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Posts Tagged ‘Frankie Boyle

Forget aids: Desist from further exploitation

Posted on February 28, 2016

Enough of aid – let’s talk reparations

Should the poor colonized States wait another 100 years to earn $1.25 per day?

Colonialism is one of those subjects you’re not supposed to discuss in polite company – at least not north of the Mediterranean. Most people feel uncomfortable about it, and would rather pretend it didn’t happen.

Debate around reparations is threatening because it upends the usual narrative of development

Habib Battah shared this link and commented on it

Enough of aid – let’s talk reparations The impact of colonialism cannot be ignored theguardian.com|By Jason Hickel. Nov.27, 2015

Who built Europe?

“In the mainstream narrative of international development, peddled by institutions from the World Bank, the Monetary Fund to the UK’s Department of International Development, the history of colonialism is routinely erased.

According to the official story, developing countries are poor because of their own internal problems, while western countries are rich because they worked hard, and upheld the right values and policies…

And because the west happens to be further ahead, its countries generously reach out across the chasm to give “aid” to the rest – just a little something to help them along.

If colonialism is ever acknowledged, it’s to say that it was Not a crime (against human rights), but rather a benefit to the colonised – a leg up the development ladder

The historical record tells a very different story, and that opens up difficult questions about another topic that Europeans prefer to avoid: reparations.

No matter how much they try, however, this topic resurfaces over and over again.

Recently, after a debate at the Oxford Union, Indian MP Shashi Tharoor’s powerful case for reparations went viral, attracting more than 3 million views on YouTube. (Algeria is re-launching the reparation issue of French colonialism also)

Clearly the issue is hitting a nerve.

The reparations debate is threatening because it completely upends the usual narrative of development. It suggests that poverty in the global south is not a natural phenomenon, but has been actively created.

And it casts western countries in the role not of benefactors, but of plunderers.

When it comes to the colonial legacy, some of the facts are almost too shocking to comprehend.

When Europeans arrived in what is now Latin America in 1492, the region may have been inhabited by between 50 million and 100 million indigenous people.

By the mid 1600s, their population was slashed to about 3.5 million.

The vast majority succumbed to foreign disease and many were slaughtered, died of slavery or starved to death after being kicked off their land. It was like the holocaust seven times over.

What were the Europeans after? Silver was a big part of it.

Between 1503 and 1660, 16m kilograms of silver were shipped to Europe, amounting to three times the total European reserves of the metal. (Most of this silver was coined as money and exported by Portugal to China that had started collecting taxes in the form of silver money)

By the early 1800s, a total of 100m kg of silver had been drained from the veins of Latin America and pumped into the European economy, providing much of the capital for the industrial revolution.

To get a sense for the scale of this wealth, consider this thought experiment: if 100m kg of silver was invested in 1800 at 5% interest – the historical average – it would amount to £110trn ($165trn) today. An unimaginable sum.

Europeans slaked their need for labour in the colonies – in the mines and on the plantations – not only by enslaving indigenous Americans but also by shipping slaves across the Atlantic from Africa.

Up to 15 million of them.

In the North American colonies alone, Europeans extracted an estimated 222,505,049 hours of forced labour from African slaves between 1619 and 1865. Valued at the US minimum wage, with a modest rate of interest, that’s worth $97trn – more than the entire global GDP.

Right now, 14 Caribbean nations are in the process of suing Britain for slavery reparations.

They point out that when Britain abolished slavery in 1834 it compensated Not the slaves but rather the owners of slaves, to the tune of £20m, the equivalent of £200bn today.

Perhaps they will demand reparations equivalent to this figure, but it is conservative: it reflects only the price of the slaves, and tells us nothing of the total value they produced during their lifetimes, nor of the trauma they endured, nor of the hundreds of thousands of slaves who worked and died during the centuries before 1834.

These numbers tell only a small part of the story, but they do help us imagine the scale of the value that flowed from the Americas and Africa into European coffers after 1492.

Then there is India.

When the British seized control of India, they completely reorganised the agricultural system, destroying traditional subsistence practices to make way for cash crops for export to Europe.

As a result of British interventions, up to 29 million Indians died of famine during the last few decades of the 19th century in what historian Mike Davis calls the “late Victorian holocaust”.

Laid head to foot, their corpses would stretch the length of England 85 times over. And this happened while India was exporting an unprecedented amount of food, up to 10m tonnes per year.

British colonisers also set out to transform India into a captive market for British goods.

To do that, they had to destroy India’s impressive indigenous industries.

Before the British arrived, India commanded 27% of the world economy, according to economist Angus Maddison.

By the time they left, India’s share had been cut to just 3%.

The same thing happened to China.

After the Opium Wars, when Britain invaded China and forced open its borders to British goods on unequal terms, China’s share of the world economy dwindled from 35% to an all-time low of 7%.

