News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Good morning XXX: I spent this morning reading several articles written by Walden Bello, Robert Fisk, and Gwynne Dyer. I wasn't disappointed by what I found: historical inacurracies, the cultivated superficiality of buzzwords, glib rhetoric, and raging superiority complexes. Below is an absurdity care of Prof Bello's sweating worker's hands:
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"Capitalism constantly erodes man and woman's being-in-nature (creature) and being-in-society (citizen) and, even as it drains them of life energy as workers, it moulds their consciousness around one role: that of consumer. Capitalism has many "laws of motion," but one of the most destructive as far as the environment goes is Say's law, which is that supply creates its own demand. Capitalism is a demand-creating machine that transforms living nature into dead commodities, natural wealth into dead capital." - Walden Bello, McPlanet Conference, Berlin, 27-29 June 2003
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Capitalism drains life energy from workers? The reason I don't have to work long hours is because capitalism has created the efficiencies that enable me to earn NT$1000/hr. Look at Harry, he's making far more than me. How is our life energy being drained? Does Harry talk about shopping all the time? Neither do I. And I just attended the wedding of a friend (also an acquaintance of Harry's). His pants had holes and his sneakers were spray-painted black because he couldn't be bothered to go out and buy dress shoes. Doesn't sound like his consciousness has been molded around being a consumer either. My father prided himself upon winning athletic competitions while using the cheapest equipment he could find. The son of a coal miner, he's ... as far removed from the consumer mentality as myself or Harry. And what are the "dead commodities" that Professor Bello refers to? Is he referring to my dead computer? My dead motorcycle? My dead stereo? The dead restaurants that I enjoy? This is just more malarkey. More buzzwords. More meaningless poetry designed to impress people who prefer pretty sounds to plain sense.
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Prof Bello writes: "Capitalism has many "laws of motion," but one of the most destructive as far as the environment goes is Say's law..."
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Destruction of the environment is something that human beings have been engaging in for the last 50,000 years. The extinction of megafauna was virtually complete by 5000 years ago across all of the world, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa where human populations were kept low by the world's most lethal collection of indigenous parasites and disease. North America used to have elephants, horses, camels, giant sloths, sabertooth lions, giant cave bears (eight foot tall at the shoulder when walking on all fours) and other huge wildlife. All of it was killed off by the American Indians. So much for the baloney about indigenous civilizations living in harmony with nature. A large part of the Yucat√°n Peninsula has been turned into grassland because the indigenous Indian population constantly set the forest on fire to drive out game. The same is true of Australia where much of the grassland is man-made; produced deliberately by the Australian aborigines over thousands of years. Pre-capitalist humanity didn't need "dead commodities" or "consumer consciousness" to drive large parts of the global ecology into extinction.
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And animals and plants have been engaging in environmental destruction on their own long before humanity arrived on the scene. Plants poison each other by exuding toxins through their root systems, dispersing aerosol poisons through leaves, and so forth. They also compete for sunlight and water and regularly kill off competitors. Fig trees use their root systems and trunks to literally squeeze to death victim trees, just like pythons asphyxiating wild pigs. When you look at a mature forest what you're looking at is the last stage of serial plant species extermination with the victors/oppressors being the largest trees in the forest. Plants and animals have been driving each other into extinction naturally for the past 600 million years. 99.9 percent of our planet's species have gone extinct naturally. The average species lasts about 10 million years. There's nothing peculiarly human about species extinction or environmental destruction.
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Secondly, the degree of impact that the human population has had over the global ecology in recent millennia is primarily a product of population density growth. And only in the capitalist countries has population begun to decline. Poor people have as many children as they can because they hope that one of their kids will get rich and support them in their old age. People living in capitalist countries tend to amass sufficient wealth so they don't feel the need to raise huge families. This is probably the main factor in why birth rates are declining in the developed countries.
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I.e. capitalism has proven to be the only civilized cure (the uncivilized cures are war and poor public sanitation) for human overpopulation. But of course when human populations begin to decline, as they've done in some European countries and Japan (with the effect that wildlife populations are returning and such animals as wolves are reappearing in eastern Europe on their own), professional complainers start bellyaching that these countries are in danger because there aren't enough young people to support their social welfare systems.
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These people are in the business of whining. This is their profession. It's a huge industry and it pays the more literate and persuasive charlatan quite well. These people have little desire to cure the problems they moan about. If they cured them, they would be out of work. And, when push comes to shove, my feeling is that most of them are dollar-chasers and far hungrier for the dollar than most so-called capitalists.

