Introduction – global avoidable mortality
“What are a few hundred thousand to the Multitudians, whose myriads are countless?! A loss that goes unnoticed is no loss at all.”
the Multitudians to the Great Constructor Trurl in The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem 1
“But the main thing he sees is that the whole system of the world is built on a lie.”
Jake in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers 2
“In the standard of life they have nothing to spare. The slightest fall from the present standard of life in India means slow starvation, and the actual squeezing out of life, not only of millions but of scores of millions of people, who have come into the world at your invitation and under the shield and protection of British power.”
Winston Churchill, speech to the House of Commons (1935) 3
“But the agony of European Jewry was enacted in a separate moral arena, a grim twilight world where their conventional ethical moral code did not apply. And so they “came and looked, and passed by on the other side”.”
Bernard Wasserstein on British Establishment moral perception of the Jewish Holocaust 4
“Le scandale du monde est ce que fait l’offence, Et ce n’est pas pécher que pécher en silence (It is public scandal that constitutes offence, and to sin in secret is not to sin at all).”
Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) in Le Tartuffe 5
1.1 Science & history – history ignored yields history repeated
Humanity has made immense strides over the last few millennia through rational investigation of the world. Scientific analysis of the world involves truth, reason, free communication and application of the scientific method involving generating and critically testing potentially falsifiable hypotheses 6. Departure from this methodology de-rails the scientific process (although as analysed by Kuhn 7, Koestler 8 and others there are other ways of approaching reality and “right brain” mysticism, aesthetics and poetry have been important in the genesis of some radical new views of reality leading to major scientific breakthroughs).
Critically, lying by omission (ignoring, rubbing out, deleting or hiding the data) or lying by commission (falsifying the data) are fundamentally inimical to understanding reality. This is particularly true in scientific approaches to history and human affairs. “Rubbing out” data relating to mass human mortality greatly increases the probability of the recurrence of such events. Thus we are familiar with the adage “history ignored yields history repeated” 9 and the post-Jewish Holocaust (Shoah) resolution “Never again” of the Jewish people. Indeed in this same spirit, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland and Israel have made holocaust denial illegal (albeit only in relation to the Jewish Holocaust).
While we are all aware of the horror and magnitude of the Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims) we shall see that other immense, man-made mass mortality events have been deleted from history even as they were happening.
1.2 Deleting history – the “forgotten”, man-made, WW2 Bengal famine
Even in the liberal Anglo-Celtic democracies, huge, man-made mass mortality events continue to be “rubbed out” of history books, media offerings and hence from general public perception. Thus during World War 2 (WW2) in British-ruled India there was an immense man-made, economic, “market forces” famine in the major province of Bengal that killed an estimated 4 million Hindu and Muslim victims. In essence, a number of factors had led to an increase in the price of rice, the Bengali staple. Those who could not afford the ultimate 4-fold increase in the price of rice simply perished in the context of callous foreign rule.
Major factors contributing to the increase in the price of rice included a huge decrease in Indian grain imports, Japanese occupation of rice-producing areas of Burma, decreases in rice production due to storm and fungal pathogen infection, British strategic seizure of boats, British sequestration of some food stocks, a massive decrease in Indian Ocean Allied shipping (in turn due to the successive events of strategically erroneous Allied bombing of Germany, decreased protection of Atlantic convoys and big losses of Allied shipping), granting of provincial autonomy over their own grain reserves (a divide and rule policy), deliberate British ignoring of the Famine Codes for “political reasons”, hoarding and racist British administrative lethargy. Calcutta was a major industrial city undergoing a war-time boom and essentially sucked food out of a starving, food-producing countryside. 10
Keeping the Indians half-starved was evidently a successful British control policy over 2 centuries. However it has been suggested that the real reason for the Bengal Famine was a cold-blooded, deliberate scorched earth policy so that any Japanese invasion of India from Burma would encounter a starving countryside 11 - rather akin to the highly successful British strategy by Sir Arthur Wellesley (later Lord Wellington) against the French under Masséna in the defence of Lisbon in 1811 during the Napoleonic Wars). 12
Civilian and military sexual exploitation of starving women and girls involved some 30,000 victims in Calcutta alone, possibly hundreds of thousands throughout Bengal and was so large as to impact upon female survival statistics. The involvement of the British Military Labour Corps in this famine-enforced violation of women and girls demands comparison with the notorious WW2 “comfort women” abuses of the Japanese Imperial Army. 13
Remarkably, this horrendous, man-made disaster that occurred at the same time as the Jewish Holocaust and killed a similar number of people has been largely “rubbed out” of British history books and from general public perception – it represents a major “forgotten holocaust” because “history is written by the victor”. The reader can readily estimate the extent of this continuing British academic, politician and media holocaust-denial by scanning relevant texts in their personal, local, city or university libraries.
