The Rebel Road…

I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you’re only going to kill a man. – Ernesto Che Guevara

Clash of interests.

with 2 comments

It is said that no particular event in history is without significance. A truly Marxist perspective on it would view all events in history as based on historical and material factors – that one is part of the whole and both interpenetrate. The eventual creation and perpetuation of the conflict between the settlers and the mother country should, therefore, be viewed in its historical and material reality. It is for this purpose that before the conflict is defined in its entirety, the events and causes leading up to the conflict be identified and analysed.

It was in the 1400s that world exploration became a true phenomenon on its own. The early erroneous beliefs that the world was flat had been mostly dispelled by this time and, therefore, there was relatively adequate funding for the early explorers to continue their endeavours. It was due to the efforts of these explorers that the Americas were first ‘discovered’ in 1492. Later in that same decade, the Portuguese trips discovered India as well. But it was not until the 17th century that large scale colonisation came to be seen.

One might ask that if the Americas were discovered in the 15th century, why was there no appreciable move towards its colonisation until the 17th century? Why wait for two centuries before taking steps along those lines?

The answer is that up until that particular moment in time there was no real need for colonisation since the factors that sparked it had not become powerful among. The first and most basic reason is that the monarchy was becoming gradually weaker. This was both due to the emergence of new ideas that had rendered the monarchy obsolete and undesirable as a form of governance and due, in most part, to the personal character of the monarchs who had grown to become impotent and corrupt caring more for their personal whims than the legitimate needs of the masses.

Another reason was that the population sizes within the Western world had boomed over the last few decades. It is interesting to mention here that after the human-management fiasco of the Black Death, created by cramped spaces and improper sanitation, Western society had learnt its lesson and sanitation was given proper care. A relative increase in sanitation led to a certain amount of increase in the quality of life in that era, which resulted in a population increase. Since this population increase was going to result in the same conditions that led to the ‘Black Death’ in the first place, it was necessary to ‘dump’ the excess population somewhere else. The excess population consisted of the poor and destitute of society, as well as criminals. It is important to mention, however, that not all the people who went to the colonies were poor or criminals, and some middle class families also settled in the colonies because there they could live lavish lifestyles at the expense of the original owners of the land where these colonies were constructed.

The most important reason was the search for new markets. Western society had come to a stage where the efficiency of the production of commodities had been greatly increased. This meant that the artisans and workers who made any particular commodity had been put under one roof, so to speak. This was the basis of the creation of the ‘Factory Complex’ later on. Once this was done and commodities were being produced at an ever increasing speed, it was seen that the local consumption of those goods was waning. Indeed a person could only buy so much of a particular commodity before he had had enough. The creation of colonies can, therefore, be also viewed as the creation of external markets where the producers of these commodities could sell off their produce and in effect nullify the effects of a dwindling market at home.

Another reason in this same paradigm was the manner in which the colonies could provide cheap raw materials to the mother country. This was because the colonisers could use the locals as forced labour and in doing so cut down on the cost of the extraction of the raw materials immensely. It is, therefore, seen that the mother country was not just relying on the colonies for taxes and external markets, but also for the input of new and cheap raw materials to drive its economy.

The other very important result of this was the creation of a new class of person, i.e. the merchant. The merchant is basically a person who is involved exclusively in the trade of a commodity. He is not connected with the creation of the commodity in any manner, his purpose is the creation of profit that comes from the selling of the commodity.

At first glance this seems irrelevant; how could a mere merchant contribute to the eventual conflict between the colonies and the mother country? This, however, turns out not to be so irrelevant. The merchant became more and more powerful over the years and this shift in the balance of power is what brought about the end of the monarchy. With a more profit-seeking government apparatus in place, the taxation of the colonies increased.

It can be seen that with the mother country establishing colonies for the sole purpose of feeding itself and the colonies establishing themselves as new homelands for its members, who for whatever reason had fled their own countries, a natural and irresistible divergence of interests becomes evident. It is precisely this antagonistic drive of these two entities, i.e. the mother country and the colonies, which led to them following separate policies and their eventual clash.


2 Responses

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  1. interesting blog.


    October 5, 2007 at 2:29 am

  2. Thank you. I like to think so too. 🙂


    October 5, 2007 at 7:39 am

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