Sunday, January 20, 2013

Even more instructive

Niall Ferguson claims to be a historian of some sort.   Alas, so many things escape him.
Even the Governor-General, William Bentinck, was forced to report that “...the misery hardly finds parallel in the history of commerce. The bones of the cotton weavers are bleaching the plains of India.”
Thereby improving the share of the villages in the Indian economy, and promoting equality.

It is very revealing that Niall Ferguson is considered to be a respectable intellectual, the mind-set and motives of those who support and promote him are interesting to contemplate.  (Would someone trying to promote phlogiston theory get a hearing?)  In a nutshell, the ideology being promoted is that the West need have no qualms about trying to dominate the world by force, that imperialism wasn't so bad.

And I've had comments directed at me, why not at Niall Ferguson, that he is promoting a romantic view of the Empire, a wish for a past that is not recoverable, that he is promoting jingoistic nationalism and anti-modernism (the Empire was good!) and considering that the US and Europe are still quite inclined to impose themselves with armies on other countries, isn't Niall Ferguson promoting war (the Empire was and will be good!)?   Why the lectures only to me?

I'll just point out one thing - the result of the impoverishment and delayed industrial development of India is that the subcontinent now holds 1.5 billion people, instead of maybe a fifth that number had there been no empire, and India had developed normally and had a demographic transition paralleling that of the West.   This fact, in light of the ongoing ecological crisis, is going to be consequential to everyone on this planet.