Monday, August 12, 2019

Jason Hickel - How Britain stole $45 trillion from India

And Lied About It

It is said that the West rose to predominance because of integrity of its institutions, that through the law, and the honesty it brought, commerce could flourish. Carl Jung believed the Christian religion made the West strong, because people for the first time could leave their money in banks, or invest in companies, rather than leave money under the bed, and then come back the next day and get their money back - people were now God fearing Christians. But what if what made the West strong was the looting of the rest of the world, nothing else? Rather than honesty, it was theft on grand scale.

Something similar happens today, but they call it Democracy, Freedom, Capitalism, and Free Markets instead. Once a country opens itself up to the Western values and democracy, the Western elite go into that country try to buy everything up. Instead of using armies and colonialism, the West uses finance instead to control everything in the World. (Okay, I will concede, it's better than bullets).

A one-world system would be fine, if it was for the people and by the people, but the game is rigged and the tables are tilted. It's not really a democracy, but an oligarchy.

The only way a country can resist Western financial colonialisation (the new imperialis) is to become a dictatorship, like Cuba or China, or to become a partial authoritarian state, like Russia or Iran. If a country truly becomes open and democratic, the West will swoop in to buy the lot. Then a very small section of the ruling elite will own virtually everything in the world.

New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik - just published by Columbia University Press - deals a crushing blow to this narrative. Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik calculated that Britain drained a total of nearly $45 trillionfrom India during the period 1765 to 1938. 

Britain used the windfall from this fraudulent system to fuel the engines of imperial violence - funding the invasion of China in the 1840s and the suppression of the Indian Rebellion in 1857. And this was on top of what the Crown took directly from Indian taxpayers to pay for its wars. As Patnaik points out, "the cost of all Britain's wars of conquest outside Indian borders were charged always wholly or mainly to Indian revenues." 
And that's not all. Britain used this flow of tribute from India to finance the expansion of capitalism in Europe and regions of European settlement, like Canada and Australia. So not only the industrialisation of Britain but also the industrialisation of much of the Western world was facilitated by extraction from the colonies.

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