- Capitalism and Alternatives -

I'm a sucker for spiritual opiates.

Posted by: Dr. Cruel on December 06, 1999 at 11:50:26:

In Reply to: Worshipping your creator, Doc? posted by Farinata on December 03, 1999 at 15:56:25:

Cite your qualifications to make the statement that global warming isn't happening. I can show you experimental evidence, I can show you my degree certificate, I can show you computer simulations. If you like, I can even have words with a friend and get DAT tapes full of experimental data from the SAR on ERS-1 to look at.

DC: I have no satellite imagery to support my claim. All I have is the fact that the same people who claimed, with an equally large volume of evidence, that pollution and industrial activity was about to cause a new Ice Age now conveniently claim that the Greenhouse Effect is upon us. Similar claims have been made in regards to overpopulation and vanishing oil reserves - always in apocalyptic terms, always requiring some heavy tax or other to be levied against "Big Business", always accompanied by a mandate for yet another left-wing bureaucratic entity.

: : Doc, do you remember what happened when the British Empire tried to bolster up a multinational company by abolishing import tariffs on their product (tea) at the expense of the local traders? The locals dumped the tea into Boston Harbour. Your country probably wouldn't exist in its current form without it.
: : Are you now going to condemn the Boston Tea Party as damage to property carried out in the name of protectionists?
: DC: Gee. In my ignorance, I was of the opinion that the Boston Tea Party was caused by a tax on tea, ostentatiously necessary to support various social programs being conducted on the colonist’s behalf by the Crown (the garrisons in place to protect the settlers on the frontier from Indian attacks, for one). There also seemed to be a small complaint about restrictive export tariffs imposed by Great Britain in regards to non-British buyers of colonial goods being an issue. Mr. Franklin, a press agent at the time, did offer some good advice to his employers in this regard. Unfortunately, it was not heeded - of course.
OK, Doc, - here's what actually happened;
1773 - May 10, the Tea Act takes effect. It maintains a threepenny per pound import tax on tea arriving in the colonies, which had already been in effect for six years. It also gives the near bankrupt British East India Company a virtual tea monopoly by allowing it to sell directly to colonial agents, bypassing any middlemen, thus underselling American merchants. The East India Company had successfully lobbied Parliament for such a measure. In September, Parliament authorizes the company to ship half a million pounds of tea to a group of chosen tea agents.
In October, colonists hold a mass meeting in Philadelphia in opposition to the tea tax and the monopoly of the East India Company. A committee then forces British tea agents to resign their positions. In November, a town meeting is held in Boston endorsing the actions taken by Philadelphia colonists. Bostonians then try, but fail, to get their British tea agents to resign. A few weeks later, three ships bearing tea sail into Boston harbor.
November 29/30, two mass meetings occur in Boston over what to do about the tea aboard the three ships now docked in Boston harbor. Colonists decide to send the tea on the ship, Dartmouth, back to England without paying any import duties. The Royal Governor of Massachusetts, Hutchinson, is opposed to this and orders harbor officials not to let the ship sail out of the harbor unless the tea taxes have been paid.
December 16 - About 8000 Bostonians gather to hear Sam Adams tell them Royal Governor Hutchinson has repeated his command not to allow the ships out of the harbor until the tea taxes are paid. That night, the Boston Tea Party occurs as colonial activists disguise themselves as
Mohawk Indians then board the ships and dump all 342 containers of tea into the harbor.
1774 - In March, an angry English Parliament passes the first of a series of Coercive Acts (called Intolerable Acts by Americans) in response to the rebellion in Massachusetts. The Boston Port Bill effectively shuts down all commercial shipping in Boston harbor until Massachusetts pays the taxes owed on the tea dumped in the harbor and also reimburses the East India Company for the loss of the tea.
That's the history, Doc. I'm surprised you didn't know it already.
The East India Company (a multinational) lobbied the ruling body of an unaccountable international body (the British Empire) to remove middlemen and regulations to increase the profits of that company; which was failing due to economic mismanagement and greed by its owners. The British Empire assented, despite the fact that this would impoverish the local traders in Boston by reducing their profit margins to nothing. Then the local representatives told the Bostonians that they had to accept it; "they should on that day (17/12/73) force it on shore, under the cover of their cannon's mouth.", as related by an eyewitness.

