Ideology and the Politics of Energy

Ideology and the Politics of Energy

The varying reactions to Three Mile Island and to the impending decontrol of the price of domestical- ly produced oil illuminate the shifting fault lines of American politics and provide a glimpse of what the ’80s are likely to offer in the way of ideological conflict.

Until Three Mile Island, root-and-branch opposition to the development of nuclear power had largely been confined to that left fringe of American politics where lingering countercultural anticorporatism reinforced a small-is-beautiful reverence for an unspoiled ecosystem. The passions animating the Clamshell, Abalone, and related “alliances” had little authentic appeal to most urban radical intellectuals or liberal professionals, let alone to progrowth leaders of organized labor. However, the Harrisburg hydrogen bubble, while failing to escape its containment vessel, nonetheless did manage to melt down the prior indifference of mainstream left-liberalism, thus establishing the nuclear power issue as one upon which it is now obligatory to have a viewpoint.


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