Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oil

From recently deceased Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski's Shah of Shahs:
Oil kindles extraordinary emotions and hopes, since oil is above all a great temptation. It is the temptation of ease, wealth, strength, fortune, power. It is a filthy, foul-smelling liquid that squirts obligingly up into the air and falls back to earth as a rustling shower of money.

To discover and possess the source of oil is to feel as if, after wandering long underground, you have suddenly stumbled upon royal treasure. Not only do you become rich, but you are also visited by the mystical conviction that some higher power has looked upon you with the eye of grace and magnanimously elevated you above others, electing you its favorite. Many photographs preserve the moment when the first oil spurts from the well: people jumping for joy, falling into each other's arms, weeping.

Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without work, life for free. Oil is a resource that anesthetizes thought, blurs vision, corrupts. People from poor countries go around thinking: God, if only we had oil! The concept of oil expresses perfectly the eternal human dream of wealth achieved through lucky accident, through a kiss of fortune and not by sweat, anguish, hard work.

In this sense oil is a fairy tale and, like every fairy tale, a bit of a lie. Oil fills us with such arrogance that we begin believing we can easily overcome such unyielding obastacles as time. With oil, the last Shah used to say, I will create a second America in a generation! He never created it. Oil, though powerful, has its defects. It does not replace thinking or wisdom.

For rulers, one of its most alluring qualities is that it strengthens authority. Oil produces great profits without putting a lot of people to work. Oil causes few social problems because it creates neither a numerous proletariat nor a sizable bourgeoisie. Thus the government, freed from the need of splitting the profits with anyone, can dispose of them according to its own ideas and desires. Look at the ministers from oil countries, how high they hold their heads, what a sense of power they have, they, the lords of energy, who decide whether we will be driving cars tomorrow or walking.

And oil's relation to the mosque? What vigor, glory, and significance this new wealth has given to its religion, Islam, which is enjoying a period of accelerated expansion and attracting new crowds of the faithful (34-35).
(Paragraph breaks added.)

Update: Many more quotes from this book uploaded by Sheila here.

20 Comments:

Anonymous ac:

Oh you're reading him!

4/10/2007 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

Yeah, finally requested him through the public library. I can't help feeling like it's a mixed bag as a history, but the writing is really, truly lovely.

4/11/2007 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Idont:

I'm with you: I love that kind of writing because it's stimulating and I know how to take it

4/11/2007 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I don't remember the priest telling me when I went to Confession when I was a kid, "Well, Lance, it was wrong of you to disobey your mom and talk back to her like that, but since you set the table every night and do your homework and sent your aunt a birthday card, what the heck! You're a good kid. Your sins are forgiven automatically. No need for you to do any penance."糖尿病 糖尿病 心脑血管 文秘 糖尿病症状 糖尿病饮食 妊娠糖尿病 糖尿病治疗 糖尿病并发症 糖尿病足 糖尿病药物 低血糖 胰岛素 血糖仪 胰岛素泵 什么是糖尿病 并发症治疗 糖尿病急救 糖尿病中医治疗 糖尿病常识 糖尿病食谱 糖尿病的预防 糖尿病人饮食 糖尿病肾病 And maybe it's happened a few times and I haven't heard about it but I can't recall a judge ever letting somebody walk on the grounds the crook was a good guy and his friends really like him.

5/11/2007 03:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I don't remember the priest telling me when I went to Confession when I was a kid, "Well, Lance, it was wrong of you to disobey your mom and talk back to her like that, but since you set the table every night and do your homework and sent your aunt a birthday card, what the heck! You're a good kid. Your sins are forgiven automatically. No need for you to do any penance." 糖尿病 文秘 心脑血管 糖尿病 高血压 高血脂 冠心病 心律失常 心肌病 中风 偏瘫 心力衰竭 神经衰弱 脑出血 心肌梗死 动脉硬化 风湿性心脏病 脑瘫 癫痫 老年性痴呆 先天性心脏病 心脏瓣膜病 低血压 心内膜炎 雷诺综合征 脑血栓 血栓性脉管炎 周围血管异常 肺心病 心绞痛 脑梗塞 低血糖 And maybe it's happened a few times and I haven't heard about it but I can't recall a judge ever letting somebody walk on the grounds the crook was a good guy and his friends really like him.

5/29/2007 03:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Lev:

I am sick to death of hearing the fake opposition Dems in Congress moan about not having enough votes to end the war in Iraq. They give lip service to the myth that the only way to end the war is to write a bill saying "the war is now over" and send it to Bush for a prompt veto, then override the veto. They then throw up their hands, saying "Well, as you can see, we don't have the votes to override any veto, so there's no way to end the war. Sorry folks."

This is disingenious and vividly illustrates who the Dems are really serving: the establishment, not their constituents.

Here's how to end the war: No bill specifically ending the war is even necessary. Remember those supplemental funding bills the Cheney regime has to constantly ask for, to continue funding the Iraq war piecemeal instead of in yearly lump sums attached to the actual defense budget? That's the achilles' heel of their war effort. The next time Bush asks for another $80 billion or whatever to keep the Iraq bloodbath going, all the Democrats have to do to end the war is to say: NO. To say "We won't allocate one more penny for your illegal war". Last I checked the Dems have a wafer-thin majority in both houses. With no Dems voting for the next spending bill it won't be passed and thus it won't make it to Bush's desk for signing. Bush (and especially his puppetmaster Cheney) may have concentrated an inordinate amount of power in the hands of the executive branch, but even they can't send spending bills to their own desk. That necessarily has to come from Congress. If it never reaches his desk he can't sign it, and will have 2 choices: 1.pull the troops out while there is still enough money left in the pipeline so to speak to allow an orderly withdrawl (and anyone who has five or more brain cells knows that the money isn't going to run out the next day, that's a non-issue that the right wing tries to use as a scare tactic but it is ridiculously dumbed down and simply not true; they don't wait until they have $5 left before asking for another supplemental OK?); or 2.don't pull them out right away, and leave them to wither on the vine in Iraq until the money DOES completely run out and they have to withdraw from Iraq chaotically, burning their supplies and vehicles. Either way the war will end pretty soon if the Dems refuse to vote on supplementals. They don't have to write a bill saying they are cutting off funding; this is only a fig leaf so they can pretend to be doing something to end the war when all they are doing is purposely spinning their wheels. All they have to do is to NOT VOTE ON SUPPLEMENTALS. Pretty effing simple. The people NOW need to DEMAND in so many words that if the Democrats are a genuine opposition party that they will carry out the will of the people and NOT VOTE on supplementals. If they are a fake opposition party as I feel they are, and are acting not in the people's interest but playing for the same team as the Republicans, then continue with more of the same hand-wringing and impotent nonbinding resolutions that resolve nothing. Decision time Democrats. Which are you? Genuine? Or fake opposition? I think I already know the answer to that one but why don't you surprise me?

10/18/2007 05:50:00 PM  
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