Author Topic: Trade War!  (Read 984 times)

Jacob

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #45 on: April 07, 2018, 11:35:28 pm »
I believe in India British colonialism pretty much destroyed their artisan class.  There is no particular reason that a leader in a pre-industrial country can't invite business to come and extract natural resources.  That is essentially what the Saudis did.  While the Saudis have a pretty despotic government, that doesn't seem to be particularly related to the deal they made with Standard Oil.

I think you should bear in mind that the artisan class in Britain itself was largely destroyed in the 19th century. The destruction of the Indian textile industry was not a matter of efficient Indian mills being closed by imperialists.

As I understand it nor was it a matter of efficient British textile production outcompeting inefficient Indian craftsmen on a level economic playing field.

This is the first google hit on the subject (and I can't speak to the bias of the site), and it reflects what I understand to situation to have been:

Quote
The British generally wore clothes made up of either wool or leather even in summer. When Indian cotton clothes were introduced to them, they found it to be comfortable to wear in summer, it gained popularity among common people. Demand for Indian fabrics increased and this posed a threat to the traditional woolen industry. Due to this, an Act was passed in 1700 against the import of any of such fabric from India, Persia and China. All the goods seized in the process were to be confiscated, sold by auction or re-exported. But the consumers were not ready to give up use of imported cotton materials. Many pamphlets were published by representative of woolen industry to prevent consumers from buying those cotton goods. People wearing cotton clothes were attacked and even the houses with any of such cotton materials found were damaged. However this violence could not hold back the need of people to be clothed in something other than wool or leather. This tremendous violence and protest had to be addressed with new Act of prohibition. However this Act did not impose any ban on trading of cotton fabrics but they had to be kept in the warehouses and re-exported to other parts of the Europe. When the imports from India were restricted, imitators found a golden opportunity to make profit out of depressed demand of consumers. They started making low quality cloths in Britain itself and started selling these cloths in Britain.

Even then the British business houses were not satisfied. Therefore in 1721, British parliament passed much more comprehensive Act than the older one, according to which anybody found in possession of these fabrics had to bear penalty. After this British business houses had started thinking about making machines for this industry. The innovation of spinning mill took more than three decades i.e. In between 1733 to 1765 they actually created first weaving machine to use steel comb replacing the early wooden combs. Then eventually they created a lot of these machines with some or the other means of improvisation, and at the same time they imposed several taxes on Indian weavers to destroy indigenous textile businesses of India. Not only this, they restricted Indian textiles to enter into the European markets. This effectively destroyed the Indian textile industries and increased the revenue of British industries.

Imposition of taxes, banning of Indian textiles in other markets and physically abuse of Indian weavers by British caused the death of Indian small scale textile industries. As Indian industries declined, British started selling their textiles in Indian markets too. American civil war (1861-1865) caused cotton prices to rise and led Indian farmers to turn towards cultivation of raw cotton.

Source: http://indiafacts.org/british-destroyed-indian-textile-industry/

In other words, the Brits took steps to destroy the Indian textile industry before they had a competitive industry themselves.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 11:38:50 pm by Jacob »
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Jacob

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #46 on: April 08, 2018, 12:02:32 am »
Here is kind of a though experiment of what I am trying to illustrate.

...

Change is disruptive, but the alternative is a lot worse.

I think that's a reasonable argument to put forward.

So looking at your squares, you are essentially saying that:

- If for any given square the sum total of all the numbers in the square is higher with Imperialism in play, independently of how they're distributed; and
- If in the long run the number in any given position on the square is higher than it would have been absent Imperialism,

Then Imperialism is a net good, even though there are times where the number in any given location is lower than it would be absent Imperialism. That's your argument, right?

I think the argument of the people who say Imperialism is inefficient is saying that the sum total of all the numbers on the square is in fact not higher due to Imperialism, but lower due to the destruction of value from the Imperial policing efforts; and that there are numerous locations and populations where the value of the number has stayed lower than it otherwise would have been for a long period of time due to the depredations of Imperialists.

If I understand you correctly, I agree that if you can find a way to accurately measure the numbers on your squares and a way to reasonably estimate what they would be in the alternate scenarios then you could make a strong argument for or against the "net benefit of Imperialism." While I think some work has been done in that area, I don't know if it's comprehensive enough to draw such a conclusion either way.

