Book Reviews -- the Political Economy of International Oil Commodities in the International Economy by George Philip

Article excerpt

The Political Economy of International Oil Commodities in the International Economy

George Philip

Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh, Scotland. 1994

The main oil-exporting countries were extremely poor in the recent past. However, after they were granted control of their domestic oil industries by a weakened and internationalist-looking West exhausted by World War II, they have earned enormous wealth from this valuable resource. They have also, at times, used the 'oil weapon' to some effect in global politics. Why, therefore, has such vast oil revenue done so little to bring about sustained political and economic development in these countries?

George Philip's book examines this paradox. Exploring the complex relationship between oil and the development experiences of its poorer exporters, it is a comparative historical study which traces the path of global oil expansion from initial exploitation by Western corporations, through the increased taxation and eventual expropriation moves of the 1940s and 1950s, to the boom and slump of 1973-86 and its aftermath--raising challenging questions about economic development, about political modernization and about the balance of the present-day global economy as a whole.

Fossil fuels have proved to be an ecologically dangerous source of energy in an over-crowded world, and this (and the political and economic power which oil gave to the oil-rich countries) has driven the industrial Rations of the world to develop nuclear power, another ecologically dangerous resource. However, the book does not concentrate on this topic, nor does it consider the benefits to be accrued by the scientific exploitation of solar energy utilizing space-based conversion systems (now being developed by Japan: see earlier articles in this journal). …