From Fossil Capitalism to Energy Democracy?

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2012 ... March 3, 2020

From Fossil Capitalism to Energy Democracy?:
The struggle for hegemony in an era of climate crisis

William K. Carroll

As the 21st Century’s second decade opens, the increasingly severe symptoms of climate change comprise a pivot in the struggle for hegemony, globally and within national formations. With the highest per capital carbon emissions among the G20 states, Canada is a climate laggard and, in some respects, a first-world petro-state (Nikiforuk 2010), organized as a regime of obstruction (the title of an edited collection to be published this May, Carroll 2020d). Building on hegemonic relations installed during successive eras of capitalism, this regime is constituted through modalities of power that protect revenue streams issuing from carbon extraction, processing and transport while bolstering popular support for an accumulation strategy in which fossil capital figures as a leading fraction. The regime incorporates a panoply of hegemonic practices at different scales, reaching into civil and political society, and into Indigenous communities whose land claims and worldviews challenge state-mandated property rights.

This article draws upon a six-year collaborative investigation,... centred on the case of Canada (Carroll and Daub 2018; Carroll 2020d). I highlight some of our findings on the modalities through which fossil capital’s economic and political-cultural power is exercised at different scales, and consider how a project of energy democracy might catalyze the formation of an alternative historical bloc, opening onto eco-socialism.

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