Colonizing, De-Colonizing, and Greed!

So this is how it works…’s all about money, and power. Aw shucks! I thought it was about what was good for people and their countries :(

In today’s  excerpt – in the 17th through the 19th centuries, an astonishing thing happened: the countries from the tiny continent of Europe took over almost the entire rest of the world and ran those lands as colonies. All of Africa save Ethiopia became colonies; all of the Americas, almost all of Asia (save China, which became a de facto colony after the opium wars). And while this was portrayed as an effort to lift up these savage countries (“the white man’s burden”), it retarded the natural development of leadership within these countries and instead became an opportunity for daring entrepreneurs like Cecil Rhodes to build fortunes.

The benefits to the European governments that did the colonizing was far less evident though, and the colonies became a financial burden, which led to the unraveling of the British, French and other empires in the aftermath of two world wars. However, the great mineral wealth of these countries was too much for the businesses and entrepreneurs to leave behind, so as these countries were being “de-colonized”, the sponsoring countries attempted to leave behind “friendly” leadership, even if the result was to continued to retard the development of organic leadership and democracy within those countries. Such was the case with the African nation of Gabon and the “Elf affair” which splashed across European headlines in the mid-1990s. One of the most fascinating aspects of this – which is relevant in understanding the selection of post-colonial dictators in numerous other countries – is that the French chose a dictator from a minority tribe to increase that dictator’s dependency on French support:

“The so-called Elf affair scandal began in 1994 when U.S.-based Fairchild Corp. opened a commer­cial dispute with a French industrialist, triggering a stock exchange inquiry.
Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens
by Nicholas Shaxson by Palgrave Macmillan
Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2011-04-12

If you wish to read further: Buy Now

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Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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Published in: on August 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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China’s “Great Leap Forward”….1958 to 1962

Holly crap batman! …..this is a totally sad story…. oh the humanity! For all those Conservative Republicans, who constantly tell us how great the 1950’s were, and how we all need to return to the values of that time!, …..I think you need to look at the “bigger” picture! :) It was not a great time for ALL PEOPLES on this big blue planet!

In today’s excerpt – during Chairman Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, which was an effort to use centralized Communist planning to vault China’s economy past those of the Western European powers, China endured one of the greatest tragedies in human history – the death of over 45 million people:

“Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up with and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. By unleashing China’s greatest asset, a labour force that was counted in the hundreds of millions, Mao thought that he could catapult his country past its competitors. Instead of following the Soviet model of development, which leaned heavily towards industry alone, China would ‘walk on two legs’: the peasant masses were mobilized to transform both agriculture and industry at the same time, converting a backward economy into a modern communist society of plenty for all.

“In the pursuit of a utopian paradise, everything was collectivized, as villagers were herded together in giant communes which heralded the advent of communism. People in the countryside were robbed of their work, their homes, their land, their belongings and their livelihood. Food, distributed by the spoonful in collective canteens according to merit, became a weapon to force people to follow the party’s every dictate. Irrigation campaigns forced up to half the villagers to work for weeks on end on giant water-conservancy projects, often far from home, without adequate food and rest. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives. …

“At least 45 million people died unnecessarily between 1958 and 1962. The term ‘famine’, or even ‘Great Famine’, is often used to describe these four to five years of the Maoist era, but the term fails to capture the many ways in which people died under radical collectivization.



Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Psychopath with Hysterical Symptoms = Adolf Hitler

“There was no medical reason for Hitler’s second blindness and Dr. Forster reinforced in his initial conclusion that his patient was definitely ‘a psychopath with hysterical symptoms.’ Hitler, however, was convinced he was permanently blind.”

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In today’s excerpt – in 1918, after one final military assault that fails, Germany is defeated. Young Adolf Hitler, blind after a mustard gas attack, and humiliated after the Fatherland’s defeat, vows to enter politics. His entry is part of a wave that carries Europe from royalty to revolution – sweeping aside those kings and emperors that had carried Europe into the unprecedented carnage of a pointless war:

“Throughout Europe royalty was clinging to hollow power. From the untitled masses were emerging men like Hitler who would come to wield the substance of power, men of common and often vulgar beginnings, riding the relentless wave of popular revolt against a war which had demanded sacrifices for goals no one could define.

