Capital, Energy and Power

A 10-week Study Group with Fred Murphy and Steve Knight

Throughout the history of capitalism, energy sources and especially fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas—have been critical to the system’s economic viability. The crises associated with climate change are rooted in capital’s insatiable need to burn fuels in order to accumulate wealth and maximize profits. Competition and greed for readily extractable energy resources have fueled wars and evoked popular resistance, especially in the Middle East. This study group will explore the history and political economy of oil, energy and capitalism. We will read George Caffentzis’s recently published No Blood for Oil! and related work by Michael Klare, Andreas Malm, Timothy Mitchell, and others.

FRED MURPHY has co-led several MEP study groups on Marxism, science, nature, and ecosocialism. He studied and taught historical sociology at the New School for Social Research.

STEVE KNIGHT has been a co-leader of MEP eco-socialist study groups since 2015. He is also a climate activist with the DSA and faith-centered groups, and reviews books on eco-socialism for Marx & Philosophy

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No Blood for Oil!

An author presentation with discussion, co-sponsored with Autonomedia

No Blood For Oil!
Essays on Energy, Class Struggle and War 1998–2016
George Caffentzis

The oil industry is at the center of the major struggles of our time, but is Marxist theory able to explain its behavior? The oil industry presents a paradox to Marxist theory. How is it that oil companies employ relatively few workers and invest in a relatively large amount of machinery, but still are the largest and most profitable companies on the planet? It should be otherwise, if profits come from exploiting worker’s labor. In his book, No Blood for Oil, George Caffentzis shows how Marxism resolves this paradox and accounts for the peculiar role that the oil industry plays in contemporary capitalism as generator of ecological devastation, war and exploitation. Come to discuss the struggle over the exchange of blood for oil.

George Caffentzis is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Southern Maine. He has taught courses on oil and class struggle in many venues in Africa, South America and Europe. He is a co-founder of the Midnight Notes Collective and is the author of In Letters of Blood and Fire: Work, Machines, and the Crisis of Capitalism (2013) and Exciting the Industry of Mankind: George Berkeley’s Philosophy of Money (2000).

“The papers in this collection are weapons we use to deconstruct the politics of war and oil, to uncover the multilayered class meaning of contemporary energy policy, and are the treasure that gives us a different sense of alternatives. Caffentzis’ critical understanding dissolves the fatalism of peak-oil arguments and posits our struggles to reclaim the commons as the real limit of capitalist use of energy.” — Massimo de Angelis, author of The Beginning of History

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Marxism, Science and The Anthropocene

A Study Group convened by Fred Murphy and Steve Knight
September 21 – November 23

This ongoing study group considers how Marxists and other critical thinkers address the nexus of capitalism, science, threats to human existence on planet Earth, and the fight for climate justice and ecosocialism. For the Fall 2016 session we will take up works by Andreas Malm (Fossil Capital), Jason Moore et al. (Anthropocene or Capitalocene?), and Ian Angus (Facing the Anthropocene).

Steve Knight is involved in eco-advocacy as a member of 350NYC, a GreenFaith Fellow working with faith communities, and a certified energy efficiency auditor for multifamily buildings. He has been interested in Marxian analysis and ecosocialism since 2004, when he studied Capital with David Harvey.

Fred Murphy studied and taught historical sociology at The New School and has co-led several MEP courses. His adolescent dream of a career as a research chemist was diverted by the sixties radicalization, but he has never lost interest in the sciences

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