The Myth Of Western Technology
In the last 50 years, after WW2, the rise of Japan, Korea and China in manufacturing and technology and the Indian software success, have taken away the sheen from the myth of Western technological prowess. Post colonial revisions in history are eroding the euro-centric version of biased history.
For some time, the easy way out seemed to be ‘copycat’ westernisation. One of the first ‘copycat’ states was China. China, led by Sun Yat Sen, (original name Sun Wen and started calling himself Yat-sen; Chinese call him Sun Zhongshan), was the first major power which tried going down the western path. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria sounded the death knell of the Chinese Republic and Monarchy.
China – Mao & Sun
Sun Yat Sen decided to westernise and make China into a Republican democracy. Chinese were made to cut their queue – pleated hair braids. This diktat was enforced in 20 days time. Sun Yatsen and later Mao Ze Dong made the Chinese change their dress styles too. The effect of this westernisation – an enduring sense of being followers. The Chinese add a western name to their Chinese one – Michael Tang, Bruce Lee, Jerry Yang, Tommy Tang, Tommy Chi.
In Hong Kong and Macao, white tourists are royalty. Chinese companies routinely parade White, Western investors – and the Chinese investors follow. Western marriage ceremony, Chinese couples think, is very romantic. The Christian Church wedding is common in China.
Not that Indians are too far behind – consider Steve Sanghi, Paul Parmar, or the best of them all, Bobby Jindal.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was ‘installed’ by Western powers. Thereafter, Turkey has lurched from crisis to another. Post WW2, it has mostly been ruled by military dictatorships. From an arbiter in Europe, it has become a supplicant, begging for entry into EU. Instead of the queue in China – it was beards in Turkey. Atatürk enforced a new dress code on the hapless Turks – and the traditional fez was banned. Stop wearing the fez or else …
Russia – Westernising Since Peter The Great
Peter the Great, (of the Naryshkin family) co-ruler of Russia, (along with Ivan of the Miloslavsky family) ruled from 1682-1725. For more than 40 years, his agenda was to create Russia in the Western mould. His travels to Germany, Britain, Sweden (before becoming a Tsar) shaped this agenda.
One of the first things he did after becoming a Tsar was to ask his boyars (Russian nobility) to shave their beards! Catherine The Great continued this during her reign from 1762-1796. For the next 125 years, Russia vacillated between a medieval country and modern western country.
Now, the imprisoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky takes pains to show how Russia is a western nation and should be democracy. Khodorkovsky, who at one time nursed political ambition, says, “…I’m convinced that Russia is a European country, it’s a country with democratic traditions …”
The Anglo-Saxon Country Business Model
These Turkish and Chinese failures down the western garden path is to mistake the trees for the forest. There are five major features of the Anglo-Saxon country model which these countries did not copy. Not that I am recommending that they be copied.
The use of the British East India Company was an eye opener for the rest of the West. After Vasco da Gama’s discovery of trade route to India (for Europeans) round Africa, the British were the first of the block – with the English East India Company formed in the 1600.
The Dutch started soon after with the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Co.) in 1602. The Danish Opperhoved initially started in 1616 and was reborn in 1732, as Asiatisk Kompagni. The Portuguese organised themselves as chartered company in 1628. The French came with the French East India Co. in 1664. The Swedes joined the rat race in 1731 with Svenska Ostindiska Companiet. The Italians came in as the Genoa East India companies. The Hanseatic League had its own operations.
In North America, the Hudson Bay Company (Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson in French) was given a Royal Charter in 1670 by Charles II. It practically owned Canada when the Dominion of Canada was formed – and is the oldest surviving company in North America. It monopoly ended only in 1870 – a few years after the Indian Independence War of 1857.
Anglo-American Oil Company (subsidiary of Standard Oil) of Iran plotted the the assassination of Iran’s Prime Minister Haj Ali Razmara and the overthrow of the Mohammed Mossadegh regime. Thereafter, it was the puppet regime of Shah Of Iran which terrorised Iran for 30 years that paved the way for return of Ayatollah Khomeini – and Iran’s regression to medieval times. And who was leading this campaign – Kermit Roosevelt (Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson).
In South America
In 1997, the CIA de-classified papers which admitted it planned and executed the coup in Guatemala – something that was known all along. This was done to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company – which owned large tracts of agricultural land in South America, used South American labour and shipped out fruit to America. Guatemalan farmers were run out of the market.
