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Empires of Oil: Corporate Oil in Barbarian Worlds by Duncan Clarke

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4The “oil curse” and social conflict

Oil is rarely seen as an unmixed blessing even though its endowment is a gift from the gods. It can provide great wealth for investors and drives the modern economies that enable higher standards of living. Yet oil is often associated with poverty, inequality, conflict and war. Many areas of the world from which oil is produced – Africa but one, Central Asia another – are among the poorest and most troubled on the planet. These associations have led many commentators to assume that oil is not a blessing, but a curse. Indeed, Nicholas Shaxson, a journalist, has claimed that it is oil itself – the corrupting, poisonous substance per se – that is to blame for most of Africa’s ills in oil-producer countries. ...

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