DC: Actually, these "patriots" accounted for about a third of the colonists. The tax on tea was more a concession to the Crown (who had considerable vested interests in the East India Company), and was meant to be a symbolic gesture. In effect, the Crown was making plain the understanding that the government of Great Britain had the right to tax the colonies. This was to be the only tax levied, until the issue of taxes was resolved by negotiations between representatives of the colonists and English state officials. The colonists were to be made to understand that civil administration was not free, and that the colonists would have to pay something for it.

For those involved in the various land and merchantile "movements", this simply was not good enough. Amongst the elite, there was a sizable group more than happy to see the end of English regulation and English impediments to local "entrepreneurship"; to most colonists at the time, a tax of any sort was ‘onerous’ - especially if it couldn’t be dodged. Thus, the American Revolution. With the victory of the former, of course, the Manifest Destiny would find a more hospitable climate amongst the new local administrators, while the slavery issue could be set aside long after 1807 (when the practice was made illegal in Great Britain). It also opened the door to considerably higher taxes by the new administration (Mr. Franklin’s famous comment comes to mind).

Phrasing the implementation of a "tea tax" as something meant to foster free trade is ludicrous. The British East India Company was hardly a "multinational corporation", being more a revenue collecting arm of the British state. In many ways it was more of a feudal entity, requiring that the local region be occupied, so that it might shut out other European trading concerns. This sort of thing was what those of the Enlightenment were against - the idea should be that a market rightfully belonged to the superior competitor, and that this competition should be handled economically, and not militarily. Thus, the development of capitalist theory, and the democratic systems necessary for free trade to exist.

: : "When I get food to the poor, I am called a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, I am called a Communist".
: DC: Again, my ignorance. It was my impression that people who blow up businesses, shoot up the populance, and collect revolutionary taxes in the name of the proletarian utopia to come "Communists".
Nah. That's the CIA's speciality; as can be seen by their activity in Central and South America in recent years; as Nikhil will tell you.

DC: Or so it is claimed. Again, all I have is some first hand accounts from refugees. What the NVA does in Cambodia and the Chinese have done in Tibet could hardly be considered "CIA operations". Although Nick did say that what the Sandanistas did to the Miskito Indians was meant only for the "bad ones", he never claimed that the FSLN operation there was CIA backed.

: In regards to Greenpeace, it was my impression that they were in the habit of ramming ships. Have I made a mistake in this regard?
Yes. You have.
What you're talking about is the Sea Shepherd, skippered by Paul Watson; who left Greenpeace in 1977 "because he felt the original goals of the organization were being compromised". Like I said, Greenpeace International are about as radical and revolutionary as the Audubon Society.
Read up on things before you try pronouncing on them next time...

DC: My apologies. I did not know that Greenpeace had separated their terrorist arm, presumably to maintain ‘plausible deniability’. I suppose that if an organization this large had been more direct and active in this venue, legislation would inevitably have been used to seize their holdings. This way, one can maintain a foot in both worlds.

It would seem the random vandalism taking place in Seattle is similarly organized.


: DC: What I’ve heard is that many corporate entities are in the habit of hiring their own private mercenaries. The old South African based EO is a prime example of one such mercenary "temp" agency. Now, considering an environment where the very ownership of industrial plant built by these corporations is under question (and, frequently, under fire), just how would you expect the various companies to react?
So using a squad of fully armed soldiers and 2 assault helicopters against 300 peaceful protestors is perfectly justified; as is shooting 2 of them dead and wounding a further 30? That's what Chevron did in Nigeria.
And sending assassination squads out to eliminate people involved in peaceful democratic protest is perfectly justified? - that's what BP did in Colombia.
: After the revolution, of course, it is a simple matter to terrify the civilians into meek submission. This is, in my apparently poor judgement, the "modus operandi" of such movements thus far. Do I err?
Yes. You err. At least you're consistent there.

DC: Hmm.

The Bolsheviks murder millions, the last of them in Afghanistan. Until recently, they were merely misunderstood - now they’re state capitalists. The Maoists similarly have been responsible for millions of deaths - only recently have they lost favor with the Left. The Vietnamese still are engaged in suppressing a conquered nation.

