Energy, the Modern State, and the American World System

By George A. Gonzalez

Subjects: American History, Energy Policy, International Relations, World History, Political Economy
Hardcover : 9781438469812, 196 pages, March 2018
Paperback : 9781438469805, 196 pages, January 2019

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Table of contents

Theoretical Overview

1. Energy and the Modern State

2. The Political Economy of Energy

3. Urban Sprawl in the U. S. and the Creation of the Hitler Regime

4. Urban Sprawl, the Great Depression, and the Start of World War II

5. U. S. Economic Elites, Nuclear Power, and Solar Energy

6. Global Oil Politics

7. Plutonium and U. S. Foreign Policy

Energy and the Global Order
Selected Bibliography

Examines political authority in the modern era as a function of specific energy politics.


In this provocative and original study, George A. Gonzalez argues that the relationship between energy and the state, as well as global politics, has become more and more deeply intertwined, reaching something of a crescendo with the global hegemony of Pax Americana in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. He presents a clear and concise case for viewing the modern state as the collaborative and affirmative union of capitalism and political authority in a setting where energy resources, be it wind, coal, or oil, provide the basis for the relatively inexpensive projection of political power. More broadly, energy serves as the foundation of the modern economy and, because of this, a prime function of the modern state is ensuring access to cheap, reliable sources to power and grow the economy. Historically, energy is more of a zero-sum resource than capital, markets, labor, or technology, and thus is a greater source of geopolitical tension and violence. Energy politics, and by extension international politics is, moreover, shaped by domestic corporate elites, especially those within the United States.

George A. Gonzalez is Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami and the author of many books, including Energy and Empire: The Politics of Nuclear and Solar Power in the United States and Energy and the Politics of the North Atlantic, both also published by SUNY Press.


"This book advances a hard-hitting and well-made argument about the energy-resource bases of state power, political and economic development, and the capture of government by corporate elites. It combines historical domestic development with the rise and consolidation of US hegemony. It successfully links domestic elite planners, funded by major corporate forces, with state power, providing a major critique of US capitalist democracy and its severe limitations. " — Inderjeet Parmar, author of Foundations of the American Century: The Ford, Carnegie, and Rockefeller Foundations in the Rise of American Power