George Bernard Shaw once said: “When an Englishman wants something, he never publicly admits to his wanting it. Instead, his want is expressed as a burning conviction it is his moral and religious duty to conquer those who possess the thing he wants. Hypocrisy was added to brutality while the robbery went on.”
When one of the British Nabobs returned from India with his great fortune stolen through the British Indian sovereignty called the Raj, his wife asked him what he had learned while in India. He replied, he had learned to lie with a straight face, to deceive and delude indigenous people for his own gain.
We have seen kingdom after kingdom annexed by the simple expedient of offering its ruler a choice between annihilation in war or a comfortable life in subjugation.
In 1930, an American historian and philosopher, Will Durant embarked on a journey around the world to write his great book, The Story of Civilization. He traveled to India for the first time and filled with shock and indignation at what he learned of Britain’s conscious and deliberate beheading of India, perhaps the greatest crime in all of history.
The Case for India is a classic, a profound and empathetic work of compassion and outrage that ripped apart the self-serving justifications of the British for their long term and shameless record of rapacity in India.
The East India Company was a despotic oligarchy of merchants who usurped the sovereignty of a nation. The Company was a classic example of a military patronage state, which distributed its patronage to itinerate bands of warriors without regard to any formal institutional structures.
This led to pillage and extortion as the troops advanced, only adding to the suffering and deprivation of the Indian population. They had the license to loot everything they could lay their hands on, which certainly was not a British contribution to good governance.
The East India Company finally collapsed in 1948, much due to the non-violent Quit India campaign led by the Mahatma, great soul known as Gandhi. Gandhi could embarrass the British, but not overthrow them. When Indian soldiers (who had sworn loyalty to the British Crown) rebelled during World War II, and sailors of the British Indian Navy mutinied in 1945, firing their own canons at British port installations, the British realized their colonial game was over.
A smiling Mahatma Gandhi.
Globalization and its modern day successor of American empire remain the predominant instruments of rapacious capitalism. Since 1492 brought Columbus’ rape and pillage and plunder of Haiti and its gold, for over 500 hundred years, American empire consistently has overthrown hundreds of progressive governments sincerely committed to growing their economies and fighting poverty.
Instead, the US supported tyrants and the Malthusian madness of killing millions of innocent people, in endless wars around the world. Today, American empire and its neo-colonial villainies operate oppressive military bases in 80 countries.
There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration our country attempts to claim, through war criminals such as John Bolton and Elliot Abrams, when it states we are “spreading democracy.” The crimes of Venezuela, under the Bolivar revolutions of Chavez and Maduro from 1999 to the present day, are the recycled petro-dollars to social programs which helped the poor, in order to build a fair progressive economy.
In Venezuela, we now witness the latest illegal predation, the latest hypocrisy, and the lies of empire. Since the drop of world oil prices in 2013, American empire has injected rampant inflation into Venezuela by stopping the flow of their legally-earned commodity of petro-dollars and gold into the country, as well as the naked short selling of the Venezuelan bolivar.
More than eighty countries, including Mexico, support the right of sovereignty of Venezuela. Any act of insurgence or hostility orchestrated by the criminally duplicitous National Endowment for Democracy, the Lima group, the CIA, and Stratfor would be in direct violation of the United Nations Charter on sovereignty.
Since 9/11, we have a new iteration of war. It is a new heresy hunt, the so called “War on Terror.” The economic looting of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East by multinational corporations became a war against the liberties of those countries, and the liberties of Americans. In such a world of prevarication and conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus stated, not to be on the side of the executioners.
Albert Camus by Woodrow Cowher
There may be a statute of limitations on the colonial wrongdoings of empire, but there is no limitation on human memory, especially living memory. In the 1952 movie, High Noon, the marshal of a small town, played by Gary Cooper, struggles with a crisis of conflict in conscience, to stand up to a murderous gang returned to the town to kill him. Cooper is the principled man standing alone against the cowards of the town who were too frightened to help him.
This movie is a subtle parable of the time, about the blacklisted film writers of Hollywood, and the heresy hunt on Communism by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Thus, one man stood up against the great odds of four murderous men. Only then did the cowed townspeople come out from hiding to join him.
British schoolchildren must learn the horrors of colonialism and what backs built their country, just as Americans must learn the awful reality of US empire in what their forefathers did, just as German children are shepherded to concentration camps to witness the horrors of what their own forefathers did.
This is empire’s high noon!
We all need protest against empire and the false precepts neo-colonialism. We need to be active apostles for peace in a world long since gone mad with violence and the iron heel of despotism. As Martin Luther King so rightly said, “the evils of economic exploitation and its ability to destroy democracy are as real as the evils of militarism and the evils of racism.”
(header image: Tight-Rope Walker by Jean Louis Forain c.1885)