Two Comments on the Energy Crisis


  • Andrew Marx
  • Lawrence Lockwood





Frank Ackerman and Arthur MacEwan's article on the energy crisis ("Energy and Power: Are We Running Out of Gas?" [Monthly Review, January 1974]) raises a number of important questions and introduces a variety of valuable insights. Nevertheless, it seems to me that the article errs in attributing the current "crisis" entirely to oil company machinations. While the oil magnates have clearly been involved in a highly profitable shell-game, as Ackerman and MacEwan ably demonstrate, their actions reflect the impact of certain imperatives. Ackerman and MacEwan are correct in rejecting the contention, planted by some environmentalists and carefully cultivated by the oil companies, that a genuine shortage has arrived, spurred by excess demand for a limited supply of oil. That situation may someday arise; but for now, any actual shortfall must be seen as the result of fairly deliberate policies in oil production, refining, and distribution. Still, it would be my guess that in this the oil companies have pursued one of their less-desired policy options in response to circumstances beyond their control. Particularly, these policies represent an attempt to adapt to the general criss of U.S. imperialism, symbolized and accelerated by the U.S. defeat in Vietnam.






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