“How Big Oil Conquered the World” is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism presented by James Corbett, revealing the immense extent to which the oil industry has shaped and is ruling the world as we know it.
“From farm to pharmaceutical, diesel truck to dinner plate, pipeline to plastic product, it is impossible to think of an area of our modern-day lives that is not affected by the petrochemical industry.
The story of oil is the story of the modern world. And this is the story of those who helped shape that world, and how the oil-igarchy they created is on the verge of monopolizing life itself.”
Corbett carefully details the sordid back story of today’s “oiligarchy.” While most people are well-acquainted with the Rockefeller name, few probably know the true history of the Rockefellers’ rise to power.
Big Oil — An Industry Founded on Treachery and Deceit
As noted by Corbett, certain details of the Big Oil story are well known. Others are more obscure. The story begins in rural New York state in the early 19th century, with William Avery Rockefeller, an authentic “snake oil salesman” going by the fictional name of “Dr. Bill Livingston.”
While neither a doctor nor a cancer specialist, Rockefeller, aka “Dr. Livingston,” aka “Devil Bill,” traveled the country’s back roads conning people into buying his “Rock Oil” tonic for cancer — “a useless mixture of laxative and petroleum that had no effect whatsoever,” according to Corbett.
William Avery Rockefeller fathered numerous children with three women, and took the name Livingston after being indicted for rape in 1849. One of those children was John D. Rockefeller, who became the world’s first billionaire after founding Standard Oil.
As noted by Corbett:
“When he wasn’t running away from them or disappearing for years at a time, [William Avery Rockefeller] would teach his children the tricks of his treacherous trade. He once bragged of his parenting technique: ‘I cheat my boys every chance I get. I want to make ’em sharp’ …
The world we live in today is the world created in ‘Devil’ Bill’s image. It’s a world founded on treachery, deceit, and the naïveté of a public that has never wised up to the parlor tricks that the Rockefellers and their ilk have been using to shape the world for the past century and a half.”
The Birth of the Oil Industry
Another character with a similarly dubious background is “Colonel” Edwin Drake, an unemployed railroad conductor who managed to secure himself a job with the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company after running into the founders, George Bissell and James Townsend, at a hotel.
The title “Colonel” was bestowed on him by Bissell and Townsend, who thought it might help him “win the respect of the locals” as he went about the company’s business, collecting Seneca oil, which the company distilled into kerosene (lamp oil).
His mission was to collect enough Seneca oil to make the business profitable — a task that turned out to be more difficult than expected, as mere gallons could be collected using the standard collection methods.
Eventually, he tried drilling through the shale bedrock to reach greater reservoirs of oil, and on August 28, 1859 — literally the day he’d used up the last of his funds — the oil began to flow from the ground. And with that, a new industry was born.
It didn’t take long before homes and factories around the world were using lamp oil refined from crude, and prospectors from around the country flocked to Pennsylvania in search of the “black gold.”
Among them was John D. Rockefeller, a Cleveland bookkeeper who, according to Corbett, had two ambitions in life: “To make $100,000 and to live to 100 years old.” With a $1,000 loan from his father, “Devil Bill,” John D. Rockefeller set off to make his fortune.
The Standard Oil Monopoly
After a series of partnerships and mergers over a seven-year period, John D. Rockefeller eventually incorporated Standard Oil of Ohio in 1870. According to the report:
“The next year, he quietly put what he called ‘our plan’ — his campaign to dominate the volatile oil industry — into devastating effect. Rockefeller knew that the refiner with the lowest transportation cost could bring rivals to their knees.
He entered into a secret alliance with the railroads, called the South Improvement Company. In exchange for large, regular shipments, Rockefeller and his allies secured transport rates far lower than those of their bewildered competitors.
Ida Tarbell, the daughter of an oil man, later remembered how men like her father struggled to make sense of events: ‘An uneasy rumor began running up and down the Oil Regions,’ she wrote.
‘Freight rates were going up. … Moreover … all members of the South Improvement Company — a company unheard of until now — were exempt. … On every lip there was but one word and that was ‘conspiracy.'”