When Guatemala proposed land reforms so that Guatemalans could prosper in Guatemala, the Government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown. By the way, the term Banana republics came into being from the frequent intervention of the US into South American countries – and then ridiculing these countries for instability. To obtain US Governmental intervention, the United Fruit Company engaged services of Edward Louis Bernays (Sigmund Freud’s nephew) as PR front man.
The last 100 years saw the use of these companies as a means to economic dominance. ITT was used in South America for installing and removing dictators
“… ITT papers published by Jack Anderson in March 1972, and in the hearings on these papers conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a year later. This material establishes that offers of financial aid aimed at stopping Allende were made by ITT president Harold S. Geneen to the CIA in July 1970 and to Henry Kissinger’s office in September” (Foreign Affairs; January 1974).
Had Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger not responded to International Telephone & Telegraph and Pepsi-Cola by overthrowing Salvador Allende, Chile “would have found a less violent, more constitutional way out of its conundrum.” writes Stephen Kinzer in his book Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq.
To gain control of the Panama Canal Company, the operator of the Panama Canal, US engineered the secession of Panama from Colombia. With a puppet Government in place, The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty allowed the U.S. to build the Panama Canal. Subsequent interventions to advance Western oil interests in Colombia and the Canal interests in Panama have reduced Governmental authority in these countries. Drug cartels, kidnapping and ransom now control the economy of these countries.
Nearer home, of course, the next ruler of Pakistan (military or otherwise) is decided by US – at least for now.
For the last 150 years, the ABC countries (America, Australia, Britain, Canada) comprising the Anglo-Saxon bloc (countries, colonies and companies) have controlled 90% of the world’s gold production. Till (a large part of) India was a British Colony, they also controlled more than 50% of the above-the-ground gold reserves. This gave them absolute liberty to print depreciating currency and flood the world pieces of paper(called dollars and pounds), manipulate the world financial system and keep other populations poor and backward.
They could capture gold supplies by the annihilation of native populations in America and Canada (‘Red Indians’ are tourist attractions now), killed the aborigines in Australia (and apologise now).
Till the middle of 19th century, raw slavery continued. By mid 19th century new forms of slavery was introduced – indentured labour, share cropping, etc. They re-invented slavery (in the 20th century again) and renamed it as apartheid which made native populations into slaves. They could, of course, truthfully claim that great Anglo-Saxon frontiersmen discovered gold and settled empty continents – in ‘hostile conditions’.
Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, most of South America – have been reduced to the situation of client states. The basic position is Uncle Sam knows best – or else! These states have become production centres for the USA, cheap labour will be given an ‘opportunity’ to serve the ‘master’ states.
All these states also have significant military presence of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc which is a matter of concern for India.
Elephants in the room
Western models, which have evolved through the prism of slavery, colonialism, genocide, concentration of power are an end-of-life model. To use end-of-life products may seem like a low cost solution in the short run. The bigger issue in most cases is the lock-in effect that these legacy systems impose on the ‘buyers’ – e.g. Singapore.
The western model of (natural and people) exploitation has runs its course – for instance, in India even salt was made into a high-tax commodity. It is a dead-end model. Parts of this model, have been used successfully by other countries – Japan with its keiretsus and Koreans with their chaebol. But obviously, this is a model that the West is an expert in – and what others copy, the West has finished with. Copycat models allow the west to predict the next steps easily and taken competitive actions with certainty. The answer for others is to create another country model. The only country which has tried this is India.
The Alternate Model
Bharat-tantra, the Indic political system that depends on local justice, low-policing, non-state free-coinage /gold-as-currency, absence of religion, property rights for all, low-tax systems, free-labour (as opposed to slave labour), enterprise instead of employment, wealth-and-property distribution instead of concentration, is the model that has a future – and a record of past success.
India, where non-State reform has played a very major role in crime, policing (JP’s dacoit reform), land reform (Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement), political change (JP’s Sampoorna Kranti movement). After the economic buffer from Bombay High oil discovery in 1974, the Indian State has certainly, steadily shed various aspects of its colonial legacy. More importantly, India did not go through the slavery-colonialism-capitalism route at all.
It has instead inching towards a republican, (largely) market-driven, democratic, declining role of State, multi-ethnic-religion-linguistic political model which is unique in modern history. What India needs to do is to one decrease the colonial inheritances further. Deliberate amnesia by historians, has obscured Bharat-tantra. India is today slotted as a socialist country – where as it has been reducing the features of a socialist State.
The underestimated and undermined political leadership in India, has worked at renewing the Indian model – which is non-exploitative, stable and can bring equity and growth. It is this model that before others, India (and Indians) should believe in – and beat a modern path for the world to follow.
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