The profiteers of division
As nations progressed into the third age of supranational power, merchants who were formerly privileged servants to the aristocracy began to marry and socialize with aristocrats, giving new political power to the merchant class. Merchants had been holding the purse strings for the nobility for some time, but suddenly there was a path of social mobility from a ruthless commoner to the nobility, an idea which has intrigued social climbers and romance novelists ever since.
Banks and factories were established for trade speculation, not to feed the populations which had never needed either. Instead of just selling an artisan’s goods, the merchants used their new wealth to lock artisans in factories and extract ever more goods from them. Monumental architecture was now built not for trappings of civilization, royal palaces or edifices of state or religion, but as symbols of merchant power. Lawyers became more prosperous than ever, writing the new laws to transfer all imperial authority to trade and commerce. The new merchant politicians convinced the public that the new laws were freedom from imperial control and a path to equality with the aristocracy, which, for the merchants, they were. Stratification of society and all the intellectual prose required to justify it allowed slaves, indentured servants and waged labour to be owned by the merchant class, even as political rhetoric preached equality and human rights. Any law benefiting trade was said to benefit society and any law restricting trade was said to harm society. Discussion of society was restricted to only one strata of men as trade economy became synonymous with governance and merchants became synonymous with the people.
The abstract power of the trade economy, not military might, allowed Europe to finally conquer the Ottoman Empire. The Crimean War placed the Ottoman State in debt to European banks. When it declared bankruptcy in 1875, its economy was placed under control of a European council headed by France and Britain who ensured their trade ambitions finally prevailed[cite]. During World War I, Britain, France, and Russia planned the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire with the Sykes–Picot Agreement[cite]. Under the initial agreement and subsequent treaties and agreements, France and the UK established trade dominance in the Middle East for themselves and their allies. Part of the propaganda from the self-described Islamic State today is that they will remove the effects of these agreements and reestablish an Islamic caliphate throughout the region, fulfilling the prophesy in a hadith in Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal which predicted a caliphate would fall and be succeeded by corrupt tyrants which would eventually be succeeded again by return to a caliphate.
It takes no imagination to understand how unpopular it would be to the still very much in existence trade empires established after World War I if a caliphate were to rise in this region again and engage in preferential trade within the caliphate. The reaction of the world to the human rights horrors committed by cartels and militias everywhere else is almost non-existent, but ISIS is a constant fixture in western media. Besides the Islamic State group, Boko Haram have threatened to reestablish the Sokoto Caliphate in West Africa which would include Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and largest economy. The fact that the leaders of neither Boko Haram nor the Islamic State seem to have even rudimentary knowledge of Islam shows how religion is still being used on both sides to motivate support for a very irreligious trade war. China and Russia have no claims to a religious goal but are as engaged as ever in conflicts over the old silk road and all the other trade routes. Secularism has done nothing to promote peace on trade routes where the real religion is the trade economy.
In the 16th century, banks funded trading companies regardless of nationality and those trading companies brought their goods to every part of the world, not just their own. In 1600, the British East India Company was formed and rapidly rose to control half the world’s trade[cite]. The Company’s board of directors ruled India for one century, supervising both government and military according to the wishes of its shareholders, until it was replaced by the British colonial government in 1858. The merchant class of the 16th century had become the first supranational class, above government and not bound by any laws created by governments.
From 1773 until 1860, the British East India Company smuggled opium illegally into China. Despite two wars fought over the trade, China was unsuccessful in stopping the smuggling until they legalized production at home in 1860[cite]. The trade economy’s claims to enrich the societies it engaged were no more real at its beginning than they are now that fentanyl dealers in China are returning the favour with unstoppable postal shipments to the outside[cite]. International traders not bound by the laws of those they trade with has always been a staple of the trade economy and a primary source of its wealth.
In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was established and became the world’s largest company during the 17th century[cite]. It was given near governmental powers, including the ability to establish its own colonies and armies, wage war and negotiate treaties. It printed its own currency and had its own judiciary, prisons and executions which the Dutch government recognized as legal. Under the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch empire was run with profitability for shareholders as its sole goal. Subsistence crops were replaced by crops with maximum profitability to the point that repeated famines devastated the local populations under Company control. The indigenous populations were replaced by slave populations from India, Southeast Asia and East Africa. The trade goods and the majority of profits were removed to enrich the Netherlands. In 1800, the company went bankrupt and the area it controlled was nationalized under the Dutch government as the Dutch East Indies until the people there gained independence after World War II.
With independence, Indonesians had control of their own government but the dependence on trade and the merchant pillage remained. Indonesia is a member of the G-20 forum and it now has the world’s eighth largest economy by gross domestic product at purchasing power parity[cite] but its income disparity is one of the highest in Southeast Asia. The Indonesian government reported 28.2 million people living in “absolute poverty”[cite] in 2016, on an income around US$25 a month. Food price stability is still a major problem. The tyrants went home but the tyranny remained.
