Whoa. September was a complete washout, a zilch, for my plan to return to being a writer and getting my own voice back out there after nearly a decade of supporting other people’s voices.
I have been super-busy in other parts of the Just World (anti-imperialist) “Empire”. I planned and then have been managing challenges in the rollout of Just World Ed’s US-China Dialogue project. And then under my other hat of owning and running the Just World Books publishing house, I made the rash decision back in August to buy the N. American rights to a really intriguing book from South Africa… and after a bunch of work I announced its North America launch yesterday. I also did a bit of grandparenting and went with Bill the Spouse to our favorite lake in Maine for two weeks.
So here is a quick view of what I have not been writing about in the past six weeks but am still planning to:
- The seminal role of sugar in both the emergence and now, 500 years later, the decline of the global power of the “West”. Emergence-wise, I’ve been reading numerous books about the key role that mainly sugar plantation-based, slavery-powered colonialism in the West Indies played in laying the basis for both the Industrial Revolution in the UK and in funding/preparing the emergence of all the big European-origin empires that dominated the whole world order from the 18th century CE on. Eric Williams’s Capitalism and Slavery and Sidney Mintz’s Sweetness and Power have been key readings for me, but I’ve been reading Hilary Beckles’s great Britain’s Black Debt and a ton of other things, too. (Williams was so much better of a writer– and researcher– than Mintz.)
- Decline-wise, it seems fairly clear now that key co-morbidities for death from Covid are obesity and diabetes, both of which have been fed in Western populations (and others) over the centuries by the over-availability of sugar…
- I’m also interested in many different dimensions of the history of the West Indies, including the way that in the 16th and 17th centuries the various European powers parried against each other there and then as a part of that parrying, how numerous Caribbean littoral areas and islands became key locations for the slavery-powered cultivation of sugar. Sitting here in the United States, as I have for the past 38 years, I have not been nearly cognizant enough of the role of the West Indies in the birth of capitalism (and capitalist/Western world power.) I haven’t been nearly as aware as I should have been of the strength of the Afro-Caribbean reparations movement– or, of the considerable amount of work that’s been done in the UK in the past couple of decades to build a very solid body of documentation that can help this reparations movement. I have been deeply inspired by what I’ve been learning about all this, and want to write a lot about it…
Realistically, I may not get back to doing most of this writing for a while. In addition to the two projects I described above, there’s another one that Just World Ed is planning for November, on Food Sovereignty issues around Gaza, that I’ll need to do some serious work on.
Anyway, even just coming onto the JWN platform to write these few notes about what I’m not writing about feels good. I should come back here more often.