Energy, capital as power and world order



Publication Details

DiMuzio, T. (2016). Energy, capital as power and world order. In A. Cafruny, S. Talani & G. Pozo. Pozo Martin (Eds.), Handbook of Critical International Political Economy (pp. 267-287). United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.


Until late, the subject of energy and its importance for capitalism and the constitution and reconstitution of world order has been sorely overlooked in the international political economy (IPE) literature. Indeed, only two of the major textbooks in IPE have chapters on energy (Di Muzio and Ovadia 2016). This is also true of the literature known as classical political economy. With few exceptions, the main questions that animated the classics such as the origins of the wealth of nations and the distribution of wealth are somehow disconnected from the production and consumption of energy. Marginal exceptions granted, there is little acknowledgement that the last three centuries of uneven and combined "progress" and "development" have anything to do with the exploitation of coal, oil and natural gas. However, if recent scholarship is any indication, this appears to be changing both within IPE and within other academic fields such as geography, sociology and environmental studies. In this emergent literature, we can find an argument that energy should not be treated as auxiliary to our analysis of the global political economy but essential to understanding and interpreting its emergence, transformations and future trajectories (Di Muzio 2015). Since fossil fuels make up an overwhelming share of global energy production and consumption (see Fig. 14.1) I will mainly concentrate of non-renewable fossil fuels and aim to provide a critical political economy approach to energy, capitalism and world order by using the capital as power perspective.

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