Monday 14 October 2013

The Opium Of The People

Short of doing the Kow Tow (see Wikipedia) and grovelling in the manner of functionaries George Osborne, our Chancellor of the Exchequer and Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, attempting to ape the Eunuchs of the ancient Imperial Courts have been doing the rounds in China.

China is now a major creditor of the West, especially the USA but of the UK and Europe generally.  The situation will have given many in China the feeling of sweet revenge for all the humiliations suffered in the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century.

Few in the UK know much if anything about the history of the Far East and what might be taught in schools is sketchy and distorted.  It is an immense and complicated area of study, fraught with the problem of understanding all the cultural, religious and other features that are critical.

An area of intriguing academic debate is whether there were major Chinese expeditions into the Atlantic in the first part of the 15th Century. There is a theory that a major fleet rounded Cape Horne and sought to trade and colonise. 

A change of rule in China not just brought all this to a stop but cut off contact with outsiders as a matter of state policy.  So in the following centuries the venturing and acquisitive Europeans had the initiative.

By the 19th Century they were securing territory and power in China often by military intervention as well as naval authority.  In the early stage the British Opium Trade, along with wars was a feature, and British Merchants did very well out of it as well as others in the infrastructure between India and China.

In the later part of the 20th Century, China set out on a policy of economic development in which not only did production and trade grow rapidly but care was taken to ensure the relevant financial and monetary arrangements to both inspire and protect it.  This was done especially in relation to global markets.

During this period in the USA and Europe, while economic growth was occurring a great deal was done on the back of extensive debt obligations and financial manipulation.  As well as our own drug issues, consumerism, celebrity and entertainment have become almost the religions on which we base our lives.

When the media and our ministers of government talk happily of foreign investment and how critical it is to our future and to the remaining industrial structure we are left with they leave out the reality.

Yes it will mean jobs and activity.  But the profits and real returns will go abroad. Moreover, those who provide and control the money flows will by extension begin to control much else, one way or another.

The concessions we make, in terms of influence, control and authority mean that whatever sovereignty we have left will be steadily eroded and the more we have to pay out and the more we borrow the more we cede the essentials of government.

In the 19th Century when the West was doing this to others it was called "Colonisation".  What do we call it in the 21st Century when the West is on the receiving end?  One who suggested that religion was the opium of the people was Karl Marx.

As we have given up religion in favour of entertainment and consumption, then we have simply replaced it with other opiates.  Like others who are hooked we now beg to borrow to keep it all going, for the short term at least.

In the UK, essentially, the sell out began in the 1970's because we had failed to realise the way it was going in the previous decades.  Probably, it has now gone too far to stop.

So referring to the picture above, how long will it be before the Chinese Navy are in the Medway?

1 comment:

  1. As you state, As well as our own drug issues, consumerism, celebrity and entertainment have become almost the religions on which we base our lives.

    An American by birth, and a churchgoer both as a child and from mid-life onward, I was a little startled when visiting the Tate Gallery when the guide said, while explaining a painting of a Biblical episode, "We don't know these stories because we're all atheists now." But I guess it's more true than not, over there. Here in the U.S., the prevalence of formal religion has not done much to retard the progress of the contemporary cults you mention.

    When I read Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man in the 1960s, I was impressed with his analysis of what he called "repressive desublimation".

    One reason for the success of consumerism is how easy it is to enjoy - as Joseph Campbell said, in his interviews with Bill Moyers, most people are not so much looking for "the meaning of life" as "the experience of being alive."

    These days I'm reading books on Buddhism.