In 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company was formed in England and given a similar governing role. It claimed 15% of all land in North America, one and a half million square miles[cite], making it the world’s largest land owner at least in their own minds. The HBC also minted its own currency, the MB (Made Beaver), with a value based on a standard beaver pelt and paper money based on UK currency. The courts and legal system, operated by HBC managers, enforced the HBC trade monopoly. In 1867, the HBC chose to sell the land they claimed to the new Dominion of Canada.
There is very little difference between the former Hudson’s Bay Company and Canada. Both were primarily resource corporations. The stripes of the blankets the Hudson’s Bay traded to indigenous people are still as iconic a Canadian emblem as the maple leaf flag. The government of Canada and indigenous nations still negotiate at opposite sides of bargaining tables and court rooms.The beaver, the animal whose pelts the company was initially established to trade for, still appears on Canadian currency. The court systems under both were established primarily to enforce ownership and monopolies by the merchant and banking strata. Canada today has a structure of laws that is unequaled in the world at protecting resource corporations in their global pillage. It has been rewarded by 78%[cite] of the world’s resource corporations choosing to incorporate in Canada to take advantage of this protection. These resource corporations employ militias to force their pillage and destruction on people’s homes in 108 countries[cite]. Instead of appearing in court for their human rights and environmental violations, they conduct their own remedy frameworks[cite] and pay fines instead of receiving jail time.
As a state, Canada has the ability to lobby for resource corporations at international state organizations such as the UN and refuse to sign laws supporting free prior informed consent[cite]. As a state, Canada has embassies all over the world which it uses to strong arm weaker governments into intimidating and assassinating those who protest its resource corporations[cite]. The state has a pretty flag and nationalist sentiment and credibility the company could never have acquired. The people call themselves citizens, not employees, but there is no question that the government’s primary function is as an employer. The government is there to provide jobs, trade product internationally and protect industry. The Prime Minister in 2016 ignored the free prior informed consent of Canada’s own people and approved two oil pipelines widely opposed by the people who will be affected by the environmental damage from them. Canada’s interests are resource corporations interests. Within Canada, the government’s benefit to the public is to provide jobs by increasing corporate activity, not to protect the environment where everyone lives. The three major political parties traditionally represent nationalist corporations, free trade corporations and unions although it is impossible now to tell them apart.
The United Fruit Co (now Chiquita) chose a less direct path of corporate control. In the late 1800’s, a US business man built a railroad connecting Costa Rica’s capital to its Caribbean coast in exchange for a 99 year lease on the railroad and 800,000 acres of tax-free land.[cite] The company’s monopoly on land use rights and transportation by both rail and sea allowed him near complete control over the country’s economy and a near monopoly on employment in Central America that allowed him to treat employees almost as slaves. Their economy depended on producing one product for one corporation, leaving them no option to demand better terms from their one employer.
As United Fruit expanded, it did not bother governing the countries it occupied. It was enough to control them with bribes, lobbying and the threat of war. Puppet governments were put in place that would sign crippling trade agreements and destroy any autonomy which may have given them the ability to resist. The countries in Central America and the Caribbean under United Fruit were left with no autonomy and no control over their supposedly democratic governance since to vote in their best interests meant war with the United States. The might of the United States military supporting business owners from the US meant that any government which supported any benefit to its people was labeled communist and threatened or crushed. In 1954, United Fruit convinced the US governments under Truman and Eisenhower to oust the democratically elected Guatamala president with a coup for proposing agrarian reform and labour laws[cite]. Obedient politicians served the corporation that paid them, not the people.
Since multinational companies were created in the 1600’s, the people of the world have been living under state governments and the state governments have been controlled by a supranational merchant empire. It is a popular notion that the British empire died over the course of the last century, with almost all of its overseas holdings gaining independence, including the United States which is popularly considered to be the new power. The British empire did not die and the United States is not a new power. No one received independence from the supranational trade empire and anyone who attempts it will still be crushed today. North Korea’s Juche is seen as an affront to the world and they are regularly called a pariah state by United States media in apparent reference to their attempt at autonomy (since human rights abuses in trade partners do not provoke the same reaction). Most of the world, including North Korea, lives under the shadow of the supranational trade empire in the form of trade agreements, world banking and international law.
After World War II, the five main seats of the British empire became the five eyes and they are in every way one empire, even one state or nation. This is the special relationship the United States and the United Kingdom always referred to between themselves. The United States was never an empire because it appeared when the world had passed the second age of empire states. The five eyes states all answer to the same supranational power, they obey the same international trade laws and they have the same goals of maximum profit for their investors, as do the supposedly independent state satellites who are more numerous and more interdependent every year.
Every other European trade empire is also still intact. They have all just evolved past direct government control. Areva still plunders Françafrique to power France[cite]. West African dictators plunder their own states and launder the money through France[cite] just as dictators around the world plunder their own states and hide the profit in United States[cite] shell corporations or real estate in New York, London and Vancouver[cite]. The states which make up the so-called anti-imperialist alliance, the Non-Aligned Movement, are not in any way anti-imperialist either. The same corporate names are on the skyscrapers and in the government offices of Shanghai, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro and Mumbai. The same ugly corporate architecture, the same ugly corporate suits and the same bland, mass-produced products are on the streets of every city in the world.
