Review for the World That Trade Created
In trade routes and otherwise greed led to violence. This was demonstrated through slavery, piracy, and control of ivory and opium. African slavery began from greed; Europeans needed labor to fuel their large trading productions and manufacturing of the traded goods.
Mesoamerican slavery and destruction was caused by the Spanish conquistadors in their infamous quest for gold, god, and glory. Through greed the conquistadors decimated an entire civilization to obtain their gold.
However the British and Dutch reaped many economic benefits of this perhaps even without knowledge of where their wealth had come from. Piracy, also fueled by greed, began as small bands, but eventually transformed into large companies of corporate raiders. The demanding trade of ivory and opium came from greed and addiction. They became key “luxury” items for wealthy Europeans, and it was the incentive for wars and violence. Pommeranz demonstrates throughout chapter five that greed led to violence.
Gold, God, and Glory powered everything in the beginning. The Spanish enslaved the Aztecs when they conquered them to help them with sugar production rates, increasing their profit. The Spanish also attempted to convert the Aztecs to Catholisism, and if they rebelled, they were forced into slavery in the name of God. Lastly, they were immensley proud because they managed to conquer the Aztecs, claiming the land as their own while also beginning the use of slavery.
Slavery was also pertinnent later in history when the Dutch, seeking revenge upon the Spanish while also being enticed by the wealth sugar trade brought, conquered a port in Brazil, controling the sugar trade. However, they did not have enough slaves to take advantage of the sugar, so although they opposed it at first, travelled to African ports and obtained slaves by exchanging luxury goods for human lives. Although the Portuguese regaiined control of the sugar production in Brazil, the Dutch still utilized the advantages of slavery in Africa and the exploitation of human lives that were not theirs to control.
Lastly, Robinson Crusoe eventually learned to abandon his ideas of self sufficiency and rejection of luxury, and entered into the slave trade, enticed by the wealth it would bring him. Before corporations, there were family ties. Blood was the medium that bound together the many companies of the time. One example of such a family company was Samuel Rosenfelder’s fur trading house. As Rosenfelder added to his company, he also prepared his son Max to take over the company in the future. Eventually, Max would continue passing the company to his three sons.
However, by the 1600s, there was an obvious advantage to using corporations to conduct business. Corporations were impersonal alliances that provided a logical and easy way to do business on a large—global—scale. The first corporations were anonymous with wide distributions of power and not really necessary until the railroad boom in the 1830s. However, these corporations gave birth to something useful at the time: corporate raiders. With the amount of sea trade that was happening, corporate raiders became the new pirates.
Made of refugees, criminals, runaways, and mercenaries, corporate raiders are referred to as “multinational, multiethnic, democratic bands of sea rovers. ” Although they had less dignity and were more violent than “traditional” pirates, corporate raiders were often favored in the eyes of the law, signifying government’s involvement in trade. After all, trade was a fruitful source of income. As the greed and available wealth grew, so did violence on the seas. The history of trade has taught us a lesson about greed, and the horrors it can lead to.
Greed for products often leads towards violence. Two outstanding examples of this were the result of Great Britain’s greed for Chinese Tea, and King Leopold’s desire to begin an ivory market. Hooked on the imported Chinese Tea, British people had little to offer in return. Struggling to find compensation for their needed beverage, the British discovered the advantages of trading opium for tea. Easily seducing the Chinese with a cheep alternative for compensation, their greed for tea only grew.
Becoming comfortable with their trading situation, the British were infuriated when the Chinese attempted to stop the Opium Trade. Finally resulting in battles between the British and Chinese, (know as the Opium Wars), the British were guaranteed their tea, and granted what they wanted, at the cost of violence. King Leopold II, the monarch of Belgium. Having a lack of colonies, King Leopold’s only hope for new territory would be in Africa. He began to show interest in Africa by becoming an advocate for illegal slave trade and other issues thus becoming popular among the African eople. Building roads, hospitals, and other infrastructure the African population began to acquire a strong trust for him. Starting his turn on Africa, King Leopold began to use African mercenaries in 1879 to control the Kongo. His reasons for this were to control much land in Africa and declare the seized land “his” property. Gaining wealth from the trading the abundant ivory, his greed for land and tusks only grew. Natives were eventually brutalized, ears and limbs were severed off of those that opposed him.
After leaving piles of dead elephants for the natives to discard, his soldiers sailed down the congo river shooting the Lunda, or Mongo for sport. King Leopold’s greed for wealth from ivory trade brought horrible violence to the people of Africa, and caused a decrease in the elephant population. Both the trade of tea, and ivory caused greed for those who desired it, and when the threat of a stop to the trade presented itself, violence was the only answer, today we can see the same pattern carrying out as it did hundreds of years ago, as greed for oil grows.