Anyway, I'll make this my last letter for a while. I need to get back to my regular readings...

Have a good one,
I got the following from here:
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"Bello has campaigned for years for the withdrawal of US military bases in the Philippines, Okinawa and Korea, and has helped set up several regional coalitions dedicated to denuclearisation and demilitarisation, and a new kind of security plan based on meeting people's needs."
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If the US withdraws from the Pacific Rim, what happens to Taiwan? It will be invaded and Bello will moan about human rights infractions. But you and I know that moaning won't change anything and it won't save lives. What saves lives is the presence of US military bases in the region. Does Bello think that appeals to fairness and justice will end slavery and gulags in North Korea? Or does he think harsh language would stop PLA bullets and Hu Jintao from invading Taiwan? Will North Korea denuclearize or demilitarize without the threat of US force? Will China denuclearize or demilitarize under any circumstances?
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"After September 11 2001, he was a leading voice from the South urging the USA not to resort to military intervention - which he believed would exacerbate the problem - but to tackle the root causes of terrorism in poverty, inequality, injustice and oppression."
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Osama bin Laden is the son of a billionnaire. Osama himself has a personal worth of several hundred million US dollars. The nineteen men who carried out the airplane attacks in the United States were from middle-class Arab families (mostly from Egypt). As I understand it, September 11 was primarily motivated by a desire to expel kaffirs (i.e. unbelievers. i.e. United States troops) from the Arab holy land and the desire to revive the traditional Muslim caliphate (i.e. the traditional Muslim empire which encompassed everything from Austria down to Iraq down to Egypt over to Morrocco up to and including Spain). What do "poverty, inequality, injustice and oppression" have to do with a millionnaire and a bunch of middle-class professionals making a political statement by killing 3000 people in the NY World Trade Center? If memory serves, Osama bin Laden didn't mention Israel and Palestine in his explanation of the events leading up to September 11 either.
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Back to the Philippines for a moment. If the Philippines had joined the United States, instead of opting for independence back in 1946, it would now have a high standard of living comparable to Hawaii or Alaska. What's more important to Professor Bello? A high standard of living for the people as members of the federation of the United States? Or political independence, ethnic pride, and the pervasive poverty (and accompanying criminality) which reigns throughout the Philippines today? I think we both know which he would want. A socialist typically presumes people are too stupid to take care of themselves. They need help. A capitalist presumes people are more than smart enough. They don't need help. In other words, and this is my personal experience as well, socialists despise 'the people'. Capitalists respect them and take them seriously. How much intelligence does it take to run a grocery store or a breakfast hamburger stand? Look at how many dumb people succeed in business. This is the beauty of capitalism. Even a moron can succeed at it. Many do. So why does a smart guy like Prof. Bello pretend that people are so stupid that they can't buy and sell stuff for a nominal profit? This is one of the reasons why I don't trust people like him. He knows too much to really believe what he says.
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Also worth mentioning is this: "The ancestors of the Philippines' aboriginal inhabitants—the Negritos or Aeta—come from the Asian mainland, crossing shallow seas and land bridges. (Archaeological evidence suggests that the Philippines may have been inhabited many thousands of years before then, but that can't be stated with certainty. The oldest human fossil found so far is 22,000 years old.)" ( http://www.infoplease.com/spot/philippinestime1.html)
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Does Professor Bello favor giving the Philippines back to the black people who first discovered it? The Philippines were stolen from them by the present day Malay inhabitants. If he cares about fairness and justice, I presume he advocates repatriation of all people of Malay blood back to the Asian mainland. The black aborigines who live in the Philippine highlands today should be given back all of their ancestral homelands. I would be curious to hear what he had to say about this. Does this sound ridiculous? I hope so. But so does all of socialism... haha... Have fun, don't work too hard, and good luck...
When you write about elites, I hope you realize that you are in the process of joining the various global elites and that Walden Bello is already a member of them. For what is a member of this group but simply somebody who is a mover and shaker at the global level. Doing a Google search reveals that Professor Bello writes opinion pieces that appear in numerous magazines and websites and that he is a columnist for the Phillipine Daily Enquirer. The fact that his articles are hosted at Zmag.com alone ensures that he's at the very top of the left-wing media elite and hob-nobs with the best of them.

