Saturday, 1 February 2014

Global Colonization

I have been thinking...what creates wealth? I am forced into this consideration during this sojourn to France by the visible, widespread and wanton displays of wealth and consumption. I am unable to ignore questioning what attributes make this nation so wealthy, its people so unmindful/indifferent of their privileges and so careless in their squandering.  Experience has taught me that the situation is not fundamentally different in any of the other industrialized nations of plenty, with plenty for their all, or among the more privileges classes of the economically weaker nations.

 I am now putting down my purely subjective opinion based on my recent thoughts on the subject, knowing that this act of writing often clarifies thoughts and crystallizes a personal opinion

If by wealth we mean currency, or units by which we keep a track of a bartering system for trade, then origin or creation of wealth boils down to trade of fundamental resources - natural or human. In fact, saying that (supposedly) mankind no longer barters or participates in human trade, wealth originates only from trade able natural resources - capturing it with presence (or via creation) of a market where it can be exchanged, as commodity, for other types of resources or services.

Complex human societies and their economies are just derivatives of this basic system via the many complex steps by which wealth is then redistributed from those who initially  possess it, by ownership of  natural resources or its products, to those who have some other product/commodity or service with which they can purchase this.  Social structures with their political systems and cultural/religious ideologies, determine the hierarchy of human position and privileges within communitiesand societies, and these govern the processes of redistribution or economic structure of that social system. Resources possessed directly via prospecting, mining, logging, or derived/harvested from nature, like agriculture, form the first tier of wealth creation. While the amount of this wealth depends directly on the quantity of resource under control, it also strongly depends on the availability of markets that need/desire these products - and are also capable of paying for it via some other products or services.For example, while diamond companies are currently extremely wealthy, this wealth could disappear without markets driving their desirability. Therefore, the value of natural resources, other than those needed for human survival like food, air, water, shelter, depend on creation of real and imagined need and desirability of a commodity.

Earliest colonisation featured nations, with strong and aggressive armed forces, capturing territories of high resources (plentiful and cheap natural products and human services required for exploiting this).  There is a story frequently told in India that when the British East India Company first arrived, they possessed no products for barter - their ships were weighed down by mud and guns.  Forcefully capturing/harvesting resources from less militarised regions of the globe, for commercial and/or national interests was essence of the early history of western colonisation.

If one were to consider national wealth to also include national resources, it is likely that global distribution of wealth might look a little different. Yet, in the developing world, these rapidly depleting and exploited resources are for a large part already lost to their regions and people, being misdirected by corrupt states into hands of greedy global corporations -i.e. a lot of the natural resources no longer remain national assets. Global colonisation now continues under a slightly different ruse. Without laying direct territorial claims, globalised and large Multi National Corporations (MNCs), with primary memberships from the wealthy industrialised nations, hold large sections of globe and its resources captive. Global character of this colonisation comes from the spread of their tentacles across nations of their resource bank and also the partnering of nations across globe in a particular area or type of resource diversion.

Under the guise of a free market route to development and progress, these MNCs buy valuable basic resources, cheap, from economically weaker nations and then recycle them back after processing  into the same poorer nations by creating markets of need and a desirability of emulating the western lives and lifestyles. There is coercive pressure at both ends, to first open up national resources for external exploitation, openly and freely to global commercial interests, and also to open the markets of these nations to globalised consumer products, irrespective of any cultural preference or need. Nations and markets of resource rich, and exploitable developing nations are thus captured and governed by globally structured systems with historical proclivity for colonial greed - and in the post Reagen era, this is morally acceptable, for greed is good. Global colonisation, as is now openly acknowledged, is about the preservation of extravagant lifestyles of the few who have - at the enormous expense of many who have-not, and this will be protected all cost - or any human cost.