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The Relationships between Oil and Autocracy: Beyond the First Law of Petropolitics


  • Daniele Atzori

    (Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)


Thomas Friedman’s so-called First Law of Petropolitics (FLP) hypothesizes the existence of a causal relationship between oil prices and “the pace of freedom”. Such a principle has attracted considerable attention, as well as criticism. This paper argues that, in order to firmly establish the existence of relationships between oil prices and autocracy, it is crucial to go beyond axiomatic, as well as ideological, formulations. Instead, the focus should be to locate such a phenomenon within the more articulated and scientifically sound framework provided by Rentier State Theory (RST).

Suggested Citation

  • Daniele Atzori, 2013. "The Relationships between Oil and Autocracy: Beyond the First Law of Petropolitics," Review of Environment, Energy and Economics - Re3, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femre3:2013.02-04

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    More about this item


    Oil; Energy; Political Economy; MENA; Globalization; Arab Spring;

    JEL classification:

    • F6 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization
    • N5 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • P1 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy


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