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Refueling Capitalism

Refueling Capitalism

Depression, Oil, and the Making of “the American Way of Life”

Chapter:
(p.27) Chapter Two Refueling Capitalism
Source:
Lifeblood
Author(s):
Matthew T. Huber
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816677849.003.0002

This chapter claims that the Great Depression and the New Deal response of the 1930s constituted a massive reconfiguration of the value of labor power, as well as the cultural politics of life. This reconfiguration was produced out of social struggles, which then resulted into a vision of an “American way of life.” The chapter refashions the “American way of life” as not only a social, cultural, and economic project but a material and ecological one as well, through examining the New Deal project. It also illustrates how struggles over the production of “a way of life” in the 1930s were contingent on struggles with the materiality of petroleum itself. The politics of oil overproduction paralleled the wider politics of the Depression as it questioned the viability of the capitalist mode of commodity production.

Keywords:   Great Depression, 1930 New Deal, American way of life, petroleum, oil overproduction, capitalism

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