I have been told that the above incidents were overstated, never happened, or were really the acts of capitalists. Now, I’m told that Chevron (doesn’t Dutch Elfland operate the oil platforms there?) is in the habit of using gunships to slaughter ‘protesters’. Given the track record of ‘information’ of this sort, I am left considerably unimpressed. Especially since the term ‘peaceful protesters’ might encompass a Che Guevara, or a Daniel Ortega, and ‘assassination squads’ might mean the police, sent to arrest them.

Of course, if these businesses are ‘sending out the Pinkertons’, so to speak, one would think them in violation of international law. If, for example, McDonald’s called out a few red and yellow choppers out on a group of protester, hosing them down with 20mm guns to ‘clear the parking lot for our valued customers’, I think that CNN might likely play the spot. Probably a great deal of civil suits would follow. But, since McDonald’s is, instead, paying out a multimillion dollar settlement to one old lady with a scalded lap, I think you’re fairly safe.


: DC: I was under the impression that this particular planet is called "Earth" by the residents. I might be wrong; I’ve heard tell that it is, in fact, a lady called Gaia. She reputedly is not fond of businesses, or of people. Which would seem to naturally follow, I suppose. She is also said to be "ill", although I have as of yet not deduced whether her malady is of a physical or mental nature.

Quit the faffing around; it's a lump of rock and water and vegetation with occasional animals. The animals require oxygen to survive; as well as nutrients and fresh water to consume; all of which are under threat from industrial pollution. If business contaminates enough of the resources, then animals will start dying from it; and that includes us as much as any other animals. It's really very very simple.

DC: Yes. And if industry is stifled, especially in response to make-believe threats that only serve the interests of professional Leftist bureaucrats and pseudo-scientists, millions of people will suffer - from food that is not grown, from products made too expensive to buy, etc. It is terribly simple, actually.

: : Gandhiji was not fond of the British; but he was not fond of the Nazis either; and the vast majority of the Free India movement supported the British in the Second World War. The group of independence fighters (the INA) who allied with the Japanese were led by Subhas Chandra Bose; a Bengali; and half of the INA division at Kohima were killed along with 70,000 Japanese by the British 4th and 7th Indian Divisions. Try improving your Indian history a bit.
: DC: The Indians supported the British because they liked them. You are correct in stating that a large number of Indians supported the British in their war against the Axis. This seems strange behavior for a people supposedly under the oppressive dominance of a conqueror, but what do I know.
They didn't "like" them as such; but they felt that they were better than some of the alternatives. I suggest you read about the history of the Indian Empire and the exploitation the English-supported landlords subjected the peasants to. Are you denying that the 1919 massacre took place; or that there were no salt protests? no strikes in India?
The Congress Party knew that England could not hold a rebellious India, but felt that there was more to be gained from a vaguely amicable split than from throwing the English out with violence; thanks to the pacifist political views of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi; who led the Congress' thinking at a formative point.
: : "For me, even if I stand alone, there is no participation in the war even if the Government should surrender the whole control to the Congress." (M.K. Gandhi, 1938)
: DC: My opinion on the matter is that Mr. Ghandhi’s tactics were simply that. He could not hope to win a war against the British, nor even hope to defeat those Indians who felt a loyalty to the Crown.

Look, he was a committed pacifist; of course he wasn't going to support the war effort. However, as commented, he could have harmed the war effort simply by speaking out against the British; if the followers of the Congress had found common cause with Chandra Bose's INA, they could have thrown the British out. Gandhi deliberately kept silent; he could not be in favour of war; but he refrained from criticising it.
: This sort of divisiveness and ethnic hatred was well known to Mr. Ghandhi, whose main concern dealt with other issues, and who had apparently little interest in whatever violence might be unleashed by his activism (insulated, of course, by his personal commitment to non-violence).

Really? You think the man who went on a hunger-strike to stop Calcutta erupting in religious riot in 1947; and again in Delhi in 1948 wasn't actually concerned about ethnic and religious violence?

He actually used his name and his reputation to try and stop ethnic and religious violence; this is why he was killed by someone of his own religion.