Since I expect it'd be largely impractical to develop the number squares sufficiently on a global scale across time to sufficient accuracy it might be interesting to try to determine to what degree the benefits of innovation (social, economic, technological, medical, and whatever other categories you deem important to measure) spread to new territories with or without Imperialism involved. Secondly, it'd be interesting to try to quantify to what degree the economic gains extracted by Imperialist powers spurred additional creation of benefits that since spread from there, and set that against the deficits in creation of benefits incurred in the colonized territories. I'd expect even doing that as specific examples (rather than trying to populate the global square) would be a very in depth undertaking.

It's an interesting thought experiment.
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dps

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #47 on: April 08, 2018, 12:06:55 am »
Heck it pretty much supplied finished goods to the American South for example.

The antebellum South is a real interesting case study, in that in economic terms it pretty much was a colony.  But it got there essentially by choice, and politically it wasn't a colony, so it didn't have the political repression typically found in colonies--it you were white, anyway.  It clearly shows a downside to having a "colonial" economy--once the ACW forced the British (and to a lesser extent, the French) find alternative sources of raw cotton, the Southern economy went into long-term collapse.   

Valmy

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #48 on: April 08, 2018, 02:18:18 am »
Heck it pretty much supplied finished goods to the American South for example.

The antebellum South is a real interesting case study, in that in economic terms it pretty much was a colony.  But it got there essentially by choice, and politically it wasn't a colony, so it didn't have the political repression typically found in colonies--it you were white, anyway.  It clearly shows a downside to having a "colonial" economy--once the ACW forced the British (and to a lesser extent, the French) find alternative sources of raw cotton, the Southern economy went into long-term collapse.   

True but the British also took out lots of weavers and artisans in South America and Europe as well.

Quote
In other words, the Brits took steps to destroy the Indian textile industry before they had a competitive industry themselves.

Yeah they had similar laws in all their colonies. That is mercantilism for you.

However I will point out that at those dates listed British control of the subcontinent was far from complete.
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Richard Hakluyt

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #49 on: April 08, 2018, 03:12:27 am »
Valmy has largely answered for me. The mercantilist positions mentioned by Jacob preceded physical control of India (significant direct control started around 1757 iirc, with the seizure of Bengal).

It is certainly true that Britain started with mercantilism and trade protection and then switched to free trade once a lead had been built up; one could say that was very hypocritical of them.

Here is an Indian nationalist backing up my point about physical control :

https://nationalinterest.in/the-myth-of-200-years-of-british-rule-in-india-db74e183f5fb

It can be very difficult to get quick info on the British in India; apologists on both sides muddy the waters and much of the history is highly contentious. I keep on intending to study it properly but fail to find the time.

Richard Hakluyt

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #50 on: April 08, 2018, 03:25:08 am »
This wiki article seems ok for the basic timeline of the expansion of political control.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_rule_in_India

To me the Raj seems to have been a far more ephemeral event than generally thought. Complete dominance was really only established after 1857; within 50 years of that the whole basis of the Raj was being questioned by Indian nationalists. I suppose we are still quite near to it in time and it it is an interesting and unlikely story.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2018, 04:02:34 am by Richard Hakluyt »

Monoriu

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #51 on: April 08, 2018, 03:45:59 am »
Imperialism worked for the elites in the imperial powers.  They weren't paying the cost of colonial rule, but were reaping the benefits.  It worked much less well for the masses in the imperial power, was about neutral for the elites in the colony, and sucked big time for the masses in the colony.  Of those four groups, only the imperial elites had much power to affect policy.

Well, the colonial masses on the right didn't seem too unhappy about meeting the head of the imperial elite in person  ;)


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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #52 on: April 08, 2018, 05:25:29 am »
Of course, there are many horrific counter examples as well. 

:yes:

Mono comes to mind.
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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #53 on: April 08, 2018, 06:15:57 am »
You think he's too British?  :hmm:
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grumbler

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #54 on: April 08, 2018, 10:04:04 am »
Source: http://indiafacts.org/british-destroyed-indian-textile-industry/

In other words, the Brits took steps to destroy the Indian textile industry before they had a competitive industry themselves.

Your article conflates protectionism and mercantilism.  Protectionism is about stopping own country trade in order to protect domestic markets.  Mercantilism is about expanding home country trade by controlling the prices at both ends of the trading relationship.  Every country does the former at various times; only an imperial power can do the latter.  What you posted was sloppy history that seemed to have an ideological bent.  I'd not rely on that source to be authoritative about anything.
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Jacob

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #55 on: April 08, 2018, 10:47:39 am »
Valmy has largely answered for me. The mercantilist positions mentioned by Jacob preceded physical control of India (significant direct control started around 1757 iirc, with the seizure of Bengal).