By the time he was 40, John D. Rockefeller controlled 90 percent of the global oil refineries. Within another few years (early 1880s), he also controlled 90 percent of the marketing of oil, and one-third of all oil wells. His power and influence cannot be overstated at this point.
He had an international monopoly on what was to become the most important commodity in the world economy.
Following in Rockefeller’s footsteps were a handful of other wealthy families, including the Nobels, the Rothschilds, the Dutch Royal family, and millionaire William Knox D’arcy, who was the first to strike oil in Persia.
These early “oil barons” became enormously wealthy. And as billions of people became increasingly dependent on oil for virtually every aspect of life, they gained tremendous power and influence.
However, oil could have been replaced by other resources, were it not for the shrewd manipulation by these early “oiligarchs.”
The Death of the Electric Car, and Other Lucky Breaks
The advent of the electric light bulb took a good chunk out of the lamp oil market and temporarily threatened the oil monopoly. But lamp oil was quickly replaced by the need for gasoline to run the two-stroke internal combustion engine, invented by German engineer Karl Benz.
In 1888, Benz Motorwagen became the first commercially available automobile, and with that, the petroleum industry’s profits were again secured. But even then their ongoing monopoly was not guaranteed. The first electric car had been built in 1884, and by 1897, electric cars were gaining popularity in London. In the early 20th century, 28 percent of cars sold in the U.S. were also electric. As noted by Corbett:
“The electrics had advantages over the internal combustion engine: they required no gear shifting or hand cranking, and had none of the vibration, smell or noise associated with gasoline-powered cars. Lady Luck intervened again on January 10, 1901, when prospectors struck oil at Spindletop in East Texas.
The gusher blew 100,000 barrels a day and set off the next great oil boom, providing cheap, plentiful oil to the American market and driving down gas prices. It wasn’t long before the expensive, low range electric engines were abandoned altogether and big, loud, gas-guzzling engines came to dominate the road …”
Interestingly, the event that made John D. Rockefeller into the world’s first billionaire was supposed to rein in his unbridled power. He’d come under intense scrutiny as his wealth increased and, on May 15, 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court declared Standard Oil a monopoly “in restraint of trade” and ordered its dissolution.
But by dissolving the company into multiple entities, shares of Standard Oil tripled in value, and in a few short years, Rockefeller’s worth equaled nearly 2 percent of the total U.S. economy.
“For the oiligarchy, the lesson of the rise and rise of Rockefeller was obvious: the more ruthlessly that monopoly was pursued, the tighter that control was grasped, the greater the lust for power and money, the greater the reward would be in the end. From now on, no invention would derail the oil majors from their quest for total control. No competition would be tolerated. No threat to the oiligarchs would be allowed to rise.”
The Continued Squashing of Competition
While the electric car had been successfully eliminated, thereby securing Big Oil profits, another competing resource was on the horizon: alcohol.
Henry Ford designed his Model T automobile to run on either gasoline or alcohol, stating that just about anything that could be fermented could be used for fuel, predicting the future of fuel was wide open to a number of alternatives. However, the oil industry succeeded in eliminating the competition yet again, this time by supporting the anti-alcohol movements and the formation of the Prohibition Party in 1869.
While Rockefeller avoided alcohol, his chief concern was not to uphold morality in the U.S. The prohibition served his agenda by creating burdensome restrictions on ethanol producers, and as ethanol became more costly, its attraction as an alternate fuel ceased.
Also, as detailed in my previous article about Clair Patterson’s fight to eliminate leaded gasoline, once the high compression engine was invented, car manufacturers started running into performance problems. General Motors diagnosed the problem, realizing that the problem originated with the fuel. General Motors tried about 15,000 different combinations of elements to find a solution to the engine knocking.
Adding benzene from coal to gasoline was found to work. Ditto for adding grain alcohol. Adding 10 percent alcohol to gasoline raised the quality of the fuel, causing less knocking in the engine. It also had other benefits, including clean combustion, which eliminated soot emissions, and increased horsepower without engine knocking.
