Friday, January 25, 2013

Guns and Money

Whatever fit of morality seized England in the abolition of the slave trade seems to have abated by the latter nineteenth century, as they rushed pell-mell into Africa. The powers of Europe (England, France, Austria, Prussia and Russia) agreed to divy Africa. In part this was Bismark's strategy of playing England vs. France, but Prussia grabbed a piece too, just to confuse the map a bit.

Once again, technology and money were the key players. As in India, private enterprise led the way, armed with credit and the new Maxim gun - an early machine gun. Cecil Rhodes found the Kimberly diamond mines a proper capitalist competition, with hundreds of small companies competing and driving down prices. Armed with Rothschild money, he and Lord Rothschild were able to buy up the lot and make serious money the old fashioned way, as the De Beers cartel. Rhodes used some of the profits to fund his overthrow of the Matebele and start his own country - Rhodesia.

Proof of the unsatirizability of the really nasty was the way Rhodes men adopted as their own this would be satirical hymn aimed at them:

Onward Chartered Soldiers, on to heathen lands, Prayer books in your pockets, rifles in your hands. Take the glorious tidings where trade can be done, Spread the peaceful gospel – with a Maxim gun.  

Tell the wretched natives, sinful are their hearts, Turn their heathen temples into spirit marts. And if to your teaching they will not succumb, Give them another sermon with the Maxim gun.  

When the Ten Commandments they quite understand, You their Chief must hocus, and annex their land; And if they misguided call you to account, Give them another sermon – with a Maxim from the Mount.

Ferguson, Niall (2008-03-17). Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power (p. 189). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.