[Marxism] More liberal wisdom on oil

bauerly at yorku.ca bauerly at yorku.ca
Mon Jun 30 16:55:36 MDT 2008

I am going to stick to the oil argument as I don't really think we can
extrapolate from iron ore to oil markets with any precision.

>>>The idea that financial manipulation of a derivatives market like the
oil futures market, or simply excess liquidity invested in that
market, could drive this sort of multi-year increase in the price of a
commodity like oil is what is truly ridiculous. Especially when the
DATA is easily accessible to anyone -- production of crude (all
liquids) has been stagnant for most of four years, despite the
skyrocketing price. It is this situation in the real, physical market
that accounts fundamentally for the price rises.>>>

I don't understand why the falure to produce oil is separate from, or
contradicts, commodity futures tradings 210% increase in value in the last
three years?  Or, why this would have nothing to do with monetary policy,
excess luquidity, low interest rates, low stock exchange returns, falling
dollar and T-bill values?  More fundamentally, why are commodity futures
markets separate from the "real, physical market that accounts fundamentally
for the price rises"?

The oil is not being produced because the price is rising at a rate faster than
the return on any other investment.  This means the rate of return on holding
oil in the ground is higher than the rate of return on investing the petro
dollars in anything else (dollars that are currently at a high risk for

>>>It is, perhaps, a comforting thought that mere "speculation" in the
financial superstructure --not fundamental trends in the real,
material economy-- are responsible for the current rise in crude (and
other commodity) prices. It means this, too, will pass. And despite
all the BS that passes for Marxist analysis, I have complete faith in
the capacity of capitalism and its politicians to fix these sorts of
problems with their markets, if that were all that was involved. If
you're counting on the financial superstructure of capitalism to drive
it to ruin, as more than one person on this list argues, I think
you're basically hoping that people will rise up and overthrow
capitalism before the capitalists figure out how to fix their system.
That *may* happen, but it may not: given enough time, the capitalists
*will* figure out how to fix their system's vulnerability to any given
specific problem of that kind.>>>

What is a "financial superstructure" and how is it detached from the "real,
material economy"?  This is pure bourgeois economics, as if somehow the oil
market is anymore real, or less a social product, than the financial market. 
As for my comfort level with rising oil prices, I am fine as I don't drive a
car, grow or purchase locally at least 75% of my food, and do not depend on
cheap oil for my self reproduction.  What is discomforting is how this rise in
prices disportinatly impacts the poor and is causing starvation in the US'
neo-colonized south.

I agree that capitalism will solve this crisis as it has thousands of others,
*if* there is no real resistance to the ways it seeks to solve it. I no less
think the financial markets will drive capitalism to its death bed than I think
that capitalism will inevitably and of its own making lead to its downfall. 
This type of thinking was the worst bastardization of Marxism ever to have
developed.  The only way to rid ourselves of the capitalist chains *is* for
people to rise up before the capitalists fix their system.  This is why it is
imperative to have a proper analysis of what Gramsci called the organic verses
conjuctual forces.

>>> The scientific case for peak oil is, I think, very solidly established
by experience.>>>

I dissagree.  Peak oil is not a scientific theory, it is an economic theory and
as history shows bending science to economics leads to very spurious

>>>>Thus, we may even get to the point --the absurd point-- where more
than one gallon's worth of energy will be expended to produce one
gallon of gasoline, diesel or fuel oil.>>>

That would be quite a ways out as the tar sands- at 1 gallon to produce 2- can
last for 150 years at current consumption rates.

As for Nader I am not sure why you must bash him so.  IMO he is at least
implicating capitalism somewhat in his analysis, unlike Obama who thinks it is
simply the market signaling not enough supply to meet demand and perpetuating
the bourgeois nonsense that Marx disproved 140 years ago.

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