Meanwhile, Europeans increased their share of global GDP from 20% to 60% during the colonial period. Europe didn’t develop the colonies. The colonies developed Europe.

And we haven’t even begun to touch the scramble for Africa.

In the Congo, to cite just one brief example, as historian Adam Hochschild recounts in his haunting book King Leopold’s Ghost, Belgium’s lust for ivory and rubber killed some 10 million Congolese – roughly half the country’s population.

The wealth gleaned from that plunder was siphoned back to Belgium to fund beautiful stately architecture and impressive public works, including arches and parks and railway stations – all the markers of development that adorn Brussels today, the bejewelled headquarters of the European Union.

We could go on. It is tempting to see this as just a list of crimes, but it is much more than that.

These snippets hint at the contours of a world economic system that was designed over hundreds of years to enrich a small portion of humanity at the expense of the vast majority.

This history makes the narrative of international development seem a bit absurd, and even outright false.

Frankie Boyle got it right:

Even our charity is essentially patronising. Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day. Give him a fishing rod and he can feed himself. Alternatively, don’t poison the fishing waters, abduct his great-grandparents into slavery, then turn up 400 years later on your gap year talking a lot of shite about fish.”

We can’t put a price on the suffering wrought by colonialism.

And there is not enough money in the world to compensate for the damage it inflicted.

We can, however, stop talking about charity, and instead acknowledge the debt that the west owes to the rest of the world.

Even more importantly, we can work to quash the colonial instinct whenever it rears its ugly head, as it is doing right now in the form of land grabsillicit financial extraction, and unfair trade deals.

Shashi Tharoor argued for a reparations payment of only £1 – a token acknowledgement of historical fact. That might not do much to assuage the continued suffering of those whose countries have been ravaged by the colonial encounter. But at least it would set the story straight, and put us on a path towards rebalancing the global economy.

‘This is the worst time for society to go on psychopathic autopilot’

Britain addicted to bombing junkies

What will happen in a 1,000 years? Why, do you know what  happened in the last 1,000 years?

Frankie Boyle on the fallout from Paris. Nov. 23, 2015.

There were a lot of tributes after the horror in Paris. It has to be said that Trafalgar Square is an odd choice of venue to show solidarity with France; presumably Waterloo was too busy.
One of the most appropriate tributes was Adele dedicating Hometown Glory to Paris, just as the raids on St-Denis started.
A song about south London where, 10 years ago, armed police decided to hysterically blow the face off a man just because he was a bit beige.

In times of crisis, we are made to feel we should scrutinise our government’s actions less closely, when surely that’s when we should pay closest attention.

There’s a feeling that after an atrocity history and context become less relevant, when surely these are actually the worst times for a society to go on psychopathic autopilot.

Our attitudes are fostered by a society built on ideas of dominance, where the solution to crises are force and action, rather than reflection and compromise.

If that sounds unbearably drippy, just humour me for a second and imagine a country where the response to Paris involved an urgent debate about how to make public spaces safer and marginalised groups less vulnerable to radicalisation.

Do you honestly feel safer with a debate centred around when we can turn some desert town 3,000 miles away into a sheet of glass?

Of course, it’s not as if the West hasn’t learned any lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. This time round, no one’s said out loud that we’re going to win. (Holland did say it)

People seem concerned to make sure that Islam gets its full share of the blame, so we get the unedifying circus of neocons invoking God as much as the killers.

“Well, Isis say they’re motivated by God.” Yes, and people who have sex with their pets say they’re motivated by love, but most of us don’t really believe them.

Not that I’m any friend of religion – let’s blame religion for whatever we can. Let’s blame anyone who invokes the name of any deity just because they want to ruin our weekend, starting with TGI Friday’s.

The ringleader, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, evaded detection by security services by having a name too long to fit into one tweet. How could the most stringent surveillance in the world not have picked up Abdelhamid Abaaoud before? I mean, they’d have got him even if they just went through lists of terrorists alphabetically.

We’re always dealing with terror in retrospect – like stocking up on Imodium rather than reading the cooking instructions on your mini kievs.

The truth is that modern governments sit at the head of a well-funded security apparatus. They are told that foreign military adventures put domestic populations at risk and they give them the thumbs up anyway.

Charitably, the safety of their populations just aren’t of great concern to them. Realistically, domestic terrorist attacks play into their agenda: they allow them to grab ever more authoritarian powers with which to police their increasingly unequal and volatile societies.

Of course, no one wants to believe that our government isn’t interested in our safety, just like everyone really wanted to believe that Jimmy Savile cared about whether kids got to meet Duran Duran.

It’s not an insult to the dead to wonder why France, a $2tn economy, couldn’t make a better offer to its disenfranchised youth than a bunch of sick bullies grooming them on the internet.

