International Economic Development in the Modern Era: From Conquest and Colonialism to Empowerment and Inclusion.
It is a wonder of this world that we share, as it is a wonder of the lives that we live, that no matter how much we plan and visualize, there is no way that we can predict all that will happen in this world and in our lives.
I have been blessed to have visited many places on this planet--I was born in the United States. My education began in Japan. I have worked extensively in Europe, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Yet, on January 1st of 2018, I did not know, and could not have predicted, that I would be sharing the experience of this wonderful conference with the honored guests and hosts in attendance here in Pakistan. And for that I am thankful and most appreciative.
The topic of my presentation, International Economic Development in the Modern Era: From Conquest and Colonialism to Empowerment and Inclusion, is based on my appreciation of history and on my professional experience with the many contours and concepts of what is termed international business development. With your permission, I would like to begin with the historical aspects of my presentation.
It can be safely argued that, until the second half of the twentieth century, with but a few exceptions that will be noted shortly, international economic development was manifested in strategies that began with conquest that evolved into colonialism. From Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan--from Napoleon to Hitler--from the Mughal Emperor Akbar to Queen Elizabeth-from Shaka Zulu to Hannibal to Julius Caesar--international economic development was accomplished through conquest.
That all the great empires, ancient and not so ancient, have been based on conquest cannot be argued. I submit that viewing conquest, and its descendant--colonialism, have been the norm for international economic development until the beginning of the modern era--which, for the purposes of this presentation, I am designating as the years beginning in the second half of the twentieth century until the present. For, while there are numerous historical accounts of trading alliances between countries, all too often these alliances degenerated into wars or were themselves the result of prior wars and incomplete attempts at conquest.
There can be little argument that the ancient model of international economic development based on conquest was the result of the desire to expand markets and to acquire resources to enhance the economy and national wealth of the nation that initiated the wars and consequent conquests. The destruction of the target nation, the decimation and enslavement of its people and the ancillary affect of eliminating the culture of that target nation were typically seen by conquering nations as the cost of doing business.
This model was the norm for much of recorded history, from Babylon to Assyria, from the Aztecs to the Greeks. And then, in the second half of the 16th century something remarkable and historically unique occurred. The ascendancy of European civilizations was coincident with the development of superior technology that was remarkably well-suited for conquest. This was combined with the unprecedented development of travel-related technology (particularly cartography and ship building).
As Dr. Jared Diamond points out in his groundbreaking book, Guns, Germs and Steel," his epic account of this planet-changing colonial explosion in world history, the European (and later the European-American) conquest of much of the planet was never due to any mythic racial or cultural superiority. Diamond points out that instead of this clearly rebuttable analysis, it was due to the concentration of certain already mentioned technological developments in Europe together with the unforeseen consequence of enhanced immune systems inherited from the survivors of the Great Plague in Europe, which in many instances enabled Europeans to conquer entire tribes and nations without firing a shot, while introducing germ warfare to the arsenal of human civilization.
The result was a perfect storm that elevated conquest to a global scale, much to the detriment of the non-Europeans who lived on most of the planet. In a period of less than four hundred years, European Americans conquered all of North America, South America, much of Asia, and all of Africa--and European Americans prospered in that conquest as no other people had in history.
Technological and scientific advances culminating in the Industrial Revolution, which literally changed the face of the globe and challenged ancient notions of sovereignty and the meaning of international business development, accompanied this unprecedented global conquest. What we now know is that European American conquest was a war waged upon all the non-European people of the world that enriched the conquerors beyond the wildest dreams of even their most rapacious ancestors.
What we now know is that the great wealth of the British Empire was firmly rooted in the Raj, in other words, rooted in the soil on which we now stand. What we now know is that there is no such entity called the United States of America and its great wealth without the genocide committed on the indigenous people of the North American continent, killing millions of the original residents of what is now New York to what is now California, while enslaving millions of Africans and decimating the African continent in the bargain.
