[Marxism] Class Struggle, Fossil Fuels,and Environmental

bauerly at yorku.ca bauerly at yorku.ca
Thu Jun 19 13:52:56 MDT 2008

--"Although the limits of fossil-fuel based growth are apparent now, and it is
clear that both numbers and per capita consumption of the human population will

You really should be careful with statements such as this.  Do we really know
the limits of fossil-fuel based growth?  Do you mean under capitalism or in
general?  Do you mean with a very large percentage of the industrialized
populations consuming massive amounts of meat and driving SUV's to the mall or
in general?  Do you mean with a throw away consumer society?

How do we know that numbers of people will now decline?  Is there no alternative
way in which the number of people could actually increase?  What if we got rid
of SUV's and increased the MPG to a minimum of 45 and people cut their meat
consumption in half.  The earth would then be able to hold many more people.

What do you mean by 'per capita consumption', consumption of what?  Food, fuel,
water, air, or Britney Spears CDs?  I know of no way to measure per capita
consumption in general.

---"Instead of an ever tightening immiseration of the working class and
overthrow of the capitalist system, as expected by Marx, the one-time gift of
fossil fuels led to a standoff between classes, in which rising profits were
accompanied by a population explosion and rising living standards for important
parts of the working class."---

Is this how it happened?  Was there no immiseration and a correlated increase in
class struggle?  What period are you referring to?  Marx was talking about the
second half of the 19th Century, surely there was no buying off of labor
through fossil fuels then.  How did this original- 1860's-1900 class struggle
play out?  How were they bought off if not by oil?

A one time gift? Do you mean the post war boom era? If so, your thesis would
imply that during energy shortages- the 1970's- the class struggle would
increase in intensity.  Is there any evidence of this?  Could there be other
means to buying off the working class and dampening the class struggle?

I am also not convinced that we are witnessing the end of oil, but that is
another conversation.  To play it out though, what if oil prices relax in the
near future?  What does that do for all of the desires to shift to a non-oil
based society if their 'peak oil' theory is proven wrong or premature?

Also, I would not call it a standoff between classes.  The bourgeoisie's has
clearly been advancing since the 1970's, or the 1930's depending on your take
of the New Deal.  Your model seems to imply a state of equilibrium in the class
struggle that looks dangerously agent less. It also seems to be mono-causal,
which is not really the way complex social systems usally work.  What about
gender, race, nationality, religion, imperialism....

---"while the capitalists do not have an effective global institution of
governance in place -- and if nations try to act individually, their hands are
tied by capitalist competition."

So there is no way that capitalist competition could solve ecological problems? 
Think about this before we keep screaming that the sky is falling.  It is my
belief that the ecological crisis could potentially be a huge boom for
capitalism and usher in a very large expansion into green tech and consumption.
 There would of course be contradictions tied up in it, but with out resistance
it is hard to see these contradictions as limits.

---"In recent years we have been witnessing the powerful upsurge of an enduring
popular environmental movement."

Where?  I see the end of environmentalism and the emergence of capitalist green
washing.  All of the environmental movements have turned into NGO's and sold
out to corporate sponsors.  Where is this upsurge?  I do see a changing enviro
consciousness, but it may be more a product of green wash advertisements and
MSM adver-news than a movement.

I will stop there, other than to say you appear to be operating under a nature-
human duelism.  Humans as a problem for nature, rather than humans as part of
nature.  A dialectical approach would produce much better results with out the
humans v. nature dichotomy that simply does not hold. (check out Murry Bookchin
for a dialectical analysis of human- nature interrelationships.  Although an
anarchist (sometimes) he is still very insightful and was righting about this
stuff 40 years ago!)


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