Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

Part Two: The Most Evil Company In History

Part Two: The Most Evil Company In History

Thu, 06 Sep 2018 10:00

Robert is joined again by Michael Swaim to continue discussing the 'era of heroic commerce.'

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I'm Rachel Adams Hurd. I'm a reporter for Bloomberg News and host of Entrust, a new series from Bloomberg and iHeartRadio. More than a century ago, the Osage nation negotiated something unique that brought a lot of money to its people. In this new series I look at who ended up with a lot of that land and oil money and how the SH Nation is fighting to get it back. Listen to Intrust on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. My name is Alex Fumero and I host the new podcast more than a movie American Me, a film directed by and starring Edward James Olmos. I'll be diving into the behind the scenes controversy, including an alleged backlash from the Mexican mafia, several people who worked on the movie. Have been murdered. I I don't want to speak about why would people be murdered for being in a movie. Listen to more than a movie. American me on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Sisters of the Underground is a podcast about fearless Dominican women who stood up against the brutal dictator Raphael Trujillo. He needs to be stopped. We've been silent and complacent for far too long. I am Daniel Ramirez, and as a Dominicana myself, I am proud to be. Are reading this true story that is often left out of the history books through your husband, blood on his hands? Listen to sisters of the underground wherever you get your podcasts. Hello, friends. I'm Robert Evans, and this is once again behind the ******** the show where we tell you everything you don't know about the very worst people in all of history. Now, this is part two of our episode on the age of Heroic Commerce and my my guest with me, as with the last episode, is the eminent, the itinerant, the excellent Michael Swaim. Thank you, the auspicious Robert Evans, for having me. Yay. You know what's fun? Good portents abound. Yeah, love them. That little blue triangle and adverbs. Little orange circle, I think. Did you do that? I know what we're talking about. OK? I learned with the system where you put symbols for every part of speech. That sounds exhausting. So to me, a conjunction will always be a little pink rainbow. Oh, OK, that's good to know. Actually, I think that's preposition. **** it. Let's talk about some equal prepositions. I'm going to make a preposition. I don't think you are. I think you mean proposition. That one. That one didn't. Amount. I was going to try to tie that in more smoothly but then you, you caught me, ripped it apart. So where we are in the story we got, we got this guy Robert Clive. And Robert Clive has conquered Bengal like a big chunk of India and he's rich as ****. And the East India companies got like 10s of millions of people that they don't really have to take care of, but they kind of control and it's getting weird and everybody back in England is like, this is getting weird and also corporations are spreading throughout the world and starting colonies all over the place and extending. European domination and corner of the globe. They're collecting rent. They are starting to do that. And yeah, they are starting to to carry out taxes and stuff. Yeah, that that that is beginning in this period of time. But mostly what's happening, mostly the thing that the company is doing in this big area they now control is being corrupt as ****. Now, corruption had always been endemic among the East India companies, foreign officers. That's why you did it is so that you could. Take a bunch of stuff and come back home and be rich if you survive the tropical diseases. So everybody skimmed a little bit off the top. That was kind of built into the system. Clive had just done what everybody else had been doing when he took the £300,000 of gold and jewels and stuff. But the cup that he'd been skimming from was the biggest cup anyone had ever stumbled across, right? Yeah. So that that's the situation. And it was unprecedented. And people started to ask the question, do we want it to be OK for our corporate officers and foreign countries? Be this corrupt and that's something we as British people are fine with. It's not like he's a brilliant innovator. It's just the most yeah, he's. No one has ever had the address like, this is ballooning out of control now. This seems like it could go bad places, and some of that is people who like have a human sense of like, it's wrong we're plundering the world. A lot of it is other rich guys who are old money and are just don't like. This is a threat to our fortresses of money that we have built in our place. Exactly. Now this gross guy is rich in this uncouth guy who joined because he likes beating people up. Yeah, is 2 wealthy. Exactly. So Clive leaves. India, after conquering and Bengal and governing it for awhile and he goes back to England. And to give you an idea of how modern this. Is, he takes all this loot that he earned from conquering Bengal and he deposits it with the Dutch East India Company. And then when he gets back to London, he withdraws it from them as cash or yeah, as cash. OK, so they didn't like, transport his jewels and stuff because he he was like, there's no way. This is way too much **** to send it. I'll give it to them. They'll give me the cash value and I'll take it out in London. Boom, it's done. Just upload it to the cloud. You're good. Yeah, this is like the first time people were figuring out how to do that sort of ****. So yeah, again, this is becoming a very modern time period. So Clive gets back to England and he's rich and he's popular for a while. He buys a **** load of mansions, but all is not well because his boss, Lawrence Sullivan, does not like him. Now. Lawrence Sullivan is the chairman of the company. So Clive, in addition to all of the money he had gotten, was guaranteed a giant yearly payment from all of Bengal. So basically the Prince that he put in power was like, we'll give you a huge