Mark made another important point in his post of 14 Sept (S11) which I 
wanted to come back to. (The intensity of Mark's posts and the quality of 
his information makes it difficult to keep up, but the problems of the 
global economy will not go away anyway, so here goes.)

I accept the broad case Mark argues, for example in his persuasive piece "A 
New Energy Crisis" of 13th Sept. Also the Crash List has been pursuing this 
theme, and among other things I have picked up from there, I agree the 
arguments first presented by Hubbert, and now called the Hubbert Curve, 
about the peak of oil production.

However the point I wanted to come back to seems to be not quite right from 
a marxist point of view, or if it is right, it raises some interesting 
questions about how to apply the marxist theory of crises to the present 

Mark wrote:

>to anyone who's done their
>homework this cannot hide the fact that (since 1973 at least)
>energy-shortages have been behind economic cycles, have
>led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and to
>3 mideast wars, and are now resulting in the Fourth and Final Oil Shock

Now the marxist theory of capitalist crises, as I understand it, describes 
the endless tendency for surplus value to accumulate more surplus value, to 
the business cycle accelerating until it reaches its rate- limiting step in 

contradiction between capitalist accumulation and the limited purchasing 
power of the masses of working people.

There are sub-phases to this as stocks of overproduced commodities 
accumulate, which usually first trigger a financial crisis, before a 
general economic crisis ensues, with the destruction of a significant 
amount of capital, living and dead.

This theory of crises depends on exploitation of labour power. Marx 
recognises exploitation of resources too, but his theory of capitalist 
crises is not dependent on them.

Mark's point above is compelling enough in that a short supply of a basic 
commodity like oil may imperil the profitability of certain sectors of the 
economy short of a general economic crisis of capitalism. But it would be 
theoretically risky to substitute important ecological arguments for the 
marxian theory of crises.

That theory is independent of what technology is used by capitalism. Indeed 
it presumes constant revolutionising of the means of production under 

  Mark is persuasive about the arguments that the human race is coming up 
against the finite limits of extractable oil.  But that does not 
necessarily unfortunately mean the end of capitalism.

Capitalism wobble as a result. But if you don't push it, it won't fall.

Chris Burford

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