What we now know is that the great wealth of Spain and Portugal was the result of the rapacious robbery of the existing Carib, Arawak, Taino, Aztec, Inca, and Mayan empires. This resulted in the shipping of literally tons of stolen gold and silver from South America and the Caribbean back to Lisbon and Madrid, leaving the bleached bones of these virtually forgotten peoples and their empires in their wake.
This presentation is intended to be an unflinching denunciation of European American conquest as a tool for international development. But it is also true that the era of European American conquest took this form of international business development to an unprecedented scale with implications that have affected the planet ever since and to this very day.
Taking this historical analysis to the next step, what happened to the waves of European American conquests, when there were no more opportunities for conquest? First, the internecine conflicts between European countries continued in Europe. Indeed, from 1600 until 1945, rarely did 30 years go by without two (and in many instances more than two) European countries going to war, culminating in the massive European American Asian slaughters of World War I and World War II.
Nevertheless, even during the Napoleonic Wars, and the American Civil War, and the various Prussian Wars, and Russian Wars, and Turkish Wars, European American international economic development by conquest continued without abatement until there were few lands left to conquer. And that is when things got really interesting.
Colonization has always been the spiritual descendant of conquest, and in the European American version, colonization has taken on two very basic and distinct forms. In both instances colonies were organized to do what colonies are supposed to do--produce goods/products that benefit the colonizing country and serve as a market for goods/products that benefit the colonizing country. But there was a divergence.
Many European American colonies have functioned on the basic colonial model with the indigenous people serving the dual role of producer and customer. Interestingly and ironically, even in the post-independence era, many former European American colonies continue to function in these roles, despite the establishment of what seemed to be hard won independence.
The second iteration of European American colonization has been based upon emigration and settlement. The United States is certainly Exhibit A in this discussion as the emigration of millions of Europeans to North America resulted in their becoming European adjuncts--Canada and the United States--even after independence (Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand can also be added to this discussion). And that adjunct status has had tremendous ramifications on the type of economic development that has taken place in those countries, as opposed to the economic evolutions that have taken place in the other countries in the post-colonial era.
What we know is that in those former European American colonies that relied heavily on European emigration, the post-colonial era has resulted in virtually autonomous economies that, while related to its European American roots, are most certainly independent in all material respects. It should be clear to all that this has not been the case in countries where European American emigration has not been an important historical/demographic factor.
There are many levers of power and influence in the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized, even in the post-colonial era. But in the modern era the overarching aspects regarding that relationship have to do with issues of race, color and culture. It can neither be an accident nor yet another illustration of mythic racial superiority that the most successful European American colonies have been those colonies that have the descendants of European Americans as the majority factors in the populations of these (post-colonial) countries.
While these differences are not the result of any kind of racial superiority, they are the result of racial and racist factors. And these factors are manifested in the limitation of market opportunities, reluctance to allow for access into the capital markets, and continued direct influence on the internal political processes of former colonies.
The end of World War II marked the end of the ancient version of European American colonialism all around the world. The cause of the demise of this model was not due to some emotional reconciliation and understanding of the rights and sovereignty of the colonized. Simply put, old-style colonialism was just too expensive for the post-war colonial powers. And while it may have seemed as if the rights and independence of the men, women and children of color in the far flung reaches of dying empires were finally recognized, it was the economic reality that became the final rationale and basis for the granting of independence.
Indeed, in the global context the post-colonial era has been marked by a neo-colonial iteration. There were new flags. There were new anthems. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, the Gold Coast became Ghana, and the British Raj became Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh.
But access to markets is as limited as ever. And access to capital markets must still go through a European American gateway, unless the Silk Road to China is followed--which still represents a path paved by neo-colonialist concepts. This neo-colonial relationship is presented as an example of how economic development can look in the 2tst century. But the reality is that modern neo-colonialism is just 19th century colonialism with a laptop and a cellphone.
For the modern era to be truly modern, international economic development will need to be truly free and truly fair. But replacing rhetoric with reality will require a different point of view on the part of both the former colonizers and the formerly colonized. I have purposely entitled the second half of my presentation "empowerment and inclusion" because it is only through these modalities that true economic development and actual sovereignty can manifest themselves.
