Festival of Ideas May 2017
Natural resources are the biggest source of unchecked power in the world. Autocrats like Putin and the Saudis spend oil money on weapons and repression. ISIS and Congo's militias spend resource money on atrocities and ammunition. For decades resource-fuelled authoritarians and extremists have forced endless crises on the West – and the ultimate source of their resource money is us, paying at the petrol station.
Leif Wenar explores how the ‘resource curse’ impedes democracy and development – and searches for the hidden global rule that puts shoppers into business with today’s most dangerous men. He discovers the same rule that historically licensed the slave trade and genocide and apartheid – a rule whose abolition has marked some of humanity’s greatest triumphs, yet that still breeds tyranny and war and extremism through today’s global resource trade.
He shows how the West can lead the world’s next great moral revolution by ending its dependence on authoritarian oil, and by getting consumers out of business with the men of blood. He sets out a grand strategy for upgrading the global system—for realising new rules that will make us more secure at home, more trusted abroad and better able to solve urgent global problems like climate change. He explains how we should act today to dissolve tomorrow’s crises — and how we can together create a more united human future.
Leif Wenar is Chair of Philosophy and Law at King's College London. He earned his degrees in Philosophy from Stanford and Harvard, where he worked with John Rawls and Robert Nozick. He has been a Visiting Professor at Princeton and a Fellow of the Carnegie Council Program in Justice and the World Economy. In 2017 he will be William H Bonsall Visiting Professor at Stanford. Follow him on Twitter @LeifWenar