The Return of Limits

by Ashley Dawson
  1. A typical example of such hubris is Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992).
  2. For a discussion of the return of resource wars following the hiatus of ideologically-driven conflict that characterized the Cold War, see Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: the New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2001).
  3. The list of muckraking accounts of the Bush administration's deceptive tactics and hidden motives during the drive to war with Iraq is now long. A few representative examples from what is now virtually a sub-genre to itself are Anonymous, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (New York: Brassey's, 2004); James Bamford, The Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Services (New York: Random House, 2004); Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror (New York: Free Press, 2004); John W. Dean, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush (New York: Little, Brown, & Co., 2004); Michael T. Klare, Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Petroleum Dependency (New York: Holt, 2004); Rahul Mahajan, Full Spectrum Dominance (New York: Seven Stories, 2004).
  4. David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 19.
  5. Emmanuel Todd, After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 20.
  6. Stalwarts of the Reagan-Bush I-Bush II era such as Dick Cheney have been pushing for the military ousting of Saddam Hussein since the end of the first Gulf War. For an overview of Defense Department documents that clearly reveal this trend, see David Armstrong, "Dick CheneyÆs Song of America: Drafting a Plan for Global Dominance," HarperÆs Magazine (October 2002): 76-83.
  7. For a discussion of the ecological aspects of this settler colonial ideology, see Annette Kolodny, The Lay of the Land: Metaphor As Experience in American Life and Letters (Charlotte, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990). For a postcolonial take on representations of land, see Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest (New York: Routledge, 1995) and Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (New York: Routledge, 1992).
  8. Todd, 177.
  9. Donella H. Meadows et. al., The Limits to Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind (New York: Universe Books, 1972).
  10. For a discussion of the U.S.'s oil-driven support for the brutal reign of the Shah of Iran, see Klare, 60-61.
  11. A groundbreaking critique of transnational chains of consumption can be found in Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, and Ken Conca, eds., Confronting Consumption (Boston, MA: MIT Press, 2002).
  12. For a stinging critique of the U.S.'s failure to exert global leadership for environmental reform, see James Gustave Speth, Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004).
  13. Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All- American Meal (New York: HarperCollins, 2002).
  14. See Robert Heinberg, The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Society (Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society, 2003); David Goodstein, Out of Gas: All You Need to Know About the End of the Age of Oil (New York: Norton, 2004); Jeremy Rifkin, The Hydrogen Economy: The Creation of the World-Wide Energy Web and the Redistribution of Power on Earth (New York: Putnam, 2002); Paul Roberts, The End of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004).
  15. Klare, 4.
  16. It is quite likely that the U.S. tacitly encouraged Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait in order to have a justification for overthrowing his regime, having concluded after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran that the Kissinger-era "surrogate strategy" was no longer dependable. See Heinberg, 76.
  17. For discussion of the many different forms taken by blowback, see Chalmers Johnson, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (New York: Holt, 2000).
  18. Harvey, 85.
  19. Although developing countries consume far less petroleum, their consumption per capita is actually far higher than the core capitalist nations because of the relative inefficiency of their economies.
  20. An indication of the potential for global resource wars is the prescription by investment consultants to buy ædefense' stocks. See Stephen Leeb and Donna Leeb, The Oil Factor: Protect Yourself - AND PROFIT - From the Coming Energy Crisis (New York: Warner, 2004).
  21. Over a decade ago, Paul Kennedy was already warning of the perils of such over-extension in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict (New York: Random House, 1987).
  22. Todd, 184.
  23. Michael Klare, "The New Geopolitics," Monthly Review 55.3 (July-Aug 2003).
  24. For a discussion of the inveterate American hostility to cities and its effects, see Daniel Lazare, America's Undeclared War: What's Killing Our Cities and How We Can Stop It (New York: Harcourt, 2001).
  25. Maf Smith, John Whitelegg, and Nick Williams, Greening the Built Environment (London: Earthscan, 1998), 168.
  26. For a potent critique of contemporary suburbs, see Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck, Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2001).
  27. Smith, 164.
  28. This is based on an ecological footprint calculation carried out by the World Wildlife Fund that is available in their Living Planet Report 2002. 28 July 2004.
  29. For a strong articulation of the concentrated city ideal, see Richard Rogers, Cities for a Small Planet (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997).
