India, Tea Parties, and Laissez-Faire

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  I think a defining moment of the Tea Party movement happened when Glen Beck decided to take on Teddy Roosevelt. The quote that Beck focused on for his wrath was this: “We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used.”

 In Beck’s eyes, and in the eyes of the Tea Party followers, T.R. was speaking about some sort of “socialist utopia”. Apparently real men defend wealth that is dishonorably obtained and then wasted. It’s sort of like defending the right to commit evil. It’s really a hard sell for anyone outside of the cult.

  I don’t use the term cult lightly. The demonization of the word “socialism” (plus the obvious lack of understanding of what the word actually means) and the strict adherence to all things “free market”, not to mention the hyper-patriotic war-mongering, is a throw-back to the Cult of Reagan.

 These people are still fighting the Cold War. This also explains the average age of Tea Party members.

  One interesting note from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech that Beck denounced was something T.R. said just a few sentences earlier:

 The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise.

Hmmm. Does that sound familiar to what is going on today?

 Another element of the Tea Party movement comes straight from the source. Remember the famous Rick Santelli rant on February 19, 2009? About two and a half minutes into this video Santelli says, “We’re thinking about having a tea party here in Chicago.”

  It turns out that Rick Santelli didn’t invent the idea, it had already been created and scheduled by the Libertarian Party.

 What wasn’t known was that the Libertarian Party of Chicago had invited Rick to speak at a “Chicago Tea Party”, the very same thing Santelli had called for live on CNBC.  Notice that Santelli’s words were “We’re going to have a Chicago Tea Party in July.”  That’s because it was already planned.

 So the Libertarian Party was actually the creators of the Tea Party. Yet when the 2010 election came around, the Tea Party Movement largely endorsed Republicans instead.

Of Tea Parties and Laissez-faire

 The Tea Party is nothing if not chaotic. It isn’t really a political movement. It’s more like populist outrage shaped and directed by a large media company.

  However, the only real defining element of the Tea Party Movement is its unshakable faith in laissez-faire capitalism. There is a religious aura in the Tea Party when it comes to Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand.

 There are several ironic elements to this marriage.

For instance, according to legend and folklore the term laissez-faire was first created in a 1680 meeting between French finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert and a group of French businessmen. When asked how the French state could be of service to the merchants, one replied “Laissez-nous faire” (“Leave us be”, lit. “Let us do”).

  Who did the french merchants represent? Why the French East India Company, of course. A huge, state-supported, multinational corporation with monopoly trading power designed to compete with the British East India Company.

 So how exactly does a country run under pure corporate, laissez-faire capitalism? Is it anything like the utopia that the globalists spout on about?

 Consider India’s experience under the rule of the British East India Company.

Corporate rule in India

 The Honourable East India Company (HEIC) was created by royal charter on December 31, 1600, and was given a monopoly on all trade with India. By 1670 King Charles II had granted the HEIC the rights to mint money, employ an army, make war, form alliances, autonomous territorial acquisition, and administer justice in those areas.

 The state of Bengal in India was conquered by a corporate mercenary army led by Robert Clive in 1757. The multinational corporation continued to dominate the huge nation until 1858, when it came under direct British rule.

 At the time, Bengal was one of the richest nations on Earth.

 So what did the British East India Company do first? It raised land taxes five-fold – from 10% to 50% of the value of the agricultural production.

 All the policies were designed to increase the share price of the company. Company employees were returning to Britain with enormous fortunes.

 The most sensible business strategy therefore would be to opt for maximum profit realisation as quickly, as efficiently and as ruthlessly as possible. And so it was that wherever it was possible the planting of cash crops such as indigo and cotton were made compulsory. Likewise, because the raised tax had to be collected in cash and at the point of a bayonet if necessary the hoarding of rice was forbidden, and so with little option this was sold on and a thriving grain market came into being which was of course eventually monopolised by the company.

 What were the effects on the state of Bengal? A famine that killed 10 million people – about a third of the population. It was one of the worst, most concentrated famines in human history. It nearly resulted in the extermination of the ancient Bengal culture.

 Widespread famine began to appear as early as late 1769, but the Company ignored it because it wasn’t effecting profits.

 A result of the massive famine was a depopulation and abandonment of agricultural land that returned to the jungle. Because so many children died, the population of Bengal kept decreasing for decades to come. Highwaymen and bandits sprung up and got so bad that Bengal eventually had to be put under martial law. Tax revenue decreased by 14% the following year. In response the company raised the land tax in 1771 to 60%. A logical move when you consider they needed to replace the revenue from millions of people who died.

