Carbon Democracy provides a unique examination of the relationship between oil and democracy. Interweaving the history of energy, political analysis, and economic theory, Mitchell targets conventional wisdom regarding energy and governance. Emphasizing how oil and democracy have intermixed, he argues that while coal provided the impetus for mass democracy, the shift to oil drastically limited democratic possibility; above all, the ability to confront contemporary ecological crises.
"Timothy Mitchell begins with the history of coal power to tell a radical new story about the rise of democracy. Coal was a source of energy so open to disruption that oligarchies in the West became vulnerable for the first time to mass demands for democracy. In the mid-twentieth century, however, the development of cheap and abundant energy from oil, most notably from the Middle East, offered a means to reduce this vulnerability to democratic pressures. The abundance of oil made it possible for the first time in history to reorganize political life around the management of something now called ???the economy??? and the promise of its infinite growth. The politics of the West became dependent on an undemocratic Middle East."--Publisher website.
Oil is a curse, it is often said, that condemns the countries producing it to an existence defined by war, corruption and enormous inequality. Carbon Democracy tells a more complex story, arguing that no nation escapes the political consequences of our collective dependence on oil. It shapes the body politic both in regions such as the Middle East, which rely upon revenues from oil production, and in the places that have the greatest demand for energy. Timothy Mitchell begins with the history of coal power to tell a radical new story about the rise of democracy. Coal was a source of energy so open to disruption that oligarchies in the West became vulnerable for the first time to mass demands for democracy. In the mid-twentieth century, however, the development of cheap and abundant energy from oil, most notably from the Middle East, offered a means to reduce this vulnerability to democratic pressures. The abundance of oil made it possible for the first time in history to reorganize political life around the management of something now called “the economy” and the promise of its infinite growth. The politics of the West became dependent on an undemocratic Middle East. In the twenty-first century, the oil-based forms of modern democratic politics have become unsustainable. Foreign intervention and military rule are faltering in the Middle East, while governments everywhere appear incapable of addressing the crises that threaten to end the age of carbon democracy—the disappearance of cheap energy and the carbon-fuelled collapse of the ecological order. In making the production of energy the central force shaping the democratic age, Carbon Democracy rethinks the history of energy, the politics of nature, the theory of democracy, and the place of the Middle East in our common world.
Drawing upon two decades of fieldwork in Egypt, a political scientist and ethnographer offers a sweeping critique of social science theory, arguing that we need to move beyond postmoderism to examine the fundemental constructs of the social sciences: the nation, the economy, and violence.
Fundamental to any understanding of the politics of the contemporary world is an understanding of the politics and most recent history of petroleum. Francisco Parra sets out the political and economic events which, since the 1950s, have shaped the international petroleum industry and world affairs.
Extending deconstructive theory to historical and political analysis, Timothy Mitchell examines the peculiarity of Western conceptions of order and truth through a re-reading of Europe's colonial encounter with nineteenth-century Egypt.
If our oil addiction is so bad for us, why don’t we kick the habit? Looking beyond the usual culprits—Big Oil, petro-states, and the strategists of empire—Lifeblood finds a deeper and more complex explanation in everyday practices of oil consumption in American culture. Those practices, Matthew T. Huber suggests, have in fact been instrumental in shaping the broader cultural politics of American capitalism. How did gasoline and countless other petroleum products become so central to our notions of the American way of life? Huber traces the answer from the 1930s through the oil shocks of the 1970s to our present predicament, revealing that oil’s role in defining popular culture extends far beyond material connections between oil, suburbia, and automobility. He shows how oil powered a cultural politics of entrepreneurial life—the very American idea that life itself is a product of individual entrepreneurial capacities. In so doing he uses oil to retell American political history from the triumph of New Deal liberalism to the rise of the New Right, from oil’s celebration as the lifeblood of postwar capitalism to increasing anxieties over oil addiction. Lifeblood rethinks debates surrounding energy and capitalism, neoliberalism and nature, and the importance of suburbanization in the rightward shift in American politics. Today, Huber tells us, as crises attributable to oil intensify, a populist clamoring for cheap energy has less to do with American excess than with the eroding conditions of life under neoliberalism.
Indigenous Peoples, Multinational Corporations and the State
Author: S. Sawyer,E. Gomez
Category: Political Science
International institutions (United Nations, World Bank) and multinational companies have voiced concern over the adverse impact of resource extraction activities on the livelihood of indigenous communities. This volume examines mega resource extraction projects in Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Chad, Cameroon, India, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines.
