17 December 2014

The Children of Victorian Britain, In the Heart of Empire

“Unfettered capitalism is a revolutionary force that consumes greater and greater numbers of human lives until it finally consumes itself.”

Chris Hedges

"Take up the White man's burden,
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard."

Rudyard Kipling

"For better or worse — fair and foul — the world we know today is in large measure a product of Britain's age of empire. The question is not whether British imperialism was without blemish. It was not. The question is whether there could have been a less bloody path to modernity. Perhaps in theory there could have been. But in practice?

...The policy mix favored by Victorian imperialists reads like something just published by the International Monetary Fund, if not the World Bank: free trade, balanced budgets, sound money, the common law, incorrupt administration and investment in infrastructure financed by international loans."

Niall Ferguson, Empire and The Empire Slinks Back

"To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a people of customers, may at first sight appear a project fit only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers; but extremely fit for a nation that is governed by shopkeepers."

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

"First...there is not a single prince, state, or potentate, great or small, in India, with whom they have come into contact, whom they have not sold: I say sold, though sometimes they have not been able to deliver according to their bargain. Secondly, I say, that there is not a single treaty they have ever made which they have not broken. Thirdly, I say, that there is not a single prince or state, who ever put any trust in the [East India] Company, who is not utterly ruined; and that none are in any degree secure or flourishing, but in the exact proportion to their settled distrust and irreconcilable enmity to this nation."

Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783

"Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new...

While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control...

The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule."

Francis I, Evangelii et Gaudium