Liquid Gold

Thus, the entirety of Western civilization and Western history is predicated upon abuse, extraction and theft, which is a fact and reality that many of us have been in denial about or unaware of for quite some time. Nevertheless, by virtue of structural phenomena in the international system such as globalization and technology which are largely beyond the control and comprehension of anyone, the West is now part of a “Division of Labor” that is global in scope, which means that the West has to be integrated with the other major subdivisions of the global ‘division of labor’ through diplomatic and socially constructed means. 

As mentioned before, the “Theory of Everything” in the social sciences is arguably the theory known as “Structural Functionalism,” which in turn deals more than anything with the concept of the “Division of Labor.” However, the theory of “Structural Functionalism” deals with much more than just the ‘Division of Labor,’ and this is a point which I belabored in the book which I wrote and published a few years ago. Hence, while the natural and physical sciences have yet to come up with a “Theory of Everything” to describe and explain reality – and if it does, it may constitute some middle ground between Planck’s ‘Electromagnetic Field Theory’ and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity’ – the social sciences do have a descriptive and explanatory “Theory of Everything” for social reality, namely, the theory of “Structural Functionalism.” 

However, the status quo for the United States since its rise as an industrial and modern power at the start of the 20thcentury has been a policy and position based on “global hegemony.” Central to the policy of “global hegemony” is a concept known as “Fifth Freedom,” which in turn equates to preserving “economic freedom” at all costs. And within the broader context of “global hegemony,” what “Fifth Freedom” and “economic freedom” meant was the control of the world’s energy and oil supply by any means necessary. Thus, anyone who challenged America’s claim to global control of energy and oil or perhaps even America’s claim to global hegemony was considered a “rotten apple” by America’s ‘National Security’ apparatus.  But in many cases, even the weakest and most insignificant countries, individuals, and groups could be considered a “rotten apple” whom in turn could be dealt with according to the whims of America’s ‘National Security’ apparatus. And in terms of the ‘rotten apple theory,’ Noam Chomsky wrote:

“Under the rotten apple theory, it follows that the tinier and weaker the country, the less endowed it is with resources, the more dangerous it is. If even a marginal and impoverished country can begin to utilize its own limited human and material resources and can undertake programs of development geared to the needs of the domestic population, then others may ask: why not us? The contagion may spread, infecting others, and before long the Fifth Freedom may be threatened in places that matter.” 

How America came to be in charge of one of the three “Commanding Heights” of the international economy and thus the “Division of Labor” was through pure chance and luck. During the colonial era, Britain had control of the Arabian Peninsula after Britain took this region of the world away from what was then the Ottoman Empire. But with its imperial power on the decline and as a result of its inability to actually find the “liquid gold” which was believed to be hidden underneath the ground of the Arabian Peninsula, Britain turned over control of the Arabian Peninsula to the United States in the early half of the 20th century, and through sheer chance and luck, America discovered the vast supply of “liquid gold” buried underneath the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1930’s. And coincidentally, about two-thirds of all the world’s energy is situated in the Arabian Peninsula. 

Thus, the story of American power is very much a story of oil companies and oil corporations. As Steve Coll explained in a book titled “Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power,” the centrality of energy and oil to the basic survival of an industrialized and modern society like America meant that companies like ExxonMobil “functioned as a corporate state within the American state.” And as it expanded, ExxonMobil “refined its own foreign, security, and economic policies.” This meant that a change in ExxonMobil’s foreign, security, and economic policies would spell change for the whole-of-government foreign, security, and economic policies in America. And if there is any change in policy in the pipeline today, the change would most likely take into account the rise of China, a parallel pole to the United States in the international system which is also fast becoming a top-tier industrial and modern power in the international system. 

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