A letter of mine was published in www.atimes.com a couple of years back in which I drew attention to a left-wing columnist (Henry C.K. Liu) who complained about media elites. I said that surely he, himself, was a member of the media elite in excellent standing. After all, he was/is a columnist in a well-known magazine read globally. Further to this, he owns and operates a financial investment firm in New York City! It's always fun to see millionaires crying in their beer about how unfair the world is...

For what it's worth, Zmag.com is a watering hole for left-wing conspiracy theorists such as Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and Ward Churchill. Ward Churchill is a now famous ethnic impersonator (he's a make-believe Keetowah Cherokee; a band which has publicly disowned him saying he's not of Indian heritage; though he continues to tell audiences that he is an Indian. He looks and acts like a Celt to me.) He's also artist-fraud who's been exposed selling other people's art under his own name at ebay.com. He also faked his military service in Vietnam (he was an audio-video technician but told audiences for years that he was an assassin for the US Special Forces). His various shenanigans were exposed on national TV in the US last spring. Quite amusing stuff... You would think that the University of Colorado would have fired him from his professorship by now, but... nope. All they have done is take down his university webpage (though Google has a cache). As a professional con-artist he pulls in US$120,000 per year as a professor plus the US$5000~US$10,000 speaking fees he gets from each talk he gives on the lecture circuit. Crime pays.

Anyway, I've found several of Prof. Bello's articles and I'll give them a look-over and tell you what I think. There's plenty of his stuff here, for example:
http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/free/bello/

This url (http://tinyurl.com/bkgco) offers some interesting stuff on Prof. Bello. He is a former member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and claimed in February of 2005 to be on a CCP list scheduled potentially for assassination. The url contains the following:

""One thing to be clear on is that Walden Bello and his allies in Akbayan are NOT on any kind of a CPP "hit list." This is not the first time that Bello and other leftist critics of the CPP have aired these charges. In point of fact, two prominent ex-CPP leaders, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, have been killed by units of the New People's Army in recent years. Both had started collaborating with the Philippine armed forces (AFP). Kintanar was employed by the AFP as a "security consultant," ie. military intelligence agent. This has been widely reported in the mainstream Philippine press. The make it clear that they answer political attacks on them politically, and deal with work for the enemy differently. To be called a "counter-revolutionary" or a "psuedo-revolutionary" by the CPP is not a threat; it means that your political positions will be criticized. While Bello jets around the world claiming his life is being threatened, political assassinations ARE taking place in the Philippines. During the 2004 election campaign, over 40 workers for Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women's Party and other national democratic electoral parties were murdered by the AFP and paramilitaries. Bello has little or nothing to say here.""

Anyway, the above is just a webpage with someone's opinion. Perhaps you can ask him about being chased by blood-thirsty commies in the Philippines...
This is a long reply to your post. If you get sick of reading it and don't finish it, I won't hold it against you... haha...

You wrote: "Terminologies exist for certain reasons. For the sake of wider social movement, the propagnda will be more successful with much more general content and language."