State power has now been almost completely undermined by international corporate power. From international trade deals which override sovereignty and state judiciary to militaries owned by corporate mercenaries, the most important functions of states have been taken over by corporations. Corporations own nearly all of the world’s resources, including knowledge, and people work for the corporations, not the community or state. People are dependent on corporations for all of their societal needs which are now seldom provided by the community or state.
The wealthy are now wealthy for being wealthy. The former merchant classes have followed the old nobility of the second age in convincing the public to continue serving them for no reason except habit and the laws they wrote themselves. The third age supranational empire no longer belongs solely to the merchants but is attainable to any with the right connections. The imperial power is above states, which means power is just as attainable by stateless organizations such as militias, cartels or state intelligence as it is by merchants or states. As mercenary kingpin Erik Prince has said[cite], the US was founded by militias and as he proved, the militias do not owe allegiance to states but the other way around.
The third stage supranational empires are most often associated with Europe, but it is far too simplistic to depict Europe as the oppressor of the world or the creator of the trade economy based on one moment in history. Europe had the upper hand on their old rivals in the Middle East, China, Africa, and India briefly, but the others caught up again quickly and they were all joined by the merchant classes who had risen to the top of their regions in every part of the world. Those outside Europe were behind in, but no less part of, the oppression of indigenous resistance worldwide. The contemporary habit of ignoring both the present and the past to depict old empires like China, Russia, or Egypt as anti-imperialist is obfuscating propaganda. The recent faux communism practiced in China and Russia did not daunt the imperial ambitions of either state, even when they called it communist internationalism. At this point, all the old players are openly back in the same battle over the same trade routes they have been fighting over for two millennia as well as all the other resources on earth. Pretending otherwise has derailed resistance efforts since the beginning of the third age, as all efforts were spent attempting to replace bad guys (Europeans) with good guys (non-Europeans) while leaving the supranational trade empire intact. Puppet states which pledged allegiance to the trade empire were hailed as self-determination while any attempts to opt out of the trade empire were brutally crushed.
History as told by Europeans would like us to believe that Europeans were fully responsible for the conquest which established them in the seats of power but indigenous people worldwide were far more involved in choosing the trade empire than they are ever given credit for and the trade empire remained in power even where the Europeans did not. The so-called Spanish, English, French and Portuguese conquest of the Americas could never have happened without what their history euphemistically called Indian allies, alliances of nations who vastly outnumbered the Europeans in every case and overthrew the existing empires or rival nations with the help of a few Europeans and their guns.
The indigenous women history deplores as sex slaves who had no autonomy or initiative were sometimes powerful to the point that it would be more accurate to call the Europeans their concubines, or even more accurate to call it a partnership. Hernán Cortés and his little band of 1300 men[cite] would not have survived, much less conquered the Aztec alliance, without the connections and actions of La Malinche[cite] throughout their campaign and her ability to negotiate alliances with all of the indigenous nations which provided the hundreds of thousands of warriors who overthrew the Aztecs[cite]. The Incas failed to retake Cuzco during the siege of 1536, not because of the 190 Spanish soldiers[cite] present but because of the army of tens of thousands1 sent by the Inca kuraka, Contarhucho[cite] in response to a message from her daughter, the Inca princess, Quispe Sisa who was living with the Spanish ‘conquistador’ Francisco Pizarro. The combination of European bragging and photoshopping of all indigenous and female people out of history has given a very unrealistic view of the conquest of every nation on earth by the trade economy. It was not a few European men who conquered the world, it was an idea.
While no indigenous people, including those of Europe, chose the genocide and social ills that befell them after the trade empires moved in, and few chose oppressive foreign governance, the structure of the trade empire was both chosen and continued in use by enough of the population that it was impossible to overcome. Many first age tribes still resist, and within each tribe there were always individuals who never stopped resisting, but the appeal of the trade economy to certain members of each society is universal. Would all areas of earth have developed into third age dissociated empires without Europe? It is impossible to tell, but all areas on earth had trade empires and fully dissociated societies where everything is for sale are a logical conclusion of trade empires. It is not necessarily true that these trade empires would have emerged as the dominant second age form of society in all places, but once the third age merchant ponzi scheme was established it was an unstoppable vortex, destined to spread as ponzi schemes do until they collapse, upheld by the desperate and the greedy worldwide.
While the first age tribal nations were all contained under the domain of the current states, many still exist today living very much as they have for thousands of years, completely autonomously and without even any contact with those outside their nations. Of the second age trade empires, none survived. Within a few centuries, every region on earth was under the domain of one system of states under a supranational empire and the second age of nations no longer existed anywhere. Once the process of dissociation and acceptance of a trade economy began, the supranational empire won, in every case and against empires far more evolved and beneficial to the people. Without understanding how the supranational empire won, we can never evolve past it.
Excerpted from Autonomy, Diversity, Society. Citations will be transferred when I get a minute.