“As the train took Hitler to a hospital in the Pomeranian town of Pasewalk, his own pain and despair obliterated any such aspiration, but after several weeks of medical treatment be began to regain his sight.
“Sight also brought Hitler hope and renewed interest in the events of the day. Berlin itself was in a state of virtual siege as the new Chancellor urged the Kaiser to abdicate so that an armistice could be signed.

“The shame of Germany’s surrender on November 11 in the forest of Compiegne overwhelmed him. Life seemed unbearable, but that night, or the next, Hitler was abruptly delivered from his misery, as he lay in despair on his cot, by a ‘supernatural vision’ (perhaps deliberately induced Dr. Forster). Like St. Joan, he heard voices summoning him to save Germany. All at once ‘a miracle came to pass’ – the darkness encompassing Hitler evaporated. He could see again! He solemnly vowed, as promised, that be would ‘become a politician and devote his energies to carrying out the command he had received.’ “

Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography
by John Toland by Anchor
About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

To visit our homepage or sign up for our daily email click here
To view previous daily emails click here.
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Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Islam, Trade, and the Camel

The camel is a truly amazing animal !

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In today’s excerpt – founded by the prophet Muhammad in the sixth century C.E., Islam spread faster than Christianity and its kingdom grew larger than the Roman Empire. By one estimate, the Islamic caliphate’s revenue in 820 C.E. was no less than five times greater than that of the Christian Byzantine Empire. This fortune was built on trade and the marketplace, and that trade was built on the backs of camels:
“Water scarcity presented the primary obstacle standing between Islam and its historic rise to greatness through trade. First and foremost, it needed a way to cross the long expanse of its own hot, waterless interior deserts. Its first triumphant innovation, which at a stroke transformed the barren desert barrier into an insulated, exclusive Islamic trade highway, came by its disciplined organization of the hardy camel, with its prodigious water-storing capacity, into long trade caravans and military supply transports. A caravan of 5,000 to 6,000 camels could carry as much cargo as a very large European merchant sailing ship or a fleet of barges on China’s Grand Canal. Islam’s quasi-monopoly over this powerful pack animal provided it with the mobility to cross and exit its desert homelands – and to make its mark on world history.

“The one-humped Saharan dromedary was specially adapted for the hot deserts. It could go without drinking water for a week or more, while plodding some 35 miles per day across the desert sands with a 200-pound load on its back, Water was stored in its bloodstream – its fatty hump, which grew flaccid during long journeys without nourishment, functioned as a food reserve – and it maximized water retention by recapturing some exhaled water through its nose. Once at a water source the camel speedily rehydrated by consuming up to 25 gallons in only ten minutes. It even could tolerate briney water. It possessed an uncanny memory for the location of water holes. Moreover, it could eat the thorny plants and dry grasses that grew on and lands and were indigestible by most other animals. During a trip, camels could lose one-quarter their body weight, twice the amount fatal to most other mammals. The camel’s extraordinary physical attributes made it possible for caravans to make the two-month, trans-Sahara trip from Morocco to Walata at the frontiers of the Mali Empire in Africa, which included one notorious stage of ten waterless days. … Camels took Arab merchants and soldiers everywhere.”

Author: Steven Solomon   
Title: Water
Publisher: Harper
Date: Copyright 2010 by Steven Solomon
Pages: 133-135

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization



Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sybil Ludington of Ludingtonville Mass.

Click on the link for the entire story. The former governor from Alaska should read this!

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In today’s excerpt – with all deference to a former governor from Alaska, not only was the purpose of Paul Revere’s ride to warn the revolutionaries of an impending British attack, there was another heroic ride of warning twice as long as Revere’s. The rider was  sixteen year old Sybil Ludington:
“[The militia rallied and] discouraged the British from any further attacks in the area. As a result, the Americans in the vital region gained precious time to organize and resist, in large part due to the efforts of sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington,
“And, unlike Revere, Sybil Ludington completed her mission without being captured. Yet she remains largely unknown.
In perhaps the ultimate tribute, the name of her hometown was to be changed from Fredericksburg to Ludingtonville.



Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 11:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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In These Times

This nonprofit and independent newmagazine established in 1976 is probably exactly what we need to be in wide circulation and widely read today!

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In These Times
In These Times is a nonprofit and independent newsmagazine committed to political and economic democracy and opposed to the dominance of transnational corporations and the tyranny of marketplace values over human values.
The late Sen. Paul Wellstone, one of the first subscribers to In These Times, put it this way: “Meaningful democracy cannot survive without the free flow of information, even (or especially) when that information threatens the privileged and the powerful. At a time of growing media concentration, In These Times is an invaluable source of news and information that the corporate media would too often prefer to ignore.”
“If it weren’t for In These Times, I’d be a man without a country.” —Kurt Vonnegut



Published in: on June 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Second-String Psychopaths

Must of what has happened lately in politics sadly seems to support this thesis.