It’s not apologism to try to understand why something happened.

When Syria’s drought kicked in, 25% of the population became unemployed. The vast majority of the country’s livestock has died over the past decade. A lot of Isis are farmers with nowhere to go, their entire industry destroyed – you’d think they’d have more sympathy for journalists. Those who think radicalising a youngster has nothing to do with climate – have you seen Tatooine?

No one is saying climate change causes terrorism. (Though this situation will become a major factor for increased terrorist attitudes)

Stop thinking that a global death cult is caused by one thing – it’s a complex situation involving several different countries and ideologies, not a rattling sound in your washing machine. Personally, I think that for all our blaming religion, there will be peace in the Middle East when the oil runs out. (Forced peace with no Lands to grow anything on? A recurrence of tribal razzias on the more fertile land tribes) 

But knowing their luck, then somebody will invent a way of making fuel by mixing sand and falafel.

Maybe the west’s approach is right. After all, if you’ve got a massive fight in, say, a pub car park, the best way of solving it is clearly standing well back and randomly lobbing in fireworks.

You can’t get rid of an ideology by destroying its leaders; you’d think if there’s anything “Christian” countries should know, it’s that. Europe has rejected the death penalty on moral grounds, and yet we relax this view when it comes to a group who want to be martyred.

You can’t bomb ideas. If your kid shits on the carpet, you can’t stop them by bombing the person who invented shit – though it would tidy up ITV’s Saturday night schedule.

Andrew Neil went viral with an impassioned eulogy that, like most eulogies, was just inaccurate nonsense in the form of nice memorable words strung together with angry sad words. A speech that would have made those named within it proud, but only because a good few of them were nihilistic absurdists. Listing the great French thinkers in a tribute to nuclear power showcased the worst aspect of historical fame: these were figures Neil could name but appeared to know nothing about.

For a list supporting the French government’s foray into bombing its former colony he chose Satie, a composer so questioning of state he put a question mark into La Marseillaise; Zola, a man so adamant about the function of a fair and full trial he may have been murdered for his beliefs; Rousseau – “Those who think themselves masters of others are greater slaves than they”; Ravel, who rejected all state honours; Gauguin, a passionate defender of indigenous peoples; and Camus, the great Algerian-born philosopher, who died in 1960, a year before he would’ve been thrown into the Seine at the orders of the Nazi head of the Parisian police.

Out of his list of peacenik, thoughtful, anti-government icons, one of the few who might have been in favour of bombing Syria was Sartre, and that’s only because he thought we were all dead anyway. Of course, we mustn’t forget Coco Chanel, who Neil threw on to the list in such a blatant “if we don’t include a woman we’ll get into trouble” rush, he didn’t notice a quick wiki would reveal her to be a Nazi spy.

These are the people who made France great, because what they asked of France was to question, to look death in the eye, to commit to full trials and never resort to military force, to step away from government, away from indigenous lands, to never see themselves as superior, and most, most of all, for people to stop regurgitating rhetorical cliches and think for themselves

Neil asked us to consider who will be remembered in 1,000 years, and the answer of course is Thkkkkkkkzzzzxrrkksd, the insane Cockroach Emperor, who revolutionised the mining of our bones for fuel.

But let’s go with his conceit. A thousand years is a long time; the first book published in French wasn’t until 1476. Goodness knows what an Islamic caliphate would have been doing 1,000 years ago? They built the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, one of the first universities in the world; they asked scholars of all faiths to translate every text ever written into Arabic; they demanded the first qualifications for doctors, founded the first psychiatric hospitals and invented ophthalmology. They developed algebra (algorithms are named after their Arab father) and a programmable machine … a computer. They introduced Aristotle to Europe, Al-Jahiz began theories of natural selection, they discovered the Andromeda galaxy, classified the spinal nerves and created hydropower using pumps and gears.

And Neil is right – we don’t remember any of that. Not to say that this is what Isis want – Isis are like the group that closed the House of Wisdom, the next caliphate who decided science was irreligious. Isis want to destroy the knowledge that Islam is a beautiful, scientific and intelligent culture, and we are way ahead of them.

We want Paris to be remembered in 1,000 years and we don’t remember the names of the victims 10 minutes after reading them

– we don’t remember Amine Ibnolmobarak, a Moroccan émigré who was designing an architectural solution to the 2,000 deaths at Mecca;

we don’t remember Elsa Delplace and her mother Patricia San Martin, who died shielding Delplace’s young son from bullets.

We remember that the female terrorist was blond and one had no pants on.

We remember that the terrorists came in with refugees even though they don’t seem to have done, especially since they were all French or Belgian.

We expect our descendants to remember Daft Punk and we don’t even remember that invading Iraq caused the birth and rise of Isis. And we won’t remember any of this once the new series of Britain’s Got Talent starts.


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