fortune every single year. Because you put me in power. He's just free to write up that contract & it. And that's why the company challenges it because I just don't understand how people take pure will and make it reality. Because they get people to go along. They're not. They don't want to. His own company takes him to court. Like, you're not allowed to make that deal. Yeah, they you're not allowed to make that deal. We never voted to confirm this giant annual payment for you. You know, you worked it out directly with the Prince, but you were working with the company at the time, and this is our area. So, and they're not saying this money should go back to the Indian people. You're saying that we should this should go to us, not you. So they go to quarter over and they fight in court for a while. So they're battling in court while things in India are kind of starting to go sour for the company. They're making a lot of money because they found a bunch of different ways to tax and sell and suck Bengal dry, but they'll start being rebellions as a result of this. So now the company is spending more and more money putting down rebellions, and eventually they agreed to confirm Clive's big annual payment in exchange for him going back to India and fixing the **** that's gone wrong since he left the last time. But that makes it sound like it's Armageddon, like he's the only man in the world. You can do this. Don't they have other trustworthy mercenaries? They do. They think he's special. But as he's traveling back to India, they learned that he's really not because some other guy puts the rebellion down first. Yeah, first because British guns are just so much better than everything they face. So they they agreed to give him his money, and he leaves over there. They're worried they're going to lose control of the region because of these rebellions. And then when he's in transit, some other guy beats them. You can tell, like, you don't need this guy. Yeah, you don't need any guy. You've got can't have guns. Guns that you need. And in fact, actually Clive's big contribution winds up being that when he gets there, things are going so well that the company has almost invaded Delhi, the capital of India, and conquered the whole Mughal Empire. And he stops them like, Robert Clive is like, this is this is going too far. Makes me look unessential. Also, it seems like he may have just actually gotten scared at how much things have escalated. This is this could be bad. Yeah. Yeah, you launched a new Starbucks franchise and somehow you accidentally now. Cook over City Hall. Yeah, exactly. So he writes a letter when he's justifying his corporate bosses why he stopped the army. He writes a letter that says, quote, to go further, it is, in my opinion, a scheme so extravagantly ambitious and absurd that no governor and Council in their senses can adopt it unless the whole system of the company's interests be first entirely new. Modeled, said the guy who's like, but acquiring 300,000 pounds of gold? That is not overly ambitious. I think you would say that was never his goal. He found himself in a war and he won. And then they handed him all this stuff, right. What am I going to do? Say, no, that is an option? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But he didn't like. Right? And I don't think most people would. To be fair, I think most people who are the kind of people who could be in Clive's position, most people would never get in that position. There's no way to get to there. But anyone who's capable of being in that position is probably going to be like, yeah, hear me the ******* I already came this far. I'm already here. So client basically thought that the company already had a sweet deal. They weren't officially in charge of anything. They were in control because guns. But they didn't have to do anything aside from occasionally fighting cash checks. The Indians were still nominally at least, leaders of their own land and they were outside of Bengal. They were still in control. So Easton the company didn't have to worry about this giant subcontinent that they had no business interest in. Most of this changed on August 12th 1765 when Robert Clive. With worry in his gut, signed a deal on behalf of the East India Trading Company with the Mughal emperor that guaranteed the British East India Company formal control over three big chunks of India in the lives of almost 30 million people. So we'll have the graphic up on the site, but you can see outline there. This is what the East India Company after this agreement now controls. That's land they own and govern. So now, OK, it's about 1/5, about 1/5 of India, the largest country in existence. I believe one of them was not there with China, with China and Russia. Wow. So but what I don't understand is to what level did they control people's lives? Because I assume they have no interest in going in and being like, we're going to make laws and moral codes. They just want to loot the place. That is the point of today's episode. But now they are in charge of it. So they are now the government in a big chunk of India, right? So that's the situation after this. Weird that they'd even want to be. What's the profit? Clive did not want to be, right? But I think they got greedy. And so while Clive is in charge, he tries to cut back on the shocking amount of corruption and graft that he sees. Amongst the company officers, he bans his officers from taking gifts or bribes, although he doesn't give up his own bribes so people don't take it super seriously. He increases salaries to try to make people want to steal less. And he restricts the company's monopoly so that some sort of local economy can exist so that the East India Company is not the only people who are allowed to sell products to Indians so that they can have a functioning society. So he tries to pump the brakes to some extent. Just let them do what they do. They're doing. He also does nice stuff, like he gives a **** load of money to the pension fund for the company army. Again, he's one of these people. He starts this road, but he does not seem to be running unchecked in that