Third Worlds

godfather kathmandu

…narcotics, slaves, and weapons. It’s the great tripod upon which our global civilization continues to be based, even if they have changed the labels and the slaves get health insurance.

It’s an arguable position that while certain Eastern countries are economic third worlds, so too are certain Western countries spiritual third worlds. Here, “third world” means really, really, really behind the rest of the world in development.

This case is made in “The Godfather of Kathmandu” by John Burdett, the fourth of his Bangkok series of murder mysteries. It’s a bang on good story and here are some excerpts:

He gives me a glance. “Go ahead, laugh.” He shakes his head and glances around the coffee shop. Out of the corner of his mouth: “If I could have held out against the sex instinct for a little longer, I might have gotten mature enough to be a monk. But I couldn’t, and what can I do now? My whole mind is cramped; there’s nothing I don’t worry about, and I have no idea where the worry comes from. I don’t like my social identity. I don’t like identity. I hate having to be somebody, it’s so burdensome.” My jaw has dropped, and for a moment all I can manage is a high wai to honor his wisdom.  p. 73

That’s one of the great advantages of Buddhism, by the way, farang, it’s not results-oriented. There’s no way you can ever work on someone else’s karma, only your own. p. 89

“We offered each other the opportunity to be intelligent without restraint.” p. 131

“And if we ask ourselves how it came about that red-faced primitives from the far Northwest managed to dominate and militarize the whole world for more than three hundred years, there really is only one answer: opium. Millions upon millions of tons of it. They grew it in India and shipped it to China under armed escort until twenty million Chinese were addicted.” “By the nineteenth century the entire British Empire would have gone bankrupt without the narcotic. The French were similarly active in Indochina, the Dutch sold anything to anyone, the Germans tried to catch up, while the Americans stuck mostly to slavery. What do these countries all have in common? Only this: that through narcotics trafficking and trading in slaves they were able to invest in heavy industry that put them two hundred years ahead of the field, which has only now begun to catch up. But it’s a macro economic strategy that can only be achieved by a united nation. Gentleman, for the sake of the global economy, peace, and the evolution of our species, you must join together today in this great venture of sale and purchase [of opium from Tibet].” p.192

“And do you know what this asshole named Clive of India did to the world?” “British Empire.” “Financed by?” “Opium sales.” “If you put it like that you risk trivializing his achievement. He was the first to make the connection between arms and narcotics. This little thug from Shropshire, who would certainly have been hanged if he’d stayed in England, saw the way to finance a whole private army, and the model proved so effective they repeated it all over the world: narcotics, slaves, and weapons. It’s the great tripod upon which our global civilization continues to be based, even if they have changed the labels and the slaves get health insurance. The plain fact is, the sociopathic nature of the modern corporation started then and there with Clive. By the time the British narco empire collapsed, twenty million Chinese were addicted to opium and pink-faced syphilitic alcoholics in scarlet jackets were intimidating the whole world with their Maxim guns. The United Kingdom in its modern form is an opium derivative. And what was the point of the exercise? Answer: so middle-class girls in Kent and Sussex could go to school all dressed in white and play the violin instead of going on the Game. If that is good enough justification for enslaving the world and invading Tibet, don’t you think that forty million dollar’s worth of smack is a fair price for freedom and democracy?” pp. 186-287

You cannot grasp the way with your hand, nor even your mind; you have to let it lead you. p. 295


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