Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Jason Hickel — How Britain stole $45 trillion from India: And lied about it.

Colonialism and "the white man's burden." The story of the East India Company and how transnational corporate totalitarianism began. The rest is history that is still unfolding in accordance with this paradigm that has been adapted to neoliberal globalization and how capitalism is uplifting the masses, in particular those who are not of European descent.
There is a story that is commonly told in Britain that the colonisation of India - as horrible as it may have been - was not of any major economic benefit to Britain itself. If anything, the administration of India was a cost to Britain. So the fact that the empire was sustained for so long - the story goes - was a gesture of Britain's benevolence.
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 trillion from India during the period 1765 to 1938.

It's a staggering sum. For perspective, $45 trillion is 17 times more than the total annual gross domestic product of the United Kingdom today.
How did this come about?….
Enter the East India Company.
Here's how it worked. The East India Company began collecting taxes in India, and then cleverly used a portion of those revenues (about a third) to fund the purchase of Indian goods for British use. In other words, instead of paying for Indian goods out of their own pocket, British traders acquired them for free, "buying" from peasants and weavers using money that had just been taken from them.

It was a scam - theft on a grand scale. Yet most Indians were unaware of what was going on because the agent who collected the taxes was not the same as the one who showed up to buy their goods. Had it been the same person, they surely would have smelled a rat.
Some of the stolen goods were consumed in Britain, and the rest were re-exported elsewhere. The re-export system allowed Britain to finance a flow of imports from Europe, including strategic materials like iron, tar and timber, which were essential to Britain's industrialisation. Indeed, the Industrial Revolution depended in large part on this systematic theft from India.... 
Al Jazeera
How Britain stole $45 trillion from India: And lied about it.
Jason Hickel

See also
The English East India Company was the mother of the modern multinational. Its trading empire encircled the globe, importing Asian luxuries such as spices, textiles and teas. But it also conquered much of India with its private army and broke open China’s markets with opium. The Company’s practices shocked its contemporaries and still reverberate today.
The Corporation That Changed the World is the first book to reveal the Company’s enduring legacy as a corporation. This expanded edition explores how the four forces of scale, technology, finance and regulation drove its spectacular rise and fall. For decades, the Company was simply too big to fail, and stock market bubbles, famines, drug-running and even duels between rival executives are to be found in this new account.
For Robins, the Company’s story provides vital lessons on both the role of corporations in world history and the steps required to make global business accountable today.
University of Chicago Press
The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational by Nick Robins, distributed for Pluto Press

See also
The East India Company was the first multinational corporation - until its abuse of power caused a public backlash. Nick Robins examines its legacy to reveal how it set the corporate blueprint for today's firms to operate unchecked.…
Founded on a cold New Year’s Eve in 1600, the Governor and Company of Merchants in London Trading into the East Indies – its original full name – was the mother of the modern corporation. From its headquarters in the City of London, it managed a commercial empire that stretched across the Atlantic, around the Cape, past the Gulf and on to India and China. Starting as a marginal importer of Asian spices, the Company became the agent that changed the course of economic history, combining financial strength with military muscle to conquer India and break open China’s closed economy. Always with an eye to the share price and their own executive perks, its executives in India combined economic muscle with a small, but effective private army to establish a corporate state across large parts of the sub-continent.
Under neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization, corporations no longer have private armies but rather are under the wing of the military, political and economic might of the Anglo-American Empire.

Nick Robbins | Professor in Practice for Sustainable Finance at Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & the Environment


Bob Roddis said...

Stealing involves the violation of private property rights. A violation of property rights is not "capitalism". The rigorous protection and enforcement of private property rights, especially for the poor and powerless, is capitalism.

MMT: Always fast and loose (and dishonest) when it comes to the plain meaning of words.

Konrad said...

I miss Franko's idiocy. Fortunately we have the person above to carry on the fight.

Konrad said...

“The fact that the empire was sustained for so long - the story goes - was a gesture of Britain's benevolence.”

Who can deny this? Whenever the British have used famine as a weapon, it was a product of “benevolence.” For example, the Bengal famine of 1943 was so “benevolent” it killed 3 million. British “benevolence” in Ireland caused the famine of 1845-52. During the so-called ‘Malayan Emergency’ of 1948-1960, the British Operation Starvation was launched to destroy those who were resisting Britain’s looting of Malaysia.

The “benevolent” USA has weaponized famine many, many times, especially in Africa. American and Saudi “benevolence” have created a famine in Yemen.

Our side is always saintly. Our victims and competitors are always demons.

For example, the Soviets were “evil” for causing the “Holodomor” in Ukraine (1932-33). The Nazis were “evil” for letting Jews congregate in ghettos (as Jews had done for centuries).

However the Gaza Death Camp is “righteous,” since the victims inside it are “evil.”