Abstract: This paper takes as a starting point William Ophul’s claim that the last 450 yearsamount to an ‘era of exception’ in terms of resource availability. Ophuls suggests thatit is no accident that this exceptional era of abundance coincides with the birth anddevelopment of liberalism – that liberalism, in other words, would not/could not haveoccurred without the conditions provided by this era of exception. Some of the waysin which this suggestion might be critically examined are discussed, and attention isdrawn to one of its more interesting implications: if liberalism depends on abundance,what kind of political theory do we need if we are entering a new era of scarcity(‘peak oil/peak everything’)?
Environmental Values, Volume 22, Number 2, April 2013, pp. 241-259(19)