Sunday, 24 March 2013


Although influence-peddling and lobbying is no stranger to modern-day political syndicates, it is interesting how this sometimes shadowy and sometimes blatant phenomenon has not had a direct line of succession and has historically enjoyed many different levels of tolerance.

Existing within quite another framework than contemporary industry pressures, perhaps the most comprehension template was an entity known as the Dutch East India Company (Vereenige Oost-Indische Compagnie). The mission was established at the beginning of the seventeenth century, in the midst of the Golden Age of Exploration and the colonial movement, with the charge to manage trade between the Netherlands and the Far East. The company, granted the powers of a sovereign nation, acted as an ombudsman, held a monopoly on commerce, though facing the competition of other equally constituted mercenaries, for nearly two centuries, through negotiating treaties, minting money, raising and razing cities and establish justice systems.
While the company’s most famous exploits concerned the spice-trade, they were also responsible for introducing tulips from Turkey to Europe, which lead to the creation of the world’s first stock-market and first economic bubble and subsequent crash. Many battles ensued among these competing companies, whom all European powers were eager to proxy, and the exploits of colonialism propagated much suffering for the colonialized. Business further diversified to coffee, textiles and china, and late in its career, the Dutch East India Company took on the role of creating and regulating a network among Asian countries, which did not exist beforehand. Businesses are not given such de facto powers any longer, but I wonder if the environment is not so different, and whether sanctioned or permitted, encouraged, if industry has the largess to proceed unchallenged. Do you think it’s better to suffer liberal but defined powers or face a technocracy that respects none?