Readdressing The Balance - George Monbiot #2

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Lucan Industries

Joined April 2007

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“Britain’s industrialisation was secured by destroying the manufacturing capacity of India. In 1699, the British government banned the import of cotton cloth from India. Forbidden because it was superior to our own. As the industrial revolution was built on the textiles industry, we could not have achieved our global economic dominance if we had let it in. Throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries, India was forced to supply raw materials to Britain’s manufacturers, but forbidden to produce competing finished products. We are rich because the Indians are poor.

Now the jobs we stole 200 years ago are returning to India.

There is a profound historical irony here. Indian workers can outcompete British workers today because Britain smashed their ability to compete in the past. Having destroyed India’s own industries, the East India Company and the colonial authorities obliged its people to speak our language, adopt our working practices and surrender their labour to multinational corporations. Workers in call centres in Germany and Holland are less vulnerable than ours, as Germany and Holland were less successful colonists, with the result that fewer people in the poor world now speak their languages.

The impact on British workers will be devastating. Service jobs of the kind now being exported were supposed to make up for the loss of employment in the manufacturing industries which disappeared overseas in the 1980s and 1990s.

For centuries, we have permitted ourselves to ignore the extent to which our welfare is dependent on the denial of other people’s. We begin to understand the implications of the system we have created only when it turns against ourselves."

George Monbiot

Everything balances out eventually. Read this book



Artwork Comments

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