web analytics

Home » LitVote Latest » Currently Reading:

History 101

 
(For Dr Kalyan Banerjee)
 

Let’s review European colonialism, as it evolved just a few centuries ago.

 
Who can make sense of it?
I can’t.
And I have studied it all my life.
It defies reason.
 
*
 
Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, France, England, the early ‘Pioneers’.
And many lesser ones we won’t mention.
Cutting loose across the Non-European world.

Genocide
Slavery.
Expropriation.

Ecocide.

Standard fare: on a multi-continental scale.
 
*
 
btw an estimated 56 million perished, owing to their exploits, i.e. roughly 10% of the extant global population, as early as 1600 C.E.

The Pre-Columbian native peoples are estimated to have suffered about a 90% mortality rate.

This Extinction Event (and there is no other way to describe it) is even said to have triggered a perceptible global cooling.
 
*
 
Wasn’t merely mass murder.

‘TWas also the unique gifts – that go on giving? – they brought with them to the New World: measles, smallpox, influenza and the bubonic plague.
 
*
 
Regrettably, it still goes on, if under more euphemistic nomenclature..

Today, in due decorum, we call it Development, Globalisation, International Trade, et. al..

The First World, they call themselves.

Why not?

It fits.

They got there first, they looted first, they colonised first.

Now you know how/why the West ‘pulled ahead’.
 
*
 
So, when Trump trashes African nations, he needs to reflect.

Africa may or may not have ever been ‘poor’ (poverty is relative, deprivation is not) : but the West got rich by seizing its resources, wholesale.

The Berlin Conference of 1884 sealed its fate.

90 percent Of Africa was, by 1914, under Western occupation, with only Liberia and Abyssinia outside of it.

And they are still at it, in that unfortunate continent.
 
*
 
The looting of India, also, was classic, even epic in scale and scope.

Its fabled wealth was what drove adventurers like Columbus to go expeditioning.

Yet, until recently ,it was treated as no more than a beggar nation, by precisely those that beggared it.

And yet, as late as 1750, China’s share of global GDP was 33 percent, India’s 24.5 percent, whilst the combined share of Britain and the US was 2 percent.

Read that last bit over again: the UK & the US , together, amounted to but 2 %.

In effect, their Seven League Boots were donned much later.

So , what happened?

The Brits happened, to India (and elsewhere) , as did many of its European clones.
 
*
 
Fast forward.

Since WW2, just the US alone – never mind other European nations- is estimated responsible for over 20 million deaths in the Non-European world.

Over 1 million Iraqis slain not so long ago, on specious charges

1 million dead.

When the late Secy of State Madeleine Albright was queried whether 250,000 Iraqis babies dead was worth the removal of Mr Hussein, she said, without batting an eyelid , it was.

That one single statement sums up the hoary, emblematic, morality of the West like no other.

And the major victim countries?: Vietnam, Iraq, Laos, Cambodia, Korea, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Panama, Sudan, et. al.

And regime change operations, since WW2?

Let me count the ways.

China 1949 to early 1960s Albania 1949-53
East Germany 1950s Iran 1953 * Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s Syria 1956-7 Egypt 1957
Indonesia 1957-8 British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 * North Vietnam 1945-73 Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 * Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 * France 1965 Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 * Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *Indonesia 1965 * Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 * Greece 1967 * Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 * Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s Zaire 1975 Portugal 1974-76 * Jamaica 1976-80 *
Seychelles 1979-81 Chad 1981-82 *Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84 Suriname 1982-84 Fiji 1987 *
Libya 1980s Nicaragua 1981-90 * Panama 1989 *Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 * Iraq 1991 Afghanistan 1980s *
Somalia 1993 Yugoslavia 1999-2000 * Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 * Venezuela 2002 * Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 * Somalia 2007 to present Honduras 2009
Libya 2011 * Syria 2012 Ukraine 2014 *

Did anyone blink?
 
*
 
Now, to make sense of the East-West shenanigans today,

Tsarist Russia, a late-feudal empire in its own right, was a neo-colony of Western Europe until 1917, when the Socialist Revolution altered parameters.

Tne West has been at war with it since then: here tepid, there cold, and now almost hot.

Russophobia , a racist denigration of Slavs (related to the word ‘slave’) by Western nations, has an even older history.
 
*
 
China is/was the traditional ‘Other’: the Brits had imposed unequal treaties on them, since 1840, grabbing Hong Kong.

But,after the lion had fed, came the scavengers: Germany, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, and Austria-Hungary, all getting privileged (unequal) access in trade with China.

The Socialist Revolution of 1949, putting an end to Western domination, made them yet another permanent target.

Le’s call it Sinophobia?

Target of propaganda, vilification, demonisation, fake news, etc. : in short, the usual dumping.
 
*
 
So, there is nothing novel about the systematic, incessant, denigration of both these nations, today.

Give a dog a bad name before you…

They are the permanent adversaries of the Old Hegemons.

And the West will do all it can to take them down.

Even if it implies universal chaos.

That’s what defines the current global situation .

You see: a little history goes a long way?

 
*
 
A key point worthy of note.

It was a socialist revolution that put both Russia and China en route to ridding themselves wholly of European domination, unlike say, Brazil and India. whose autonomy is still compromised by dependency.
 
*
 
Today, the tables are turning.

European Hegemony is attenuating.

Russia and China are getting strong and intractable.

The Great Wheel of History is Turning.

The Old and the New are now in , near-mortal, struggle.

 
*
 

It’s a critically dangerous time: hubris is not conducive to rational decision-making.

So, we’re all at risk: the good the bad – and the plain hideous.
 
*
 
Still, after centuries, a multi-polar world is in the rear-view mirror – again.

Can’t wait.

How about you?
 
N.B. Three important caveats: History is writ by Conquerors, so much of the above will not fit The Official Narrative; second, it’s the governors of European societies that face indictment, not their hapless , domestic, subjects; finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Colonisers could not have accomplished their imperial aims without the pro-active collaboration of native elites, their agents, who share the indictment. This last is far too often omitted in such tales, to their detriment. Human corruption is hardly a European monopoly.

 
[© R.Kanth 2022]

 

Professor Rajani Kanth, is Author of Coda (Novel) , A Day in the Life (Novel), and Expiations (Verse)
 

Share Button

Comment on this Article:







Ad