direction. It's not like Jan Kuhn or new money is evolving into old money, like you talked about on the Koch brothers episode, where it's time to get philanthropic now and resuscitate my image gloss over all that ****. It's possible. I don't know the man, but eventually he like his health isn't great. At this point he winds up heading back to England. And other people take over for for India, and he winds up in court again fighting the company for access to his yearly bribe, basically because they keep him hired. Can't they fire him? Well, he when he leaves every time, he stops working for them, essentially. And so then there's like big legal fights in the court because they don't want him to just forever get a fortune every year. They want that fortune, right? But it seems like they keep coming back and being like, OK, we'll give you your old job back. Go sign this deal. Well, they thought they needed him and now they know they really don't, right? And he's starting to try to say we should be prudent to be like, we should steal slightly less. Yeah. Like this guy served his purpose. Get him out of here. So the East India Company now after Clive leaves is essentially, yeah, the government of a big chunk of India. And if you're a government needed to provide things for people rather than just take tax money, like you take tax money but you provide roads and libraries and EMT's and firefighters and the FDA and ****. The company doesn't provide anything. They just take pretty much. And so that's the situation in 1770 when a famine hits and it's a bad one and we will get into the famine in a little bit. Right now we're talking about Clive because this famine is a disaster for his image. He's not in charge when it happens, but it goes big in the press and it looks bad for him. And he's basically portrayed by a lot of the media as a greedy idiot who had ruined India, even though a lot of other people had ruined India, as well as Robert Clive. And here you are throwing him under the bus a full 200 years later. Can we leave Clive? Alone. I mean, he had tried to clamp down on the shameless theft. He did see the problem. Sure, sure. So he winds up in court and, you know, has a big legal case where he tries to essentially defend his legacy. And during the court proceedings he delivers a famous speech. So it's it's like one of those really like movie ready moments from history. So he's being cross examined about robbing Bengal blind and accused of plundering India. And he says, quote, consider the situation in which the victory of Plassey placed me a great Prince was dependent on my pleasure. And the opulent city lay at my mercy. It's richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles. I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels. Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation. I mean, that's literally just the same as you want the truth. You can't handle the truth when you're out there. You got to think I stole a lot. I could have stolen a lot more, ************. Like, why does the loophole exist if I'm not supposed to exploit? That classic justification we hear all the time to this day. So he was acquitted, right? Yeah, but he didn't last that much longer. He was very sick from all of the tropical diseases he'd picked up overseas, and he also might have been suffering terrible regret for his actions and the famine. He is described as having had a nervous disorder. It's also possible he had severe PTSD. There are numerous times where people exploded next to him, like would be shot by cannons and just the guy next to him would burst. Like, so he got mad at him. You mean physically exploded? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like was burst by a candidate. So he lived through horrible combat. So it's possible he was just a broken mentally at this point. Then he drowned on gold. No, in 1774, he stabbed himself to death in the throat with a pocket knife. Yeah, at home, alone, committed suicide with no explanation. That's a crazy method. People knew he was depressed and always been depressed, but yeah, he cut his own throat with a tiny knife, so he was gone. This is the end of Robert Clive. But the British were still in India and they would stay there for nearly two centuries. Now, Merchant kings mentioned the famine in passing, but didn't get into much detail on the matter. It was a famine. It was very, very bad. So I decided to do a little bit of extra digging, and I ran into a college textbook called the East India Company and the natural world. It had a whole chapter on the famine. And thanks to the bountiful goddess of capitalism, Springer allowed me to buy just that chapter for $30. Wow. What a deal, right? Yeah, $30.00 for a single, single chapter, excised from the book. Yeah, whatever. Capitalism, it's different from the stuff we're talking about today. Because reasons. Anyway, I read the chapter and it's really good. I'm gonna, I'm going to quote from it now. According to the report from the Famine Commission, in a period of 90 years from 1765, when the British East India Company took over the Diwani of Bengal to 1858, Bengal experienced 12 famines and four severe scarcities. Now, some of those famines would have occurred with or without the British East India Company, because famines are a thing. They've always been a thing, right? But once you delve into it, their whole period of rule is basically a master class in how to **** over an entire subcontinent. In essence, in order to compensate for the minimal amount of actual government work the company needed to do in order to turn a profit, they just started jacking up taxes on rural workers and on farmers. And usually these taxes were in kind, so you'd pay with whatever it is you were growing at the time. So the company commercialized agriculture in India and tried to turn it into an almost industrial operation to maximize output. So there's been a bunch of small independent farms and villages and whatnot, and now the whole countryside was basically one giant big food production plant workshop. Yeah, and made a lot of money. But it also made it impossible for the farmers themselves