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Re: Does Hubbert Peak Bode Ill for World System?
by Charles Jannuzi
06 December 2003 06:28 UTC
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A follow up here incorporates something I wrote
earlier to SOC-REG regarding the very topic, or at
least the topic's geopolitical ramifications.

How does capital respond to the idea of a peak in oil

So long as any state of affairs and its development
leads to the promise of profits--that is, growth in
profits, an acceleration in the growth of
profits--capital can respond.

It can't respond to the idea that usable oil is
running out so it also can't respond to the idea that
the world then needs socialism and energy conservation
to manage it til alternative energy is developed
(which would remain unprofitable for a long time).

It's most desperate with a country such as the US (and
UK, too), where capital is most closely tied to the
equity markets and the relationship with the goal of
accelerated profits is most closely enforced (or, in
the case of Enron etc., faked for a while). The war
against Iraq isn't just about the supply of oil or its
trade routes; it's about taking oil pricing power away
from as many Arabs as possible while applying pressure
on oil-rich Persians.

It makes doubly good sense that a TX-LA-Gulf of Mexico
oil-construction-federal contracting mafia should
unite with the North Sea oil interests in taking over
Iraq while 'recapitalizing' Russian oil. These are
places where capital strategizes that future profits

In the best of all possible Clinton-Gore-Bush worlds,
Enron would have solved the looming energy crisis. You
see how the ideology works? Basic business fraud and
unregulated capital flows were going to make energy
markets more efficient, pay off billions to strategic
stock holders, re-structure global energy capitalism,
and create an energy utopia.

A good parallel is the related idea that all this use
of fossil fuels is leading to climate change. How does
capital respond? The only way capital ever responds:
it seeks accelerated profits in things like
market-based exchanges of pollution rights (did the
guys at Enron think this one up?). It's the same type
of thinking that gets us legislation setting up more
profits for lumber companies in the name of
'preventing forest fires'. 

Now imagine that a huge asteroid were speeding dead on
for the planet earth. How would capital respond? At
shareholder meetings they would be asking, How
does this affect next quarter's earnings? Are there
government contracts we could get to be involved in
dealing with it? What does the world economy
look like after the impact? Etc.

C. Jannuzi
Fukui, Japan


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