The Civilizing Mission


"The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization."

K. Marx and F. Engels

From get go, this system was built On carnage. Once capital connected

With power, there was no turning Back. The galleons set sail, guns

Blazing at the ports, disembarking Death on the shores of America,

Barging into Mocha and Malacca, And making the return journey,

Decks piled with gold and silver, Hulls hoarding cloves and calicoes.

The ships went out again, winged Predators, to the ports of Africa

Harvesting her flesh and bones, African bodies to work a continent

Drained, depleted of native fauna. The ships still make the round, wide-

Bodied, steel-hulled, through air And water, carrying a new cargo

From ruined continents whose Human detritus live off body parts.

M. SHAHID ALAM teaches economics at Northeastern University. His recent book, Poverty from the Wealth of Nations, was published by Palgrave (2000). He may be reached at m.alam@neu.edu

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