This is true. But in my experience terminology is often used by people to impress others with bogus learning. Many people who have nothing to say will employ terminology for no other reason other than to sound important. VS Naipaul never uses clumsy terminology ( i.e. jargon) in his essays and George Orwell wrote a very famous essay (Politics and the English Language) devoted to nothing but a critique of people who misuse terminology. The anthropologist Marvin Harris overcame the problem of terminology by writing two versions of the same book: one book for the layman (with little or no jargon) and another book for his peers in the anthropology field (with the appropriate terminology).

You wrote: "However, the term "development" in the filed of sociology only refer to the "backwardness" in the third world countries after the Great Expansion, especially after WWII when many new stated were formed with the help from the formor colonials. As for your ancestors, their context was different from which Marxists have probed after the industrialization."

I've read that Marxists don't bring up the example of the Romans civilizing England because it's inconvenient. Marxists seem to want people to believe that there is something new and progressive about socialism. But the Roman Empire had a socialist government 2000 years ago which provided free education, free public entertainment, free public baths, subsidized food and subsidized water and subsidized transportation among other amenities. And, for that matter, socialism employs a moral scheme that is a throwback to the Neolithic Age (fairness, common ownership of property, conspiracy theories, etc. are Stone Age tribal mores).

Speaking of Marxists, Karl Marx appears to have been a serial con artist in both his public and private life. (Perhaps you can ask Harry to send you the Chinese edition of historian Paul Johnson's book, "Intellectuals".) When it comes to contemporary left-wing frauds who you may be familiar with, I'd recommend Edward Said who pretended to be a dispossessed Palestinian for 30 years. In the late 1990s he finally admitted the truth which was that he was a dispossessed Egyptian. The Israelis didn't steal his family's property, Nasser of Egypt did. But of course it was inconvenient to admit that an Arab leader harmed his Arab family so he pretended that the Jews ( i.e. the Israelis) did.

There are many, many frauds on both the left and the right wing of politics, of course. A prominent right-wing fraud was Mother Teresa, who pretended to set up hospitals for the poor. She was an old-fashioned Catholic who was devoted to insuring that people expiated original sin before they died. The only way to expiate original sin is to suffer in this life. Thus she established hospices, not hospitals, to make sure the poor suffered as much as possible (by denying them access to modern medical care) before they died.

I've been fooled by many of these people too and I've learned that it's always wise to ask impolite questions about the authors of the books I read.

You wrote: --Sun Yat-sen and the foreign imperialists had the same enemy - Chin Dynasty.--

Are you sure about that? The foreign imperialists saved the Ching Dynasty during the Taiping Revolution in the 1860s through sending in foreign advisers and a Scottish military commander nicknamed "Chinese Gordon". They didn't want the Ching dynasty harmed because they were afraid that China's economy would collapse and their special economic and diplomatic relationships would end. And the British Parliament did not want the Opium War. It was happy with its relationship with China. Prior to the Opium War, the British parliament sent two different envoys with specific instructions NOT to start a war with China. But the first envoy went ahead and deliberately tried to start a war anyway. The Dao Guang Emperor sent a new representative, Lin Tze-hsu, to settle the problem. He was told specifically not to cause trouble with the foreigners. Lin Tze-hsu instead confiscated more than 20,000 cases of opium from the merchants in Canton which provoked great animosity and led directly to war. It's worth keeping in mind that opium was legal in England and America all throughout the 19th century. There was no double standard when it came to the sale of opium.

You wrote: "In the case of Japan occupation, what was "greatly improved"? Was it the indigenous culture, the accelerated national wealth extraced wealth from coal and sugar, or the infrastructure Japanese built and left behind. I wonder whether my late grand uncle who were forced to fight in the Philippines for Japanese for 9 years would consider he and his family were "greatly improved". "

