On Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 10:34:08 PM UTC, Arindam Banerjee wrote:
> On Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 12:42:20 AM UTC+11, RH156RH wrote:
> > On Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 9:58:31 AM UTC, Arindam Banerjee wrote:
> > > On Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 6:44:37 PM UTC+11, RH156RH wrote:
> > > > On Monday, November 12, 2018 at 8:47:00 PM UTC, Arindam Banerjee wrote:
> > > > > And racists+bigots caused its downfall.
> > > >
> > > > Actually no. It was a combination of native peoples being educated by the Brutish to believe in things such as national determination (the great creed of the 19th century), a loss of nerve and determination by the British elite and a deliberate undermining of the imperial idea by liberal internationalists in Britain and broad. Also, two world wars did not help matters. RH
> > >
> > > Racists and bigots caused the downfall of the British Raj in India.
> > >
> > > The East India Company crooks stole as much as they could, creating problems even in England. They were envied as white nabobs.
> > But vastly more constructive than the Muslims and Hindus who ruled before them. RH
> > >
> > > In due course, the robbers got unhappy as the more decent British folk running the show were turning native. That would not do. They robbers promoted racism and bigotry to curb this trend.
> > >
> > > Racism and bigotry had already proved its worth to economic success in the USA, with the use of slavery and genocide.
> > On the contrary, slavery is a very inefficient way of running an economy. The USA grew stupendously after it had been abolished. RH
> That is because the freed slaves were used to genocide the native Americans, who stole their land.
The idea that freed blacks conquered the Amerindians in the USA is laughable. Most of what was Indian territory had been captured and pacified by white America before the freeing of the slaves. RH
> Without the black slaves the present prosperity of the USA would not have been possible. The back-breaking labout in the cotton fields made the development capital avialable, for the nation as a whole.
That was not what made the USA a great industrial power, this was:how it and every other industrialised nations got there:
The Wealth and Poverty of Nations – David Landes
Published by Little, Brown and Co 1998 650 pages)
As my old history master never tired of saying, Wealth Is Power! That is the reason why the cause of nations becoming rich or staying poor is so fundamental a political and social question. It is also an infinitely intriguing subject, being in principle beyond a definitive answer because any ascription of importance to any quality or event judged relevant to the matter is by its nature subjective. However, objectively unanswerable as it may be, it is important to continue to address the subject because it has become a central part of the ideological battleground between the First World and the Third World, East and West, Left and Right.
To this ideological battle David Landes brings an antidote to the anti-western forces which are so strongly entrenched in the Third World and amongst the elites and ethnic minorities of the First World. Driven by a deep knowledge of the subject, he refuses to take uncritically the “right-on” party line on colonialism, slavery and, indeed, the causes of national wealth. In fact, this book is an abattoir for sacred cows dear to the progressive mind. As Mr Landes is an American academic, this is a particularly brave stance to adopt in the hysterical atmosphere of the typical modern US campus. On that count alone he is to be congratulated.
Two themes dominate Mr Landes’ thinking. The first and lesser is the colonial experience, particularly of European colonialism, since the fifteenth century: the second is industrialisation.
Mr Landes dismisses the claim that colonialism was the primary cause of the wealth of European powers or their cultural offshoots such as the United States, by pointing to inconvenient facts such as the experience of Spain, the greatest power in Europe between 1500 and 1650, and Portugal. Despite the immense wealth generated by their American possessions, as societies they remained poor even during their period of greatest material gain from the Americas. Nor did their rulers achieve financial respectability – the Spanish Crown managed to go bankrupt in 1557, 1575 and 1597.
