16.6.2010   <<    27 May 2019   

Philosophy (EN)

The idea was so simple: Destroy China’s tea monopoly. Buy or beg or steal—in great secrecy—a ton of the seeds of the tea plant. Transport the seeds surreptitiously to India. There must be dozens of areas in which tea could flourish. Dozens. And in my lifetime plantations could be flourishing—growing our own teas, on our soil.

With our own tea, we’ll no longer need bullion or opium to pay for China teas. Profit on Indian tea sales will soon equal, double, triple the sale of opium, so that’s not a problem. We’ll grow the teas of the world and we’ll sell to the world. The Crown gains in fantastically increased tea revenues, for of course we will grow it cheaper and better and the price will be below China teas. British brains and all that! And we’ll gain in moral grandeur for ceasing opium trading. The cursed opium smugglers are put out of business, for without the lever of opium they serve no useful function, so we can outlaw opium. India gains hugely. China gains, for there’ll be no more opium smuggling, and she consumes her own teaanyway.

And you, William Longstaff—the only man who can implement such a plan—you will gain in monumental prestige. With modest luck, a dukedom offered by a grateful Parliament, for you and you alone will have solved the un-solvable.

But whom can I trust to get the tea seeds? And how to persuade the Chinese to sell them? Of course they’ll discern the consequences immediately. And whom to trust to transport the seeds safely? Can’t use one of the traders—they’d sabotage me at once if they had the slightest inkling! And how to get the Viceroy of India on your side now, so that he won’t steal the credit for the idea?

James Clavell, Tai-Pan, 1966

Who art thou, then?

Part of that Power, not understood,
Which always wills the Bad, and always works the Good.

What hidden sense in this enigma lies?

I am the Spirit that Denies!
And justly so: for all things, from the Void
Called forth, deserve to be destroyed:
’Twere better, then, were naught created.
Thus, all which you as Sin have rated,—
Destruction,—aught with Evil blent,—
That is my proper element.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust Part One , 1808

Behind every great fortune there is a crime (Balzac). It is proper capitalist philosophy when liberals believe they are doing good while they are robbing their neigbour. In their opinion egoism will foster the better parts of humanity and eliminate the less valuable. Germans know Mephistopheles the perfect liberal. Chinese were right when they saw westerners as foreign devils.