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    The blame america firsters are..., 2007-04-16 18:50:51 | Main | because we haven't done enough already..., 2007-04-25 21:56:08

    the most depressing book ever written:

    I read a lot of sad, gut wrenching non-fiction about various episodes of human barbarity without taking it too personally, but the first chapter of Late Victorian Holocausts has me seriously thinking about putting the book down and not picking it up again, ever. Stomach turning is the only way to describe it.

    So the first chapter is all about the Indian famine of 1876-79. Basically what happens is British speculators see a price jump in grain prices following a drought, and start buying it up like mad (leading to increasing grain exports to Britain every year of the famine), making grain prices skyrocket far far out of the range of Indians to buy it. The India colony and British empire at this point is run by absolute free market fundamentalists, just like the IMF and so forth are run now basically, almost indistinguishable in their economic ideologies. So this one guy, Sir Richard Temple, runs a successful famine relief program by basically just indexing Indian labor compensation to the price of grain in one province. Across the empire he's denounced as a monster and a heretic, a violator of sound economic principle, and hectored and bashed into following sound British policy, which is to let the market work its wonders by paying people what they'll work for. The grain is rotting on the warf and the British authorities are flogging starving grain thieves, cutting off their noses and other defacements, to serve as warnings for any other potential grain robbers with a bellyache.

    This particular episode kills maybe 9 million Indians. The really awful, disgusting thing about it is it happens over and over again for the next 30 years - just within the limited scope of this particular book - to identical, unchanging orthodox responses, murdering another mind boggling 50 million asian subjects of the Crown.


:: posted by buermann @ 2007-04-18 10:11:46 CST | link





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