Capitalism is a complex, dynamic, and extraordinarily robust way of organizing human life; it is also a system that achieves prosperity for the few, impoverishes the many, and depletes the commons for all. We know that capitalism is a broken system, in desperate need of change. But, to imagine a different system, we first need to understand how capitalism actually exists today —and be able to explain to others how it works, and why change is needed. Disassembly Required is an attempt to meet these challenges. It offers an anti-capitalist analysis of capitalism, and, even more important, it explains why it is anti-capitalist. It does not stop at claiming that the present way of organizing the “economic” aspects of our lives is politically indefensible and ecologically unsustainable, but digs into the details of capitalist institutions and the economics that justify them. From money and markets to the subprime crisis, it explains the fundamental features of contemporary capitalism and how they contribute, sometimes in surprising ways, to overall capitalist dynamics. “A brilliantly lucid book. Mann illuminates the basic principles of modern capitalism, their expressions in contemporary economies and states, and their devastating socio-ecological consequences for working people everywhere. This is a must-read if we are to envision ways of organizing our common planetary existence that are not based upon the illusory promises of market fundamentalism and the suicidal ideology of endless economic growth.”—Neil Brenner, New State Spaces “Geoff Mann is a new breed of monkey-wrencher. He knows that contemporary capitalism has a perverse habit of dismantling itself and gives us a toolkit to build a new, more socially just edifice.”—Andy Merrifield, Magical Marxism “Insightful and incisive, thoughtful and thorough, filled with new avenues for thinking about resistence. Pass this one by at your own peril.”—Matt Hern, Common Ground in a Liquid City “An essential handbook for understanding ‘actually existing’ capitalism, and thus the world as it really is—rather than as it is theorized and justified by the dissembling high priests of mainstream academia, policy, and politics.”—Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos
How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming - in Alberta, and in Ottawa
Author: Kevin Taft
Publisher: James Lorimer & Company
Category: Political Science
Why have democratic governments failed to take serious steps to reduce carbon emissions despite dire warnings and compelling evidence of the profound and growing threat posed by global warming? Most of the writing on global warming is by scientists, academics, environmentalists, and journalists. Kevin Taft, a former leader of the opposition in Alberta, brings a fresh perspective through the insight he gained as an elected politician who had an insider's eyewitness view of the role of the oil industry. His answer, in brief: The oil industry has captured key democratic institutions in both Alberta and Ottawa. Taft begins his book with a perceptive observer's account of a recent court casein Ottawa which laid bare the tactics and techniques of the industry, its insiders and lobbyists. He casts dramatic new light on exactly how corporate lobbyists, politicians, bureaucrats, universities, and other organizations are working together to pursue the oil industry's agenda. He offers a brisk tour of the recent work of scholars who have developed the concepts of the deep state and institutional capture to understand how one rich industry can override the public interest. Taft views global warming and weakened democracy as two symptoms of the same problem — the loss of democratic institutions to corporate influence and control. He sees citizen engagement and direct action by the public as the only response that can unravel big oil's deep state.
The fossil fuel revolution is usually a tale of advances in energy production. Christopher Jones tells a tale of advances in energy access--canals, pipelines, wires delivering cheap, abundant power to cities at a distance from production sites. Between 1820 and 1930 these new transportation networks set the U.S. on a path to fossil fuel dependence.
In Material Politics, author Andrew Barry reveals that as we are beginning to attend to the importance of materials in political life, materials has become increasingly bound up with the production of information about their performance, origins, and impact. Presents an original theoretical approach to political geography by revealing the paradoxical relationship between materials and politics Explores how political disputes have come to revolve not around objects in isolation, but objects that are entangled in ever growing quantities of information about their performance, origins, and impact Studies the example of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline – a fascinating experiment in transparency and corporate social responsibility – and its wide-spread negative political impact Capitalizes on the growing interdisciplinary interest, especially within geography and social theory, about the critical role of material artefacts in political life
“Oil is a fairy tale, and, like every fairy tale, is a bit of a lie.”—Ryzard Kapuscinski, Shah of Shahs The scale and reach of the global oil and gas industry, valued at several trillions of dollars, is almost impossible to grasp. Despite its vast technical expertise and scientific sophistication, the industry betrays a startling degree of inexactitude and empirical disagreement about foundational questions of quantity, output, and price. As an industry typified by concentrated economic and political power, its operations are obscured by secrecy and security. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that the social sciences typically approach oil as a metonym—of modernity, money, geopolitics, violence, corruption, curse, ur-commodity—rather than considering the daily life of the industry itself and of the hydrocarbons around which it is built. Instead, Subterranean Estates gathers an interdisciplinary group of scholars and experts to provide a critical topography of the hydrocarbon industry, understood not solely as an assemblage of corporate forms but rather as an expansive and porous network of laborers and technologies, representation and expertise, and the ways of life oil and gas produce at points of extraction, production, marketing, consumption, and combustion. By accounting for oil as empirical and experiential, the contributors begin to demystify a commodity too often given almost demiurgic power. Subterranean Estates shifts critical attention away from an exclusive focus on global oil firms toward often overlooked aspects of the industry, including insurance, finance, law, and the role of consultants and community organizations. Based on ethnographic research from around the world (Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Oman, the United States, Ecuador, Chad, the United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, Canada, Iran, and Russia), and featuring a photoessay on the lived experiences of those who inhabit a universe populated by oil rigs, pipelines, and gas flares, this innovative volume provides a new perspective on the material, symbolic, cultural, and social meanings of this multidimensional world. Contributors: Hannah Appel, University of California, Los Angeles; Andrew Barry, University College London; Mona Damluji, Wheaton College; Elizabeth Gelber, Columbia University; Jane I. Guyer, The Johns Hopkins University; Peter Hitchcock, City University of New York; Matt Huber, Syracuse University; Leigh Johnson, University of Zurich; Ed Kashi; Hannah Knox, University of Manchester; Mandana E. Limbert, Queens College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York; Arthur Mason, University of California, Berkeley; Douglas Rogers, Yale University; Suzana Sawyer, University of California, Davis; Rebecca Golden, Women’s Institute of Houston; Michael J. Watts, University of California, Berkeley; Sara Wylie, Northeastern University; Saulesh Yessenova, University of Alberta; Anna Zalik, York University
Omolade Adunbi investigates the myths behind competing claims to oil wealth in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Looking at ownership of natural resources, oil extraction practices, government control over oil resources, and discourse about oil, Adunbi shows how symbolic claims have created an "oil citizenship." He explores the ways NGOs, militant groups, and community organizers invoke an ancestral promise to defend land disputes, justify disruptive actions, or organize against oil corporations. Policies to control the abundant resources have increased contestations over wealth, transformed the relationship of people to their environment, and produced unique forms of power, governance, and belonging.
An exposé of Israel's reconceptualization of geopolitics in the West Bank, Gaza, and other occupied territories offers insight into their practices of control and transformation using natural and built features that violently reinforce domination-minded agendas while promoting urban warfare.
The Birth of Energy Security in Industrial America
Author: Peter A. Shulman
Publisher: JHU Press
Since the early twentieth century, Americans have associated oil with national security. From World War I to American involvement in the Middle East, this connection has seemed a self-evident truth. But as Peter A. Shulman argues, Americans had to learn to think about the geopolitics of energy in terms of security, and they did so beginning in the nineteenth century: the age of coal. Coal and Empire insightfully weaves together pivotal moments in the history of science and technology by linking coal and steam to the realms of foreign relations, navy logistics, and American politics. Long before oil, coal allowed Americans to rethink the place of the United States in the world. Shulman explores how the development of coal-fired, ocean-going steam power in the 1840s created new questions, opportunities, and problems for U.S. foreign relations and naval strategy. The search for coal, for example, helped take Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in the 1850s. It facilitated Abraham Lincoln’s pursuit of black colonization in 1860s Panama. After the Civil War, it led Americans to debate whether a need for coaling stations required the construction of a global island empire. Until 1898, however, Americans preferred to answer the questions posed by coal with new technologies rather than new territories. Afterward, the establishment of America’s island empire created an entirely different demand for coal to secure the country’s new colonial borders, a process that paved the way for how Americans incorporated oil into their strategic thought. By exploring how the security dimensions of energy were not intrinsically linked to a particular source of power but rather to political choices about America’s role in the world, Shulman ultimately suggests that contemporary global struggles over energy will never disappear, even if oil is someday displaced by alternative sources of power.
A radical analysis of our master-and-slave relationship to energy and a call for change. Ancient civilizations routinely relied on shackled human muscle. It took the energy of slaves to plant crops, clothe emperors, and build cities. In the early nineteenth century, the slave trade became one of the most profitable enterprises on the planet, and slaveholders viewed religious critics as hostilely as oil companies now regard environmentalists. Yet when the abolition movement finally triumphed in the 1850s, it had an invisible ally: coal and oil. As the world's most portable and versatile workers, fossil fuels dramatically replenished slavery's ranks with combustion engines and other labour-saving tools. Since then, oil has transformed politics, economics, science, agriculture, gender, and even our concept of happiness. But as Andrew Nikiforuk argues in this provocative new book, we still behave like slaveholders in the way we use energy, and that urgently needs to change. Many North Americans and Europeans today enjoy lifestyles as extravagant as those of Caribbean plantation owners. Like slaveholders, we feel entitled to surplus energy and rationalize inequality, even barbarity, to get it. But endless growth is an illusion, and now that half of the world's oil has been burned, our energy slaves are becoming more expensive by the day. What we need, Nikiforuk argues, is a radical new emancipation movement. Also available in hardcover. Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.