I would argue that by the time the Japanese arrived in Taiwan there was no "indigenous culture". Taiwan's first indigenous culture appeared during the Paleolithic era when Taiwan was likely settled by Negritos or Austronesians around or before 15,000 years ago. The original inhabitants of Taiwan (and the Philippines), to the best of my knowledge, were probably black people. Taiwan's first indigenous cultures (ex: Changbin, Dabenkeng, Yuanshan, and Shihsanhang cultures) were probably quashed by later generations of aboriginal invaders ( i.e. aboriginal martial and cultural imperialists) from the Philippines and southern China. I use the word imperialist because I presume that's how Marxists would view the process of a larger-scale hegemonic culture's destruction/assimilation of a minority culture. The next generation of martial and cultural imperialists would be the ethnic Chinese (Hakka, Min, etc.), Japanese, and other foreigners who came to Taiwan. I would argue that every person alive on this planet is a cultural imperialist or the descendent of a cultural imperialist because we're all the descendents of peoples who wiped out other peoples. So when Japanese forces arrived in Taiwan in 1895, the indigenous culture(s) were actually second or third or fourth or fifth generation hybrid cultures. With the arrival of the Japanese, another generation of hybridization took place. Was that a bad thing? I grew up in six countries and had three parents (including my stepmother, that is) which means I was hybridized by the cultures of six countries and three parents from Scotland, England, and America. Was I victimized? Am I traumatized? Is Harry culturally imperializing you or are you culturally colonizing him? Are Harry and I being victimized by Taiwan's indigenous culture? By asking these questions I'm trying to illustrate that much of socialism, and probably all of Marxism, is based on conspiracy theories, moral combats, and figurative sleights-of-hand.

You write: "national wealth extraced wealth from coal and sugar." I'm guessing that you mean the Japanese took something that didn't belong to them: i.e. Taiwanese resources. If I guessed your meaning incorrectly, please skip the next couple of paragraphs.

As I understand it, Marxists believe that wealth is extracted, particularly from colonies. In fact wealth is generated not extracted. Coal still lying underground and unprocessed sugarcane in the fields do not represent wealth because nothing has value until it can be sold. The only way to get and process coal and sugarcane was to pay local Taiwanese workers. Everybody benefited. And, besides, it was very hard for local people to generate wealth in Ching Dynasty Taiwan because of poor physical infrastructure, a virtual absence of commercial law, plus banditry, Hakka and Min blood vendettas, aboriginal raids, rampant official bribery and malfeasance, etc.
I have a book on my shelf describing how the Japanese government tried to monopolize the rice market and keep Taiwanese farmers out. The government failed because the farmers grew non-banned brands of rice and used loopholes (including the usual one of bribing customs officials) to get around the monopoly. Many Taiwanese farmers generated wealth selling contraband rice to Japan. Furthermore, as I understand it, the Japanese made Taiwan's coal and sugar much more valuable by introducing contract law, a stable currency, improved transportation, and enormously expanding markets through easy access to Japanese shipping interests.

You wrote: "I wonder whether my late grand uncle who were forced to fight in the Philippines for Japanese for 9 years would consider he and his family were "greatly improved"."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Japanese were only in the Philippines from 1941 to 1944/1945, so I don't think he fought there for nine years, but I understand your point. I can sympathize with your late grand uncle, but conscription is a fact of life in democratic countries as well. Taiwan still forces its young men to perform military service. How many children of the mainland Chinese in Taiwan would be happy to fight against Communist Chinese troops if war breaks out across the Taiwan Straits? Many Americans did not want to fight in the US Civil War but they were forced to do so. US troops were pushed into battle with one man holding a revolver behind every 12 troops holding rifles. If a man holding a rifle tried to flee he was shot dead on the spot. I'm not saying it's OK that your granduncle fought in a war that he did not agree with. If I had been conscripted I probably would not be happy fighting either.

But it should also be kept in mind that the KMT and the CCP forced millions of unwilling Chinese civilians to fight for them. Plus, as I understand it, the Japanese typically did not put Taiwanese or Korean troops in the front lines, but in less dangerous posts in the rear. Chinese troops, whether from Taiwan or China, were notoriously poor fighters. Many of Taiwan's aborigines identified heavily with the Japanese (as they shared common traditions of personal valor and loyalty) and were found to be aggressive fighters. Many willingly served as kamikaze pilots.

