13 April 2011


The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was as much a protest by Boston merchants against the trade monopoly of a global corporation--the East India Company--as it was against the continuing controversy of the influence of the British Parliament in the local affairs of the American colonies. By the 18th century there was already a global economic system (in an earlier spasm of globalization) interconnecting Europe with its far-flung, worldaround colonies. The long economic recession period of the 1760s and the great loss of revenue by the East India Company in Bengal induced the Company to look for new markets. The American colonies were an obvious choice for the monopolistic strategy of the Company, much to the economic detriment of Boston merchants. 

Unlike the Boston Tea Party merchants and other patriots, I wonder whether today's Tea Baggers are ready to protest the GEs and Exxons of the global capitalist system who pay no taxes, or the corporations who despoil the Planet. To be fair, there seems to be no mass movement in the U.S. that appears ready to resist the "business-run democracy" we have now. We are living in the bowels of an East India Company system that has moved on-shore (and off-shore!), benefiting from "free" trade (and "free market" capitalism) and neutralizing political opposition and resistance by promoting its religion of consumerism--and logic of growth--and blindness to the causes of the converging economic and ecological crises. 

There were 19 recessions and 15 major stock-market crashes in the century after 1907 (which followed the "panics" of 1857, 1873, 1893, and 1907). Joseph Stiglitz says there were 124 systemic banking crises in developing countries between 1970 and 2007. It should be clear that capitalism engenders a perpetual, cyclical crisis regime and always will--it is the way it is set up. Currently it is fomenting the next bubble while it delivers an obscene amount of wealth upwards to a tiny segment of society. 

Today's East India Company system is happy that we are arguing over the merits and shortcomings of the Democratic and Republican parties. As our attention is diverted, the system can continue its destruction of life on the Planet, and continue creating the greatest inequality in U.S. history. 

The tea is not the problem; the problem is who controls the ship.  

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