The Spirit of Colonization Has Passed from Nations to Corporations
The damage will be even worse this time
The Anarchy, by William Dalrymple, is a terrifying read.
It tells the story of the East India Company, one of the most brutal organizations ever to exist.
Here’s the book’s official pitch:
“The Anarchy tells how a multinational corporation became an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a business enterprise. It reveals how millions of lives could be transformed by decisions made in a five-windowed room overlooking a churchyard in London’s East End; how shareholders could become richer than kings; and how entire continents could be won — and lost — through corporate violence and corruption.”
Isn’t it absolutely incredible and amazing how far we’ve come since then?
(That was a joke.)
However, there has been a subtle shift in power structures since the days of the East India Company:
From the 1600s-1945, governments wielded corporations to advance national colonialism.
Since WWII, and particularly since 1971, corporations have wielded governments to advance corporate colonialism.
Nations wielding corporations
Let’s back up to before Hitler tried to Nazify Europe and the rest of the world said, “Heeeil no.”
Nations used to wield corporations to advance national colonialism.
The British government used the British East India Company to dominate India and other parts of Asia. Other British corporations ravaged Africa and colonized the Caribbean and the Americas until the Americans gave them the boot. (The Canadians are still under the wildly corrupt Windsor monarchy.)
The Dutch government used the Dutch East India Company to brutalize Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. Remember apartheid? Blame the Dutch.
The French government used the French East India Company to torture the East Indies, China, Japan, India, Vietnam, and Madagascar.
The German government used the German East Africa Company to rape the African continent of ivory, rubber, and cotton.
The Belgian government concocted the “Congo Free State” a private corporation owned by King Leopold II, fronted by the International Association of the Congo, leading to the murder of millions.
The corporations were simply the vanguard, the tip of the spear, the pretext for entry. In all five of these cases, the corporations were eventually violently opposed by the locals, and the colonizing governments stepped in to take direct control without any pretense.
Corporations wielding nations
After WWII, most monarchies lay in the dustbins of history. By the time Nixon fled office in crime-laden shame, it was time for the ascension of corporations to the thrones of national and global power and wield nations to do their bidding.
Lockheed Martin, the largest “defense contractor” (AKA war manufacturer) in the world, influences US foreign policy and military spending through its lobbying, campaign contributions, and revolving door practices to profit from geysers of bloodshed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, as well as from the US military aid to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other allies.
ExxonMobil, one of the largest oil and gas companies (AKA earth prisoners) in the world, “collaborated” with the US government to overthrow or undermine governments that opposed its profiteering interests, such as Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, and Libya.
Monsanto, the agrochemical and biotech monopoly now owned by Bayer, used the US government to deny food sovereignty to millions of farming, imposing its patents and standards on other countries, and punishing and sanctioning those who resist or reject them.
Chiquita Brands International uses US government intervention to exploit labor and land in Central and South America by coercing local elites, as well as funding paramilitary groups and coups in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras. Someone has to say it: That $#!t is bananas.
But don’t think it’s just the big bad American corporate cowboys who are running wild on the frontiers. China does the exact same thing:
Huawei has been accused of engaging in cyber espionage, violating human rights, and facilitating authoritarian regimes in Africa to expand its reach to forty African countries and 50% of the entire continent’s 4G capacity.
China-Africa Cotton exploits African farmers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, trapping them with unfair contracts.
Huajian oppresses African workers to make shoes for Calvin Klein, Guess, and Tommy Hilfiger in unhealthy, unsafe, and underpaid conditions.
China Feihe Limited owns Canada’s largest dairy company and forced the Canadian government to build them a facility to create breastmilk substitutes to send back to China.
WH Group Limited, the world’s largest pork company, lobbied the Chinese government for billions and then used the cash to buy America’s largest pork producer.
When you’re an American or Chinese corporation, it’s easy to do business when you get press the full might of the world’s largest and second-largest economy and military on everybody else.
There are those who naively think colonialism ended with the fall of the British Empire.
You can still visit Colonial Williamsburg to see how “charming” a world they left behind.
Or you can visit Oxford and London, cities made beautiful by the profits of the lashes of a hundred million slaves.
Same goes for Amsterdam, Spain, and basically everything pretty you’ve ever seen in Portugal.
But colonialism never ended.
It only transformed its hideous disguise.
Colonialism isn’t a thing one can simply kill.
It’s a spirit.
A ghost that haunts the human machine.
The spirit of colonization
Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines colonialism:
“Domination of a people or area by a foreign state or nation: the practice of extending and maintaining a nation’s political and economic control over another people or area.”
Tell me if that isn’t the express purpose of today’s for-profit corporations.
Growth, at all costs.
Extending and maintaining political and economic control over people.
This time, the slaughter will be kept to the “unimportant” countries.
Instead of antebellum slavery, our captivity will consist of compounding debt loads, increased taxes, and corporate reliance for over-priced shelter, energy, food, and everything else.
Instead of genocide, the weak will die of homelessness and drug addiction, because we couldn’t possibly tax corporate shareholders.
Whence cometh this evil will to dominate others?
As nations fade in true power, they are becoming the marionettes of corporate puppet masters. But even behind the puppet masters, there is an even higher master. He has moved from the cabinet to the board room, but he continues to sit at the head of the table.
The demon of colonialism continues to occupy the highest throne.
Who will assassinate this false king of kings?
Who will stand up and say “corporatists are colonists?”
Who will demand an end to for-profit corporations?
Who will demand an end to the exploitation of others?
Who will teach our children that lording power over others is a sin and crime and that the only honorable way to earn a living is to personally create new wealth and value for others?
Certainly not our corporate-captured governments.
Certainly not our fat-pensioned church attendees.
Certainly not our hyper-individualist consumerist voter-spenders.
It will fall to those few crying out in the wilderness. The prophets, the crazies, the radicals.
When our nations are fully subjugated as corporate colonies and we are once again economically enslaved — when corporations throw off the disguise of democracy and nationhood and openly flout their corporate imperium, then the radicals will seem so obvious and sensible that their strange words today will seem inevitable in hindsight.
If only more humans would look ahead, then turn back and shout.
Surviving Tomorrow is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.