Random Thoughts

Evolution of Politics & Society

Continued from : Evolution of Wars, Politics & Society

The industrial revolution in Europe resulted in increased productivity and excess production of goods. It became necessary to ensure a reliable supply of raw materials at a reasonable price and a captive market to export the goods. Many ideas were propounded as gospel, starting with mercantilism and then the humbug of David Ricardo’s Theory of Comparative Advantage, to prevent Portugal from industrializing and continue providing wine to England at low cost in exchange for expensive wool textiles. India was de-industrialized and became a mere supplier of raw cotton and an importer of textiles. This was a 180 degree turn as Britain started the trade with India to import its cotton textiles. In fact there were laws passed earlier by British vested interests to ban the wearing of cotton textiles, to reduce the loss of silver as export payments to India and prevent loss of British wool workers’ jobs. When a similar trade deficit occurred with China from buying its silks, tea and porcelain, Britain which by that time had taken over a lot of India, forcibly occupied Hong Kong and sold opium produced in its Indian territories to China to balance its trade deficit. It forced Indian farmers to produce opium and bought it an extremely low price from them, to starve the Indian peasants and to make the Chinese opium addicts.

Robert Clive who had masterminded the British victories in South India and Bengal made a huge fortune by skullduggery and falsifying agreement documents. He became an opium addict himself and thus could not be sent to America as a general to fight the rebellious colonists in 1776, Cornwallis was sent instead, and lost at Yorktown, but redeemed himself in India by his victories there and by promulgating laws and agreements which solidified British rule in India. Clive at the height of his crooked career might have defeated Washington and America would still be a British neo-colony like Australia and New Zealand.  The foolish and greedy Indian Nagar Seth (Financier of the City) who had financed the British trade with credit and bribery was eventually hanged by the British to eliminate anyone who could reveal the truth. Friedrich List, the German economist had studied the David Ricardo British-Portugal trade issue and was familiar with the ideas and strategy of Alexander Hamilton, who favored high tariffs to protect nascent industry till it had acquired enough technology and finances to compete with other nations. This is the policy that Britain and the US initially followed. The proselytizing of free trade began only when initially the British Pound and subsequently the American dollar had become the main international reserve currencies. List’s own words are -

“Any nation which by means of protective duties and restrictions on navigation has raised her manufacturing power and her navigation to such a degree of development that no other nation can sustain free competition with her, can do nothing wiser than to throw away these ladders of her greatness, to preach to other nations the benefits of free trade, and to declare in penitent tones that she has hitherto wandered in the paths of error, and has now for the first time succeeded in discovering the truth”.

Interested readers may wish to read Cambridge Professor  Ha-Joon Chang’s books–

a) The Bad Samaritans and
b) 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

The Berlin Conference of 1884-5 decided which European country should own what part of Africa. Interested readers should read Thomas Pakenham’s book “Scramble For Africa”. The US earlier had taken control of the whole western hemisphere by the Monroe Doctrine and soon after took over the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii. By the mid-1900s, the colonies were claiming independence and had been milked dry and now needed investments by the European colonizers (Gandhi came along at the right time and because of his obsession with non-violence, sexual abstinence, bowel fixation and zealous religiosity wasted nearly 25 years by stopping and dithering the campaign against British rule.)  Britain was a fading power and FDR insisted on liquidating the British Empire as his price for saving Britain and keeping Germany down during WW2. Russia which had only colonized contiguous territories and ceased being a major naval power after losing its navy in the 1905 war with Japan, had morphed into the USSR and had been an ally during WW2 instead of an enemy which US troops tried to occupy around WW1. It was still not trusted and made to bear the major burden of the war against Germany by purposeful delay in opening an American front in Europe. It lost 10% of its population and was the main force which beat the German army.

With the advent of Thatcher in UK and Reagan in the US, both of whom were probably already in the earlier stage of Alzheimer’s when they took office, developed the Washington consensus and the neoliberal economic policies, though Nixon and Milton Friedman had already preached and written the gospel earlier. (Read Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”)

Germany commits unforgivable follies but seems to rise every time like the proverbial Phoenix. It has become the dominant economic  power in Europe and one of the top ones in the world. It offered subsidies and financial aid to France and now to a lesser extent to all aboard the EU bandwagon, but its motives like America’s foreign aid and the Marshall Plan are not purely altruistic. It facilitates the ability of the other EU countries to import German manufactured high value added goods and export French wine, cheese, etc. and sundry raw materials and less engineered goods. It cannot retain its high trade surpluses without the subsidies and assistance, as unlike China and Japan it does not manipulate its currency to keep it undervalued. But even Germany cannot match the Chinese prices and runs a trade deficit with China.

