On Energy Security

Because social justice in this day and age has as one of its components the reorientation and revision of capital-labor relations, it follows that the proper and wise allocation of society’s scarce resources is not only fundamental to fostering and maintaining social peace and stability, but the proper and wise allocation of scarce resources is also fundamental to large-scale economic productivity and economic growth. Arguably, much of the talk about an impending global economic recession in 2023 stems largely from the improper and unwise allocation of scarce resources by the international community and international society over the course of the last few decades. 

A word must also be said about the difference between “mechanical solidarity” and “organic solidarity.” As mentioned before, central to the functions and operations of the international community and international society is the global “division of labor.” In turn, there is a glue that is needed in order to keep the division of labor intact, and this glue is either “mechanical solidarity” or “organic solidarity.” Whereas “mechanical solidarity” is fostered largely through blood ties and communal ties, an “organic solidarity” emerges when there is a convergence of beliefs, sentiments, and values, as Emile Durkheim argued. 

Also, whereas “mechanical solidarity” is essentially held together by factors such as race and nationality, there is something contractual and consensual that fosters and maintains “organic solidarity” as Durkheim argued. More than anything, specialization is the basis or foundation for the contractual and consensual nature of the “organic solidarity” which is at the heart of a global division of labor. For a long time, Western consumers led the managerial and technical aspect of energy production, whereas the producer nations determined production levels and supply. Thus, it has been argued that “organic solidarity” is the more legitimate and viable form of solidarity within the global ‘division of labor.’ 

Energy security is a major component – if not the most major component – of what we consider as the global ‘division of labor.’ It has been argued that oil is the most important commodity in the world. As mentioned before, without energy security, an industrial, modern, and technological society like the West would essentially be halted at its tracks. And for many decades, the ability to get energy to Western consumers has relied on the “organic solidarity” between the Western bosses and managers of energy production and the leaders of the energy-producing nations. But this delicate consensus and understanding between the two parties can easily break down, as we saw with the energy embargo of the 1970’s and even now with Russia and Saudi Arabia’s collaboration over cutting production in recent days. 

In turn, the political and social measures which have to be taken in order to prevent an even further breakdown in the delicate consensus between Western bosses and managers and the energy-producing nations are essentially obstructed and stonewalled by what is known as “State Capture.” In a sense, energy security relies on the diversification and increase of the supply of energy. But “State Capture” essentially undermines these two basic tenants of energy security. Although Washington and Brussels seek to wish away Russia’s existence, wishing away Russia’s existence would amount to an energy shortfall in European energy markets. Iran might be able to make up for the European energy shortfall to a certain extent if Europe were to actually wish away Russia’s existence. But as mentioned before, the reality of “State Capture” in Brussels and Washington stops this from happening. 

And as Jeff Colgan argued, what complicates and compromises energy security for Western nations to a significant degree and extent is the fact that energy-rich nations tend to be more aggressive and conflict-prone than other nations, as evinced by Russia’s wars over the last couple of decades, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in the 1990’s, Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, Venezuela’s stance vis-à-vis the United States, Iran’s position on Israel, and so forth. In a sense, a number of energy-rich nations are revolutionary nations, not status quo nations. 

It follows that OPEC nations are to a large extent inclined towards changing and revising the status quo of the international system. In turn, the reaction of Western consumer nations towards the general foreign policy of energy-rich nations has to be balanced with a vital interest, namely, energy security. Arguably, while energy-rich nations rely on the export of their energy to the West, the West’s dependence on energy-rich nations is greater, and as a result, the overall ‘balance of power’ between energy-rich nations and Western consumer nations is largely in favor of the energy-rich nations who in turn are largely revolutionary in their foreign policy outlook and are inclined to a certain degree towards changing and revising the status quo of the international system. 

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