Fortunately, these days conscription is going out of fashion. One good thing about the war in Iraq is that no American is forced to fight against his or her will. Democratic countries favor professional armies these days and, hopefully, someday soon the government of Taiwan will not force Taiwanese citizens to fight in its army.

When I wrote about indigenous rulers killing their own people, you wrote: "Those who committed genocide and masscre did it for revenge and/or other personal and political reasons." This is true but you're not addressing the point I was making. My point is that indigenous people are not less violent than the people of developed countries. They're much, much more violent. Look at it this way: who is more likely to be violent when they're angry, a blue-collar person or a white collar person? Indigenous people are not usually well-educated and violence is something we associate with lack of education for good reason. As to examples of traditional violence: Taiwan's aborigines and their traditions of head-hunting and ancestor-communication (shooting arrows into live prisoners until they die and take their messages up to the ancestors); India's Hindu tradition of burning widows alive when the husband dies; the many American Indian traditions of ritual torture by Indian women, cannibalism, indigenous slavery, and so forth; Burmese aboriginal traditions of plantation slavery and celebrating the erection of a building by crushing a live slave to death under the first beam. My ancestors burned live male virgins in wicker cages to placate their gods. Europe's Christians during the Middle Ages were very brutal to one another as well. If you have time, I'd recommend you read up on the violence that takes place in hunter/gather tribes in the Amazon even today. Brazil has a state park for its aboriginal peoples which is as large as France and Belgium combined. By the middle of this year, aborigines had murdered more than 20 miners and even slaughtered their chief negotiator at an ATM machine. Nobody will be charged with these murders because under Brazilian law aborigines are not considered adults, but minors (wards of the state).

If you meet up with indigenous people today and they're not violent that's because they are the recipients of cultural imperialism. The only cultures that I'm aware of that aggressively stamped out slavery were the capitalist cultures of Western Europe and Japan. Japan, for example, stamped out slavery in Korea where between five and 10% of the national population had traditionally belonged to a slave caste. If the European nations and Japan didn't end slavery, it would still be all around us. America's first war overseas was with a Muslim empire in North African which had enslaved around one million British folk over the previous couple of centuries.
Concerning my comments on corporations you wrote: "This sounds a bit simplistic. The board is formed by major shareholders. Did the board of Eron and Disney please or use their investors? From where they generate the extra money and transfer it to the foreign bank account of their family?"

Corporate boards are not necessarily composed purely of major shareholders. Board members often consist of outside specialists or consultants. Enron didn't try to please its investors and that's a major reason why it went bankrupt. That Enron collapsed is simply more evidence that capitalism works. Enron was a dysfunctional company that specialized in monopolizing markets and squeezing its customers through unethical means. It's customers were not happy so it went bankrupt. That's what's supposed to happen.

I don't know much about Disney but I presume it does try to please its investors. For example, Disney refused to carry the Michael Moore film "Fahrenheit 9/11" because it does not want to offend its customers by dabbling in politics. This sounds to me like a company that cares about its customers and its investors.

As to business people cutting corners and trying to put more money in their pockets, some people do and some people don't. Just because some doctors are bad doesn't mean that most doctors are incompetent. Just because some politicians are crooked doesn't mean most politicians are crooked. (though I'd trust the average politician before I'd trust the average reporter, that's for sure. Karl Marx, by the way, like many crooked writers, started out as a reporter.) The fact of the matter is, and you can ask Harry about this because I've discussed this with him at length, is that the most important asset a company/corporation can have is a good reputation. A good reputation does not come from stealing or misrepresenting oneself. If you have a good reputation you gain repeat business. Otherwise you lose your original customers and you have to fight for new ones every time you want to make a sale. Any company doing this is not going to grow. Ask yourself this: when is the last time you went to McDonald's and ordered a hamburger and received a screwdriver, or a plastic doll, or something else that was entirely different from the product that you ordered? The fact of the matter is that McDonald's, like 99% of corporations, makes the bulk of its money through return business. It cannot afford to ignore its customers or its shareholders.

You wrote: "when talking about fairness between countries, especially between the first and third world, we need to look into what is happening."

The problem I have with this sentence is the word "fairness". Nothing in the world is fair. Nothing ever has been or ever will be fair. So fairness, to me anyway, is not a word that is useful for our debate.

You wrote: "American and European corp. of agricultural products want WTO to form a world market for their subsidied products to enter. This will wipe out the market for indigious farmers in Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and others."

I share your skepticism about subsidized farm products. But, as I understand it, the main reason America and Europe subsidize farm products is because both regions want to maintain economic self-sufficiency in case of war. During a war, countries need to be as self-sufficient as possible. WWII made that very clear to everyone when the Axis (Germany and the Japan Empire) and the Allies (the US and the British Empire) fought over oil in both the Middle East and Indonesia, and over access to nitrates in Argentina (used in gunpowder) and rubber (for tires, etc.) in Malaysia. That being the case, it is not likely that helping foreign farmers is going to trump national interest. So I doubt subsidies are going to end.

It's worth mentioning that the indigenous farmers of America and Europe have been wiped out as well. Less than 2% of Americans farm these days. The number used to be close to 100%. But is this a change for the worse? After all, markets and economies change just as national wealth and demographics change. The conditions which arose making farming profitable for the average person in the US no longer exist. That corporate farming squeezes out traditional farms may be unfair, but the sun rising only in the East is also unfair. Perhaps it would be more fair for the sun to also rise in the North, the South, and the West. But that's not going to happen. And the primal conditions which made it profitable for the average American to farm two hundred years ago are not likely to return. Likewise, farming is a doomed industry in Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Protecting it for reasons other than national defence interest is a waste of taxpayers' money. Steel manufacturing is a doomed industry in America. Logging is a doomed industry in Canada. I don't think either should be protected. Just like I don't think the translation industry for foreigners in Taiwan should be protected.

You wrote: "oil and arms Corp.'s assist their governments and planning their foreign policies."
Shouldn't oil and arms Corp.'s assist governments plan their foreign policies? In a democracy, everyone has a voice. Secondly, without oil, the United States economy would collapse. If oil companies don't assist the United States government the whole world will be in trouble again, just as it was during the Great Depression. And just think of what would happen to Taiwan if the United States government no longer listen to arms Corp.'s? China would invade Taiwan in a heartbeat once it realized how weak and misguided United States foreign policy was.

You wrote: "Big Pharma make lucrative profit via intelligent property rights. Yes, their investors are benefited, but how about the farmers and African children whose parents who can't afford to buy medicine."

Does Big Pharma actually make lucrative profits? Big Pharma often loses its shirt on research that goes awry. These days it costs more than US $500,000,000 to develop one effective drug. Most venture-capital pharma start-ups fail and go bankrupt. And if you don't have intellectual property right protection, no pharmaceutical company is going to invest money in developing drugs. It would be crazy to invest US $500,000,000 in developing an effective drug if there were no intellectual property right protections and anybody could copy the formula.

The problem is not Big Pharma. The problem is corrupt African governments that install state monopolies, reinstall tribalism, ban free speech, set up death squads, allow colonial-era infrastructure to collapse, close the law courts, institutionalize corruption, and end free trade. As I understand it, every famine since WWII has been deliberate. Every one. The cheapest way to exterminate your rivals in the Third World is to starve them out. That's what happened in Ethiopia and Somalia, etc... You cut off trade links and people start starving.

I read an article recently which mentioned that the average cost of buying an airplane ticket to Europe from an African nation costs six times the price of buying the same ticket in Europe. The article claimed this was due to pervasive state monopolies.

Again, I don't think the problem is Big Pharma (which, after all, is forced by the consumer to sell products at prices that people can afford. If people can't afford to buy their products, Big Pharma will necessarily go bankrupt. Only governments or subsidized companies can sell products at prices so high that they don't care if anybody can afford them. This is because they get their revenues from the national tax base). Poor African customers can't buy Big Pharma products because corrupt African governments keep African customers poor. The Catholic Church kept all of Europe poor for a thousand years by burning Roman libraries, closing Roman schools, shutting down women's and gay liberation, and killing people (and massacring entire civilizations such as the Albigenses) for having ideas of their own. It's the same problem in sub-Saharan Africa. Different actors, but the same traditional human tragedy.

Anyway, I know this is a very long letter. Sorry about that. And I don't pretend that my opinions are necessarily correct. I'm always happy to learn from others and have my bad ideas (of which there are many... haha...) corrected. That's why I take the time to write.
Take care,
Gents: I thought you might find the following interesting in some way...

Darryl posed the following question to me:

>>another thing: what's your evidence for a) opium cultivation and/or b) opium use 3000 years ago? i am very dubious. tea was not introduced until the period of disunion, some 1600 years ago. it's a tantalizing notion, but it sounds like bullshit. we don't know what half the plants are in the book of songs, 2600 years ago. all we know is it's a plant, because of the grass radical.<<>

Other opinions vary. Opium Regimes: China, Britain and Japan, 1839-1952 states, "Opium was not native to China. Textual evidence of opium in a Chinese pharmacopoeic manual of the eighth century suggests that Muslim traders were already carrying opium from West to East Asia."

www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/heroin/etc/history.html
"A.D. 400: Opium thebaicum, from the Egyptian fields at Thebes, is first introduced to China by Arab traders."

http://opiates.net/
"Fossil remains of poppy-seed cake and poppy-pods have been found in Neolithic Swiss lake-dwellings dating from over 4,000 years ago. Poppy images appear in Egyptian pictography and Roman sculpture. Representations of the Greek and Roman gods of sleep, Hypnos and Somnos, show them wearing or carrying poppies. Throughout Egyptian civilisation, priest-physicians promoted the household use of opium preparations. Such remedies were called "thebacium" after the highly potent poppies grown near the capital city of Thebes. Egyptian pharaohs were entombed with opium artefacts by their side. Opium could also readily be bought on the street-markets of Rome. By the eighth century AD, opium use had spread to Arabia, India and China. The Arabs both used opium and organised its trade. For the Prophet had prohibited the use of alcohol, not hashish or opiates."

My personal opinion (which is entirely different from claiming that 'opium was in China 3000 years', which implies I have sources to back the claim up) is that future research and archaelogy and so forth will determine that opium was indeed in China prior to the birth of Christ. How long prior I dare not speculate. However, archaelogy keeps pushing back in time the first arrival of civilization in its sundry forms. For example, I believe it's been demonstrated conclusively now that American Indians and Clovis Culture were predated by the arrival of what appear to be Polynesians. The skulls of these early birds keep turning up in both North and South America. Cannibalism in American Indians has now been demonstrated not just by the inference of midden heaps with human bones dismembered in a manner consistent with cannibalism but because Anastasi coprolites (fossil turds) have been analyzed and found to contain human muscle protein. A lot of these common-sense speculations have come to be verified.

I see little reason to expect that the same will not be the case for pushing back the dates for significant trade taking place between East and West. And part of that trade I expect will prove to be opium, given it's great popularity in early Europe and the Levant.

It's useful to recall that technology was so advanced in some quarters that the Austronesians were ocean-trekking as of at least 40,000 years ago. The Sumerians I believe claim that they were taught writing by an ocean-going people, so who knows how far back writing dates? With the end of the Ice Age, the relics of the most advanced riverine or delta cultures around the world (where one expects high civilization to appear) were plunged far underwater. Who knows how advanced they were? Iraq had towns (with walls, if memory serves) as far back as 11,000
years ago. Hard for me to imagine that regional trade wasn't already on the go and that folks in the ancient Fertile Crescent and elsewhere in Europe weren't already indulging in opiates. But how far back into pre-B.C. times opium use in China goes, I can't say.