Thus banks in Germany and to a lesser extent those in France and Britain have loaned huge sums of Euros to Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Greek and Spanish banks. Thus it supports their partial and initial bailout just as the US under Clinton, Rubin and Greenspan bailed out Mexico to save the US banks all at the cost of the American taxpayer. The same thing was done by W, Paulson and Bernanke and even Obama since 2008. The stupid former Irish prime minister took over the debts of the Irish banks and similar hardships were foisted on to Greece , Portugal, The Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia). This is why Merkel of Germany recently lost elections in the German State it has ruled for six decades (also for stance on nuclear power after Japan’s catastrophe) and Slovakia refused to go along with bailing out the PIIGS and the True Finns party of Finland will do well in the coming elections. Britain and the Netherlands are trying to put Iceland into a straitjacket like Greece and Portugal by forcing its government and people to suffer the hardships of Ireland, Greece, Portugal and the  Baltic States and assume the debts of its crooked banksters, who fleeced British and Dutch depositors by going belly up and burdening the British and Dutch Central Banks to make the depositors whole. 

The Icelanders refused once but they are having a second referendum today, April 9th, 2011 whose results will be known tomorrow. The so called liberal Lesbian president who had initially taken over from the Icelandic government which was thrown out after the initial debacle, now is advising Icelanders to vote to assume the debt while the newest president who succeeded after she was thrown out is recommending a no vote. If Iceland votes yes it will have a national debt of 260% of its GDP and a whole generation or two will live in penury like those of the Baltic States, Portugal, Greece and Ireland. The last time this happened Ireland lost nearly 20% of its population by migration to America. It is happening in the Baltic States as well. The sensible option is to do what Argentina did by reneging on the debt and thus have a speedier recovery without worrying about being treated as a pariah. This is why Britain has changed its laws to exclude and severely restrict its non-European immigration and hopes to take in European labor, fleeing from these countries facing a meltdown, which will be easier to assimilate. 
Continued to Evolution of Society


More by :  Gaurang Bhatt, MD

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Views: 3375      Comments: 5

Comment We each of us has the didactic urge, and it is difficult to distinguish whether it is for self-aggrandisement or for the enlightment of others that we exercise it: as Yeats says in the final line of his poem, Among School Children, 'How can we know the dancer from the dance?' Mostly it is a blend of the two, understandably so, since one who does not acknowledge a divine source of wisdom must see it if not directly within himself then in other members of his species, aggrandising himself by association.

It is in human nature to want to give glory, and fulfilment is achieved in giving glory to God, who is most worthy. In lacking this expression the desire to give glory finds a substitute object in man, from film stars to philosophers and scientists, the creatures of God. It follows that all knowledge apart from that of God is extraneous to human need, though the vastness of information that avails to realisation might make it appear as infinite, or a convincing God substitute. In fact, information is ephemeral, and most of it lost in the passage of time. Information is also to be distinguished from wisdom which is evoked in the moment of need. And "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 1:7).

13-Apr-2011 08:53 AM

Comment I try to give a history and account of wing, political and religious changes in animals, countries and societies. I am trying to show that dominance of the powerful stays the same and as the French phrase says -- The more things change, the more they stay the same: Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
In that sense the current series of articles and many previous ones are informative and hopefully provoke thought and further analysis. Most people for lack of time, effort or other reasons are poorly or ill informed and even putting up signposts like I do is my idea of public service. As Milton said, "they also serve who only stand and wait".
As to Derrida, He is beyond my intellectual capabilities and reminds me of a story called "The King's New Clothes" I read in elementary school. As far as god is concerned my intellectual attitude is of an atheist and emotional attitude can be summed up by two poems, William Earnest Henley's "Invictus" and Leigh Hunt's "Abou Ben Adhem". Anyway it is better to say, "I disagree with what you say but will defend to my death your right to say it", than to pass the Aliens and Sedition Act in complete contravention to the First Amendment, which should also have included what Denis Diderot said, "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" or unti the last Indian (from India) gives up his or her slave mentality!

gaurang bhatt

gaurang bhatt
12-Apr-2011 11:03 AM

Comment Thank you for your information on the short-comings of the theory of evolution by natural selection. I did say that the process of rightness realisation as a contextual process overcomes all difficulties and shortcomings, on which, understandably, you made no comment.

In another context, I had analysed all so-called objects to be conceptual by nature, simply because the substance of any object is in flux from one moment to the next, and thus escapes the notion of being. J Derrida, at the cusp of philosophical analysis, understood this as deferment or differance, his word, but had no concept of presence in concept, such as gives things being in our knowledge of them.