to handle bad years. Everything was sold every year. Nothing was set aside for the bad times. There wasn't enough leftover after the taxes for the individual farmers anyway. The British East India Company had disrupted the intricate cultural systems that had formed during and before the Mughal Empire in the past, when there was a bad year in, the rains didn't come. Villages had standing arrangements with other villages to help each other out with food. These were local insurance plans that were present all across India, and particularly in the farming. Actions of Bengal. It was very common way to stop people from dying horribly when a famine presumably have been working for 1000 years. Exactly. Stop doing that now. Now you all work one giant farm together. Yeah, this will be better for us. So now when famine hit, everybody worked for the company. Nobody had anything extra. There were no more insurance policies. They'd all been taken in taxes and sold. Quote from that same chapter. Bengali society was divided between the zamindars, the hereditary revenue collectors of the Mughal Empire. In a broad base consisting of some landless laborers and a large number of poorer cultivators, most of whom were sharecroppers. So taxes started to ratchet up on these people in the late 1700s. The company started jacking up taxes really hard in the 1750s, and by the mid 1760s they were like doubling every couple of years. The agricultural reforms the corporation put in place didn't really work out. Yields started to fall, so they're actually growing fewer crops. Because it turns out, a bunch of British guys ideas on how to farm Indian land did not work as well as what the Indians. And going to a totally different culture with different land than just telling them do this. I think this would work for you for farming. You have to do it or we'll shoot you. Yeah, try it out. Yeah, give it a shot. Let us know how it works, but don't tell us if it doesn't. We're not really interested in that. So would they ration food because it is in their interest to keep people alive and all right. Now you would think that, right? You think it's it's in your interest that the people you you would think that. Ohboy other people did not, so the price of grain started to rise right as the company takes over, and the company has no vested interest in selling cheap grain to the people growing grain to pay them grain taxes. So when the famine hit, the company just reacted with the kind of sociopathy I think we're coming to expect from the British East India Company. Oh, because they're not even paying a portion of their income. They pay in grain anyway. Yeah, exactly. So they're like, well, you're going to give us all your grain anyway. Why should we even give you some back when we just get it all anyway? We're just going to get it all. You're like, so that I continue living and they're already gone. They're already walking off with the grain. Yeah, so here's another quote from that chapter. The effect of the famine was to enshrine free market economics as part of the colonial policy all over the empire. Periodic famines were seen as a check to population growth. As Mike Davis notes, by the 19th century, these Malthusian ideas, which were voiced all throughout the colonial period, resulted in the pursuit of free market economics. And quote, India, like Ireland, became a utilitarian laboratory where millions of lives were wagered against a dogmatic faith and omnipotent markets, overcoming the inconvenience of death. This was a policy that was to become, quote, a mask for colonial genocide. So you want to talk about colonial genocide? 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It's the new book from us, the creators of the podcast and video series. You can turn back now or read the stuff they don't want you to know. Available for pre-order now, it's stuff you should read or wherever you find your favorite books. My name is Erica Kelly and I am the host and creator of Southern Freight true crime. There are so many people that just have no idea about some injustices in the world, and if you can give a voice to them, you can create change. To be able to do it within podcasting is just such a gift. I believe it was 18 months after I got on with Spreaker that I was making enough that I could quit my day job. It was incredible. I always feel like an ambassador for speaker. But that's because I'm passionate about podcasting. It's really easy to use. I always tell people I am so not tech. Took me 5 minutes to get comfortable with spreaker, and when I find a new friend that has an incredible show, I want them to make money. I want them to be able to do what I did. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break your handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. Go to That's Get paid to talk about the things you love. Spreaker from iheart. And we're back and fabulous ads. Yeah, they, like, wrapped me in such a cozy feeling that I feel like I have the buffer I need for what's going to come now. What's going to come now is we're going to talk about how free market economics became a mask for colonial genocide. We're getting to the genocide part of that now. Charles Koch. *****. He would have loved this. Just a pig in plot. Stealing money? Watch. Selling people into slavery, defying it with bizarre, nonsensical statements? It would have been great. He would have been super good at this really was born in the wrong time, although making this time that time doing his best. It's just business. This is like the beginning of that ethos. It's just business. It's just business, nothing personal. So it's worth getting into exactly how different the famines caused by the East India Companies management were from the famines that had come before in India, and in every society in human history there had been famines in India. Shortly before the company's period of dominance, including one that lasted from 1670 to 1671, thousands of people had died, 1 to 300 every day during the months that the famine was active. It was a terrible time, but the Mughal government, ****** as it was by that point, had