The eruption of oil in Santa Barbara Channel has led to important revelations regarding the nature of power in America: who has it–and more importantly, how it is exercised such that existing societal institutions function to undermine dissent and minimize the opportunities for authentic change. The response of local aggrieved citizens to the system thus operating provides additional evidence that the development of radical left perspectives is induced by objective conditions of the American social system. The implications of “accidents” and different forms of “events” for the study of power are discussed.