Saturday, January 26, 2013

What about Burma?

The apologists for imperialism, said of the British-China Opium Wars,  that (a) the Chinese already used opium and (b) this was really a war for free trade.

Reginald Reynolds, "The White Sahibs in India" (1937) tells us, in a discussion of Katherine Mayo's work,

An example of the social evils which are unlikely to outlive British rule is to be found in the opium traffic. On this subject, Professor Durant in his book The Case of India [73] has stated the facts briefly and without exaggeration:

"Miss Mayo tells us that Hindu mothers feed opium to their children....She does not tell us (though she must have known) that women drug their children because the mothers must abandon them every day to go to work in the factories.  She does not tell us that the opium is grown only by the Government; and is sold exclusively by the Government; that its sale, like the sale of drink through saloons, is carried on despite the protest of the Nationalist Congress.... She does not tell us that Burma excluded opium by law until the British came, and is now overrun with it;[74] that the British distributed it free in Burma to create a demand for it; that whereas the traffic has been stopped in the Philippines, England has refused at one World Opium Conference after another to abandon it in India; that the Report of the Government Retrenchment Commission of 1925 emphasized 'the importance of safeguarding opium sales as an important source of revenue', and recommended 'no further reduction'; that when Gandhi, by a peaceful anti-opium campaign in Assam had reduced the consumption of the drug there by one-half, the Government put a stop to his labours and gaoled fourty-four of his aides."

[73] The Case for India (New York, 1930)
[74] Evidence regarding Burma is quoted by Dr. Sunderland (India in Bondage, p. 155) The evidence given here regarding the use of opium may be compared with that cited by Marx in Capital (Everyman edition, p 424). regarding its use in Britain in the nineteenth century.  He quotes medical evidence regarding the drugging of children with opiates in both industrial and agricultural areas.  The causes were the same in both countries.