taken action to mitigate it. The government had repaired and built new irrigation works. They'd created reservoirs to make sure they'd be able to grow crops during the next dry season. They cut taxes so farmers would be able to keep more of the food they'd grown. They'd set up free kitchens and given out grain to try and reduce the number of people who starve to death. In other words, they were a ******* government. East India Company was not. So starting in the 1770s, all of India started to learn the difference between the two. The Great Bengal Famine of 1770 lasted from 1769 to 1773. OK, see in media, I'm like a famine supposed to last a season. Yeah, right. That's supposed to be happening for four years. Yeah. So the last famine had lasted less than a year and killed thousands. This famine lasted 4 years. It would kill millions. The Great Bengal Famine was made a lot worse by the fact that in the years leading up to it, the company had kind of sort of gutted. The local economy and shipped all of their silver away to merry Old England, or rather China. See, economics isn't my strong suit, but I did manage to find a very detailed article on the Wire, an independent journalism website that publishes in Hindi and Urdu, and it focuses a lot on historical economic stuff in that region of the world. The article is called the role that currency played in the Great Bengal Famine of 1770. It breaks down how the company spent its tax revenue. This is talking about one district in Birbhum district out of £90,000, connected through taxes and duties. Net surplus of some 60,000 pounds was employed for the purchase of silks, muslins, cotton clothes and other articles to be sold in Leadenhall St, the headquarters of the company. In short, the revenues of Bengal supplied the means of providing the expenditure for purchases in Bengal, reducing the net annual influx of specie, which is hard currency, to a pittance. So the company was taking taxes, making a **** load of money, using it to buy products Indian people needed, and then it would sell those products back to them for a profit and ship the hard currency, the silver and gold. Back to England and out of India. The two primary impacts of this on England were number one. A few people got very, very, very, very, very rich and it's always a few tiny. What's crazy to me is countries will swallow up and destroy whole other countries and only 18 people were involved. It's like the country that crushed the other country doesn't even benefit from this. Well, England does in one way. Well, no. This is how England gets tea. OK, this. Yeah, I've heard this story. So the Chinese were the only place to get tea, right? You know, China was the only place where it grew at this point. Not anymore. In China only wanted silver for tea. They wanted the specie, the hard currency. Now this is sounding like a Sid Meier's civilization. Yeah, exactly what's happening. Only want silver. Here's another quote. The relatively undervalued silver in Bengal proved a profitable source to finance the growing tea trade with China. Within a span of just three years, some £720,000 of species was sent out of Bengal to China. The widespread. Corruption and plunder by the servants of the company not only transferred the wealth of the country to these individuals, but was also sent out of the country through ingenious means. Now, this meant that very quickly bengali's hard currency ran out. The parts of India the company owned only had so much silver and gold and whatever. The sheer lack of currency meant that Indians could no longer buy and sell things. The local economy collapsed and this also meant that suddenly the company had no money since they weren't willing to send silver over from India so they could just buy things the company sort of twiddle its thumb and failed to import. Brain from outside to avert the millions of deaths. In fact, they banned the importation of grain between different regions of India and seized boats to prevent it. Jesus. Here's what one comes selling them products down at the company store. Well, they're not buying those anymore because they're out of all the mothers. No money. The company doesn't have the money to stop the famine. The vicious circle. No one's at fault. Possibly ever have been prevented. This is just what had to happen. No one could have foreseen this is the Irish potato famines. Sorry to like quiz you on stuff you didn't research but was that also corporatization ******* that not in the same way but it involved a lot of very rich land known as stories. Yeah that's it. We will be talking about that and talking about Queen Victoria at some point. Yeah. Here is a quote from a company worker at the time about what Bingall was like during this famine. So this is a guy who who's watching it as a white dude who has enough food. Quote all through the stifling summer of 1770 the people went on dying. The Husbandmen sold their cattle. They sold their implements of agriculture, they devoured their seed grain, they sold their sons and daughters till at length no buyer of children could be found. They ate the leaves of trees in the grass on the field and in June 1770 the resident at the Durbar affirmed that the living were feeding on the dead day and night. A torrent of famished and disease stricken wretches poured into the great cities. At an early period of the year pestilence had broken out. In March we find smallpox at the morshed Abbad. The streets were blocked up with promiscuous heaps of the dying and dead. Interment cannot do its work quick enough. Even the dogs and jackals, the public scavengers of the east, became unable to accomplish their revolting work, and the multitude of mangled and festering corpses at length threatened the existence of the citizens. And even through all this, the East India Company keeps increasing taxes on the farmers. Which must not even mean anything anymore. Like, fine, no, they're still growing food. It's just being taken from them while they're starving. So why don't they just eat the food that they're harvesting? Right? Then there's guys with guns they're watching, but yeah, and they've got to like, bad things will happen if you don't pay your taxes. What's crazy is they treat it like it's business, like they have some God-given right to do this because they created this abstract thing we call like a business plan structure. But really it boils down to robbery because at the end of the day, it's always just like, well, why couldn't China come trade directly for silver with India? Well, because we'd kill them all and we'd shoot it you like. That's what it is. Come down to the guns. