photo & text by nacrowe
i recently sought out this book in the aftermath of recent major internal changes at SHELL, CHEVRON and EXXON-MOBIL. in many ways BLOWOUT: CORRUPTED DEMOCRACY, ROGUE STATE RUSSIA AND THE RICHEST, MOST DESTRUCTIVE INDUSTRY ON EARTH(CROWN, 2019) by RACHEL MADDOW is a bit of a primer to understanding the current geopolitical climate surrounding the pernicious global effect of the oil and gas industry. in essence, the industry represents the worst aspects of capitalism run amuck, where the only true loyalty is not to country or set of common governing ethics, but the search for PROFIT and VALUE to shareholders. worse than that, there is an implicit economic incentive structure for major players to seek out countries with weak political structures and exploit them for their natural resources. this perpetuates dictatorships and weakens struggling democracies on a global scale.
in essence the petroleum industry is a corrosive and corrupting force both domestically and internationally. case studies presented of exemplars this adverse influence included that of EQUATORIAL GUINEA, OKLAHOMA and RUSSIA. in essence they all suffer from what is referred to as THE RESOURCE CURSE, by which a country or territory is economically dependent on a single resource that is subject to the greater whims of a global market, leaving them highly vulnerable should such bottom-out. inhabitants of these regions are often worse off economically with fewer legal rights and a lower quality of life. what MADDOW exposes is the multiple layers of corrupting influence in which major petroleum corporations through quasi-legal pay-outs, lobbying efforts and lawyering around sanctions seek to maximize profit to the detriment of ordinary citizens worldwide. in OKLAHOMA there were local natural gas operations in the fracking industry that fought tooth-and-nail for longterm tax breaks that essentially pilfered the state's largesse and strangled its ability to provide basic services like education for their constituency. it really begs the question of whose interests are they serving, because it obviously is not their community. in essence that is the point of this book: that the petroleum industry as currently defined culturally and legally is not bound by a set of common ethics or loyalty to country that interferes with its singular focus on producing profit and longterm value for its shareholders.
and that is a problem. a big one.
as an oil brat i grew up in this world and saw firsthand its pernicious influence of enabling foreign dictators and corrupt draconian regimes. it was perfectly obvious when witnessed in person yet conflictingly it is also true that our whole economy as AMERICANS is powered by this racket. this EXPLOITATION. forget about the CLIMATE CRISIS, i want widespread renewable energy just to enable some checks on these petroleum companies and the dirty work they do on our behalf and the fledging democratic governments they corrupt in our name.
this is a deeply moving book that i am not doing justice but will no doubt reference in the future. definitely worth reading and investigating if interested in the coercive effects of unfettered AMERICAN CAPITALISM on POLITICAL CORRUPTION both home and abroad.