Cynthia's Interests

The world as it unfolds - told from an African American woman's perspective...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Neo-Victorian America?

Stirling Newberry is by far becoming my favorite writer. His views have consistently given me an understanding of how "The West" thinks and how this society is perpetuated. I am hooked…

By Stirling Newberry


In 1776 Americans revolted, less against taxes than against what those taxes were designed to enforce: triangular trade. Americans were required to sell raw materials to England, and buy from the rest of the world from British monopoly companies. The Tea Tax sparked the Boston Tea Party, not because it increased the price of Tea, but because it blocked Americans from entering into the lucrative tea market.

In the end, Americans separated from England, politically and monetarily. The British system of triangular trade fell apart.

This "first era of globalization" expanded trade, but it also created misery in Britain, as wages raced down to parity with colonial wages, and it caused famines in Ireland and India, as the price of food raced upward to the price that the British were willing to pay for it. The Irish potato famine was one example: even as people starved, food continued to be sold to Great Britain. Famine is not caused by a shortage of food for people, but by the people having a shortage of money to buy the food they need.

As with the British before us, when triangular trade failed, we turned to hegemony, and the implementation of it came to have a name, "The Washington Consensus." This system used the dollar, and the access to oil that it brought, as a lever to open the capital markets and economies of developing nations. The profits from this would be used to keep the dollar as the gateway to a commodity which was both the gold and the coal of the new system: petroleum.

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