Having a look at three specific instances which laid the foundation of the Western Civilization and made it that famous turn out to be not too great at all.
Golden Age of Piracy
The opening of the Americas and the enormous wealth brought out by Spain and Portugal made the whole Europe turn in that direction. A spate of trading companies were opened with royal sanctions. However, by virtue of being the first in the line, Spain and Portugal held near monopoly over colonialism. The other countries, resorted to an innovative technique to get their share of wealth – high sea piracy. While Spain and Portugal looted the Americas, England and France looted the treasure ships. This worked in both the ways – use navy to loot the ships, by enlisting known pirates into their official navies – to get a share of whatever they looted. Nothing can be more apt regarding the proof of the importance to such loot in the national memory that the idolization of Francis Drake. Another one prominent is Henry Morgan, a career pirate made the governor of the British Colony of Jamaica, after being knighted.
War of Spanish Succession
The king of Spain is dying without a heir. France under the Sun King, being the most powerful of the European Countries, saw it as an opportunity to place it’s own candidate on the throne. With Spain existing all sides of France, it becomes too obvious for France to secure it’s borders. However, this gave a new set of troubles to the trading European Nations – if Spain is in hostile hands, and with Spain and France together, holding most of the major ports and shippig channels in Europe, the avenue for bringing back the loot from the colonies in Asia, Africa and Americas will become very hard. To assert their right for loot and destruction of civilizations, a grand alliance is knit, with John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough as the Supreme Commander, who had his crowning glory at the Battle of Blenheim. A grateful Britain built him a palace of royal proportions for keeping the loot channels open for a long time.
Occupation of India
Arabian Sea trade channels were one of the oldest maritime routes in the world. The trade was generally dominated by the Arabs, with Indian maritime powers being Gujarat and Calicut; with Gujarat first replaced by Mughals and then by the Marathas. Being well known and with no fear of piracy, the ships were loaded with wares to be sold in distant lands. The balance was disrupted with the entry of Europeans. They have entered the free seas with battleships and looted high sea ships to collect the goods for trade. By the time the suzerains took the issue seriously, the damage was done. Ottoman Sultanate, Egypt, Calicut and Gujarat grouped together to crush the Portuguese, but the ultimate result was a pyrrhic Portugese victory. The modus operendi was this –
1. Use their battleships to loot high sea ships
2. Sell the wares as their own/take them back to show them as profits. This increased the number of ships entering the areas.
3. Bombard the ports to force the kingdoms to accept whatever they sold at the rates of their liking and setting up of trading posts, irrespective of the quality of goods they sold. As and when they gained strength, they destroyed native industry.
4. Use the wealth achieved to create dissent in kingdoms, generally as a revolt of subordinate against superior(example – Cochin against Calicut) or a war of succession(example – Carnatic War) and using the influence, entrench themselves.
5. Reinvest the wealth to buy mercenaries, enhance technology(Industrial Civilization picked up with in a decade of fall of Bengal), there by increasing their rank and file and using the enlarged armies to capture kingdoms. Mahadji Shinde eventually lost because of the rate of replacement of soldiers.
Though explained in Indian context, this vampire model, where the life force of a civilization is used as a feedback loop for their own benefit was a spectacular success all over the world.