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Reformulation of Marx's historical materialism that integrates history, energy & ecology. In doing so, it successfully answers many of the central questions that traditional Marxism has been unable to answer.
Can Marxism Be Recycled?
• For many people, the last 150
years of capitalist growth & the
demise of one “socialist”
experiment after another has
• But a reformulation of Marx &
Engels’ materialist method of
analysis in light of this history
can produce some valuable
answers to vital questions that
confound those who continue to
work toward replacing
capitalism with a more humane
Some Perplexing Questions
• To be of value, Marx’s materialist method must be
used to critically re-examine Marxism’s own flawed
assumptions in light of history with the goal of
addressing several important related questions:
– What is the source of capitalism's unexpected resilience?
– What are capitalism's terminal limitations & fatal
– Why hasn't the working class assumed the role of socialist
– Why haven't "socialist" revolutions produced enduring
alternatives to global capitalism?
– What social forces may become the agents of future
Can Mother Earth ProvideCan Mother Earth Provide
Some Answers?Some Answers?
• When Marx’s materialist
analysis is reformulated to
highlight the impact of
ecology & energy on
society, the answers to
these questions start
falling into place.
Marx’s Materialism: A Review
The central insights of Marx’s theory of
history were reached by asking:
What activities & relationships
must always be present to
sustain any form of social life
For Marx, once this key question was
framed, the answer became
The necessary condition for any society
is that humans must work together
to extract their means of survival
He called this activity PRODUCTION
The Mode of Production
• The skills, tools & work
relationships that keep
any society alive Marx
called the economic base,
or mode of production.
• He divided modes of
production into 2 closely
Forces & Relations
Forces of Production
The Nexus Between Society & Nature
Marx called the tools &
skills needed to extract
resources from nature
the forces of
“Technology discloses man’s
mode of dealing with nature,
the process of production by
which he sustains life, and
thereby also lays bare the
mode of formation of his
social relations, and of the
mental conceptions that flow
from them.” -Marx
Relations of Production
The way society organized
itself to produce, exchange,
& distribute resources Marx
called the relations of
This includes property relations;
the way labor is recruited,
organized, & compensated;
markets or other methods of
exchanging goods; & the
methods developed by
controlling classes to claim &
command society’s surplus
Class structure is society’s most basic production relation.Class structure is society’s most basic production relation.
Forces & Relations of Production:
The Economic Base of Society
• Together, forces &
relations of production
constitute the economic
base of every society.
• They are closely related
to each other & shape
the entire society’s
mode of production.
The Base-Superstructure Relationship
Forces & relations of production are
society’s economic base.
This base has a dominant but
reciprocal relationship with the
superstructure: the political,
legal, cultural, religious &
educational aspects of society.
“In the social production of their existence, men
inevitably enter into definite relations, which
are independent of their will, namely [the]
relations of production appropriate to a
given stage in the development of their
material forces of production. The totality of
these relations of production constitutes the
economic structure of society, the real
foundation, on which arises a legal and
political superstructure, and to which
correspond definite forms of consciousness.”
The Productive Forces:
Dynamo of Social Change
“In acquiring new productive
forces men change their
mode of production.”
• Changes in productive forces
could induce changes in class
“The hand mill gives you society
with the feudal lord, the steam
mill, society with the industrial
• Thus, dominant classes often
resisted changes in the forces
of production that could
transform class relations.
Forces of Production
MARX’S MODE of PRODUCTION
Marx’s view of society
focused on differences
• Primitive Communism
• Wage Labor
But This Framework Sidelines
Humanity’s Relationship with Nature
• Over history, this
relationship has taken 3
1) Hunting & Gathering
2) Farming & Herding
3) Mechanized Industry
• Their unique character is
determined by the way
they metabolize energy
To correct this
All Social Systems Need An Energy Base
History’s major modes of
production are distinguished
by the energy base, or niche,
• The ENERGY BASE is the
specific mix of energy
sources (& related
resources) a society’s
technology is designed
to convert into food &
History’s 3 Major Modes of Production Have
Metabolized Their Own Unique Energy Base
– The native plants & animals
of wild ecosystems.
– Plants & animals that can be
– Wind, water, wood, fertile soil
– Wild plants (especially forests) &
animals (especially marine life)
– Fossil Fuels (85%)
– Domesticated & wild plants &
animals (wind & water)
Forces of Production
Relations of Production
ENERGY BASE SHAPES MODE of PRODUCTIONENERGY BASE SHAPES MODE of PRODUCTION
Updating Marx’s Insight
At times, Marx acknowledged this
energy exchange by referring to
production as “metabolism”…
– The social activities required to
convert the Earth’s life sustaining
energies to human use.
