Capitalism vs. Imperialism!

03 MAR, 2019
by Bikash Mohanty

I have always told Thomas that he will make a great teacher or a keynote speaker. He has it in him. He is gifted. Some people talk a lot, but those talks do not create interest in many; and others when talk…people just turn silent listener naturally. Whenever Thomas talks, I listen. Apparently, his parents were teachers, because of that; he has wealth of knowledge on worldly topics. Now; who is Thomas? Thomas is my colleague and we had some interesting discussions during one of the lunch sessions. These are captured here for purely purpose of awareness. Topic of our discussion was capitalism vs. imperialism .

Many people believe  capitalism  and  imperialism  are the same thing, or at least closely related. ... While  capitalism  is based on voluntary exchange that benefits all parties involved,  imperialism  is based on exploitation and the exercise of political power, generally backed by a military force. Imperialism is policy or ideology of extending a nation's rule over foreign nations, often by military force or by gaining political and economic control of other areas. It was common around the world throughout recorded history, but diminishing in the late 20th century. In recent times, it has been considered morally reprehensible and prohibited by international law. Therefore, the term is used in international propaganda to denounce an opponent's foreign policy. HOWEVER, IN ACTUAL; IT HAS NEVER DIMINISHED, nor showing any signs of being diminished.

Likewise; the concept of environmental determinism served as a moral justification for the domination of certain territories and peoples. The environmental determinist school of thought held that the environment in which certain people lived determined those persons' behaviours; and this validated their domination. For example, the Western world saw people living in tropical environments as "less civilized", therefore justifying colonial control as a civilizing mission. Across the three major waves of European colonialism (the first in the Americas, the second in Asia and the last in Africa), environmental determinism served to place categorically indigenous people in a racial hierarchy. This takes two forms, orientalism and topicality.

Some geographic scholars under colonizing empires divided the world into climatic zones. These scholars believed that Northern Europe and the Mid-Atlantic temperate climate produced a hard-working, moral, and upstanding human being. In contrast, tropical climates allegedly yielded lazy attitudes, sexual promiscuity, exotic culture, and moral degeneracy. The people of these climates were believed to be in need of guidance and intervention from a European empire to aid in the governing of a more evolved social structure; they were seen as incapable of such a feat. Similarly, orientalism could promote a view of a people based on their geographical location. These were designed believes to support the growth of imperialism. They are far from the truth. At least I do not consider them being true at all. I mean current global political position; will support my logic that these believes were formed in some medieval era to allow certain selfish plans to take shape.

It is said that in a century from now there will be ‘vastly fewer languages, about FOUR’ . This will probably happen because of globalisation. As people migrate to new areas, cultures will become fragmented. Lesser-known cultures and their unique languages will struggle to survive, leaving widely spoken languages such as English, Spanish, French and Chinese to swallow them up and in turn wipe them out. This has already happened in some places because of colonisation, such as America, Indian-Subcontinent, Africa and Australia, for example, where most native languages are extinct or about to die out. Ghana, for example, as there are more than 60 ethnic groups present in the country, each having their own language and dialect. Ghana has listed more than 70 languages, which were being used by every group in the country, up to 40-50 years ago. English is the official language of Ghana today despite the numerous native languages that the Ghanaian people have. It is the language officially used in the government, in business communications, and in education as a medium of instruction.

One powerful & imperialistic country (1) from the west; use certain language films and their film industry as a tool to promote their culture, dominating over other countries. Film industry is used as an ideological medium of mass communication; where it influences the movie industries around the world essentially. This process as-planned affects the movie industries in Asia, Africa and rest of the world; to adopt the life style, dressing, language, food-habits, religion, accent or even given names of new born babies. Despite many other countries have developed their own film industries to suit the local audience; external influence, style of production, storylines and set designs are still seen in such films; It can be said that certain film industry has come to dominate the way of thinking of filmmakers and the audiences across the world.

A good example of this is the Bollywood in India. Bollywood is a name of Indian movie industry. In the early Indian films (before 1970s-80s), the audience enjoy the melodious songs, family drama, moral stories and the dance numbers; which most complemented the screenplay in the movies. However, the influence of EXTERNAL FILM/MOVIE INDUSTRY has brought to a new trend in the costume and settings of such films. The Bollywood began to touch more on the love scenes, sex scenes, organised crime scenes, terrorism, war scenes; where odds are shown as celebratory/fashionable/desirable activities one can aim for.  Bollywood movies now depicts scenes which taught us to dance rhumbas and sambas; scenes that taught us to kill and steal; scenes that taught us to utter “Hi” and “Gee”; scenes that taught us devilry and divorce and scenes that took us to smokes, jinks and drinks. It seems that Bollywood relies too much on the EXTERNAL ideas, where it going to diminish the real and traditional cultural identity of India.

With the popularity of EXTERNAL movies around the world, many game creators in game industry for profits have done the imitation and transformation of actors in the movie into game. The children play computer games on the Internet and some of these games are violent which in turn tends to promote violence among children. Children are easily influence by what they see and do in the game and are not mature enough to weigh what is right and what is wrong. This unfortunately, may lead them to practise harmful behaviour in real life. Other than that, the possible cultural & lifestyle impacts cannot also be ignored. It is heavy.

Over the last four thousand years, imperialism from East Asia (2) and their expansion has been a central feature of the modern history of East Asia. Since the recovery of their strength in the late 20th century, the imperialism issues involved have been of concern to their very neighbors in the eastern world. All are concerned with the extremism. Moreover, this extremism has reached most parts of Africa and some part of Eastern Europe as well, not purely limiting itself to ASIA.

