How Big Oil Conquered the World
Oil. From farm to pharmaceutical, diesel truck to dinner plate, pipeline to plastic product, it is impossible to think of an area of our modern-day lives that is not affected by the petrochemical industry. The story of oil is the story of the modern world.
Parts of that story are well-known: Rockefeller and Standard Oil; the internal combustion engine and the transformation of global transport; the House of Saud and the oil wars in the Middle East.
Other parts are more obscure: the quest for oil and the outbreak of World War I; the petrochemical interests behind modern medicine; the Big Oil money behind the “Green Revolution” and the “Gene Revolution.”
But that story, properly told, begins somewhere unexpected. Not in Pennsylvania with the first commercial drilling operation and the first oil boom, but in the rural backwoods of early 19th century New York State. And it doesn’t start with crude oil or its derivatives, but a different product altogether: snake oil.
“Dr. Bill Livingston, Celebrated Cancer Specialist” was the very image of the traveling snake oil salesman. He was neither a doctor nor a cancer specialist; his real name was not even Livingston. More to the point, the “Rock Oil” tonic he pawned was a useless mixture of laxative and petroleum and had no effect whatsoever on the cancer of the poor townsfolk he conned into buying it.
He lived the life of a vagabond, always on the run from the last group of people he had fooled, engaged in ever-more-outrageous deceptions to make sure that the past wouldn’t catch up with him. He abandoned his first wife and their six children to start a bigamous marriage in Canada at the same time as he fathered two more children by a third woman. He adopted the name “Livingston” after he was indicted for raping a girl in Cayuga in 1849.
When he wasn’t running away from them or disappearing for years at a time, he would teach his children the tricks of his treacherous trade. He once bragged of his parenting technique: “I cheat my boys every chance I get. I want to make ’em sharp.”
A towering man of over six feet and with natural good looks that he used to his advantage, he went by “Big Bill.” Others, less generously, called him “Devil Bill.” But his real name was William Avery Rockefeller, and it was his son, John D. Rockefeller, who would go on to found the Standard Oil monopoly and become the world’s first billionaire.
The world we live in today is the world created in “Devil” Bill’s image. It’s a world founded on treachery, deceit, and the naïveté of a public that has never wised up to the parlor tricks that the Rockefellers and their ilk have been using to shape the world for the past century and a half.
This is the story of the oiligarchy.
Why Big Oil Conquered the World
At the dawn of the 20th century, a new international order was emerging. One founded on oil. And by the end of the 20th century, that order was firmly established. Heating. Transportation. Industrial power. Plastic manufacturing. Pharmaceuticals. There is no facet of modern life that is not, one way or another, dependent on oil.
But the rulers of this oiligarchy — the Rockefellers at Standard Oil, the British royals at BP, the Dutch royals and the Rothschilds at Royal Dutch Shell — were not content with mere financial domination. The power that came with their near-total monopoly on the world’s most important commodity was enormous, and they had no qualms about using that power to re-make the world in their image.
As we saw in How Big Oil Conquered the World, the impact of the oiligarchs has been breathtaking. From the education system to the medical profession, from the “Green Revolution” to the “Gene Revolution,” from World War to the Gulf War, oil money has been used to shape every aspect of the world we live in. With the rise of the petrodollar in the 1970s, even the international monetary system itself rests on oil.
But now, in the 21st century, it seems that the old order, the oil order, is finally coming to an end.
The masses, having identified the oiligarchs and their destructive grip on the planet, see Big Oil waning and have begun to celebrate. To them, the promise of a post-carbon future represents the end of the oiligarchy.
What many do not realize, however, is that the oil order was never about oil. The oiligarchs did not care about oil but control. And, having long outgrown their financial dependence on the commodity that brought them their power and riches, they are at the forefront of this push for the post-carbon era.
Now, the oiligarchs are seeking to bring in a new international order. One in which their control is consolidated, their plan complete, their power unquestionable. One in which every aspect of human life, from energy to money to the very genome itself, is precisely ordered and technologically controlled.
This is the story of what the oiligarchs really desire, and how they plan to achieve it.