Bridges and Trenches; Amitav Ghosh's essay
Amitav Ghosh's latest article: Bridges and Trenches. Some excerpts:
It is strange today to think that the fall of the Berlin Wall, fifteen years ago, was greeted as a vindication of 'capitalism' and the beginning of a new era of harmony in world history. Looking back today, it seems as if the the world's experience over this period could more accurately be read as proof of the view that unregulated capitalism leads inevitably to imperial wars and the expansion of empires.
Let us never forget that freedom, liberation and such like are words that have always flowed abundantly from the lips of conquerors. This is not to deny that empires and empire-builders often subscribe to noble ideals: it is only to point out that the processes of conquest, occupation and domination always create realities that become alibis for the permanent deferral of those professed ideals.
[T]he packaging of the Western economy as a model for the world is a thickly-disguised hoax: this isn’t because Western life is not rewarding or pleasurable. It is because the world would asphyxiate. It doesn't take much to see this, so we can be sure that the hucksters who are selling the package know that their version of capitalism+empire will result in a dual system: it may well be that the standards of living in India and China will improve substantially, but under the terms of this model, they can never be the same as those of 'the West'. In other words the future that is envisaged for the world by the current incarnation of Empire, is one that will ensure permanent inequality and division, conflict and war.
[T]he single brightest point of hope today is Europe itself, in its new incarnation as a Union and in its insistence on the necessarily slow, faltering methods of peace and negotiation. By turning the conversation away from the dangerously deceptive teleologies of the past centuries, Europe has shown the world what can be achieved by focusing not on ends, but on means. Only thus can the world hope to reclaim its common destiny, not just from the arms of the new advocates of imperialism, but also from the empires of appetite and desire that threaten to consume our planet.