(K. Brent Tomer),
Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence and the Rules that Run the World. By Leif Wenar. Oxford University Press; 494 pages; $34.95, £22.99.
LOOK at the tablet or the paper that you are reading. Its making will probably involve oil, minerals or metals. Some of those resources will have come from a country whose government steals from and oppresses its citizens. By one estimate, almost 10% of what the average American household spends on petrol each year goes directly into the coffers of such regimes. This is a nasty, if familiar, thought. But Leif Wenar, a philosopher at King’s College London, pushes these ideas further, with uncomfortable consequences.
Mr Wenar’s philosophy is influenced by the writings of the young Karl Marx, who maintained that the daily grind of economic life makes it hard for people to live up to their political ideals. In jargon-free prose, Mr Wenar argues persuasively that Western consumers are blinded to the fact that international trade still operates according to the “law of the jungle”.
The author asks the reader to consider the example of three gay men sentenced to death in Iran for homosexuality. If the men then escaped to America, a court there would rightly refuse to enforce Iranian law, since to Westerners it is objectively unjust; it would not convict them again. Americans would find it…Continue reading