I hope to begin to convince you that European based empires and Capitalism went hand in hand. Columbus began Spanish based colonisation in 1492 by making landfall in the Bahamas. The area was named the West Indies and inhabited by “Indians” as the Europeans believed they had landed on the coast of India. Da Gama began Portuguese based colonisation in 1498 after rounding Africa and landing in Calicut, India. Both had been given instructions to find the origin of the lucrative spice trade and take it over and to also find sources of gold and silver. The British feudalist based hierarchy having begun empire building by invading Ireland in the 1500s craved its expansion. They were relatively late to global empire but they were the instigators of the first joint-stock companies to exploit foreign lands, the foundation of Capitalism.
One of the earliest examples “The East India Company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I on 31 December 1600. In the late 18th century, the EIC, contravening Chinese laws, began smuggling Indian opium to China through various means, and became the leading suppliers by 1773”. This heinous crime was to compensate for the outflow of silver from Europe due to the high demand for Chinese goods. When Chinese authorities attempted to stop this the British government went on the attack with “gunboat diplomacy”, resulting in the Opium wars of the 1800’s which China lost. China was forced to pay 21 million silver taels as an indemnity, which was used to pay compensation for the European and US traders’ opium destroyed and ever since has been in debt to Western based financiers.
Another example was the Royal African Company set up in 1660 by the royal Stuart family and City of London merchants. It was granted a monopoly over English trade along the West coast of Africa, with the principal objective being the search for gold. In 1663 a new charter was obtained which also mentioned the trade in slaves. With the help of the army and navy, it established forts on the West African coast that served as staging and trading stations, and was responsible for seizing any English ships that attempted to operate in violation of the company’s monopoly. In the 1680s the Company was transporting about 5,000 slaves a year to markets primarily in the Caribbean across the Atlantic. Many were branded with the letters “DY”, for its Governor, the Duke of York, who succeeded his brother on the throne in 1685, becoming King James II. Other slaves were branded with the company’s initials, RAC, on their chests.
The bank is not seen by the public as a company but some special entity that appears life cannot function without. However The Bank of England “was privately owned by stockholders from its foundation in 1694… to act as the English Governments’s banker”. Upon incorporation the largest stockholder was the then King, William III and along with the other stockholders its aim was to profit from English ambitions of empire by rebuilding the navy to fight other European based empires and establish its own colonies. It loaned the government £1.2 million at 8%.
A couple of more recent examples that you most likely have never heard about. In 1953 after democratically-elected Mossadegh had attempted to nationalise Iranian oil infrastructure a coup “was orchestrated by CIA under the code-name ‘Operation Ajax’, and by SIS (MI6) as ‘Operation Boot'”. On 21 December 1953, Mosaddegh was sentenced three years’ solitary confinement in a military prison… He was then kept under house arrest at his Ahmadabad residence, until his death on 5 March 1967. In 1954 with a pro-Western Shah and the new pro-Western Prime Minister installed the private Anglo-Persian Oil Company was renamed to the British Petroleum Company (BP) and resumed its profiting of Iranian oil.
Something more recent is Kenya. After only gaining “independence” from the British Empire in 1963, a puppet president, Kenyatta was “elected”. His economic policy was capitalist which allowed Unilver (A huge British-Dutch Company) to maintain its claim on Kenya’s most fertile lands to profit from cheap labour grown tea. This is where huge amounts of our Tea is grown. The workers (who work longer hours and harder than us) get paid in a currency that has minimal purchasing power but as their lives are monetised and lands privatised this is all they have. So much for Capitalism’s “if you work hard enough you get what you want”.
In Victorian times the “argument used by the wealthier sections of society went like this – why should we help people who are too lazy to help themselves”. This applied to the poor masses in England aswell as its colonies. This translated to if you are not willing to exploit your fellow man and accept Capitalism then you will remain poor.
All that happened is western workers became assimilated into the private land, production and money lending system, along with “education” and having forgotten their past now see nothing wrong with it. In fact it is the poor masses of the world that you will find work the hardest and longest hours and are still subject to its horrors.
All I ask people is to question their society, why is it the pound, dollar and euro have huge amounts of purchasing power and other currencies don’t? The fact that we still live in a globally privatised world which was the primary way empire imposed their will on the masses shows that “independence” never happened and the empires are still with us.
Equality is not some alien ideal, read some history, look at your own past. Its not about giving people a free ride, its about realising that everyone’s time and energy should be valued equally in a just society.