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The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths

The great writer Kurt Vonnegut titled his final book A Man without a Country. He was the man; the country was the United States of America. Vonnegut felt that his country had disappeared right under his – and the Constitution’s – feet, through what he called “the sleaziest, low-comedy Keystone Cops-style coup d’état imaginable.” He was talking about the Bush administration. Were Vonnegut still alive in the post-Bush era, he would not have felt that his country had returned.

How had our country disappeared? Vonnegut proposed that among the contributing factors was that it had been invaded – as if by the Martians – by people with a particularly frightening mental illness. People with this illness were termed psychopaths.



Two obscure events that saved the union….interesting!

This excerpt got me thinking about the civil war, slave states vs. free states…..the Erie Canal, and the Mississippi River, all at the same time. It is all interesting history, and very interesting events that tend to shape what this country is today! I,m currently reading Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi”, and find it an eye opener into that period of American history. Mark Twain was a Mississippi river boat pilot, and I recommend the book for an education in the importance of this big muddy river. Apparently Samuel Langhorne Clemmons (1835-1910) was smack-dabe in the middle of all these important events and turns of American history!

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In today’s excerpt – the completion of the Erie Canal and the extension of Illinois’ border north to include the land that became Chicago saved the Union. The Mississippi River held an economic dominance over the middle of the country in the early 1800s, and put that dominance in the hands of Louisiana, Missouri and other slaveholding states. It was only the opening of the Erie Canal that created a self-contained East-West economic region among the Great Lakes states, and thus gave them economic independence from this Mississippi dominance. So when Congress was carving out the new state of Illinois under the dictates of the “Northwest Ordinance” – one of the three key “founding documents” in American History since it helped define how new states could be admitted to the country – it was careful to extend its borders to include a port on Lake Michigan:



Published in: on June 7, 2011 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Diminishing Social Security Safety Net

At age 68, after working hard and raising three kids, and help in the raising of two grandkids, Social Security and Medicare, are the only way my wife Carolyn, 67yrs.) ,and I are able to stay alive for a few more years, and maintain a semblance of dignity.

I recently had “open heart” surgery that replaced a broken Aorta Valve, and a damaged Aorta Artery. There is no question that without this operation, I would not be here. We were not able to save enough money during our working years to keep us financially independent. Ergo, we would now probably now be a financial burden on our kids.

I am very grateful for the social safety nets that are now in place, and I constantly try to appreciate the days, months, and years that I may still participate in our world of family and friends. Our participation is good not just for ourselves, but for our extended family.

So, the way I see it, the social safety net is a benefit to everyone. The social safety nets are, and should be considered a benefit to our country and our society. It saddens me to think that the future is looking so bleak for the younger generation, and for our country, and our society. We are all together in this great adventure called life!

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3 Ways Your Social Security Payments Are Already Being Cut

by Alicia Munnell
Friday, June 3, 2011


Policy experts have focused on alternative ways of eliminating Social Security’s 75-year financing gap, but lost in the debate is the fact that even under current law Social Security will provide less retirement income relative to previous earnings than it does today. Combine the already legislated reductions with potential cuts to close the financing gap, and Social Security may no longer be the mainstay of the retirement system for many people.

1. The Extension of the Full Retirement Age
2. The Increase in Medicare Premiums
3. The Taxation of Social Security Benefits



Pit bulls as “Nanny dogs”

That muscular chest…..that big head…..that massive and strong looking jaw! I just don’t like seeing that dog next to that little baby! :(

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Pit bulls’ surprising past: Nanny dogs

By Claudine Zap | The Upshot – Thu, Jun 2, 2011

Try to quickly summon an image of good-with-small-children dog, and chances are you’ll picture something adorably Benji-shaggy. Or maybe a sweetie-pie golden retriever, or a loveball of a lab. It’s not likely, at least not in today’s perception of the breed, that an American pit bull terrier leaps to mind.

But not so long ago, pit bulls were brought in as “nanny dogs,” the trusted caretaker pups to watch over kids.

Vintage photographs recently posted on a personal blog show off the breed as babysitter.

See more at


Published in: on June 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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