Oil, Empire, and Capitalism

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

In 1943 a U.S. geologist called Saudi Arabian oil “the single greatest prize in all history.” Since the early 1900s, oil has been the lifeblood of capitalism. Essential to transport and production, oil is the world’s most important strategic commodity, crucial to the systems’ expansion, and therefore also to its potential decline in the form of our current climate crisis. Oil is what makes the Middle East a stomping ground for competing world and regional powers. “If Kuwait grew carrots,” Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb remarked after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1990, “we wouldn’t give a damn.” This talk will explore the history of the relationship between oil, empire, and capitalism.

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