response to the rising oil, gas and food prices might fill this gap and help
institute some trouble for the bourgeoisie in the process.

Again, to reiterate I am not denying the finitude of oil or the ecological
limits, only critiquing current theorizations of its cause and sources.


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