Fossil Capital

The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming

Fossil Capital

How capitalism became caught up in the carbon-burning trap.

The Birth of Energy

Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, and the Politics of Work

The Birth of Energy

In The Birth of Energy Cara New Daggett traces the genealogy of contemporary notions of energy back to the nineteenth-century science of thermodynamics to challenge the underlying logic that informs today's uses of energy. These early resource-based concepts of power first emerged during the Industrial Revolution and were tightly bound to Western capitalist domination and the politics of industrialized work. As Daggett shows, thermodynamics was deployed as an imperial science to govern fossil fuel use, labor, and colonial expansion, in part through a hierarchical ordering of humans and nonhumans. By systematically excavating the historical connection between energy and work, Daggett argues that only by transforming the politics of work—most notably, the veneration of waged work—will we be able to confront the Anthropocene's energy problem. Substituting one source of energy for another will not ensure a habitable planet; rather, the concepts of energy and work themselves must be decoupled.

Sustainability Unpacked

Food, Energy and Water for Resilient Environments and Societies

Sustainability Unpacked

Food, water and energy form some of the basic elements of sustainability considerations. This ground-breaking book examines and decodes these elements, exploring how a range of countries make decisions regarding their energy and bio-resource consumption and procurement. The authors consider how these choices impact not only the societies and environments of those countries, but the world in general. To achieve this, the authors review the merits of various sustainability and environmental metrics, and then apply these to 34 countries that are ranked low, medium or high on the human development index. The book assesses their resource capacities and the environmental impacts, both within and outside their country boundaries, from consuming food, water, and energy. The final section uses the lessons derived from the earlier analyses of resource consumption to explore the importance of geography, climates and sustainable management of forests and other natural resources for building resilient societies in the future.

BRICS and the New American Imperialism

Global rivalry and resistance

BRICS and the New American Imperialism

Challenges the mainstream understanding of BRICS and US dominance to situate the new global rivalries engulfing capitalism BRICS is a grouping of the five major emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Volume five in the Democratic Marxism series, BRICS and the New American Imperialism challenges the mainstream understanding of BRICS and US dominance to situate the new global rivalries engulfing capitalism. It offers novel analyses of BRICS in the context of increasing US induced imperial chaos, deepening environmental crisis tendencies (such as climate change and water scarcity), contradictory dynamics inside BRICS countries and growing subaltern resistance. The authors revisit contemporary thinking on imperialism and anti-imperialism, drawing on the work of Rosa Luxemburg, one of the leading theorists after Marx, who attempted to understand the expansionary nature of capitalism from the heartlands to the peripheries. The richness of Luxemburg’s pioneering work inspires most of the volume’s contributors in their analyses of the dangerous contradictions of the contemporary world as well as forms of democratic agency advancing resistance. While various forms of resistance are highlighted, among them water protests, mass worker strikes, anti-corporate campaigning and forms of cultural critique, this volume grapples with the challenge of renewing anti-imperialism beyond the NGO-driven World Social Forum and considers the prospects of a new horizontal political vessel to build global convergence. It also explores the prospects of a Fifth International of Peoples and Workers.

Mineral Rites

An Archaeology of the Fossil Economy

Mineral Rites

Spanning the past two hundred years, this book offers an alternative history of modernity that restores to fossil fuels their central role in the growth of capitalism and modernity itself, including the emotional attachments and real injuries that they generate and command. Everything about us—our bodies, minds, sense of self, nature, reason, and faith—has been conditioned by a global infrastructure of carbon flows that saturates our habits, thoughts, and practices. And it is that deep energy infrastructure that provides material for the imagination and senses and even shapes our expectations about what it means to be fully human in the twenty-first century. In Mineral Rites, Bob Johnson illustrates that fossil fuels are embodied today not only in the morning commute and in home HVAC systems but in the everyday textures, rituals, architecture, and artifacts of modern life. In a series of illuminating essays touching on such disparate topics as hot yoga, electric robots, automobility, the RMS Titanic, reality TV, and the modern novel, Johnson takes the discussion of fossil fuels and their role in climate change far beyond the traditional domains of policy and economics into the deepest layers of the body, ideology, and psyche. An audacious revision to the history of modernity, Mineral Rites shows how fossil fuels operate at the level of infrapolitics and how they permeate life as second nature.

Plato's Revenge

Politics in the Age of Ecology

Plato's Revenge

A provocative essay that imagines a truly ecological future based on political transformation rather than the superficialities of “sustainability.” In this provocative call for a new ecological politics, William Ophuls starts from a radical premise: “sustainability” is impossible. We are on an industrial Titanic, fueled by rapidly depleting stocks of fossil hydrocarbons. Making the deck chairs from recyclable materials and feeding the boilers with biofuels is futile. In the end, the ship is doomed by the laws of thermodynamics and by the implacable biological and geological limits that are already beginning to pinch. Ophuls warns us that we are headed for a postindustrial future that, however technologically sophisticated, will resemble the preindustrial past in many important respects. With Plato's Revenge, Ophuls, author of Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity, envisions political and social transformations that will lead to a new natural-law politics based on the realities of ecology, physics, and psychology. In a discussion that ranges widely—from ecology to quantum physics to Jungian psychology to Eastern religion to Western political philosophy—Ophuls argues for an essentially Platonic politics of consciousness dedicated to inner cultivation rather than outward expansion and the pursuit of perpetual growth. We would then achieve a way of life that is materially and institutionally simple but culturally and spiritually rich, one in which humanity flourishes in harmony with nature.