We have now officially entered era of ‘off-shoring’ torture
word economic comes from the Greek word for house, from which the word
economist (‘one who manages a household’) is derived. It was essentially
about ‘making ends meet’, the rupees and cents (or equivalents) of the
day-in and day-out of individuals and families. Later of course some
‘householders’ figured out that the household’s fortunes can be
considerably enhanced if they broadened horizons a little
It was a simple trick of expanding notion of the household’s playing
field beyond the proverbial four walls and the dandu-weta (fence) of the
hathara-peththa (four sides). The harvest, in whatever form, would of
course pour into the family plot as it were or its representative
institutional bissa (storage facility, for paddy, in our context). And
from the moment that the economist decided that there’s a universe out
there for value extraction, the sky, literally, was the limit. Today, in
the 21st Century, we are even buying and selling polluting rights and
bartering things like democracy and human rights.
The point is that capitalism was always global; to the extent that
markets were not territorially limited, literally or metaphorically, the
greedy fingers of wealth-extraction could never be happy with their
length at a given moment. Reach, reach, reach; grab, grab and grab. Guns
in booty out. Let the robber barons come. Save the heathens. White Man’s
Burden. Blood was spilled. Rivers. Oceans. Human flesh and pride broken
into a million pieces just so some happy households could prosper. Don’t
trust me. Ask any economist with a sense of history who ran the world’s
economy. Families. That’s economics in a nutshell for you.
National boundary never intimidated and never could contain capital.
It was and is all about securing access to resource and control of
And it is not only about ‘expansion’. It is also about moving out to
better hunting grounds if the game becomes scarce or the field too
crowded. Flexible capital. If political instability comes a-calling or
some laws enacted to protect labour or impose stringent rules about
impact on environment, Mr and Ms Capital takes the first flight out to
happier hunting grounds.
Investment is not about benevolence but exploiting more friendly
environmental conditions such as cheap, docile and controllable labour,
tax-concessions and relatively cheaper inputs. And, for all the
arguments about culture and nationalism being secondary to things
economic, the fact remains that you’d rather pollute some other country
than the one which you like to call ‘home’, you’d rather dump your
garbage in someone else’s backyard and you’d rather someone else’s
children and not your own were exposed to toxic waste.
Another way of fattening the household economy without causing a
local stink is to outsource. Someone else makes the same thing for a
fraction of the cost, pumping all kinds of toxic effluents into the
regions waterways; you just do the buy-and-sell. Hands-free, guilt-free.
Like wars fought by other people on your behalf. Washington’s foreign
policy in Latin America for example was about letting military juntas,
dictators, despots and ‘democratically elected’ Governments to secure
for US capital interests the facilities of resource extraction and
profit making. Cost-effective.
Well, early this morning of September 13, 2010 (around 3.33 am to be
exact) my friend Lydie Meunier sent me a link that made me realize that
off-shoring is not just about capital being flexible.
There’s a name I want to share. Binyam Mohamed. An Ethiopian citizen.
Legal resident of Britain. Arrested in Pakistan in 2002. Handed over
to the CIA, which flew him to Morocco where he was held for 18 months,
subjected to an array of tortures including cutting his penis with a
scalpel and pouring a hot, stinging liquid on the open wounds. He was
handed back to the CIA and flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan where
he was held in continuous darkness, fed sparsely and subjected to loud
noise - like the recorded screams of women and children - 24 hours a
day. He was then transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, where he was held for an additional five years.
He was released and returned to Britain in early 2009 and is now
free. Talk about globalization of inhumanity! Talk of off-shoring guilt!
Talk of flexible torture!
Talk of out-sourcing brutality! A federal appeals court in the USA
ruled last week that former prisoners of the CIA cannot sue over their
alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose
secret Government information. Wonderful!
The door is now open to LEGAL (it is not new) ‘dumping’ of torture
and inhumanity. This determination will be cited by US torturers the
world over to protect themselves from legal action and the relevant
court will say ‘Hands off! We cannot expose secret Government
It’s got all the relevant signatures of all the big household names
of capitalism (punning here), this ‘flexibilitying’ of torture and other
horrible and inhuman acts that’s so much a part of US Foreign Policy.
What was missing was the legal cover. It was bound to come. It has now.
Nine years ago there was a terrorist attack on the World Trade
It was a hit at those whose interests the international media defend
tenaciously when push comes to shove. And so for weeks that’s what we
all heard. Two words. Nine. Eleven. There was sympathy for the victims.
For the USA? I think not. There’s a reason.
A reason that has many names. I shall mention just one. Remember this
name. Memorize the spelling.
Whisper it to all US citizens and diplomats you might meet, now or
Binyam Mohamed. Binyam Mohamed. Binyam Mohamed. Binyam Mohamed.
Binyam Mohamed. Binyam Mohamed. Binyam Mohamed. It could be your name
tomorrow, you know.