George Caffentzis — The Peak Oil Complex, Commodity Fetishism, and Class Struggle

    “Peak Oil” is a nickname for a remarkable intellectual and political phenomenon that has transformed the energy debate in the US since the late 1990s. Along with “Global Warming,” it is often seen as setting the stage for a new kind of apocalyptic discourse that is reminiscent of the “exterminism” rhetoric so popular during the anti-nuclear war movement’s ascendancy  in the 1980s. Peak Oil gives us the tools to tell still another story of how capitalism “as we know it” cannot sustain contemporary world society and is leading humanity to “the long emergency,” as Peak Oil advocate James Howard Kunstler phrased it (Kunstler 2005).

    At first glance then, it would appear that Peak Oil would give great power to the adherents of the anti-capitalist movement. For if capitalism leads to the disasters that the Peak Oil prophets envision (like, for example, a planetary “resource war” fought with nuclear weapons), then they would provide an important argument  for the struggle against the system. Peak Oil-based anti-capitalism would transform the modality of the movement’s slogan, “Another World is Possible,” to “Another World is Necessary for there to be a World”! Is it, as some have seriously jested, the Left’s response of to the fundamentalists’ apocalyptic Left Behind?

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