However, he did not make this insight
central to his theory.
But when we realize that modes of
production are actually modes of
energy metabolism, their basic
structures, dynamics & limitations
Adding Energy Base Alters the Picture
Marx’s view of history
focused on society’s
– Tribal Society
• Primitive Communism
– Asiatic Society
– Ancient Society
– Feudal Society
– Capitalist Society
• Wage Labor
– Socialist Society?
Society’s interaction with
its Energy BaseEnergy Base:
• Hunting/Gathering Society
• Agricultural Society
(Asiatic, Ancient, Feudal & early
• Industrial Society
(Modern Capitalist & Statist
• Ecological Society?
Modes of productionModes of production
must adapt themselvesmust adapt themselves
to metabolize ato metabolize a
particular energy base.particular energy base.
Society’s energy base
shapes its forces &
relations of production as
well as its political &
Productive Forces Conform To Energy Base
• To metabolize an energy base
of undomesticated plants &
animals, foragers designed
fishing nets, spears,
scrapers/knives, traps, flints,
fire drills, collecting baskets,
etc. to hunt & gather the
wildlife of their native
• To metabolize an energy base
of domesticable plants &
animals, fertile soil, mild
climate & fresh water, farmers
invented plows, fences, sickles,
yokes, irrigation systems, wind
& water mills, granaries, looms,
crop & livestock breeding, etc.
Fossil Fuels: Globalized Industrialization
• Worldwide chains of extraction,
consumption & coercion must
exploit an energy base of
abundant fossil fuels.
– Mega cities, factories, mines, farms,
dams, railways, electricity grids,
pipelines, freeways, harbors,
airports, communication networks,
prisons, governments & military
bases cannot operate without
• This global system is organized
around large financial
institutions, MNCs & powerful
governments that control access,
flow & use of energy.
Production Relations Adapt to
Technology & Energy Base
• Small, mobile cultures with minimal
diversification & no ruling elite are well
adapted to collecting the limited useable
energy stores of wild ecosystems.
• The larger useable energy stores of
domesticated agrarian ecosystems both
supported & required settled peasant
villages & city-states with greater
diversification of labor.
• Ruling classes of emperors & priest-kings
with standing armies defended,
expanded, managed & dominated these
farming societies by commanding the
flow of “surplus” energy (taxes, tribute,
grain & water storage & distribution).
Industrial Forces Require
• Hydrocarbon powered industrial modes
of production require working class
subordination to the demands of giant,
highly mechanized, fast-paced, repetitive
systems of energy/resource conversion &
vast, complex chains of production &
• These systems resist decentralized,
democratic control & foster an industrial
elite of CEOs or central planners.
– No modern society, whether it claims to be
capitalist or socialist, has successfully
resisted the hierarchical, undemocratic
restraints imposed by hydrocarbon powered
Can Industrial Society Be Socialist?
• Time after time, efforts
to establish real
working class control
productive forces have
• At best, the result has
been state managed
itself into the world
Reframing the Picture
• If we recall Marx’s premise that
productive forces shape production
relations in light of this history, we
• What if the industrial mode of
production requires some form of
hierarchical, undemocratic, worker-
management production relations?
• The capitalist form: Corporations
extract surplus value through wage
labor exploitation for capital
• The statist form: Central planners
extract surplus product as use values
to maintain their positions of privilege
Superstructure Reflects & Reinforces
Society’s Metabolic Relationships
• Cultural beliefs, values,
& norms of behavior
reflect society’s mode
nature & their social
• They also reinforce the
behaviors necessary to
reproduce the system.
Hunter-Gatherers Were Animists
• Spiritual beliefs tendedSpiritual beliefs tended
to integrate humans withto integrate humans with
all life & natural forces.all life & natural forces.
• People were relatedPeople were related
through kinship to athrough kinship to a
living environmentliving environment
animated by multiple,animated by multiple,
omnipresent spiritualomnipresent spiritual
was the mother ofwas the mother of
Gods That Rule “Heaven” & Earth
• Priest-kings claimed they were closely
related to omniscient Gods &
Goddesses who controlled the forces
of the natural world (fertility, sun,
rain, etc.) & access to the “afterlife”—
heaven & hell.