But as research continued, General Motors determined that adding lead to the gasoline produced “an ideal anti-knock fuel” — ideal mostly because manufacturing the lead additive, tetraethyl lead, would allow them to make the greatest profits. Were they to add alcohol to the gasoline, the oil industry stood to lose a large amount of petroleum sales, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent, depending on how much alcohol was added.
By adding lead, the oil industry had a product it could again control in its entirety. So Standard Oil partnered with General Motors, creating a joint corporation known as Ethyl Corporation. Leaded gasoline became the norm, and over the next 80 years, countless people were sickened and harmed by this neurotoxic fuel additive, thrust upon the people for no other reason than it created the greatest profits.
Big Oil Secretly Buys Up and Dismantles Public Transportation System
In 1936, Standard Oil and General Motors also took part in the reformation of public transportation. Only 10 percent of Americans owned a car, and most city dwellers relied on electric trolley networks. By replacing the electric streetcars with gasoline-guzzling buses, the oil industry secured an even greater foothold within the U.S. economy. As detailed in Corbett’s report:
“The cartel had been careful to hide their involvement in National City Lines, but it was revealed to the public in 1946 by … Edwin J. Quinby … He uncovered the oiligarchs’ stock ownership of National City Lines and its subsidiaries and detailed how they had step by step bought up and destroyed the public transportation lines in Baltimore, Los Angeles, St. Louis and other major urban centres…
[I]n 1947 National City Lines was indicted for conspiring to form a transportation monopoly and conspiring to monopolize sales of buses and supplies. In 1949, GM, Firestone, Standard Oil of California and their officers and corporate associates were convicted on the second count of conspiracy.
The punishment for buying up and dismantling America’s public transportation infrastructure? A $5,000 fine. H. C. Grossman, who had been the director of Pacific City Lines when it oversaw the scrapping of LA’s $100 million Pacific Electric system, was fined exactly $1.”
Next came the undermining of the railway system. In 1953, General Motor President Charles Wilson was appointed Secretary of Defense, and Wilson, along with Francis DuPont, Chief Administrator of Federal Highways, set into motion the largest public works project in U.S. history with the creation of the interstate highway system.
As a result, railway travel declined by 84 percent between 1945 and 1964, while private car ownership soared, and along with it, gasoline sales, which rose 300 percent in that same time frame. Similar social engineering feats took place in Europe, further securing the future of the oil business as a primary force to be reckoned with.
The report also goes into the details behind the gas shortages that sent the U.S. into a financial tailspin in the early 1970s, revealing how the secretive Bilderberg Group, created by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1954, successfully created a new financial system based on the petrodollar — a system that granted the oiligarchs unprecedented control over the economy.
The Rockefeller Transformation
In his day, John D. Rockefeller was a despised man. This all changed when he hired Ivy Ledbetter Lee, who essentially invented the public relations industry as we now know it. John D. was filmed handing out dimes to the poor, and was publicly portrayed as a kind and warm-hearted man. While hokey by today’s standards, such simple stunts worked. Yet, Rockefeller needed to go even further to truly gain the public’s trust.
As Corbett notes:
“In order to win the public over, he was going to have to give them what they wanted. And what they wanted wasn’t difficult to understand: money. But just as his father, Devil Bill, had taught him to do in all his business dealings, Rockefeller made sure to get the better end of the bargain. He would ‘donate’ his great wealth to the creation of public institutions, but those institutions would be used to bend society to his will.
As every would-be ruler throughout history has realized, society has to be transformed from the ground up. Americans in the 19th century still prized education and intellectual pursuits … with a remarkable 93 to 100 percent literacy rate.
Before the first compulsory schooling laws in Massachusetts in 1852, education was private and decentralized, and as a result … a solid grounding in history and science was widespread. But a nation of individuals who could think for themselves was an anathema to the monopolists. The oiligarchs needed a mass of obedient workers…”
The Takeover of Education
John D. Rockefeller’s first great act of charity was the establishment of the University of Chicago, followed later by a $180 million donation to the establishment of the General Education Board. But contrary to what you might think, these acts of generosity were not to further education, but to control and impoverish it.
Frederick Taylor Gates became a trusted ally, and in “The Country School of Tomorrow,” Gates lays out Rockefeller’s plan for the education of future Americans:
“In our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or science.
