The horrors inflicted on India and on the Indian population by the British Raj are far too numerous to recount and too well known to need rehashing. From the massacre at Amritsar to the devastating Bengal famine where the British outlawed relief organizations and in the following year, after up to one third of the population had died, raised taxes to recoup the money lost to crop failure, the British presence in India was one of bleeding the population to death to maintain the lavish lifestyle of the British wealthy.
Reading William L. Shirer's book, Gandhi, I was struck by two passages.
"....In the spring that year, by a symbolic act whose significance I myself did not grasp, a march through the stifling heat to the sea with a little band of followers to make illegal salt, Gandhi had aroused the Indian people from the lethargy into which they had sunk after nearly three centuries of British rule, if you counted the incredible period when they were governed for two hundred years not by a foreign country but by a bizarre band of traders greedy for profit, the honorable members and agents of the East India Company. These hustlers had first come out from England early in the seventeenth century, found the pickings beyond their fondest dreams, and, by hook and by crook and by armed might, had stolen the country from the Indians.It was the only instance in history, I believe, of a private commercial enterprise taking over a vast, heavily populated subcontinent, ruling it with an iron hand and exploiting it for private profit. Probably only the British, with their odd assortment of talents, and their great entrepreneurial drive, their ingrained feeling of racial superiority, of which Rudyard Kipling would sing so shrilly, their guile in dividing the natives and turning them against one another, and their ruthlessness in putting down all who threatened their rule and their profits, could have done it, and gotten away with it for so long." (page 18) (emphasis mine)
Later on, Shirer said:
"That the British, with their cunning policy of divide and rule, had often encouraged Hindu-Moslem animosity and sometimes fomented it was no excuse for the Indians to give in to it." (page 23)
This book was written in 1979 and, of course, Shirer died in 1993 after a long and illustrious journalistic career. One wonders, however, what his thoughts would be if he had lived until now.
I do not think it could be argued that the East India Company was any longer the only instance of a private commercial enterprise taking over a continent and exploiting it for private profit. Wall Street has simply replaced the East India Company, America has replaced India, and American taxpayers have replaced little brown men. Just as The Raj required surviving famine victims to bare the heavy cost of increased taxation, so too will the surviving American taxpayer be required to bare the heavy burden of the financial sector's "crop failure." Nor do I have the least bit of doubt that a great deal of the Republican-Democrat animosity has been created and fomented within investment banks and other hallowed halls of capitalism to divide and conquer the less worthy natives and turn us against each other.
I say a great deal, but not all, because I firmly believe that the formerly great and distinguished Republican Party has, for the most part, been hijacked by the neo-conservatives who are merely shrills for the criminals on Wall Street who have sold American wealth to China and India and who continue to agitate for a completely unregulated and unfettered free market economy which will bring more coin into their pockets. The bail out may or may nor have been necessary, depending on who you listen to, but you can rest assure that those who will benefit the most are not the average citizen but the exrememly wealthy financiers and industrialists who are still in charge of milking each one of us. They have simply sent the government to do the milking for a while.
Sadly, most of the goats and the cows will accept this and allow themselves to continue to be milked. It is kind of like sex. When you are having sex sometimes a new partner seems more exciting.
So, my friends, get ready to be fleeced some more. Wall Street isn't finished with us yet. This is just the tip of the iceberg and I predict that more and more financial maleficence will come to light and you and I will be required to make up for more money that the wealthy have 'lost.'
Mooing and bellowing about it isn't going to stop it. It is time for the animals to kick over the milking stool.
(Originally posted to Multiply on September 29, 2008)