Bengal is well-watered, has rich soil, an energetic population and abundant sunshine. It is definitely one part of South Asia that should be famine-proof. However a dozen years after the conquest of Bengal by Robert Clive (at the Battle of Plassey, 1757), a man-made famine in 1769-1770, precipitated by food shortage and exacerbated by rapacious British taxation, killed 10 million Bengalis or one third of the population. Yet the Great Bengal Famine is substantially deleted from British history and when rarely mentioned is dismissed in a few words. During the subsequent 2 centuries, Bengal (as well as other parts of British-ruled India) was swept by repeated famines, with this culminating in the “forgotten” WW2 Bengal famine.
In 1971 the US-armed and US-backed military regime in West Pakistan overturned the results of a democratic election and invaded East Pakistan (the future Bangladesh). 3 million Bengalis were killed and 0.3 million Bengali women and girls raped. 14 However an even worse disaster now faces Bengal due to the consequences of First World industrial profligacy, namely inundation of this substantially deltaic country from the successive consequences of global warming, sea level rises, increases cyclonic intensity and storm surges (a fate threatening other tropical delta regions including southern Thailand, parts of China and the Gulf states of the USA).
Thus in both 1988 and 1998 over half of Bangladesh was under water (from excess monsoon run-off) and 2005 saw the devastating inundation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Humanity is being seriously endangered by First World greed and unacceptable disregard of history and physical reality. However a holocaust has been happening over the last half century that dwarfs the Jewish holocaust and the “forgotten” Bengal Famine by a factor of about 100 – a largely unreported global avoidable mortality holocaust that has taken the lives of about 1.3 billion human beings since 1950.
1.3 Avoidable mortality (excess mortality), under-5 infant mortality and foreign occupation
Europeans are aware from daily news reports that the human condition can be dreadful in the non-European world. This awfulness can be quantitatively assessed by dispassionately measuring human mortality over the last 55 years using publicly-available United Nations (UN) data.
The United Nations Population Division provides periodically updated demographic estimates and projections for every country and region of the World since 1950. When this project commenced in 2003, the latest data was the “2002 Revision” (later supplanted in 2005 by the “2004 Revision”). 15 The data tabulated in this book were laboriously calculated over 18 months using the “2002 Revision” data and projections.
Avoidable mortality (technically, excess mortality) is the difference between the ACTUAL mortality in a country and the mortality EXPECTED in a peaceful, decently-run country with the same demographics.
By 1950 ALL the World potentially had access to the requisites for very the low avoidable mortality obtaining in European countries, namely clean water, sanitation, proper nutrition, literacy (especially female literacy), primary health care, antibiotics and major preventive medicine programs including public health education, prophylactics (such as insecticides, antiseptics, mosquito netting, soap and condoms) and major vaccinations.
However such benefits took decades to arrive in many countries and are still variously lacking in African countries. Nevertheless, in most countries outside Africa the annual mortality rate (expressed as deaths per 1,000 people per year) typically declined to a minimum and in the best countries (typically European and East Asian countries) eventually began to rise, with this reflecting aging populations.
In the present analysis the baseline expected mortality rates for all countries were estimated graphically for countries grouped demographically in relation to birth rate, a key demographic parameter. This methodology (detailed in Chapter 2) has a fundamental assumption, namely that from 1950 all the World could and should have had access to the basic requisites for human survival outlined above.
In reality, in the preceding decade most of the non-European World was under First World hegemony (Central and South America) or First World occupation (most of Asia, Africa and the Pacific). Despite the Geneva Conventions (1949) that unambiguously specified that occupying powers were obliged to do everything possible to preserve the lives of their conquered subjects, 16 the subject non-European World did not receive such life-sustaining requisites from their colonial and neo-colonial masters.
As outlined above, using Web-accessible UN Population Division demographic data, avoidable mortality (excess mortality) was calculated for every country in the World since 1950. The results are horrendous as outlined below.
1.4 Global avoidable mortality (excess mortality)
The 1950-2005 avoidable mortality (excess mortality) has been 1.3 billion for the World, 1.2 billion for the non-European World and about 0.6 billion for the Muslim World - a Muslim Holocaust about 100 times greater than the World War 2 Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims) and the “forgotten” World War 2 Bengal Famine in British-ruled India (4 million Hindu and Muslim victims).
By way of corroboration, using UN data it is possible to calculate the under-5 infant mortality for every country in the World since 1950. The under-5 infant mortality has been 0.88 billion for the World, 0.85 billion for the non-European World and about 0.4 billion for the Muslim World.
Whether a person dies violently or dies non-violently from deprivation or malnourishment-exacerbated disease, the end result is the same and the culpability the same. Further, the Ruler is responsible for the Ruled and (as clearly specified by the Geneva Conventions) an Occupying Power is clearly responsible for avoidable mortality in a conquered country. However avoidable mortality consequent on callous foreign control does not typically cease when foreign soldiers depart. Thus "occupation" can include economic and political hegemony by a foreign power.
First World countries (notably the US, UK, France, Portugal and Russia) variously have a major responsibility for the horrendous post-1950 avoidable mortality in the non-European World through impositions such as colonial occupation, neo-colonial control, corrupt client régimes, militarization, debt, economic exclusion, economic constraint, malignant interference, international war and civil war.
