The strength of fossil fuels is reinforced by the political philosophy of neoliberalism. While neoliberalism is ostensibly a proponent of ‘free markets’, it actually is a proponent of the idea that established business and profit comes first out of all social activities, and is the only social activity to really count. The State essentially withdraws from helping the people, as the free market supposedly delivers everything anyone could want, State planning is always bad (while Corporate planning is fine), and if a person can’t afford what they need they are just not working hard enough. Virtue is shown by profit and wealth. Shareholders and high level executives are the important people who should have the corporations money funnelled to them. Workers are cost-centres and obstructions and deserve little. Unions should be destroyed. The idea seems to be to remove any checks and balances on corporate action, so that corporate profit cannot be threatened by popular choice, other than the choice of purchase. Any interference with corporate domination, appears to be considered to be an interference with the “Free market” (which is forbidden), while any act of corporate domination, such as lowering wages and conditions, can be seen as the free market in action. The State largely becomes a committee for the benefit of the established corporate class and the wealth elites, and protects those elites as best it can. It aims to weaken the post-WWII ‘social contract’ in which workers had value, profits were shared and distributed relatively equally, workers were owed social services and social insurance, and the hierarchy was relatively flat. Such a neoliberal system finds it easy to take money from fossil fuel companies, put fossil fuel companies first before the threat of climate change, and subsidise fossil fuel companies in defiance of free market rules that apply elsewhere. It is likely to defend the established business model, the established power relations, the distribution of wealth, the social relations of energy, and the social relations which put ecologies close to the bottom, as zones for extraction or dumping of pollution. So it is no wonder it generally does not support saving the ecology.

Green Paradox

In a profit driven neoliberal society, which is facing the threat that its fossil fuel reserves may become stranded assets, the ‘Green Paradox’ may arise, which is that the threat of green action generates a growing pressure to sell those resources before they become worthless. Selling the resources, gets at least some profit while it is available, and may help lock people into fossil fuel based technologies, and prolong the market. This increases emissions and increases the likelihood of a dangerous and unstable transition.