Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming – A Review
Oil’s Deep State is not about oil but about the survival of democracy in Canada and the western world. As member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and leader of the Liberal opposition at one time, Kevin Tate explains the dangers of well-funded fossil fuel corporations which are able to buy into government departments to redirect the economic and political priorities.
Tate reveals how the subversion of the democratic system happens in Alberta and the Canadian legislature. He cites Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money for describing what is happening in the United States and Canada. Meyer describes how corporations through their charitable foundations fund politicians anonymously who are persuaded to immobilize government agencies.
They would eliminate regulations protecting labour, promoting health care, and setting royalties for corporations. Kevin Tate in his book hopes to limit the output of fossil fuel extraction, raise royalties, protect the functioning of democratic institutions, and diminish global warming.
Tate explains that corporate heavyweights who extract fossil fuel have warned him not to oppose their plans to infiltrate government agencies and set the government priorities. Interference would only mean that the corporate interests will retaliate more quickly than he could imagine. He was told that billions of dollars were being invested to determine the economic future of Alberta as an oil sands province and the province future was not economic diversification.
Relying on the research of historians, political scientists, economists, and journalists, Tate explains the concepts of “institutional capture” of a political society and “deep states” rooted in the traditional political state.
Private interests through financial power are able to capture institutions of the state to determine the economic and social priorities of a government. The result is to undermine public priorities and create a state controlled by private interests under the appearance of a democratic state.
The appearances of democracy by the use of elections can be maintained but in fact the private interests deep inside the functions of the state have a firm grip on positions that control public policy.
The burning of fossil fuels and the extraction of the oil sands greatly increase the carbon footprint in the atmosphere and across the world. Although fossil fuels produce great wealth for the owners and they become internationally very powerful yet fossil fuels pollute the air, water, and lands in Alberta and North America.
Still wealthy owners are inclined to place the enhancement of their enormous wealth and power before the health of the nation, the world, and the global danger of atmospheric warming. The powerful argumentation is a challenge to the moral sensitivity of the reader and highly recommended.
Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa. Toronto: James Lorimer, 2017, by Kevin Taft.