Chapter 3 argues that the surprising individualism of peakists is evidence of the influence of libertarian ideas on Americans who do not consider themselves conservative. It views the peak oil movement in the context of a transformation in American political culture over the last three decades: the growth of libertarian ideals, accelerated by the adoption of digital technologies with a tendency towards depoliticization. Through related histories of the ‘libertarian shift’ since the 1970s (the combination of the spread of political skepticism and activism by American conservatives) and the libertarian aspects of the Internet’s development, it uses the peak oil movement to explore the tendency (or ‘social affordance’) of the Internet to create a culture of ‘networked individuals,’ participants in fleeting virtual communities that only exist online and can discourage political or collective action.
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