Nick Shaxson ■ Quote of the day: opium and competitiveness


From a book called The Opium Wars, one of Britain’s less honourable (to put it mildly) historical escapades, a statement that was prompted by moves in Britain towards stopping the opium trade:

“Her Majesty’s government should do nothing to place in peril our opium revenues. As for preventing the manufacturing of opium, and the sale of it in China, that is far beyond your power.”
Lord Ellenborough, 1843

Do those arguments sound familiar?

Doubtless they were wielded in the name of ‘competitiveness,’ or its equivalent at the time. Around the time, some ten percent of Britain’s revenues came from the opium trade – and, needless to say, the British government capitulated to the opium traffickers.

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