“. . . The oil industry is fully representative of contemporary capitalism. As such it exhibits perfectly the fundamental characteristics of the system. . ..” This statement by Francisco Mieres is the key to his book. Almost half of the volume is devoted to a recapitulation of analyses of industrial-finance-monopoly capitalism by English language economists (Adolf Berle, Harvey O’Connor, Paul Baran, Louis Fischer, J. A. Hobson, John Strachey) already available (but not, alas, familiar) to students of economics and economic history in the United States. If Hobson was correct (and Lenin certainly thought he was), monopoly capitalism is imperialism, the latest (not the last!) phase of capitalism. Mieres recognizes that imperial capitalism is the enemy of underdeveloped nations like Venezuela. He is under no obligation to emphasize that imperial capitalism is also the enemy of nationalism in developed nations. It is clear that imperial capitalism is really international—a fascinating sort of private-power internationalism, antinational by its nature. Hence the contemporary situation in which nationalism is fought by great capitalist nations and is supported by great Marxist states—otherwise a very puzzling anomaly.
In the second half of his book Mieres examines the relationship between oil and Venezuela—how oil production, oil pricing, oil shipping, oil taxing, oil employment, and oil concessions relate to the whole economy of Venezuela, to the income of the government of Venezuela, to the nature of government in Venezuela, and to the international relations of Venezuela. As Mieres (a good Latin nationalist) says, “. . . the economists of the underdeveloped countries have a special responsibility to study the problems confronting them from the standpoint of their own interests.”
An abundance of statistical tables accompanies the treatment of these topics in the text of the book. Historical as well as statistical evidence indicates that small nations with rich resources are no match for big corporations with billions of dollars. The solution Mieres suggests is a much larger role for a national oil company (the Mexican approach without expropriation) in the management of Venezuela’s oil resources. As the Mexican example also shows, however, that solution requires a government strong enough not to be subverted from within and a diversionary crisis for international capitalism-conditions not existing just yet for Venezuela.