The use of fossil fuels, and later nuclear energy, created a new form of slavery that degraded the masters’ spiritual well-being and social relations. It was a change that put the future in peril and increased human misery by damaging ecosystems and forcing millions of people to earn their living by the dictates of the extractive industries and the technological bureaucracies of nation states obsessed with security and control.
In “The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude,”  Andrew Nikiforuk provides an excellent discussion of the authors of the 19th and 20th centuries who decried the effects of the new servitude of machinery, yet these earlier critiques of energy have been largely forgotten in present times, even by people who are very active in the contemporary battle against climate change.
Nikiforuk began with a brief history of slavery in Rome and in the early Industrial Revolution. The new servitude is a continuation of the same problem in a new form, one which suggests the necessary energy transition will be as contentious as the emancipation struggles of the past. If we get it wrong, our way of life may collapse like Rome’s, which never gave up its addiction to slavery. The empire just kept trying to acquire more slaves until the unquenchable demand led to decline and invasion from the regions that once supplied the slaves.