  30. I'm thinking here of the New Urbanist movement of the 1990s. See Peter Katz, ed., The New Urbanism: Toward An Architecture of Community (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994). For a withering critique of a New Urbanist community constructed by the Disney Corporation, see Andrew Ross, The Celebration Chronicles: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Values in Disney's New Town (New York: Random House, 2000).
  31. Sasha Abramsky, "Running on Fumes," The Nation v. 281, n. 12 (October 17, 2005): 15-19.
  32. Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster, and Frederick H. Buttel, "An Overview," in Fred Magdoff, John Bellamy Foster, and Frederick H. Buttel, eds., Hungry for Profit: The Agribusiness Threat to Farmers, Food, and the Environment (New York: Monthly Review, 2000), 10.
  33. This situation has led to the rise of rural poverty and periodic waves of farmer suicides that seldom get reported in the national news. For a particularly comprehensive discussion of the farm crisis of the last two decades and its deep roots in U.S. history, see Osha Gray Davidson, Broken Heartland: The Rise of America's Rural Ghetto (Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1996).
  34. William Greider, "The Last Farm Crisis," The Nation (2 Nov 2000). 29 July 2004.
  35. Davidson, 41.
  36. Heinberg, 175.
  37. For a discussion of the depletion of ground water supplies in the world's major agricultural countries, see Lester Brown, Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a
  38. Frances Moore Lappe's Diet for a Small Planet (New York: Random House, 1971) was the first book to systematically explain the economic, political, and ecological costs of meat consumption. More recently, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (New York: HarperCollins, 2002) has offered a devastating update.
  39. Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View (New York: Verso, 2002), 157.
  40. Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York: Henry Holt, 1920).
  41. While many commentators agree on the fundamental lineaments of the transition from Fordism to post-Fordism, one of the most insightful discussions of this shift remains David Harvey's The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (New York: Blackwell, 1989).
  42. Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of a Post-Market Era (New York: Putnam, 1995), 5.
  43. Plugging his recent autobiography, Bill Clinton talks about having creating 22 million jobs in the U.S. during the boom of the 1990s. He neglects to mention that the majority of these jobs were in low-wage sectors such as the service industry.
  44. Rifkin, xvi.
  45. Stanley Aronowitz and William DiFazio, The Jobless Future: Sci- Tech and the Dogma of Work (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minneapolis Press, 1994), 305.
  46. One of the major strategies of the so-called anti-globalization movement has been to draw attention to these conditions. See Naomi Klein, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (New York: Picador, 2000).
  47. Kevin P. Phillips, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich (New York: Broadway, 2003).
  48. John Walton and David Seddon, Free Markets and Food Riots: The Politics of Global Adjustment (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1994).
  49. Mike Davis, "Planet of Slums," New Left Review 26 (Mar-Apr 2004). 30 July 2004.
  50. Aronowitz, 309.
  51. Christian Parenti, Lockdown American: Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis (New York: Verso, 1999).
  52. Michael Maniates, "Individualization: Plant a Tree, Buy a Bike, Save the World?" in Princen, Thomas, Michael Maniates, and Ken Conca, eds. Confronting Consumption (Cambrige, MA: MIT Press, 2002), 48.
  53. For a series of probing analyses of the famous æBattle of Seattle,' in which the global social justice movement took on the WTO, see Eddie Yuen, Daniel Burton Rose, and George Katsiaficas, eds., The Battle of Seattle: The New Challenge to Capitalist Globalization (New York: Soft Skull, 2001).
  54. On this new round of enclosure or "accumulation by dispossession," see David Harvey, The New Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).
  55. Harvey, 176.
  56. Although the specifics are mine, the idea of a new New Deal is David Harvey's. For his discussion of how such a program might counter the current contradictions of the capitalist world-system, see Harvey, 76.
  57. The experience of the New Urbanists in transforming urban planning will be useful in this regard. See James H. Kunstler, Home from Nowhere: Remaking Our Everyday World for the 21st Century (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998).
  58. Jack Manno, "Commoditization: Consumption Efficiency and an Economy of Care and Connection," in Princen, Maniates, and Conca, 83-93.
  59. For a discussion of the movement for less work, see Aronowitz, 342- 358.
  60. Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993).
  61. Heinberg, 141.