Posts Tagged ‘opium’

Karl Marx on the opium trade

June 7, 2011 1 comment
Faced with a labour crisis after slave revolts, Europe (specially England) needed alternatives for a new 'slavery' model. A fugitive theorist - Karl Marx. Capitalists and capitalist nations of Europe loved – especially the USA.. Click for bigger image.

Faced with a labour crisis after slave revolts, Europe (specially England) needed alternatives for a new 'slavery' model. A fugitive theorist - Karl Marx gave a model for 'slavery'. Capitalists and capitalist nations of Europe loved – especially the USA.. Click for bigger image.

Marx on the Opium trade

Some 150 years later, Karl Marx’s commentary on the opium trade remains relevant.

Much loved by the capitalists of his time, Karl Marx analyzed opium trade well.

Nurtured by the East India Company, vainly combated by the Central Government at Pekin, the opium trade gradually assumed larger proportions, until it absorbed about $2,500,000 in 1816. The throwing open in that year of the Indian commerce gave a new and powerful stimulus to the operations of the English contrabandists.

In 1820, the number of chests smuggled into China increased to 5,147; in 1821 to 7,000, and in 1824 to 12,639. Meanwhile, the Chinese Government, at the same time addressed threatening remonstrances to the foreign merchants, punished the Hong Kong merchants, (with) more stringent measures. The final result, like that in 1794, was to drive the opium depots from a precarious to a more convenient basis of operations.

The trade shifted hands, and passed to a lower class of men, prepared to carry it on at all hazards and by whatever means. Thanks to the greater facilities thus afforded, the opium trade increased during the ten years from 1824 to 1834 from 12,639 to 21,785 chests.

The year 1834 marks an epoch in opium trade. The East India Company lost its privilege of trading (and) had to discontinue and abstain from all commercial business whatever. It being thus transformed from a mercantile into a merely government establishment, the trade to China became completely thrown open to English private enterprise which pushed on with such vigour that, in 1837, 39,000 chests of opium, valued at $25,000,000, were successfully smuggled into China, despite the desperate resistance of the Celestial Government.

We cannot leave without singling one flagrant self-contradiction of the Christianity-canting and civilization-mongering British Government. In its imperial capacity it affects to be a thorough stranger to the contraband opium trade, and even to enter into treaties proscribing it.

Yet, in its Indian capacity, it forces the opium cultivation upon Bengal, to the great damage of the productive resources of that country; compels one part of the Indian ryots to engage in the poppy culture; entices another part into the same by dint of money advances; keeps the wholesale manufacture of the deleterious drug a close monopoly in its hands; watches by a whole army of official spies its growth, its delivery at appointed places, its inspissation and preparation for the taste of the Chinese consumers, its formation into packages especially adapted to the conveniency of smuggling, and finally its conveyance to Calcutta, where it is put up at auction at the Government sales, and made over by the State officers to the speculators, thence to pass into the hands of the contrabandists who land it in China.

The chest costing the British Government about 250 rupees is sold at the Calcutta auction mart at a price ranging from 1,210 to 1,600 rupees. But, not yet satisfied with this matter-of-fact complicity, the same Government, to this hour, enters into express profit and loss accounts with the merchants and shippers, who embark in the hazardous operation of poisoning an empire.

The Indian finances of the British Government have, in fact, been made to depend not only on the opium trade with China, but on the contraband character of that trade. Were the Chinese Government to legalize the opium trade simultaneously with tolerating the cultivation of the poppy in China, the Anglo-Indian exchequer would experience a serious catastrophe. While openly preaching free trade in poison. it secretly defends the monopoly of its manufacture. Whenever we look closely into the nature of British free trade, monopoly is pretty generally found to lie at the bottom of its “freedom.” (via Karl Marx in New York Daily Tribune Articles On China, 1853-1860 Free Trade and Monopoly; linking text in parentheses supplied; parts excised for brevity and relevance).

‘Opium financed British rule in India’

Elephants in the room. (from the Non Sequitur series of cartoons by Wiley Miller). Click for larger image.

Elephants in the room. (from the Non Sequitur series of cartoons by Wiley Miller). Click for larger image.

Under the British Raj, an enormous amount of opium was being exported out of India until the 1920s.

Before the British came, India was one of the world’s great economies. For 200 years India dwindled and dwindled into almost nothing.

Once I started researching into it, it was kind of inescapable – all the roads led back to opium.

I was looking into it as I began writing the book about five years ago. Like most Indians, I had very little idea about opium.