Like the NO 1 IMPERIALISM QUEST from the West in the 19th century ; NO 2 IMPERIALISM QUEST from East Asia in 21st century ; is industrializing and producing its own aggressive, bourgeois middle-class enamoured with nationalism. It is not cut off from foreign markets like Germany was due to colonialism, but in a twist the international bodies and structures are designed around a geostrategic situation now decades out of date. Imperialism power from East Asia wants to tear these down…and that begs the question if the era of no wars between Great Powers is ending.

Imperialism in East Asia burn much hotter than in the West; defense budgets are rising, and most importantly, they are near-peer modern nations all capable of making nuclear weapons if push came to shove. Hence the “scariness” of this power battle is more pronounced in Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Indian sub-continent because East Asian imperial ambitions carry the very real risk of near-peer, open warfare with much higher casualties than the “feudal” small wars caused by the other imperial enthusiast from the West. If the long Great Power truce is broken, it will likely be in East Asia and will likely involve the most powerful countries from East Asia. That is scary, and that is what worries people more about Asian imperialism compared to Western led imperialism. With the 1978 economic reform, the East Asian country has increased its political stance, its influence and its power abroad. On one side, it remains deeply neutral and not involving in any conflict, and the land borders are stable; on the other side it has increased its influence, while using military and economic wealth and claims to island territories that have caused anxiety in neighbors to the east, such as the Philippines, India, Nepal, Tibet, Mangolia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Burma, South Korea and Japan (and perhaps many more).

So; like movie industry and planned “feudal” small wars used by imperialism enthusiast from the West (NO 1); what tools does the NO 2 IMPERIALISM e nthusiast from East Asia in 21st century uses/are using?

The imperialism enthusiast from East Asia ; to bend other states to its will, without having to fire a single shot, uses sovereign debt as the tool. As the opium was exported to China to trick them centuries ago, the easy loans the imperialism enthusiast from East Asia offers are addictive. In addition, because it chooses its financing projects according to their long-term strategic value, they may yield short-term returns that are insufficient for countries to repay their debts. This gives the East Asian country added leverage, which it can use, say, to force borrowers to swap debt for equity, thereby expanding it’s global footprint by trapping a growing number of countries in debt servitude. Several other countries, from Argentina to Namibia to Laos, have been ensnared in these debt traps, forcing them to confront agonizing choices in order to stave off default. Kenya’s crushing debt now threatens to turn its busy port of Mombasa — the gateway to East Africa. Who made the East Asian country capable of lending sovereign debts? It is our laziness and us. For almost a century now; we stopped our manufacturing, exports and have become dependent on this country to supply us with cheap products. This is the repercussion.

In exchange for financing and building the infrastructure that poorer countries need, imperialism enthusiast from East Asia demands favourable access to their natural assets, from mineral resources to ports. To strengthen its position further, East Asian country has encouraged its companies to bid for outright purchase of strategic ports where possible. The Mediterranean port of Piraeus, which was acquired for $436 million from cash-strapped Greece last year, will serve as the BRI’s “dragon head” in Europe. By wielding its financial influence in this manner, imperialism enthusiast from East Asia seeks to kill two birds with one stone. First, it wants to address overcapacity at home by boosting exports. Second, it hopes to advance its strategic interests, including expanding its diplomatic influence, securing natural resources, promoting the international use of its currency and gaining a relative advantage over other powers.

Empires are built on trade. History has been witness of this fact. This tradition has not changed, only traded commodities have changed in centuries of this practice. During the expansion of Rome, some cities completely switched their cultural identity and even moved in order to join the growing Roman state. The British Empire in its latest stages self-consciously expanded into new protectorates in order to create new trading opportunities.

WHY ARE WE CONCERNED? We should be. Because; we are losing our identity. We are all becoming something else. We are becoming dependent, We are losing our culture, no of languages are diminishing, the world is becoming a violent place, human sustainability is doubtful and there is concentration of power in the current times still, as they were centuries ago. HOW HAVE WE MADE PROGRESS? What is the use of technological advancements (AI, ML, IoT, DL, Block Chain, and Robotics); when collective sustainability is under threat? It feels as if; technological advancements are indirectly supporting imperialism.

SOLUTION? I shall tell you first; soon as I comprehend. How does one at an individual level try to influence such huge predicament? There are few perhaps. However, noted one is: increase education, promote self-sufficiency, buy local products and services, remain less dependent on others, take care of own nature and natural resources, have reasonable growth plans, stay united, invest on people, rather than IRRATIONAL economic progress and there is absolutely no need engage in the power battle blindly. Mahatma Gandhi called for a different approach (Make your own, reject products from external sources. We can at least stop fuelling powers acting against us. That is the first step). Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand, India and Costa Rica are doing it differently. They are inward focussed. They believe in their capabilities and know they are not dependent on others or provoke others unnecessarily. Take a look.

Memories and stories are possessions we can share with your future generation, our friends and family, the people in our yoga class or at work. It is important to live our life and make memories along the way. It is important to share our life with others. It is important to cherish these moments. My conversation with Thomas will be of course discussed many years later, when my grandchildren will read this very blog and ask me the question “Is this how it used to be in 2019, GrandPa?”

Now, that is it. How is Sunday treating us all? Pretty good so far, for me. Got up early, made some eggs, having a Nespresso machine at home is always a bliss, listened to some good music while reading reddit, and now it's time to go for a run and see where the day takes us. From the discussion topic memories; remembered that I bought my first ever car in this life; today….many years ago, in Australia. It was a black Toyota RAV4. I also remember a very popular music then, which I played in the car, as I started the engine. Here it is. Please enjoy rest of your Sunday. Have a restful afternoon and God Bless