How Bengal caused the first Tea Party

 The resulting depopulation and destabilization of Bengal cut revenue and increased administrative costs for the British East India Company. Their greed and mismanagement not only resulted in millions of people starving, but turned an incredibly profitable company into a money-losing one.

   By 1773, the Company appealed to the British government for a bailout. Hmmm. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

 This resulted in the Regulating Act of 1773. The British government was acknowledged as the sovereign of India and the Company submitted to oversight and regulation, even though it continued to run things in Bengal.

  In exchange the British East India Company got greater autonomy in its trade with the American colonies. Specifically this was called the Tea Act of 1773.

 You might remember the Tea Act as the cause of the Boston Tea Party.

 13 Geo III c. 44, long title An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the East India Company’s sales; and to empower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licenses to the East India Company to export tea duty-free.

  The act allowed the Company to sell tea to the colonies directly without having to pay a royal tax on it. This would undermine the tea smugglers such as John Hancock. In response to the Tea Act the price of tea in Boston actually dropped.

Still reeling from the Hutchinson letters, Bostonians suspected the removal of the Tea Tax was simply another attempt by the British parliament to squash American freedom. Samuel Adams, wealthy smugglers, and others who had profited from the smuggled tea called for agents and consignees of the East India Company tea to abandon their positions; consignees who hesitated were terrorized through attacks on their warehouses and even their homes.

 So you see, Bostonians weren’t angry about any taxes being imposed on them. They were angry about a huge corporation using its powerful lobby in the halls of government to crush the small businessman via corporate welfare in the form of tax loopholes.

  Why that sounds downright leftist to me. Does it to you?

  The outraged Bostonians circulated a pamphlet called The Alarm which reminded people of the company’s recent record in Bengal.

 Are we in like Manner to be given up to the Disposal of the East India Company, who have now the Assurance, to step forth in Aid of the Minister, to execute his Plan, of enslaving America? Their Conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given simple Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Men…. Fifteen hundred Thousands, it is said, perished by Famine in one Year, not because the Earth denied its Fruits; but [because] this Company and their Servants engulfed all the Necessaries of Life, and set them at so high a Rate that the poor could not purchase them.

 Notice the anger and fear at corporate monopoly pricing.

    Can you imagine today’s tea party protesters raging against unfair corporate tax breaks? I certainly can’t. Yet that is exactly what their movement is named after.

5 comments

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    • gjohnsit on November 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm
      Author
  1. was created by the British; the military-industrial-colonial complex. Merchants buying up the opium on the cheap in India, then transporting and selling it to millions of addicted Chinese. Then, taking the money and buying porcelain, silks, dyes and tea to resell in world markets. Their long range cannon was their greatest diplomatic tool. Like everything else though, the voices in opposition in England were overwhelmed. The corporate-government joint effort was just too profitable.

    The ideas of the “free market” grow in influence during the expansion of colonialism and conquest, beginning in 1492 with Spain and copied by the Portugese, French, Dutch, English, Americans and Russians. Filling those warehouses on the cheap with gold, silver, opium, tea, timber, tobacco, cotton, oil, chocolate, rubber etc. was and is what it’s about. Whether diamonds from S. Africa or Bananas from Central America, it’s all about free enterprise. Everybody just has to get hip to the new global order that really began 500 years ago.

    Yep, it’s real competitive out there. No one likes to see 300,000,000 dead, but it’s just collateral damage from progress.  

    • banger on November 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Just another reason why if you study history you aren’t easily fooled.

    The reason why the Tea Party and its “values” flourish is the deliberate ignorance of the American people. The sheeply want to believe in fantasies supplied by Beck and others. This is the key. The reason why the Tea Party is so chaotic in its ideology and agenda is that they are so many millions of Don Quixotes that live entirely in a fantasy world. There are legit Tea Party people on the libertarian right, as you point out, who have a legit argument but they were lost in the uproar and seizure of the movement by the Republican Party. I will name two who did have something to say that was useful: Ron Paul and Karl Denninger–the latter is not well-known but this guy is the real deal. He believes, like me, in rule of law and that’s what upsets him–he sees the markets and the gov’t manipulated by insiders.

  2. … where 20,000 chests of British opium (doubtless with a street value of umpteen kajillion pounds sterling) were destroyed.

    http://www.druglibrary.org/sch

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