• Agricultural rulers used religion to
sanctify their authority & reinforce the
“god-imposed” moral values their
subjects must adopt to sustain their
way of life--obedience, loyalty,
sacrifice, conformity & cooperation.
• This justified & legitimized their rule,
& minimized the need for coercion.
Domestication gave humans
some control over nature…
Industrialism: Media Managed ConformityIndustrialism: Media Managed Conformity
• Impersonal market forces, vastImpersonal market forces, vast
government bureaucracies, hugegovernment bureaucracies, huge
cities, giant corporations, mindlesscities, giant corporations, mindless
jobs & cookie-cutter suburbs makejobs & cookie-cutter suburbs make
people feel unseen, insignificant &people feel unseen, insignificant &
isolated from each other & nature.isolated from each other & nature.
• People feel lonely, alienated,People feel lonely, alienated,
powerless & purposeless.powerless & purposeless.
• Patriotism & consumerism promotePatriotism & consumerism promote
a false sense of belonging througha false sense of belonging through
“brand loyalty” & national pride.“brand loyalty” & national pride.
Advertisers & governmentsAdvertisers & governments
manipulate our emotions & moldmanipulate our emotions & mold
our identities, attitudes & tastes onour identities, attitudes & tastes on
a giant scale.a giant scale.
Industrial Civilization’s Ideologies:Industrial Civilization’s Ideologies:
The Gospel of Growth & ProsperityThe Gospel of Growth & Prosperity
• Industrial society
• Liberalism, Nationalism,
• The differences were
over how, why & for
• A society whose energyA society whose energy
base can no longerbase can no longer
sustain it is subject tosustain it is subject to
crisis, decay, externalcrisis, decay, external
threats, & internalthreats, & internal
• Without new sources of
energy, society’s size &
complexity will decrease
until it can be sustained
by the remaining energy
available to it.
Collapse or Transformation?
• No society adopts a new energy
base & mode of production until
its old energy base no longer
• Necessity has been the mother
of invention for each great
revolutionary leap from one
mode of production to another.
Eco-materialism’s Next InsightEco-materialism’s Next Insight
Metabolic Leaps Require 3 Conditions
• Necessity: People don’t seek
a new mode of survival unless
their old system fails.
• Opportunity: They don’t
succeed unless new sources
of energy are available.
• Capacity: new sources aren’t
adopted unless the political
system changes to embrace
Hunting & Gathering
Over 90% of Human History
• Climate change,
depleted their energy
base in some locations.
– But many foraging
with their habitats that
endured for thousands
The Transition to Agriculture
• When climate changes &
demographic pressure depleted
wild sources of food, many
foraging cultures were
compelled to adopt agriculture.
– But first, all efforts to improve the
technologies of foraging were
• This great leap happened first
where conditions were most
desperate & rich soil, good
climate & plentiful water made
agriculture a relatively easy
Agriculture: Necessity + Opportunity
• Habitats became depleted
of wild stores of plants &
• Population was
concentrated in lush river
valleys surrounded by arid
• Growing grains on fertile,
easily irrigated floodplains
provided a convenient
alternative to foraging.
The Rise & Fall of
Competitive exclusion works against long
term environmental balance.
Energy base depletion is accelerated by:
• Heightened demographic pressure:
– To increase labor supply & agricultural output
• Intensified surplus extraction for:
– Elite power & wealth (class exploitation)
– Warfare over land, labor, vital resources
• Conquest & territorial expansion provides a
temporary “solution” to energy base
– War elevates male status as warriors.
– Patriarchal control over women & the means of
reproduction to pass on wealth.
The Industrial Transformation
• The industrial revolution
came only after
soil exhaustion, timber
scarcity, famines & wars
left Europe’s agrarian
energy base exhausted.
• Conquest & mercantile
colonial expansion was
only a temporary
Class Struggle Made Way for Industrialism
• European society’s
CAPACITY to adopt a new
energy base couldn’t
succeed until opposing
classes were removed
from power by those
demanding a new mode
• This is what made the
bourgeoisie & its allies a
When Does Class Conflict Become Revolutionary?
• Marx’s study revealed that
feudalism collapsed because it
could not accommodate
emerging industrial forces of
• The bourgeoisie was the most
potent revolutionary element
in the anti-feudal alliance
because its fortune relied upon
these emerging industrial
forces of production.
• Peasants often rebelled, but
could not transform society
with new productive forces.
• The working class was still
small & disorganized.