Whenever you refer to something, say a keyboard, it is imbued with a fixed identity. Derrida observes a thing is always in flux, becoming... thus it eludes identity and presence. However, we commonly identify things, and their identity is conceptual: that is, despite the fact a thing identified is in a state of flux, as a conceptual identity it is fixed, and we are affected by it as a conceptual identity. In the world as we know it, all identity is conceptually realised, and it raises the reality of the world to this level. Moreover, anything that is identified is a rightness realisation: and, in living things, the affection for rightness realisation is the very affection for life, on which its life depends. All animals realise things in perception in the appetitive life affection for rightness realisation; that is, the affection for rightness realisation is the affection for life.

In a nut shell, all creation, in all things, non-living and living, is a manifestation of contextual rightness realisation, which assumes a realising affection for rightness realisation, which is the affection for life in life forms; which proves the realising affection in creation is a rightness realising affection and an affection for life. Thus is God, in whose affection for rightness realisation all things come into being, the living God.

11-Apr-2011 19:35 PM

Comment Evolution as a word in the English language predates Darwin and one of its meanings includes formation, growth or history thereof. Even Darwinian evolution is not entirely Mathusian competition with natural selection as the bouncer, gatekeeper or grim reaper in every aspect. There may be certain characteristics which are not explicable merely on an adaptation theory. See "The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm". To take a totally adaptational view is to believe Kipling's "Just So Stories" adapted from Indian Hindu mythology as gospel. There are still many unexplained twists and turns in the Darwinian or Neo-Darwinian story. Why is that the cystic fibrosis gene mutation (believed to provide a survival advantage against childhood diarrhea and cholera by conserving electrolytes) has an inordinately high frequency in the European population, when the prevalence of both those illnesses was the same in Asia and Africa earlier and is greater today? Why is the incidence and occurrence of blue eyes so overwhelmingly associated with fair skin and once again in Northern Europe, even though the two genes are not linked, not on the same chromosome and in the case of the eye color offer no great advantage, except sexual selection like the peacock's tail? Lastly what is the evolutionary advantage of having a blind spot in the human field of vision? Octopuses don't have it. It is a matter of zigging or zagging during development which made the development of a blind spot inevitable but then why did the brain develop to fill it up and make us oblivious of its presence? As a matter of giving equal position to faith and world interpretation constrained by it one could argue that it evolved to facilitate automobile accidents and enrich contingency fee based lawyers but that would hardly be considered a valid argument for equal status of faith and reason. Such is the shaky position of original sin and faith, but I don't claim the power of William Bentinck when his reply to the Brahmin defendant claiming that the burning of widows on the dead husband's funeral pyre was an age old custom sanctioned by the Hindu laws of Manu. Bentinck is apocryphally alluded to have said, "It is our custom sanctioned by British law to hang the perpetrators of such murder. You follow your custom and law and we will inexorably follow ours". Ultimately evolution and behavior respond to switches, some to genetic switches, others to those made of birch! Such equality of belief validity is beyond rational explanation and subject only to postmodern philosophy or Feynman's QED, where a particle which is also a wave and takes every conceivable path with each path being of equal validity, so the only final definitive answer to such problems is the sum of all paths and even it can only be assigned probabilities. See my article "Who Shall Guard The Guardians". If you are really interested in the newer and fascinating aspects of evolution, I recommend 1)Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean B. Carroll and 2) The Plausibility Of Life and an old classic which was perhaps the Rosetta Stone for Evo Devo jointly with "G" proteins, as the genuinely almost universal divine messenger or the unstably poised switch, 3) Monod's "Chance And Necessity".
gaurang bhatt

gaurang bhatt
11-Apr-2011 09:12 AM

Comment I like the word 'evolution' in your title, but what is evolving in your exegesis of what are historical facts gleaned from sources? Evolution in the Darwinian sense presumes natural selection: if you're implying events are naturally selected, then anything that occurs is the fittest expression of survival. Thus no person or action can be stupid or crazy in this context, but naturally selected for survival. Indeed, I believe this to be the case, but in the greater context of manifestation of rightness, where everything that comes to exist occurs in the process of manifestation of contextual rightness of form, as in the natural world, and importantly, could not otherwise be. There is no reality at all in what could or should have been done in history: it is merely a construct of the human mind to offset the reality that is historically manifested.

Harking back to your previous post if I might, on the question of validity of religious faith, you should realise that all faith is implicitly empirical: it is based on perceived effects. This makes the religious person, who is intelligent in his own eyes, and has reason for his faith, appear less irrational in yours; and I expect he would concede your atheism as based on the effects you perceive, even though this might appear to him to be blindness in the light of his own faith.

10-Apr-2011 20:20 PM

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