“Trade cannot be maintained without war, nor war without trade.” ~ In this line, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the most ruthless and successful conqueror of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in the seventeenth century, has correctly identified the two pillars of Western success in the last 500 years. The two pillars are: warfare and trade.
Since the fifteenth century, Western trade and warfare have marched together. Without genocides, enslavements, rapes, mass murders, mass evictions, drug smuggling, and destruction of whole societies—orchestrated by the European powers—the West would not have raced ahead of all other civilizations. History of the West in the last 500 years is not just a fairytale of progress; it is also a tale of barbarity and violence.
The ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy are not the outcome of the Western philosophical tradition. Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, and Smith are not the fountainhead of Western success—ruthless imperialists like Jan Pieterszoon Coen are. Before Thomas Jefferson and other founders could announce their Declaration of Independence in 1776, the land of North America had to be conquered and tamed. Who did that? Answer: The conquistadors, enslavers, and imperialists.
In their book The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, David Graeber and David Wengrow have convincingly argued that the Europeans learned about the ideals of freedom, equality, and democracy from the colonies that they had conquered. Some of the colonies had a far better political, religious, and industrial culture than most places in Europe. The Industrial Revolution would not have happened in Britain in the eighteenth century if the British had not colonized a significant part of India.
The Age of Imperialism was over by 1950, but America continued to wage wars to preserve Western hegemony. By the 1960s, American troops were stationed in 64 countries. Between 1946 to 2015, the Americans used military force overseas more than 370 times. They were involved in coups to install puppet regimes in many countries. The American wars and coups were not for propagating democracy and free markets; they were for for cheap petroleum and for safeguarding trade interests.
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