Coal Powered Factories
Made Industrial Capitalism King
• European capitalism was
starving on a diet of renewable
• It did not overcome this
metabolic crisis until capitalism
tapped a new energy base--coal.
– Production & consumption per
capita took-off for the 1st time in
history only after coal power was
• Fossil fuels became the energy base
for the 2nd great reorganization of
humanity’s relationship with
• England was the most timber
scarce, energy desperate nation in
• But it had vast, accessible coal
• The coal-powered steam engine
solved major energy bottlenecks:
– Coal replaced water power, wood &
whale oil as fuel for industry.
• Liberating the FACTORY SYSTEM
• Ventilation & water incursion
– Food/clothing supply
• Food crops replace horse & sheep
Coal & Class Conflict & Colonization
• Coal-powered industrialism allowed
European capitalism to evade the
cataclysmic predictions of both Marx &
– European society did not experience
demographic disaster or proletarian
• Coal-powered industrialization out-ran
demographic pressures, raised living
standards & tempered class conflict in
the European/American core of the
global capitalist system.
• Railroads, steamships, factories &
industrial weaponry allowed Europe &
the US to penetrate & exploit the
peoples & the natural wealth of the
Americas, Asia & Africa as never before.
Capitalism’s Productive Limits?
• Marx asserted that the
socialized nature of the
industrial forces unleashed by
capitalism were ultimately
incompatible with privatized
– Crises of over-production.
– Falling rate of profit.
– Centralization arrests
• Further development requires
the working class to abolish the
private appropriation of socially
Would Capitalism Block Growth?
• Marx did not apply the logic he derived
from his analysis of feudalism’s demise
to his vision of capitalism’s limits.
• He did not envision the emergence of
qualitatively new productive forces that
capitalism couldn’t accommodate,
championed by an emergent
• Instead, he reasoned that capitalist
relations would become incompatible
with its own industrialized forces of
• Unlike peasants under feudalism, the
working class would assume the
revolutionary role of advancing the
industrial forces that capitalists refused
The Working Class:
Revolutionary or Rebel Force?
• BUT, unlike the bourgeoisie
under feudalism, the
working class has not
championed a new energy
base & metabolic system
that industrial capitalism
• AND, despite deep crises,
world wars & revolutions
that aspired to socialism, the
working class has been
unable build genuine,
enduring socialist relations
of production upon an
• Looking back, we now know
that Marx’s assumption that
capitalism would soon arrest
the development of its own
productive forces was
• To this day, capitalism
continues to develop its
• This raises the question:
Do industrial forces of
production ever become
• So far, the serious
contradictions Marx identified
have not proven fatal.
• Capitalism has survived these
barriers & crises thru a process
of destructive regeneration.
• Capitalism’s “solution” to each
new crisis has been to destroy &
then rebuild its forces of
production in a uneven process
of long-term growth.
As long as capitalism has the
ENERGY to regenerate itself
after each collapse or war, it
will continue to do so.
— Fossil Fuels —
Not Just Another Resource
• Without fossil fuels,
would have hits it
metabolic limits long ago.
• The entire global chain of
extraction, production &
consumption is fueled by
coal, oil & natural gas.
• Fossil fuels account for
85% of the energy that
Black Gold: A Gift From Nature
The work needed to
create fossil fuels was
done by the sun & the
Earth’s geological forces
over millions of years.
• No human labor or
money was needed to
grow, harvest, cook &
compress billions of
tons of ancient plant life
in vast underground
One gallon of oil contains the
energy of about 98 tons of the
original prehistoric plant life
that collected its energy over
millennia from the sun.
Why Are Fossil Fuels Special?
• Fossil fuels are a source ofFossil fuels are a source of
tremendous wealthtremendous wealth
because they possess farbecause they possess far
more useful energy thanmore useful energy than
the small fraction ofthe small fraction of
human energy necessaryhuman energy necessary
for their extraction.for their extraction.
• One barrel of oil contains
23,000 hours of work.
– That’s 12.5 years of human labor!
(at 40 hrs/week).
– We use about 85 million barrels
• One gallon of gas produces
the equivalent work of a
person laboring 8 hours day,
5 days a week, for 3 weeks.
Oil is extremely energy dense. The
energy in 13 gallons of gasoline
(about a tank full for most compact
cars) is equal to the combined work
of 1,000 people over an entire day.
Fossil Fuels--The Energy Base of
• With plenty of petroleum,
industrial growth appeared
• It reshaped all previous
forms of production.
