Tyranny, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World
Oxford University Press 2016
Chances are that at this very moment, you are either looking at a computer screen, holding a digital device, or listening to my voice through plastic earphones. Our computers and these other devices are constructed out of materials that have their origins in lands across the globe. And oil plays a central and early role in the causal story of how we came into possession of them. Oil also plays a leading role in the major global conflicts of our day. Much of the world’s oil is sold to us by brutal tyrants who use the monetary proceeds to strengthen their tyranny. But it is arguable that tyrants who control a territory have no legitimate claim to ownership of the territory’s resources; the oil belongs to the people, not to the tyrant. So the oil that goes into creating the objects that we now possess and use is likely stolen. How is it then that your computer, which is made of oil in the form of plastic, is your property? And what can be done about the fact that out ordinary consumption habits so directly place large sums of money into the pockets of the world’s most brutal men?
In Blood Oil: Tyranny, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World (Oxford University Press, 2016), Leif Wenar examines the history, sociology, and politics of the global oil trade. Although the reality depicted in the book is bleak and disturbing, Wenar’s message is ultimately uplifting. He argues that, despite all of the prevailing injustices in the world, the tools of radical reform are close at hand.