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So the taxes on the bengalese people are higher in 1770 and 71, the year the famine starts. Then in 1769 to 70, the year that preceded the famine. I mean, you work on a grain farm and you go home and eat your dead sibling. Well, you said you sold your children, your children you sold a long time ago. Yeah. So in April of 1770, quote astoundingly, the Council, acting on the advice of the Muslim Minister of Finance Mohammed Reza Khan, added 10% to the land. Effects of the ensuing year, but the distress continued to increase at a rate that baffled official calculation. In the second week of May, the central government awoke to find itself in the midst of universal and irredeemable starvation. So some company officers advised basically cutting taxes and giving back some of what they've taken so that people wouldn't starve to death. But that just didn't happen. I can't. I'm so because they want some living people to work the field. I really thought their response would be give them all a pittance of food. They're even like, I don't know if we should even give them that. It's not. The company is a big force. Make like the company is a big force is making some of these calls, but a lot of it's just individuals being like, yeah, but if we give some of it back, then I'll be able to steal less. And I want to be home in a year with a pile of money, so I'll just keep stealing for another year. Still totally reliant on most of the people being like. And that's worth watching everyone starve to death around me while I'm here. We've learned one thing about corporations from the last 400 years. It's that they have a great deal of foresight. Yeah. And never murder and poison themselves out of like, sci-fi movies where there's a desert planet, but so, but the evil corporate lady lives in like a glass pyramid filled with water. Always seems so over the top. But it's real reality. Yeah. Boy, howdy, has it happened. So yeah, by May 1771, third of the bengalese population, 6 out of every 17 people, was dead. Company officials estimated 1/2 of the cultivators and payers of revenue will perish with hunger. The sheer scale of the devastation was terrible for the company's bank statement. By October, the company started to notice that an awful lot of the workers they relied on had been, quote, destroyed by the famine. Who were already using business doublespeak. They're already euthanizing it. Some of our bipedal product was destroyed, enjoyed a transaction quote. The failure of a single crop following a year of scarcity had wiped out an estimated 10 million human beings. God. So that's the death toll of this first famine, 10 million. The famines continued though, off and on through the 1770s. In 1780 and other big famine hit and again 1/3 of Bengal just died. Revenue plummeted. The British government started to get involved, even to people. At the time what was happening was seen as horrific and the press attack the East India Company. By 1784 the British government started to pass the first regulations limiting the company's powers, really limiting any companies powers. This is the birth of regulation on corporations. It's because the corporation killed 10 million people, probably more like. 12 to 15 at that point, it's roughly a Holocaust to a Holocaust and 1/2 worth of human being that you hear me slowing down because my brains just grappling with actually trying to absorb. And, oh, and there's another thing that's real. That we were like, this way of organizing humans seems to be making money. Oh, it also kills people. Well, that's fine, unless it goes too far. When did it go too far? When did we go? Like, maybe it has gone too far. When 10 million people were dead, 10 million people died. And then 10 years. Later, maybe we should do another. Probably 5 or 6 million people died and then in 18110% of all of India died. There's not even a death count for that. It's just roughly 110th of all. There's a billion people in India Today, probably a couple 100 million back then. Yeah. If we're trying to take the whole East India companies death toll from famine, it wouldn't be outrageous to assume somewhere in the 20 to 30 million deaths by this whole over the whole course of this whole period. So it's good to know that humanity does have a point where you're like, is this too many people? Like you can me to have slightly bigger houses, yeah? So, yeah, in 1784, they start regulating the company. In 1788, Edmund or someone Burke, I forget which Burke gives a speech at the impeachment trial of India's Governor General because they're like, you've killed like 20 million people. You should probably not have this job anymore. So Burt called the company, quote a rogue state waging war, administering justice, minting coin, and collecting revenue over Indian territory. Check, check, check. Yeah, totally accurate. He didn't exaggerate. Horace Walpole, a wig member of parliament. That at the time that quote the oppressions of India and even of the English settled there under the rapine and cruelties of the servants of the company, have now reached England and created a general clamour here. To such monopolies were imputed the late famine of Bengal and the loss of three million. They didn't know the whole total of its inhabitants. A tithe of these crimes was sufficient to inspire horror. So the famine of 17701780 and 1799 it is likely, and these are other historians to me, saying that any company brought on to India. Where these single greatest atrocity the single worst disaster of the entire 1700s of that whole century? It was the beginning of the end for the