– Agriculture & foraging were
reorganized on an industrial
• Without this rich, highly
concentrated source of
energy, industrialism would
literally run out of gas.
We’re Eating Oil!
• It takes 10 calories of
fossil fuels to produce 1
calorie of food.
• Petroleum is vital for:
– Pumping water
– Mechanized Planting
– Cooking &
Farming on Fossil Fuels
The So-Called “Green Revolution”The So-Called “Green Revolution”
Crops Bred To Grow on a Life-Support System of Fossil FuelsCrops Bred To Grow on a Life-Support System of Fossil Fuels
Energy & Labor Exploitation
• Petroleum powered machines are
the essential for:
– Replacing wage labor (automation).
– Increasing output per labor/hour.
– Allowing production to continue year-
round, day & night.
– Keeping the working class weak &
wages low by:
• Mechanizing agriculture--driving
people off the land (surplus labor).
• Reducing the cost of food.
• De-skilling work.
• Accessing distant labor pools by
reducing transport costs.
All of this works only if fossil energy
remains abundant & cheap.
““Machinery becomes the most powerful weapon in the war of capital against the working class” -EngelsMachinery becomes the most powerful weapon in the war of capital against the working class” -Engels
Industrialism & “Free” Labor
Commodified (wage) labor is well
suited to rapidly changing, high-
energy production because it is:
• Disposable & mobile.
• Cheap to reproduce.
• Desperate & competitive.
Malignant Metabolic Accelerators
Motivators of exponential growth:
• Maximizing the rate of return on
invested capital. (accumulation &
• Debt + interest based monetary system.
• Market competition & hyper-
• International rivalry for energy & other
These accelerators have depleted
industrialism’s hydrocarbon energy
base within a few centuries by
rewarding rapid, wasteful expansion &
Economic Growth & Fossil Fuels
Capitalism’s exponential growthCapitalism’s exponential growth
metabolism relies on carboniferous energymetabolism relies on carboniferous energy
Industrialism: The Mother of All Bubbles!
——World Production—World Production—
Agricultural Era Industrial Era
A Tunnel With No Exit
This rapid pace of energy use is ultimately incompatible
with the system’s non-renewable, finite energy base.
Dual Limits of Industrial Capitalism
• Energy Base Depletion:
– There are no known substitutes
for fossil fuels that will permit
– Other energy sources don’t
have the net energy needed to
sustain constant growth.
• Ecocide: Petro-poisoning
– Climate chaos
– Ecosystem destruction &
– Toxic pollution
– Resource depletion
Running on Empty--The Symptoms
• Diminishing Returns
Rising extraction costs & declining
returns (EROEI*--net energy)
• Before 1950: 100 to 1
• Today: 6 to 1 (worldwide)
• In the US: .8 to 1
We now consume 6 barrels of oil for
each one we discover…but demand still
• Economic Stagnation
Rising energy prices: flat-lining growth,
rising debt, declining productive sector
• Capital Scarcity
Energy sector claims bigger share of
society’s available capital.
• Demands greater subsidies, tax breaks &
**Energy Return On Energy InvestedEnergy Return On Energy Invested
Can Solar Energy Sustain Capitalism?
• There is no doubt that
capitalism can & will use solar
power as a supplement to
fossil fuels & uranium.
• Solar may become essential
for cushioning the decline of
• But solar technologies alone
cannot sustain the
consumption & unrelenting
characteristic of industrial
Fighting for the Future:
Crash or Crash Landing?
The future will be shaped by who’sThe future will be shaped by who’s
in power while the shit hits the fan.in power while the shit hits the fan.
Is the Dying Industrial Order Pregnant
With a New One?
• Industrialism capitalism would have to
be exhausting its energy base.
• An alternative energy base &
technology, incompatible with industrial
capitalism, would have to be maturing in
the womb of industrial society.
• New social movements, linked to these
emerging technologies, would need to
build powerful movements capable of
replacing carbon-powered industrial
capitalism with an emerging, more
The Seeds of a New Society
• A diverse movement toward an
ecological society is emerging.
• It includes: organic farmers,
environmental groups, simple living
advocates, anti-globalization & peace
activists, renewable energy
developers, indigenous peoples
movements, land reform movements,
resource protection movements,
environmental justice groups, labor
activists & progressive unions, green
businesses, eco-feminists, grassroots
community organizations, green &
other progressive political parties &
• The most celebrated gathering of this
network is the World Social Forum.
Capitalism Without Growth?
