I haven’t read Rachel’s new book, Blowout, and I probably won’t until there is a summarized version on Blinkist. ( a premium book summary service helping you to digest the key insights of books in 15 minutes.) I listen to Rachel on MSNBC weeknights at 9 pm. I like Rachel and would like to say a few words about her book, and without having read it.
I did read the following Review from Penguin Random House:
Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All
In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source: the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry.
With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson. The oil and gas industry has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers. But being outraged at it is, according to Maddow, “like being indignant when a lion takes down and eats a gazelle. You can’t really blame the lion. It’s in her nature.”
Blowout is a call to contain the lion: to stop subsidizing the wealthiest businesses on earth, to fight for transparency, and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enablers. The stakes have never been higher.
For Rachel the bad guy in all this is the oil and gas industry:
“the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry”
“the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas “
“[the iindustry] has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers”
“the world’s most destructive industry”
“democracy either wins this one (the war with oil and gas) or disappears.”
But is this what has brought us to the point we are at today, when the world’s wealth (now mostly represented by the oil and gas industries) is concentrated in very few individuals in very few countries? Is it the bad guy that Rachel would have it?
Sure the world labors under extreme inequalities between people and peoples. But was there ever a time when the world’s wealth was distributed equally? Now I don’t know, but the little I do know about our past, the past of homo sapiens, some several tens of thousands of years, would have me say no. Certainly the answer is no for the recent past, before the discovery of oil and gas in the ground, some few thousand years, when most people shared very little of the world’s wealth whatever it was at that time with the kings and emperors and tyrants.
For the inequality that we see around us everywhere in the world today is the oil and gas industry most to be blamed? I don’t think so. The oil and gas fat cats have simply replaced the kings and emperors of the past. Men have not changed.
In respect to numbers democracy has always been on the losing side of the battle for men’s minds. Democracy has never captured the minds let alone the hearts of men and women, in the same way as has the material wealth of the earth. If you believe otherwise talk with the men and woman on their way to the gold mines in the California of the 19th. century. These men and women didn’t bring democracy with them, rather their lust for gold. At best democracy would become at a later date in our history a just another way of defending the new divisions of the world’s wealth, brought upon all of us by the rise of the oil and gas industry.
I haven’t read Rachel’s book, not yet even the Blinkist summary, but I would disagree with her conclusion that “democracy either wins this one or disappears.” If for no other reason that we are closer today to having real, world wide democracy than ever before and this is so even when the evil oil and gas industry still controls the world’s wealth.
And in any case the real battle yet to begin in earnest is that between the oil and gas industry and the proponents of global warming who would replace oil and gas by wind, sun, and water.
Oil and gas either wins this one or disappears.