War and foreign occupation have had a major impact on avoidable mortality. This is simply illustrated by geo-political grouping of the countries of the World and expressing their post-1950 avoidable mortality and under-5 infant mortality as percentages of the present (2005) population (indicative of how many post-1950 avoidable deaths or under-5 year old deaths, respectively, for every 100 people alive today for the country or region in question).
Post-1950 avoidable mortality as a percentage of present population has been 2.7% (Overseas Europe, comprising North America, Australasia and Israel), 5.0% (Western Europe), 7.5% (Eastern Europe), 9.4% (Latin America and Caribbean), 10.9% (East Asia), 20.7% (Central Asia), 23.0% (Arab North Africa and Middle East), 25.1% (South East Asia), 27.3% (the Pacific), 31.9% (South Asia) and 43.2% (non-Arab Africa).
Post-1950 under-5 infant mortality as a percentage of present population has been 1.5% (Overseas Europe), 1.7% (Western Europe), 3.8% (Eastern Europe), 9.7% (Latin America and Caribbean), 10.7% (East Asia), 12.8% (South East Asia), 13.0% (the Pacific), 17.0% (Central Asia), 15.4% (Arab North Africa and Middle East), 19.5% (South Asia) and 27.3% (non-Arab Africa).
It can be clearly seen from the above data that elevated post-1950 avoidable mortality and under-5 infant mortality is generally associated with First World occupation and hegemony.
1.5 Non-reportage of global avoidable mortality ensures its continuance
As outlined above, non-reportage of man-made mass mortality events helps ensure their future repetition. Denial of the Jewish Holocaust is regarded as utterly repugnant and indeed is a criminal offence in a number of countries historically linked to that catastrophe. Nevertheless, First World-dominated global mainstream media in general utterly refuse to report the greatest crime in human history, namely the First World-complicit global avoidable mortality holocaust. Academics, politicians and public figures are also complicit in this almost comprehensive, holocaust-denying lying by omission.
Holocaust-ignoring has deadly consequences. Thus the World largely ignored a dozen years of Nazi anti-Semitism and it was only 30 months before the end of WW2 that the Allied Governments formally acknowledged the reality of the Jewish Holocaust. On 17 December 1942 in the House of Commons, Anthony Eden formally read out a joint statement on behalf of 11 Allied Governments: “numerous reports from Europe [indicate] that the German authorities, not content with denying to persons of Jewish race in all the territories over which their barbarous rule has been extended the elementary rights, are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people of Europe. The number of victims of these bloody cruelties is reckoned in many hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent men, women and children ...” 16
60 years on from the end of WW2, the First World is gripped with a new kind of racism and indeed a new kind of anti-Semitism. If the academics, journalists, politicians, teachers and other public figures of a prosperous, selfish and right-wing First World country such as Australia were to resolutely ignore the Jewish Holocaust, the world would be quite reasonable in regarding them as racist and, specifically, anti-Semitic. Yet the US-led Anglo-Celtic Coalition countries, including Australia, resolutely ignore the global excess mortality holocaust and First World complicity in this avoidable carnage – and while ignoring horrendous continuing injustice to Muslims and Arabs, have demonized and violated these very people in the dishonestly-named and horrendously disproportionate War on Terror. The First World ignoring of the First World-complicit global avoidable mortality holocaust is dishonest, racist and deadly.
This book has been written because, while peace is the only way, silence kills and silence is complicity. We are obliged to inform everyone about ongoing, avoidable human mass mortality. We cannot walk by on the other side. 17
Highly successful, rational, scientific approaches to reality involve truth, reason, free communication and the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses. Lying by omission and commission derails the scientific process. The victor writes history but history ignored yields history repeated. “Rubbing out” or ignoring mass mortality events increases the probability of their recurrence. While we are all aware of the WW2 Jewish Holocaust, the WW2 man-made Bengal Famine in British-ruled India has been largely deleted from history and from general perception. The World is also generally unaware of the horrendous extent of First World-complicit avoidable mortality (excess mortality) in non-European countries. Avoidable mortality (excess mortality) is defined as the difference between the actual mortality and the mortality expected in a peaceful, decently-run country with the same demographics. Publicly-available UN demographic data have enabled calculation of the post-1950 excess mortality for virtually every country in the World. The post-1950 excess mortality has been 1.3 billion for the World, 1.2 billion for the non-European World and 0.6 billion for the Muslim World, a Muslim Holocaust 100 times greater than the Jewish Holocaust or the “forgotten” Bengal Famine.
By way of corroboration, the post-1950 under-5 infant mortality has been 0.88 billion for the World, 0.85 billion for the non-European World and 0.4 billion for the Muslim World. About 90% of the under-5 infant mortality in the non-European world has been avoidable. The First World (principally the UK, the US, France, Portugal and Russia) have had major complicity in post-1950 excess mortality, this variously involving colonial occupation, neo-colonial hegemony, corrupt client régimes, economic constraint, economic exclusion, militarization, debt, malignant interference, international war and civil war. Non-reportage by media, academics and politicians of the horrendous extent of global excess mortality and infant mortality ensures a continuing carnage of about 55,000 avoidable deaths every day. Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. We cannot walk by on the other side.