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We Created Your Borders

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the UK Labour Party. He gave this rousing speech which ended with a mention of the EU migrant crisis. Just as importantly, he covered the problem of general anguish and oppression which is the plight of so many throughout the world, and what could be done about it:

In addition to becoming leader of the labour party for one small country, it was as though for as much of the world that would listen and which he could manage to do something for, he had become a leader for them as well. Great stuff and I hope he achieves a lot. Here he is being endorsed by Julian Assange too.

It’s nice to have such a positive note about the future to start this three part series. The reason is because it’s about a past where borders and dictators ‘outside the wall’ were created by those ‘inside the wall’. To oppress, to control, to soften, to open up, to weaken, to disorganise, disrupt and terrorise these countries and people for the benefit of the fortunate few. What am I going on about though with this ‘wall’?

A couple of posts ago I wrote about Elysium and the EU migrant crisis. This made a point about migration using the movie Elysium and a couple of maps. One map showed that some are in a walled world hording 74% of the wealth, occupy the top 50 most livable cities, yet only comprise 14% of the world’s people. No wonder there are migrants trying to get in. We shouldn’t be surprised. In my post, ‘Elysium’ is cast as the ‘walled world’ on the map. In the movie, Elysium is an orbiting habitat/heaven for the elite. A point of the post is that there is no need for fiction though, it exists right now on Earth as a collection of privileged, well guarded countries. Maybe it’s hard to see or admit for those living inside the wall shown on the map. I’ve spent since 2011 living outside it in Cambodia and Kuwait. Through that I’m able to articulate the positive and negative reasons the walled world came into existence and persists. The positive ones are:

  1. secular education for all from K-12,
  2. science based medicine, and
  3. democracy

The negative ones are:

  1. During the colonial era:
    1. a system of slavery until about a hundred years ago, meaning it was cheap to build the nations ‘inside the wall’ (especially the USA) because labour costs were low
    2. confiscation of precious metals/artefacts,
    3. establishment of borders to suit colonists rather than as an expression of ethnic groupings
  2. ongoing extraction of natural resources for a cheap price,
  3. cheap labour ‘outside the wall’, making it possible to enjoy cheap products supporting our high standard of living ‘inside the wall’.

Let’s now talk a bit about these borders mentioned in point 1.3 above.

Borders

To illustrate item 1.3, above is a classic map in the history of screwing with ethnic groups by using arbitrary borders, the Sykes-Picot line across the bottom of Syria. Literally scrawled on by a pair of French and British statesmen, to change the lives of some hapless millions forever. For a proper, engaging treatment of this see Wait but Why. This is just one line, and one people though. How about a whole continent?

Africa Before and After Colonists

Credit MyContinent.co

Another great map of Africa before colonists is highlighted by Rachel StrohmAlkebu-lan by Nikolaj Cyon, similar to one about indigenous Australia before colonisation. The overall point about the three maps above of Africa is that the current map more closely matches the one during colonial times than the one before colonists came. Whilst it is a wonderful thing that these nations have been freed from their colonial oligarch overlords (map showing dates), the borders that they have been given by departing colonists unfortunately cause conflict, such as in the war leading to the creation of South Sudan. For further detail, see the below map animation and these remarks about the Murdock map of ethnic boundaries.

Thanks to How Africa.

Bonus animations:

  1. What the fantastic Geacron says about the colonisation of Africa,

http://geacron.com/map/atlas/embed.html?lang=en&w=500&h=500&z=3&x=19.335939612066&y=3.5945629440399&nd=0&d=1575A1883A1885A1887A1890A1893A1895A1925A1955A2015&tm=p&ly=yyyy

  1. All national borders ever created by humans in the past 5000 years,
  2. The same topic from a Chinese perspective (and better music),
  3. The same topic but in less than 5 minutes (also using Geacron), and
  4. This one is about the global spread of the major religions.

Labour and Resources

The preceding remarks were about item 1.3 above in the list of negative reasons why the region ‘inside the wall’ has come to dominate the world – borders established by colonists. I’ll repeat the list again for convenience:

  1. During the colonial era:
    1. a system of slavery until about a hundred years ago
    2. confiscation of precious metals/artefacts,
    3. establishment of borders to suit colonists rather than as an expression of ethnic groupings – such countries remain in a way colonised by this despite departure of the colonists themselves
  2. ongoing extraction of natural resources for a cheap price,
  3. cheap labour ‘outside the wall’

A major reason to engage in colonialism was resources:

Every country in the world by its largest valued export – Global Post.

An example combining item 1.1 and the last two items from this list is the Spanish colonists in Bolivia. Once they had established this border and given it this name, they used their position to extract a mountain of silver with local and African slave labour:

…while it’s almost completely unknown in Europe and the U.S., an estimated 8 million indigenous Bolivians and enslaved Africans died mining silver for Spain from the Bolivian mountain Cerro Rico — or as it’s known in Bolivia, “The Mountain That Eats Men.” Potosí, the city that grew up around Cerro Rico, is now extraordinarily polluted, and the mountain is still being mined, often by children. On the conquerors’ side of the ledger, Potosí was the source of tens of thousands of tons of silver, leading to the Spanish phrase vale un potosi — i.e., worth a fortune.

– The Intercept

The extraction of resources using cheap labour by colonial powers has not, however, stopped in modern times. A example is Germany, which once had Nazi colonies in Guatemala where they farmed coffee. A recent documentary about this was Kinderschinder – Der Preis für eine Tasse Kaffee (German). It shows how German coffee companies and consumers continue benefiting from cheap, child labour in this poor country:

A point of the documentary was that if children were able to get an education in the nearby school then the next generation would be lifted out of poverty. Instead, there is a perpetual cycle of destitute parents and children working for next to nothing. The rich, privileged white people shopping in clean, modern, hygienic Nescafe stores in Germany would be horrified to think that colonialism effectively continues.

If only marketing was regulated better such that this documentary were shown in the stores instead of their advertisements with George Clooney – so much for his wife with a career in human rights law. Drinking a cup of coffee whilst basking in the image of the world’s sexiest man is a totally different, and appallingly inaccurate, estimation of what one should be thinking given the truly desperate situation from which your precious but cheap coffee came. I have used Youtube Doubler to do battle with Nescafe marketing using this documentary, click the image below.

coffee culture fuck

Youtube Doubler – Child labour — The price of a cup of coffee vs. Camilla Belle Nespresso Commercial.

I think the effect is appropriately sickening.

Is it only borders, though, which have created and perpetuated this problem in Guatemala? The horrific state of affairs at the Cerro Rico mine in Bolivia? Do the colonists’ borders adequately account for all of the strife in the Middle East and the continent of Africa? Certainly it’s hard to govern, strengthen and progress a country and economy when its people are difficult to unite within a border that doesn’t suit them. Without society within these borders progressing, labour and natural resources will remain cheap in these places. Something is missing from this story though. Let’s now turn to another part of this ugly tale, the men paid by those inside the wall to assist with the subjugation that we started by creating your borders.

See the next post.

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4 comments on “We Created Your Borders

  1. cartobscura
    September 13, 2015

    Reblogged this on Cartobscura.

    Like

  2. Campbell Waters
    September 13, 2015

    Well I love your compassionate composition Wilfred , the maps say a lot , let’s hope he gets the support of a majority and then the public service get on board . It’s about time someone stood up to these lying barsteds . Dad

    Like

  3. Pingback: We Created Your Dictators | PLUMA BLOGS

  4. Pingback: The Western World is a Global Terrorist | PLUMA BLOGS

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This entry was posted on September 13, 2015 by in Commentary, Immigration, News and tagged .

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