East India Company too. Although businessmen would continue to trade and profit off of her, for nearly a century India continued to suffer famines which led to unrest in war, which led to uprisings and crackdowns. This led the East India Company's army to expand, which led them to take over more and more of India, until pretty soon they controlled basically all of India and had an army of 200,000 soldiers. A guy named Lord Wellesley eventually wound up in charge and he became the company's most. Accessible general. He's the guy who expanded them from sort of the eastern coast of India all the way into what's now Pakistan and eventually Afghanistan. According to the wonderful book Return of the King by 1796, quote, the company was expanding rapidly out from its coastal factories to conquer much of the interior. Wellesley's Indian campaigns would ultimately annex more territory than all of Napoleon's conquests in Europe. Wow. Yeah. This eventually brought the East India Company to the doorstep of Afghanistan in 1816. The British East India Company extended an offer of asylum to Shah Shuja, the exiled king of Afghanistan, in 1839, due to a basically minor dispute with the Afghan government. The East India Company invaded Afghanistan, conquered the country, and placed Shah Shuja on a throne as a puppet Lord Auckland, who is the guy who had ordered the invasion, and the company quickly lost interest in their conquest of Afghanistan and immediately invaded China next. Because that feels it seems like they feel that, well, you got to invade something that's made that's not mandatory. You're allowed to stop. Let me explain it to you, Michael. They've been selling opium to China and it had created a horrific endemic drug problem that was crippling the local economy and killing people in huge. So the Chinese government banned opium sales, and so they had to invade China to keep selling them deadly, just like the family. It's like, yeah, we ****** ** India till it stopped bleeding money. So we have to move on to a new place and **** that place up. Well, it stops the bleeding. I am of the opinion that this is all fine. Well know that the great heroes and history are probably the Afghan people because the East India Company is on a tear, killing people by the millions, conquering land and then they take over Afghanistan. When they find themselves the rulers of Afghanistan, a country that has nothing of value for the East India Company, it's not profitable. So they have this huge army in Afghanistan that they start needing to cut back on. And they can't cut back on the army because Afghanistan is big and hard to control. So they stopped paying bribes to all of these local warlords, which means the local warlords start attacking the army, which means there's eventually a gigantic revolution in Afghanistan that ousts the Garrison, the company's giant. Army in Kabul and wipes it out in the mountain passes of Afghanistan. And there, you know, these are British soldiers with muskets, unrifled guns that aren't good at very long range. The Afghans have these weapons called Giselle cheese, which are basically sniper rifles. So they're hiding in the mountains, murdering huge numbers of British soldiers and their Indian sepoys and it they just massacre this entire British Army. It's a huge, huge disaster. And this disaster comes after years of declining revenues for the East India Company and ballooning expenses. Finally, all of this helps kill the East India Company as a global power. In 1858, the British government finally decided that letting a for profit enterprise govern the lives of 10s of millions of people and like 1/5 of the world was a really bad idea. Instead they give it to a queen. Texas, there's it's. I feel like the Afghan uprising just delayed what we're already. So it was it was like there was this weird chance at the very beginning of corporate history that corporations and governments could have merged, then become one and the same, and the East India Company could have been like, literally the empire and just own the world. And they stopped that from happening for 500 years. It's still going to happen, but it couldn't happen really fast. There's news today that. President Donald Trump is considering a plan by Eric Prince, the founder of Blackwater, to basically put private mercenaries in charge of the War of Afghanistan and have a guy who, Eric Prince is described as a viceroy, run Afghanistan from the Western powers. So there's a chance the Afghans might get to stop the next stage. Of course, Trump has, yeah. Named 6 to the Council of Operants. Yeah, like everything's becoming so high fantasy. I will tell you one thing about Afghanistan. Nobody wins when they fight there, other than not even after. The Afghan people don't even win. Everybody loses, but you don't win and usually when you quote UN quote win or are are holding it for a while. You're just there being hot standing around. And it it's worth noting that when we invaded Afghanistan, the guy we put in charge of the country was a dude named Hamid Karzai, who was a descendant of Shah Shuja, the people the East India Company put in charge of Afghanistan, who was then massacred after the revolution. It's a small, small, awful world. Dumb, dumb world. So yeah, in 1858, India becomes the property of Queen Victoria, who we will almost certainly discuss in a subsequent episode, the East India. Company survives for another few years, but it is dissolved for good in 1874 by the East India Stock Redemption Act. This ever shall we get our tea? Who's to say at this point I'm sure there's competitors. So that's that's the era of heroic commerce. What a slog. What does that have to do with the Boston Tea Party? They just brought the tea that ended. They were selling the tea and the yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's really just like. The militarization aspect, and that's crazy that that we're going down that road again and I left out there's so because we didn't really talk about North America. There's a lot of the story of these companies in it. We didn't even because there's just so much totally because I