It is certainly true that Britain started with mercantilism and trade protection and then switched to free trade once a lead had been built up; one could say that was very hypocritical of them.

Here is an Indian nationalist backing up my point about physical control :

https://nationalinterest.in/the-myth-of-200-years-of-british-rule-in-india-db74e183f5fb

It can be very difficult to get quick info on the British in India; apologists on both sides muddy the waters and much of the history is highly contentious. I keep on intending to study it properly but fail to find the time.

Yeah fair enough.
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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #56 on: April 08, 2018, 10:48:38 am »
Here is kind of a though experiment of what I am trying to illustrate.

...

Change is disruptive, but the alternative is a lot worse.

I think that's a reasonable argument to put forward.

So looking at your squares, you are essentially saying that:

- If for any given square the sum total of all the numbers in the square is higher with Imperialism in play, independently of how they're distributed; and
- If in the long run the number in any given position on the square is higher than it would have been absent Imperialism,

Then Imperialism is a net good, even though there are times where the number in any given location is lower than it would be absent Imperialism. That's your argument, right?

I think the argument of the people who say Imperialism is inefficient is saying that the sum total of all the numbers on the square is in fact not higher due to Imperialism, but lower due to the destruction of value from the Imperial policing efforts; and that there are numerous locations and populations where the value of the number has stayed lower than it otherwise would have been for a long period of time due to the depredations of Imperialists.

If I understand you correctly, I agree that if you can find a way to accurately measure the numbers on your squares and a way to reasonably estimate what they would be in the alternate scenarios then you could make a strong argument for or against the "net benefit of Imperialism." While I think some work has been done in that area, I don't know if it's comprehensive enough to draw such a conclusion either way.

Since I expect it'd be largely impractical to develop the number squares sufficiently on a global scale across time to sufficient accuracy it might be interesting to try to determine to what degree the benefits of innovation (social, economic, technological, medical, and whatever other categories you deem important to measure) spread to new territories with or without Imperialism involved. Secondly, it'd be interesting to try to quantify to what degree the economic gains extracted by Imperialist powers spurred additional creation of benefits that since spread from there, and set that against the deficits in creation of benefits incurred in the colonized territories. I'd expect even doing that as specific examples (rather than trying to populate the global square) would be a very in depth undertaking.

It's an interesting thought experiment.

Jake, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Not much for me to argue with really, except that I don't think I am arguing that Imperialism is a "net good" or not.

More that during the imperialist phase of history, imperialism was the means by which these advances spread. It's not about it being good or bad, I think it is more inevitable. Like dropping a drop of food coloring into a pool of water - it is going to spread no matter what you do. Or colonialism, for that matter.

That doesn't give everyone a moral pass of course. It can be done in the specifics, better or worse. But I doubt you could avoid it altogether.

But I think your basic point is correct that my numbers are made up, it could be much much worse (or even much better). It is almost impossible to really say.
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Jacob

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #57 on: April 08, 2018, 10:49:16 am »
Your article conflates protectionism and mercantilism.  Protectionism is about stopping own country trade in order to protect domestic markets.  Mercantilism is about expanding home country trade by controlling the prices at both ends of the trading relationship.  Every country does the former at various times; only an imperial power can do the latter.  What you posted was sloppy history that seemed to have an ideological bent.  I'd not rely on that source to be authoritative about anything.

As I said to RH - fair enough.
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Jacob

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Re: Trade War!
« Reply #58 on: April 08, 2018, 10:55:04 am »
Jake, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Not much for me to argue with really, except that I don't think I am arguing that Imperialism is a "net good" or not.

More that during the imperialist phase of history, imperialism was the means by which these advances spread. It's not about it being good or bad, I think it is more inevitable. Like dropping a drop of food coloring into a pool of water - it is going to spread no matter what you do. Or colonialism, for that matter.

That doesn't give everyone a moral pass of course. It can be done in the specifics, better or worse. But I doubt you could avoid it altogether.

But I think your basic point is correct that my numbers are made up, it could be much much worse (or even much better). It is almost impossible to really say.

Yeah I concur. I think that for a historian it would be an interesting - if challenging - area to study and attempt to quantify. Though one of the risks is that your work would be seized by ideologues and used out of context to advance their politics... though I suppose that a generally a risk for historians.
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