If our oil addiction is so bad for us, why don't we kick the
habit? Looking beyond the usual culprits-Big Oil, petro-states, and
the strategists of empire-Lifeblood finds a deeper and
more complex explanation in everyday practices of oil consumption
in American culture. Those practices, Matthew T. Huber suggests,
have in fact been instrumental in shaping the broader cultural
politics of American capitalism.
How did gasoline and countless other petroleum products become
so central to our notions of the American way of life? Huber traces
the answer from the 1930s through the oil shocks of the 1970s to
our present predicament, revealing that oil's role in defining
popular culture extends far beyond material connections between
oil, suburbia, and automobility. He shows how oil powered a
cultural politics of entrepreneurial life-the very American idea
that life itself is a product of individual entrepreneurial
capacities. In so doing he uses oil to retell American political
history from the triumph of New Deal liberalism to the rise of the
New Right, from oil's celebration as the lifeblood of postwar
capitalism to increasing anxieties over oil addiction.
Lifeblood rethinks debates surrounding energy and
capitalism, neoliberalism and nature, and the importance of
suburbanization in the rightward shift in American politics. Today,
Huber tells us, as crises attributable to oil intensify, a populist
clamoring for cheap energy has less to do with American excess than
with the eroding conditions of life under neoliberalism.
Subjects: History, Environmental Science, Political Science
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