: : - If Gandhi had wanted the British out of India, he would have been able to achieve it by keeping quiet; in fact, he repeatedly spoke out in defence of the English; he was very fond of England and was moved to tears at the possible destruction of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey when informed of war by Lord Linlithgow.
: DC: Again, I base my own opinion on his commentary. My understanding of Ghandhi’s personal opinions, of course, are no way meant to be a commentary on those of the Indians - except for a specific member of that set, of course.
Which, to me, paraphrases as; "I have no reliable sources or evidence, but I'm not going to say so in so many words".

DC: I wish I could get that quote. It was at a period when the Left was confused about their stance on the Nazis; some were hoping that their extremism would pave the way for the "coming revolution", others were completely Machiavellian about it, backing whatever Moscow wanted them to. In any case, whether he used his name to stop ethnic violence, his policy of destabilizing the government served to cause it, and excaberate it. Thus his comment about "at least the problems would be Indian problems." For me, at least, I understand Ghandhi as a person who wanted the British out of India, and who simply devised a clever means of doing it. He seemed to know where his actions would lead, seemed to welcome confrontations with the government, and inevitably fathered a movement that left thousands of Indians dead. The new government he fought so hard for seems worse that the one that preceded it. Such is "the power of One".

:Point is, drug sales are extremely lucrative ... However, this obvious market dynamic is merely incidental, given the opportunity to link the support of free trade and the WTO with crack addicts, and EU tariffs and subsidies (again, what would be named, were the U.S. government to conduct this policy, "corporate welfare") with the fight against drugs.
Horseshit. There are two crops the West Indies can grow; bananas and dope; and the WTO has removed the financial incentive to grow bananas. Stop trying to fudge the issue.

DC: Bananas: $.69/lb. Dope: +$20-50 a ‘hit’, or more. Crack goes for about $20 a ‘rock’ or so, which can’t be more than an ounce of the stuff. Do the math.

: Just how stupid do you think I am, anyway?
Not so much stupid as blind. You can at least string a sentence together; if you could lose the horribly pretentious and self-important tone you might be a decent debater; but your text reminds me of Duane Gish; the mad creationist; who spouts complete crap with total conviction because he has persuaded himself that the Bible *must* be totally right on all counts.

DC: You’d love my defense of creationism. (Basically, that the temporal transcends logic. Thus God can create a stone he cannot lift, lift it, and not be in contradiction. I think Orwell called it doublethink, and thus one ought not mix the temporal with the secular when deducing the nature of the world. However, science doesn’t ‘know’ anything, and only follows the tendencies of something to be true or not. If you want to ‘know’ something, i.e. if you have any intention of anchoring your ethics, you’re far better off with a religion of some sort. Thus, the need to separate Church and State, the emotional from the rational, the familial from the social. You can believe anything you wish, but if it infringes on common concerns, it must be based on the common law. Now, the question is - can the state indirectly suppress religion in the name of these ‘common concerns’? Ideas like vouchers seems to be the way out of this dilemma. But I digress.)

: P.S. By the way - I’m against monopolies. If Chiquita is involved in one, they should be prosecuted under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which is after all what the legislation is for. The long period of cheap and ready access I have managed to maintain in regards to bananas would seem to indicate this to be otherwise, of course.
Well, check the figures; Chiquita controls the world banana market. They also contributed large amounts of money to Clinton's election fund in 1996; in return for which he acts in their interest at the WTO.

DC: This seems to be about the issue you’re talking about:

DOLE: Food group squeezed by oversupply
By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York

The long-running trade war between the US and Europe over bananas will take a further toll on Dole Food's third-quarter results, the world's largest producer of fresh fruit and vegetables warned yesterday.
The combination of oversupply in the European banana market, weather damage to crops and weak prices in its newly acquired flower business will keep earnings below previous estimates, Dole said.
Analysts had expected third-quarter earnings of 13 cents per share, down from 26 cents the year before, but Dole now expects earnings from continuing operations to be "in a break-even to slight loss position" for the quarter.
Dole's stock fell $1 3/8 to $22 5/8 by lunchtime. The group's market value has halved since last August, to about $1.3bn, as banana supplies have outstripped the growth in consumption.
Weak demand in Russia and China have compounded US banana suppliers' problems with European Union import quotas. Chiquita's stock has also halved in the past year.
Expectations that the EU quota system may be abandoned have not helped sentiment, as the regime has kept European banana pricing higher than in the US.

DC: So much for the ‘labor theory of value’.

Follow Ups:


The Debating Room Post a Followup