Extractivism from an ecosocialist perspective

David Schwartzman


The climate and energy justice movement is now confronting the challenge of extractivism. Here I argue for a path to “sensible extractivism” then to “indispensable extractivism” (Hollender, 2015), with the latter phase fading away as solar power capacity increases, i.e., more solar, more recycling, less mining. Extreme anti-extractionists advocate the near immediate shut down of all oil wells which would block a solar transition while simultaneously bringing on inevitable climate catastrophe. The creation of a global wind/solar power infrastructure supplying more energy than now is imperative to eliminate energy poverty now affecting most of humanity, as well as having the capacity for climate adaptation and the sequestering of carbon from the atmosphere into the crust, bringing the atmospheric CO2 level below 350 ppm. With the lowest carbon footprint of fossil fuels, liquid oil is the preferred energy source for a renewable energy transition. Thus, oil-rich countries (e.g., Venezuela) will be valuable partners in this transition, only possible by creating a cooperative global regime, with the dissolution of Military Industrial Complex (“MIC”) and its imperial agenda at the core of 21st Century Capitalism. References: Hollender, R. 2015. Socialism and Democracy 29 (1), 73-101; Schwartzman, D. and Saul, Q. 2015. An Ecosocialist Horizon for Venezuela: A Solar Communist Horizon for the World. Capitalism Nature Socialism 26(3): 14-30.

Environmental Crisis - Ecosocialism - Extractivism - Climate Change