Mon 16 Apr 2007 7:28 PM
If you felt alone in the world of exploitative business enterprise it should cause you no small amount of joy to learn that everyone on the industrialized side of the fence is just as nefarious, trouncing about with the rabid mongrels and shoeless children of the third world. The uniforms worn and the flags waved may have changed but the great white North still has the unlisted numbers to the new guard of colonial rule below the equator. The French army will not be found imposing curfew in North Africa, Britain no longer imposes martial law in India and the Dutch have ceased their murderous pacification in the heart of darkness, but rest assured that the situation is under control. The natives aren’t likely to get uppity because the natives will be shot so the steady stream of cheap imports and the bottomless pool of cheap labour will continue to exist for our amusement and profit.
Historically the Germans were not forerunners in the imperial land-grabs of yore, waiting for world events to invest much in properties beyond the borders. In the modern era we have Bert Morsbach, formerly an engineer from Dusseldorf just shy of seventy, who has labored for the past couple of years to introduce his Myanmar Vineyards. A sprawling 40-acre paradise in western Myanmar welcomes guests to tour the property, enjoy a fine meal and, perhaps, even stay for a couple days. Soak up the temperate climate in the shadows of the Blue Mountains just forty miles from the famed Inle Lake. Sample the fine selection of European-styled wines with a hint of magical Southeast Asia.
Then go home. Not even the US government calls it Myanmar– it’s Burma. This is the country where, a hundred and fifty miles due east in Chin State, there’s a brutal effort to Burmanize
the ethnically distinct denizens. Refugees are pouring into neighboring India desperate to escape the soldiers. They bring stories of rape, of kidnapping, of enslavement. They bring stories of porterage, a term borrowed from the colonial powers who had previously held sway. The Red Cross has recently been sent packing, journalists are allowed in country only on special junket tours and somehow, despite a collapsed economy and more trade sanctions than any country not on the axis of evil tour, the new capital city Naypyitaw has flowered in central Burma. It was built by slaves and it was paid for by a junta which, paranoid, clings to power by surrounding its population with machine guns. This has been the situation since 1962 when the recently independent republic (released from Britain after WWII) was overrun in a military coup. Drink your wine and then go home. (more…)