Energy of Slaves
Oil and the New ServitudeBook - 2012
Ancient civilizations relied on shackled human muscle. It took the energy of slaves to plant crops, clothe emperors, and build cities. Nineteenth-century slaveholders viewed critics as hostilely as oil companies and governments now regard environmentalists. Yet the abolition movement had an invisible ally: coal and oil. As the world's most versatile workers, fossil fuels replenished slavery's ranks with combustion engines and other labor-saving tools. Since then, cheap oil has transformed politics, economics, science, agriculture, and even our concept of happiness. Many North Americans today live as extravagantly as Caribbean plantation owners. We feel entitled to surplus energy and rationalize inequality, even barbarity, to get it. But endless growth is an illusion.
What we need, Andrew Nikiforuk argues in this provocative new book, is a radical emancipation movement that ends our master-and-slave approach to energy. We must learn to use energy on a moral, just, and truly human scale.
From the critics
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Earl Cook "Affluence, freedom and waste are the 3 musketeers of the growth society" pg. 232
David Graeber "We've managed to take a situation which most people in the ancient world would have recognized as a form of slavery and turned it into the definition of freedom". pg. 72
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