It is not a coincidence that 20 years after the opium trade stopped, the Raj more or less packed up its bags and left. India was not a paying proposition any longer. (via BBC NEWS | South Asia | ‘Opium financed British rule in India’).

Poor Indy Joe

Amitav Ghosh, a trained anthropologist and historian with a doctorate from Oxford University, did not know about the opium trade by the British Raj. The West has done a great job of hiding elephants in the room.

Does the average Indy Joe have a chance?

Birth of a new religion

But there is any layer to this problem. A new religion. It is called Westernization. ‘Modern’ Indians can be satisfied with perception and propaganda. Easier to digest, I presume.

At this rate, India will become another case of ‘forget-nothing-learn-nothing’. So enamored with the new religion of ‘Westernization’ are we, that no criticism will be accepted or tolerated.

Many ‘educated’ Indians have come to believe that the West is a friend of India – or has answers or solutions for India. Forget about India.

Does West have an answer to their own problems.

The misguided war on drugs – Deepak Lal

March 21, 2010 2 comments

The War on Drugs - Vested Interests

The War on Drugs - Vested Interests

The British empire had not merely tolerated but promoted the opium trade with China from its Indian base as a means to balance its large incipient trade imbalance with the Chinese. The opium wars in China in the 19th century were fought to protect this … trade, through the legalisation of the importation of opium by the treaty of Tientsin in 1858. By the beginning of the 20th century, 23.3 per cent of the male and 3.5 per cent of the female adult Chinese population were opium users, consuming between 85-95 per cent of the global opium supply.

… Having failed in its avowed aim of reducing drug consumption in the US and the UK, the supply-control measures have created a large global illegal economy where trafficking in illegal goods — from drugs to arms to humans — has led to a vast shadow global economy … the extent of international money laundering is estimated to be between 2-6 per cent of world GDP. The total global retail value of illicit drugs was estimated to be $322 billion, just over 4 per cent of global licit exports. In Afghanistan, the gross profits of Afghan opium traffickers were estimated in 2006 to be $2.3 billion — nearly 33 per cent of the country’s GDP. The net effect of these international supply-control measures is to create narco states, as in the coca-growing states of the Andes. The drug wars and the accompanying corruption to garner the massive illegal profits in this illicit trade are now reaching the borders of the US as Mexico’s democracy is being gradually undermined by the drug-lords. The US foreign policy goals are thus continually being undermined by its War on Drugs.

The proportion of chronic drug users in the world is small, as is the use of opiates (from 0.7 per cent in Europe to 0.4 per cent in the Americas, of their adult population). via (Deepak Lal: The misguided war on drugs).

New global order

This was an interesting post. While the Oil and Terror linkage is much talked about, the global footprint of the drug trade is overlooked. As controls on gold sparked a global crime wave, the war on drugs is sparking another crime wave – a wave of terror. When the West wanted they imposed Opium Trade in the name of open markets. When the West wanted they declared a war on drugs. Either way, someone else is paying.

Will the new world order address these issues?

Gold and drugs .. and India

The world pays for the US war on drugs!

The world pays for the US war on drugs!

The opening of the gold trade across the world during 1973-1993 (especially in India) damped down the power of the Indian Underworld. The other leg on which the Indian underworld stands, is drug trade.

Three things strike me as interesting: –

  1. All the major drugs in the world came of India – opium is afeem, khus-khus पोस्त; cannabis is charas, ganja, marijuana, hashish. Heroin is a derivative of opium. Even, as Indians are significant (legal) producers, they are not high on consumption lists. However, drugs never became a big problem in India. Unlike in China, or in Medieval Middle East (when drug crazed criminals called hashishis became assassins). All these drugs were introduced to the world by India – with records going back to 1000 BC. In modern times, Indian gold smuggling was funded by carriage and export of drugs.
  2. Most of the world’s drug production (based on opium and cannabis) still happens in India and neighbouring countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia. Yet, India is not a major consumer.
  3. Till the 80’s, these substances were available in India, through ‘licensed’ outlets.

On the other hand, the heavy-handed legal approach of criminalizing possession of drugs has yielded no results.

Hemp and Wootz

Al-biruni described the making of Wootz steel, (now called the Hyderabad process). How did the Wootz steel (famous Indian steel) makers obtain high temperatures without machine driven blowers? This has puzzled modern technologists. Hemp (cannabis) ropes were used to test steel blades made of Wootz. Wootz blades were tempered in hemp oil. Interestingly, chillum temperatures can reach 500-600 degrees centigrade with rapid and eager puffing.

Was hemp plant (cannabis) used to stoke Wootz steel furnaces?

%d bloggers like this: