For the Chinese Communist Party, which bases its legitimacy on delivering continuous improvements in living standards, acquiring the goods needed to supply cars, refrigerators, and meat-heavy diets to its growing urban masses can be seen as a matter of survival.
As Moyo explains, China's leadership is well aware that revolution could erupt if the country's "billion indigent don't converge to the living standards of the roughly 300 million in the middle class who already enjoy Western economic standards of life."
Given its importance to the global commodities landscape, Moyo devotes multiple chapters to China's resource plays abroad — from mining investments in Australia to purchases of farmland and infrastructure for resource deals in Africa.
While some critics, particularly in the United States, have suggested this behavior amounts to a form of "new colonialism," Moyo insists that China is merely showing foresight in preparing for an era of commodity scarcity, when accumulated resources will likely equate to political and military power.
Policymakers in Washington, she argues — who tend to be too caught up in election cycles to focus on the long run — might well take note.
Whether the resource-scarce world Moyo envisions becomes reality is another matter. Thoroughly researched and alarmingly convincing, Winner Take All should serve as a warning of what might be in store down the road. But for the sake of future generations, we can only hope that Moyo, like Malthus two centuries before her, is off the mark.
Rosen is a freelance journalist focusing on sub-Saharan Africa and the global economy.