don't know about 95% of that. But the things I do know, it's so this is like the template for like Iran Contra all kinds of **** that I do know about that I'm like, oh, this is the first time people were like, let's do this particular kind of *******. It's a template for all these ideas. It's a template for colonialism, and thus all of these colonial wars have their start here. This is a big part of the origin of our problems with race in the United States, because these corporations really jumpstart the slave trade, because they're depopulating these islands of the natives, and then they need to move slaves in to work the spice plantations. It seems like it's almost, and it's inevitable because you're reaching this technological threshold where we're now we have compasses and sextants we can get further away. It's just like. In any community there's going to be some ********. You have job security for sure. And. This is the first time that you're like, ohh, the ******** operate on a global level now because it's the first time this Clive ************ can go all the way over there and **** everything up and come all the way back. Remarkable. It's the birth of something horrible. Yeah, some cathulu type monster. Yeah, that is destined to destroy us all, I firmly believe. And this is the to get not even the tiniest bit to political. Just to explain some of my own beliefs because I've received some negative feedback from people over a few episodes for anti capitalist rants and stuff. I'm not on. What? The Internet. That's not the Internet. I know I'm not anti capitalist. I'm enjoying a delightful bag of Doritos right now. I understand that. *** **** that's good. I think they'd have to. Essentially pay you for it to be considered capitalism, though. Yeah, that's fair. But might me buying the product, that's buying the product, that's me enjoying a good, clean, fancy new phone as capitalism? It's not that I'm saying, oh, this system all needs to be torn down tomorrow and I have a solution. It's that I'm saying when we start talking about how, like all the deaths from communism and stuff like you'll hear on the right people be like, communism killed 90 million people. This many, there's a lot 10s of millions of people have died under communist governments. I will never argue that with you. But if you think capitalism's death toll isn't as higher for much, even much higher, because it's been going on for 400 years, you are not paying attention to the actual facts and the actual history. Everything we do that we elevate to an ideology kills buckets of people. That's what people do. So don't get on your high horse if you like capitalism. I'm not going to argue with you about the right way to run the world because I don't know what it is. But don't get on your high horse because whatever you believe, there's blood on your hands. Or there's blood on the hands of the thing that you believe in. You don't like this show. Now, I couldn't agree more as Jack Johnson sang about so long. He's a wise man, my friend. We've all got the blood on our hands. Yeah, I I think this is, I was really happy to be on this episode because it echoes something I do definitely believe. There's no bigger ******* than the abstract system that develops its own momentum. Yeah, because Robert Clive, if you told him when he came to India, your actions will kill 10s of millions of people. I think the guy might have killed himself and like, we don't think of him as Hitler. Yeah, because he never, never really ended it. Exactly. So it's just there's nothing. Nothing will **** you up like a group of self interested. People who none of them think of themselves as guiding the thing, the thing just it's too late now, the things rolling. Yeah, and they don't think about the larger system. They're just like, how can we get money out of this place? They don't think about what allows a region this large and densely populated to not get wiped out by famine constantly. Is it maybe that they've built systems over the course of millennia that you should pay attention? It's not your job to think that you're in sub block C6 of of District 9, and you're supposed to make this number, reach this number, increased tax revenues. 4% yeah, and that's all you're supposed to. And you kind of trust that someone. Well, if there was going to be a famine that would kill everyone. Someone up the chain bosses. Nobody wants a fan, exactly. Damn, dude. Yeah. Anyway, any poodle you want to plug your stuff, no, I don't want to be associated with. You can buy all our wonderful products on now. We are opening a merch store soon, but you can find the content that might inspire what island is your merch store outbreak? Is that the only island with the right cotton for our our yeah, our baseball caps are currently being freighted over from the Cayman Islands. Already sketchy money wise, but over a small bean. Small beans is the name of my outfit and you can find all of our content there. We do podcast sketches. Occasional songs, all kinds of stuff, sure. And I am personally on Twitter at Swayam under score Corp. You can find me on Twitter at I write OK. I have a book on Amazon called a brief history of vice, and you can find this website on the Internet at And you can also find us on Twitter at Bastarde pod. You can find us on Instagram same way. And that's that's the episode, so check back in. Next Tuesday and there will be another episode and probably something just as depressing and frightening. That's my goal. I hope it is. I hope it really is. So have a good week and I love, you know about 40% of you. I'm Rachel Adams Hurd. I'm a reporter for Bloomberg News and host of Entrust, a new series from Bloomberg and iHeartRadio. More than a cent. If you want to go from podcast fan to podcast host, do what I did and check out spreaker from iheart. I was working in accounting and hating it. Then after just 18 months of podcasting with Spreaker, I was able to quit my day job. Follow your podcasting dreams. Let's break your handle the hosting, creation, distribution, and monetization of your podcast. 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