As for the slave trade, one may point to the wealth of Britain at the time of abolition and in the century which followed. In 1807 Britain’s GNP was approximately 200 million pounds. By 1914 in was over 2 billion pounds. (Prices in 1807 and 1914 were approximately the same as far as these things can ever be judged) At most, Mr Landes allows that the wealth received by Britain from the slave trade, India and the Americas may, but only may, have slightly accelerated the first Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution drives the book. For Mr Landes, the question of the wealth or poverty of nations only becomes important after the onset of industrialisation:
“The industrial revolution made some countries richer, others (relatively) poorer; or more accurately, some countries made an industrial revolution and became rich; and others did not and stayed poor.” (page 231 ) Prior to industrialisation, the disparity in wealth between states, regions and even continents was relatively small. Come the Industrial Revolution and massive disparities begin to appear. For Mr Landes, it is to the success or otherwise in industrialising which is the primary cause of present disparities in national wealth.
Mr Landes’ general interpretation treads a well worn path. He views the historical process of industrialisation as twofold. First, comes a pre-industrial preparatory period in which irrationality of thought is gradually replaced by scientific method and what he calls “autonomy of intellectual inquiry” (page 239) , that is, thought divorced from unquestioned reliance on authority, irrationality, especially superstition. At the same time technology begins to be something more than by- guess-and-by-God. This gives birth to industrialisation by creating both the intellectual climate and the acquired knowledge, both scientific and technological, necessary for the transformation from traditional to modern society.
Those are the bare bones of Mr Landes’ argument. He backs it with considerable detail. All the usual suspects for the causes of the Industrial Revolution are paraded and examined: technological, intellectual, cultural, social, political, legal, economic, natural resources and climate. Mr Landes gives greatest weight to intangibles such as intellectual development, political maturity, legally enforced respect for private property and a sound system of money and credit.
One of the great strengths of the book is Mr Landes’ refreshing determination to pay attention to what actually occurs rather than what theory says should happen. Thus he goes against the economic fashion of the age and questions that shibboleth of classical and neoclassical economics, comparative advantage, the idea that countries should manufacture what they are most suited to in the circumstances of the international market. Mr Landes cites the instance of the Englishman John Borrow, who in 1840 urged the states of the German Zollverin to concentrate on growing wheat, and sell it to buy British manufactures and comments: “This was a sublime example of economic good sense: but Germany would have been the poorer for it. Today’s comparative advantage…may not be tomorrow’s.”
At a time when casual and gratuitous public insult of the English is commonplace, the book is a salutary reminder of how disproportionate an influence this country has had on the world. Two of the chapter headings will give a flavour of this: “Britain and the others” and “Pursuit of Albion”. In the latter Mr Landes is emphatic on England’s importance:
“The Industrial Revolution in England changed the world and the relations of nations and states to one another…The world was now divided between one front-runner and a highly diverse array of pursuers. It took the quickest of the European “follower countries” something more than a century to catch up”. (page 168). In other words, without England industrialisation would have been at best greatly delayed and at worst have never occurred. (To that immense influence, may be added the Empire, the founding of the United States by involuntary proxy, the development of parliamentary government, the international success of the English language and the individual likes of Newton, Locke and Darwin.)
Mr Landes also gives the modish lie to the idea that Englishness is a weak or non existent plant. When examining the reasons for the first Industrial revolution occurring in these Islands, Mr Landes (he refers to Britain but it is clear from the context that he means England) lists among the prime causes precocious English nationhood viz: “To begin with, Britain had the early advantage of being a nation. By that I mean not simply the realm of a ruler, not simply a state or political entity, but a self-conscious, self-aware unit characterised by common identity and loyalty and by equality of civil status…Britain, moreover, was not just any nation. This was a precociously modern, industrial nation.” Page 201).
Before English readers get too bigheaded, it should be added that Dr Landes is distinctly critical of Britain’s failure to maintain the momentum of their initial industrialisation and cites as dreadful warnings to others such failures as Britain’s inability to keep the lead in the chemical industry in the nineteenth century and the dismal story of our car industry since 1945.
There is one part of the book which the reader should treat with caution. Mr Landes spends the first two chapters lending rather uncritical credence to the distinctly contentious idea, much favoured by the Left and the Third World, that Europe was above all of the world especially favoured by climate and natural resources, while sub-Saharan Africa was especially disadvantaged by Nature.
