This is a book by Chomsky that is probably even more scholarly than usual. At least in the way it is written. Chomsky wrote this book on the 500th anniversary in 1992 of the beginnings of the invasion of much of the world of what Adam Smith refered to, in a rather narrow context as "the savage injustice of the Europeans ("revealing himself to be an early practicioner of the crime of 'political correctness,'"Chomsky comments sardonically)". Chomsky begins his survey by analyzing the policies of the major European powers and the United States as they grew to dominate the world. Such policies., he explains, are not the free market doctrines stressed by right wing talk radio hosts, University of Chicago professors and other such bores and frauds but by massive state subsides, huge tarrifs to block foreign competitors, extreme violence and colonial occupation.
Places like India and Bengal (Bangladesh) which were highly advanced industrial societies by the mid-1700's but all of the industries which were superior to their counterparts in Britain were deliberately undermined or simply forced out of existence by the British colonisers. India and Bangladesh became extremely poor, feudal agricultural countries supplying Britain with raw materials and as a captive market for British goods. The latter is a familiar pattern outlined by Chomsky in this book. The West, since World war II, dominated by the U.S., has always sought any way it could to block advanced economic development in the third world. The exceptions to this that Chomsky points to are Japan and its former colonies in Asia who violated all the laws of the free market to create very dynamic, if, of course, very far from perfect economies. The British, noted Chomsky, started to adopt "free trade" as policy as the United States would do later under similar circumstances, around 1846 when they had no competitors in their field but this changed around 1930 when they, along with the Americans, French and Dutch erected high tarrif walls around Japanese exports to their colonies in Asia with which they could not compete, a major factor in staring Japan's wars of conquest.
He examines the U.S. role in the slaugter of half a million people in Indonesia in 1965 as the independent nationalist Sukarno was overthrown and "a staggering mass slaughter of communists and pro-communits." The U.S. media, rejoyced at the massacre of landless peasants and the destruction of the only mass-based political party the communist PKI. General Suharto took power initiating ongoing plunder and exploitaion of Indonesia's resources by Western corporations while engaging in mass murder in the U.S. backed occupation of East Timor and elsewhere. He examines the media reaction to this slaugter and the reaction back in 1990 when this great event was brought up again by Kathy Kadane.
He examines the showcases of capitalism in the third world like Brazil, whose liberal capitalist president Goulart was overthrown in 1964 with U.S. aid by a group of Neo-nazi generals who compiled over the next few decades a truly horrific human rights record but who were praised for producing an "economic miracle" as the population sunk into quite horrific levels of malnourishment and disease and land became ever more concentrated in fewer hands and millions of street children arose in the big cities. And Nicaragua where the massive terrorism, celebrated by the media liberals that Chomsky quotes, brought to force upon the Nicaraguan people a defeat of the Sandanistas in "democratic election" in 1990 (the 1984 election won by the Sandinstas dissapearing into the memory hole). This has predictably resulted in a terrible rise in starvation and disease and drug running and street children and on.
He continues with an in-depth examination of the woes of Haiti and the American and Western efforts to ravage it since 1804, and particularly since 1915 when the U.S. invaded and reestablished virtual slavery, with a U.S. imposed constitution ratified with five percent of the voting public participainting under the U.S. marine bayonets, reversing the ban on foreign ownership of land.
He compares the podering of the unique evil of Japan in being unable to fully face up to their past crimes and the comparable ignoring of things like the hundreds of thousand of tortured victims of U.S. chemical warfare in South Vietname, which occasionally elicits a comment in the science pages of the newspapers about how we are missing a great opportunity to study the effects of dioxin on a control population