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Poison of western economic thought
M.S.N. Menon


They gave bangles for African slaves, opium for the silver of China and beads for the gold of the Incas and Mayas of South America. Exploitation — it was natural to the ways of the whiteman. It has not changed to this day.

Live and let live — this was not what inspired their economic doctrines. Instead, they talked of “competition”. In practice, they used gun powder. They have been a Cain to the Abels of the world.

Remember, the greatest sport of the Romans was to let the lions tear up human beings: To let gladiators gore each other!

Am I provoked? Indeed, I am, for the whiteman continues to “exploit” the world. He is the cause of much suffering. And, worse, he sells to the poor of the world what is banned in his own native land and treats Asia and Africa as dumping ground for dangerous toxins.

Surely, behind these activities is not a civilised mind. It reflects the barbarous past of Europe. The mind is deadened by rapacious greed.

That others too have to make a living — this has never been the concern of white men. Thus, the Manchester textile factory owners saw nothing wrong in destroying the livelihood of millions of Indian handloom workers in order to promote the livelihood of the white workers of Manchester! Of course, profit was the first priority.

Am I taking up the past to denigrate the people of the West of today? Certainly not. One can ignore the black deeds of the past, although that is no easy task. How can the Africans forget the slave trade and the Red Indians the genocide against their race? And these by those who professed Christianity! But one cannot tolerate the continuing criminal activities of the West in our times.

That tobacco is a health hazard was known a century ago. But the Western manufacturers persisted in foisting it on the world. Profit was all. Today they target the young (and women too) of Asia and Africa as tobacco consumption is fast declining in the West. That tobacco causes cancer, that millions go through agony — these are of no concern to them. There is no easy way to block them for they are powerful people.

Liquor has been a killer of a different kind. It causes alcoholism. Over the years, its consumption has gone up by leaps. With a decline in consumption in the West, makers of Scotch whisky are desperately trying to dump the surplus in Asia and Africa, particularly in India, with its copious market and high purchasing power.

Globalisation has brought McDonald’s and its French fries to every corner of the world. We are now told that it has been selling beef-flavoured French fries! How could it have done such a monstrous thing? Insatiable greed — that is the only answer.

And imagine this: a medical device which can see the inside of the lung was found to be causing infection of the lung! Although it is banned in the USA, the company continues to sell it in India.

All these have become possible because the peoples of Asia and Africa have for long been subjected to a feeling of inferiority — of self-hate. And admiration for everything western. Which is why America gives so much importance to the export of its way of life to the developing world. This was the unfinished business of colonialism. It has already prepared the peoples of Asia and Africa for an apotheosis of the market culture.

Of course, Indians are a party to these criminal activities. Thus, highly toxic lead wastes, which can cause blood and neurological disorders, imported from the West are sold in India for re-use in car batteries. At one time there were 250 plants in Delhi alone to re-cycle lead wastes! As India has no regulatory system, these activities have continued and multiplied. Which explains how a US firm planned to dump 20 tonnes of dangerous mercury in India. It was turned back when Indian NGOs got wind of it.

Today, indigent nations accept nuclear wastes for burial against payment. In fact, a new pattern has emerged: a hazardous industry is either transferred to the Third World or its wastes are sold to Third World peoples for reprocessing or disposal. Sometimes free incinerators are provided to burn the wastes, thus polluting the environment.

Can the non-white people object to these things? They cannot, for the whiteman can drag them to the WTO court in the name of “free trade”.

Reap where you have not sown. The whiteman is a master of this art. He has done little for the development of the world. In fact, he was opposed to the industrialisation of the developing world. India got much of the help from the socialist countries, above all from Russia. And yet the West wants larger and larger share of the Indian market, as if by right!

It is time to ask: is this the way man should organise his economic life on which his life depends? Does this add to his happiness? Or is the entire system causing a great deal of avoidable sorrow? The answer should be obvious.

In spite of all these, how is it that we are too eager to open up our markets? This is because our business community’s concerned with only one thing: its profit. The care of the country is secondary. Only when its own interests are threatened does it make nationalistic noises. And our rulers (whatever their hue) they have shown least interest in changing the ways of the world.

Today the USA champions human rights. It is legitimate to ask: is there a right against economic murder? Have we a right against those who poison our food and environment? It is time to raise these questions.



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