To begin, the notions of economic development and sovereignty will need to evolve in the modern era. No nation truly stands alone in the international marketplace--notwithstanding the senseless and ignorant statements by the American president whose name will not be spoken. Indeed, such great economic powers like China, the United States, and the European Union have remained great through multiple economic alliances throughout the world.
The population of the European Union is a half a billion people. The population of the United States is 300 million people with the world s largest consumer economy. The population of China at 1.5 billion is larger than that of the United States and the European Union combined. And these three entities continue to search for ways to collaborate, cooperate and dominate throughout the global market place. And in that search, the non-White former colonies are rarely an indispensable component in the development of strategies.
And so, it must be clear that for the non-European American former colonies to be key participants in the inevitable global economy in which we all must live, there is a critical first step that must be taken. That first step entails collaboration and cooperation in the direction that should and must lead to full inclusion and empowerment within that global economy. I would submit that these steps are essential to the establishment of economic inclusion and empowerment for any and every former colony.
For reasons too numerous to recite during this presentation, there has not been sufficient collaboration and cooperation between countries that are the neo-colonial descendants of the post-colonial and colonial eras. Issues of sovereignty are always presented as considerations of great importance. But consider, for example, the fact that most of the national boundaries in Africa were established by Europeans at the Berlin Conference of 1884.
Those boundaries were literally drawn by a European ruler with a European ruler on a European piece of paper on a European table, with no reference to cultural or even geographic facts. So, the question arises as to whether European American boundaries in Africa or elsewhere should serve as the basis for sovereignty disputes, when the need for economic collaboration and cooperation is more important than at any point in the history of the world.
Without the achievement of critical mass in terms of capital, market share, and capital capacity through collaboration and cooperation, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the former colonies that are now in neo-colonial status to be able to demand and command full inclusion and empowerment in the global economic marketplace. The demands of tomorrow require a different kind of action today.
When I speak in terms of empowerment I am referring to internal and indigenous economic development. I live in a country billed as the wealthiest country in the history of the Planet Earth. It is true that the United States has the most billionaires and millionaires than any other country. The income disparities and the actual wealth disparities, however, are not necessarily seen by the rest of the world, but rest assured that they are there.
A country with income and wealth disparities can never be a just country. And a country with income and wealth disparities can only be the source for political and social unrest that can produce more inequality and more injustice--and once more I present the United States of America in 2018 in the Era of Trump as Exhibit A.
In the quest for economic empowerment and inclusion on the global scale, it will be important for every country that follows that strategy to take special care to make certain that inclusion and empowerment include the men and women of every participating country. It is a settled fact that the economic disenfranchisement of women is a major deterrence to comprehensive economic development on a global scale, as well as on a domestic level.
Those countries endeavoring to overcome the burdens of European American neocolonialism can hope to succeed; they will succeed, if they practice and implement the principles of inclusion and empowerment as a domestic policy and an international strategy.
There is nothing permanent about human affairs on this planet. The "greatest civilizations ever" are dusty memories in unread books in unvisited libraries. The European American hegemony in the marketplace of the world was not inevitable and it is certainly not eternal. It will be up to us, the sons and daughters of the enslaved, the colonized and neo-colonized, to decide our destiny. It will be up to each of us, my brothers and sisters, to determine what tomorrow will look like. That can only occur, if we remember yesterday and understand today.
In closing, for those who might think or suggest that what I propose is impossible, or at the very least, improbable, I ask you to look at what is already in your hands. You have vision. You have education. And we all live in a world where no one needs to be a stranger and where we can share in dreams and make them come true.
Tomorrow truly belongs to each one of us. We need only seize the time. Stay strong. Be great. And embrace the greatness that is already ours.
Caption: Wallace Ford at the Karachi Marriott Hotel in Pakistan.
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|Author:||Ford, Wallace; Ford, Wallace L., II|
|Publication:||Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2018|
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