Issue 13: Winter 2009

‘There’s an energy crisis (among others) in the air…

With this issue of The Commoner we have sought to create a space to discuss the current energy crisis from a perspective that considers technology and energy within the social relations that they are part of, both being shaped by these relations and also shaping them. The editors of this issue do not believe this crisis is simply one of finite resources (“peak oil”), or that there is a technological path out of these crises, despite the indisputable fact that both resource scarcity and technology are nonetheless important factors. Instead, we understand the use, production, and distribution of energy as moments of capitalist social relations of production. As such, energy and technology are both important sites of struggle, and are shaped by these struggles. Like all phenomena, the basis of the current energy crisis does not have one but many converging “causes”. A politically essential one is the many resistances against capital’s appropriation of natural resources, beginning with oil and gas but not limited to these.


  • Kolya Abramsky and Massimo De Angelis: Introduction: Energy crisis (among others) is in the air [PDF]
  • Tom Keefer: Fossil Fuels, Capitalism, and Class Struggle [PDF]
  • Kolya Abramsky: Energy and Labor in the World-Economy [PDF]
  • Evo Morales: Open Letter on Climate Change: “Save the Planet from Capitalism”. [PDF]
  • George Caffentzis: A Discourse on Prophetic Method: Oil Crises and Political Economy, Past and Future. [PDF]
  • Ewa Jasiewicz: Iraqi oil workers movements: spaces of transformation and transition [PDF]
  • Patrick Bond: The global carbon trade debate: For or against the privatisation of the air? [PDF]
  • Ariel Salleh: Climate Change, Social Change – and the ‘Other Footprint’ [PDF]
  • Shannon Walsh: The Smell of Money: Alberta’s tar sands [PDF]
  • Jane Kruse and Preben Maegaard: An authentic story about how a local community became self-sufficient in pollution free energy and created a source of income for the citizens [PDF]
  • TRAPESE Collective: The Rocky Road to a Real Transition: The Transition Towns Movement and What it Means for Social Change [PDF]
  • Mónica Vargas Collazos: The Ecological Debt of Agro-fuels [PDF]
  • Tatiana Roa Avendaño and Jessica Toloza: Dynamics of a Songful Resistance [PDF]
  • Sergio Oceransky: Wind Conflicts in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec- The Role of Ownership and Decision-Making Models in Indigenous Resistance to Wind Projects in Southern Mexico [PDF]
  • Jane Kruse: The End of One Danish Windmill Co-operative [PDF]

‘Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand’
[Chinese proverb]

When governments, corporate think tanks, and multilateral agencies deliberate on strategies for combating climate change, you can be sure they’ll bypass one highly salient variable. Global warming causes, effects, and solutions are “sex/gendered.“ Why for example, is women’s ecological footprint negligible in comparison with men’s? Why are women and children in every region the main victims of global warming? Why are women under-represented in climate negotiations at local, national, and international levels? Political elites and their media are complicit with this. And even activists reinforce it, since the conventional labelling of social movements disguises the fact that half of all worker, peasant, and Indigenous populations around the world are also women.
[Ariel Salleh, Climate Change, Social Change – and the ‘Other Footprint]