However, even here he redeems himself by refusing to make this a prime cause of differences in national wealth. At best, in Mr Landes’ eyes, natural advantages are necessary but not sufficient conditions for industrial progress.
In the end David Landes, like every historian, economist and sociologist before him who has considered the subject, of necessity fails to provide an absolute explanation for the phenomenon of the wealth of nations. What he has achieved is a work of very considerable scholarship, which describes and analyses the multifarious possible causes of disparities in national material success as comprehensively and intelligently as any work the reader is likely to put their hands on.
Readers afraid that economic history is dry stuff should put their fears behind them. David Landes has an easy literary style and litters his text agreeably with anecdotes and surprising facts in the manner of Fernand Braudel’s Capitalism and Civilisation.
> To industrialise, a nation must have some means to buy or make the machines. The North had the machines; the South had slavery. The North was screwing the South, so the Civil War as the South wanted out - they were after different markets to make more money so that they too could industrialise. After winning the war, the North bled the South with their carpetbaggers, got even more wealthy, and made more machines for more productivity. At this stage, yes, wage labour started playing its part.
> Just as, without robbing the Indians, the UK would never have been successful. The initial wealth was got from slavery in the US, and robbery in India. Such extra wealth gave UK the edge over other European powers, and the means to develop other colonies like Australia.
Again piffle. England was responsible for the one and only bootstrapped industrial economy - see above. RH
> Yes, slavery was inefficient, but before machines and modern wage slavery, it was the only way for a cruel and violent set of pirates/robbers to live well - at the expense of the slaves.
England was a wealthy country without slavery long before industrialisation. T First came enclosure, then an expansion of commerce and finally the industrialisation which if you want a foundation event I give you Thomas Savery who invented the steam engine in 1698. RH
> The British used racism as a means for control, to put the natives in their place and show off who was boss. Entire areas were marked off as out of bounds for the natives. That rankled the once better-off Indians, notable from the relics of the Kshatriya varna. It led to calls for independence from them.
Britain educated some Indians and in so doing instilled the idea of national determination in them. RH
> Since ordinary Indians were not affected by such racist displays, they could not be bothered by that sort of racism. They could see only the benefits of British rule, in the first part of the 20th century when according to my elderly relatives India was relatively a paradise.
> > The US experience could not be repeated in India, for a number of reasons. Nevertheless, racism and bigotry halted the "going-native" for the British. It also created social barriers. Poingnantly, for the offspring of the English and Indians, who were not integrated into the British society.
> > >
> > > The failure of the British in India resulted from social and religious issues. Had they continued in the style of the 18th century when there was no or little bias, India may have become, anthropologically, like a Brazil with more than ten times the present per capita income. And the whole world would be Hindu, or Hindu-like. Terrific efforts were created by the racist+bigoted British elites to prevent that from happening. They did not want any Caesars or Antonys, seduced by superior cultures. (Such are my thoughts; who knows, they could be original!)
> > >
> > Pure fantasy...RH
> > > Nirad Chaudhuri writes at length about the racial issues, in his book "The Continent of Circe" dedicated to the memory of the British Raj. He is full of praise for the British in that book, as an ardent Anglophile all his life. To this day the elderly people say how wonderful things were during the Raj - so cheap, so neat, so safe, so orderly. I have grown up hearing of such things!
> > Hundreds of millions of subcontinentals allowed around a couple of hundred thousand white imperialists to run the show. There had to be a good deal of acceptance of Imperial rule .. RH
> > >
> > > You are right in saying that the two world wars were responsible for the British leaving India. Without those wars, the Indian leaders would never have got much prominence, and the people being too happy with British rule would have wanted it to continue. This is, as things were.
> > >
> > > Without the racism and bigotry, India+UK would have been so powerful, no other nation would have dared to attack or offend.
> > >
> > > Cheers,
> > > Arindam Banerjee
Pure fantasy. India was no more than a geographical expression until the Raj. RH