• Most of these emerging
movements have been
globalization & mindless
• But SOON they will need
to respond to
capitalism’s final phase…
Capitalism’s Catabolic End Times:
The Decline of Industrial Civilization
As expansive capitalist relations of
production & exchange become
incompatible with a shrinking
• Globalized growth will morph into
more static, authoritarian,
protectionist forms of political
• As the productive sector atrophies
& contracts, catabolic capitalists
will begin cannibalizing society to
sustain their profits.
The Center Won’t Hold:
Disintegrating Globalization Paradigm
• A stagnant & shrinking
economic pie will create a
corrupt fight over the
• Establishment parties that
stake their legitimacy on the
promise of business-as-usual
• Progressive populism &
Catabolic Capitalism’s Axis of Evil
The Petro-Military-Catabolic Alliance
As growth stagnates, a
alliance that benefits from
Contraction, Crisis &
Conflict & will cling to
Their profits will come from:
• Decimating Democracy & the Public
• Confiscating Essential Resources
• Warfare & Social Conflict
• Capitalizing on Ecological Disaster,
Fighting for the Future
• The next phase in this
growing conflict will pit
those who wish to move
toward a more peaceful,
sustainable, equitable &
against the petro-
• The outcome of this long
conflict will shape the
future in profound ways.
On the Horizon…
• Rebounding energy
& government debt
will trigger a series
of cascading crises…
• These crises will cripple
• Sending multinational
producers like China &
retailers like Amazon &
Walmart into a tailspin.
• Undermining the
benefits & legitimacy of
international trade &
finance agreements like
the WTO, NAFTA, the
Another World IsAnother World Is Inevitable…Inevitable…
• In the 21st century, carbon-
addicted industrialism will
collapse & low energy,
steady-state societies will
• But renewable energy
technologies will only
provide the basic limits &
potentials of emerging
• Within these constraints,
many futures are possible. But what kind?But what kind?
Without Political Capacity We Are
Stuck With “Drill & Kill”
• It will be very hard to
break the grip of the
Catabolic Alliance over
• Exposing the dead end
of militarist, racist
nationalism will be key.
• Our movement must
become more powerful
• Anticipating & being
prepared to respond to
• Linking local resilience to
protecting the planet,
social justice & peace.
• Fund local & state
efforts to build
renewable energy &
& economic justice
• Work with genuine
– Reduce military budget.
– Roll back government
police, mass incarceration.
– Resist media monopolization.
– Oppose global trade deals.
– Protect states rights to resist
federal power on key issues.
From Centralized Industrial Agriculture
to Decentralized Organic Farming
• What will replace mechanized
• Localized, sustainable farming
can take many forms:
– Slavery, sharecropping, or
– Democratic farming co-ops
• Can 8 billion people be fed
without fossil fuels?
From Dependence To Self-Sufficiency
In the 3rd World: Energy scarcity & the
collapse of export-led agri-business &
industry will radically transform peripheral
– Extreme dislocation & political conflict loom on
– Unemployed urban masses will abandon cities &
return to the countryside.
– Land reform movements will demand:
• Land redistribution
• Food self-sufficiency & sustainability
– End fossil fuel dependent inputs & global markets.
• Can sustainable agriculture support existing &
– Industries will have to be powered by renewable
energy & produce for a regional or national
• How useful is the Cuban model?
Solar Technologies Discourage
Centralization & Hierarchy
• More evenly dispersed solar access
resists large, centralized, complex,
vertically integrated energy
conversion technologies &
• Solar technologies can foster
production relations that are
– Decentralized & less hierarchical.
– Regionally self-sufficient.
– Easily controlled by communities of
direct users & collectors.
• This renewable energy base might
allow people to achieve more
democratic localized control over
Bad News & Good News
The Bad News:
• Rule by Fear, Force & Fraud
– Capitalists will use fear over growing
resource scarcity & economic crisis to
reduce wages & turn workers against
– Political elites will use patriotism,
religion, scarcity & fear to suppress
democratic activism & promote military
action to seize dwindling resources &
preserve the “American way of life.”
The Good News:
• Increased Global Grassroots Activism
– Addressing ecological & social crises will
require global cooperation & local
– The material basis for co-opting activism
will decline as the legitimacy of the old
Finding the Path Forward
• Eco-materialism provides
a useful analytical tool for
opportunities & dangers
on the horizon.
• However, this analytical
tool is useless unless it is
carefully applied to the
real world & our ongoing
efforts to defend the
future of our species & our