We are not to raise up from among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.”
The Effective Strategy That Eliminated Natural Medicine
Other oil-backed schemes to mold and reshape the American education system followed, including a scheme to alter the teaching of American history to promote a view of collectivism, as well as a program culminating in the transformation of the practice of medicine.
Naturopathic-based herbal medicine was the norm, and Rockefeller set out to shift the medical industry toward using oil-derived pharmaceuticals. To this end, the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research was established in 1901, headed up by Simon Flexner.
“His brother, Abraham, was an educator who was contracted by the Carnegie Foundation to write a report on the state of the American medical education system. His study, ‘The Flexner Report,’ along with the hundreds of millions of dollars that the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations were to shower on medical research in the coming years, resulted in a sweeping overhaul of the American medical system.
Naturopathic and homeopathic medicine, medical care focused on unpatentable, uncontrollable natural remedies and cures was now dismissed as quackery; only drug-based allopathic medicine requiring expensive medical procedures and lengthy hospital stays was to be taken seriously …
The fortunes of Carnegie, Morgan and Rockefeller financed surgery, radiation and synthetic drugs. They were to become the economic foundations of the new medical economy … The oiligarchy birthed entire medical industries from their own research centers and then sold their own products from their own petrochemical companies as the ‘cure.'”
The Takeover of America’s Financial System and the Creation of a Food Monopoly
The financial power of these oil industry giants is by now near-unfathomable, but the aim was to control the entire financial system. This was effectively accomplished with the creation of the Federal Reserve, established in 1913 following a secret meeting on Jekyll Island, during which the details were ironed out. Attendants at this meeting included John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s father-in-law, Senator Nelson Aldrich, and various banking representatives.
Later, in the 1950s, James Stillman Rockefeller, the grandson of John D.’s brother, became the head of National City Bank, while David Rockefeller, John D.’s grandson, took over Chase Manhattan Bank. Still, they were not satisfied.
“Springboarding from success to success as they consolidated monopolies across every field of human activity, the oiligarchs’ ambitions became even larger. This time, their goal was to consolidate control over the very food supply of the world itself, and once again they would use philanthropy as the cover for their business takeover,” Corbett explains.
The Rockefeller Foundation funded the Green Revolution that led to the introduction of petroleum-based agricultural chemicals, which quickly transformed agriculture, both in the U.S. and abroad. President Lyndon Johnson’s “Food for Peace” program actually mandated the use of petroleum-dependent technologies and chemicals by aid recipients, and countries that could not afford it were granted loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The “Gene Revolution” was next, and as noted by Corbett:
“The players involved in this ‘Gene Revolution’ are almost identical to the players in the Green Revolution, with I.G. Farben offshoots Bayer CropScience and BASF Plant Science mingling with traditional oiligarch associate companies like Dow AgroScience, DuPont Biotechnology and, of course, Monsanto, all funded by the Rockefeller Foundation …”
The Final End Game: Monopolizing Life
In his usual style, Corbett manages to squeeze in an incredible amount of information in as compact a timeframe as is humanly possible, and I highly recommend taking the time to watch the video in full. What I’ve included here is but a summary overview of the many details he brings forth in this fascinating report.
Those who are ignorant of history are bound to repeat it, and if this story tells us anything, it is that unless we realize what has been done, we’ll be deceived again and again, because the oil oligarchy’s end game is yet to be realized — if we let them. As Corbett notes in closing:
“The takeover of education, of medicine, of the monetary system, of the food supply itself, showed that the aim was much greater than a mere oil monopoly: it was the quest to monopolize all aspects of life, to erect the perfect system of control over every aspect of society, every sector from which any threat of competition to their power could emerge … But the oiligarchs are not done yet.
Their next project, launched in the late 20th century, is almost too ambitious to be comprehended … It is about the monopolization of life itself. They have spent decades preparing the path for this takeover and marshaled their mind-boggling resources in service of the task. And the vast majority of the world’s population, still playing the shell game that the oiligarchs perfected and abandoned long ago, are about to fall right into their hands yet again.”