How and when we came to be ruled by the giants is not important, because those who come to rule inevitably become giants themselves. The first giant company (a multinational business) to rule over a nation was the Honourable East India Company (HEIC). It was established in December of 1600 by the queen of England, Elizabeth I. HEIC (1600-1874) originally was established for trade purposes only, to expand trade between England and India. But later, HEIC began to take an active role in the political affairs of India as the Mogul power began to decline. India soon found itself under the occupation of the British and the HEIC.
The fact is that wealth not only captures the power, it also subjugates it. Hence, the big businesses could not resist manipulating the traditional centres of power. Traditionally power has resided in the hands of the monarchs and their ministers, but the creation of HEIC changed significantly the structures of power and its modus operandi. Something very peculiar happened with the creation of HEIC, and that is the power, and I mean the real power, shifted into the hands of the wealthy business elite. The aftermath of HEIC has been such that the big businesses (multi-nationals) aggressively began to influence and manipulate the foreign policies of the powerful Western nations in their favour. Big businesses and the interests of these multi-nationals became the major factors motivating the foreign policy of all of the Western nations.
The Western governments’ foreign policies thus became dominated by, as the cliché goes, ‘gunboat diplomacy’. In other words the governments became the pimps, doing the dirty work on behalf of these multinationals. And this collaboration has worked favourably thus far for the Western nations, and they have reaped great rewards, probably far beyond their expectations. But now the first economic stagnation of the 21st century combined with higher oil prices has changed everything. And the multi-national companies are forced to look for alternative solutions to their problems. As I have argued above, wealth attracts ‘power’, and for now the real power is in the hands of the Western dominated multi-national companies; but wealth is in the hands of the oil producing countries – namely the Arabs.
It is not surprising then to see that the Arabs, who were living in the dark ages only in the last century, are now actually preparing to dominate the 21st century and are salivating over the Western gems. The Qataris for example desire the take-over of Sainsbury’s, while a Dubai consortium wishes to own the Nasdaq. But the important question is when will the other more precious Western gems be up for grabs, such as Shell, Texaco, Chevron, IBM, Oracle, Boeings, Dow Jones and (not yet privatised) NASA? Will the Arabs of the Fertile Crescent with huge oil reserves wish to capture and subjugate ‘the real power’?
The Arabian Peninsula has suffered from a severe drought of creativity for centuries, a consequence of the lack of freedom there. But upheaval and revolution is anticipated that will eventually bring freedom and creativity into the region. Therefore, this rise to power by the Arabs should not be unexpected as the Fertile Crescent is after all the Fertile Crescent.
It is pretty clear that, as the West stares at a huge economic decline, the Arabs of the Fertile Crescent have their eyes focused on the Western gems – the giants who are dominating and ruling the world. It is obvious that the Arabs want to buy their way into the 21st century.
Image Source: “Columbia Encyclopaedia, 5th edition”