Read it here
My third talk in a series of three on capital was at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb. The second talk is here (Translating Capital in Context) and it makes sense to see the second talk first [the first one in Rijeka was not recorded, but was based on my text on Citizen Kane], not least because it will help explain why the conceit in this third talk has Marx relocated to India, which of course he was always deeply interested in, but he never went, only picking up bits of info, and some myths – eg the horror stories of Jagannath etc – from his wide-ranging and varied reading. I think it is justified to deploy Marx to Calcutta, at least in fantasy, though its true not even Engels took his father’s advice to go to Calcutta to start in business. The old boys were European bound, but this did not mean they did not seek out the revolution elsewhere.
What also should be mentioned (the parts here are – great job – edited and slightly reordered, and the opening by Bernard missed) is that in this talk I set out to look at three different moments. 1) the arrival of Clive in Calcutta after the ‘sham scandal’ of the Black Hole in 1756; 2) the first all-India war of Independence, the so-called ‘mutiny’ 100 years later and; 3) the quid pro quo return of originary capital to the site of the East India Company shipyard in London in present times, under the aegis of the Farrell’s development of Convoys’ Wharf, Deptford, for Hutchinson Whampoa.
I am slowly writing this out as a long, too long, chapter, so this version is pretty schematic, but you will get the drift of new work. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks also to the crew at Subversive, especially Karolina Hrga, and Bernard Koludrović who was chair.
“Marx writing on India is key to understanding Capital. My argument is that we can make sense of Marx today by examining his theoretical and journalistic work together, each informed by an emergent anthropology, by historical hermeneutics, by a critique of political economy and by attention to a global political contest that mattered more than philosophy. Marx reading history, already against the grain and without being able to make actual alliances, is nevertheless seeking allies in a revolutionary cause. Is it possible to observe Marx coming round to realise, after the shaping experience of the 1848-1852 European uprisings, the possibilities for the many different workers of the world to unite? I consider the sources Marx finds available, what he reads, and how his writing practice parses critical support as habitual politics, and how far subcontinental events, themes and allegories are a presence in the key moves of his masterwork Capital almost as if India were a refocused bromide for Europe, just as slavery is for wages. I will take up four cases – the ‘founding’ of Calcutta by Job Charnock (disputed); the story of Clive sacking Chandernagore and going on to defeat Suraj-ud-duala at Palashi/Plassey in 1757 in retaliation for the ‘Black Hole’ (did it exist?); Disraeli verbosely saying nothing about the so-called Indian ‘mutiny’ 1857 (‘the East as a career’); and the question of legalizing Opium in China and the advent of Matheson-Jardine Company after the East India Company comes to an end (‘quid pro quo’). All of this brings us back to the realities of global investment and regeneration in Europe today, as international capital returns to the port of London to redevelop the old East India Company shipyards in Deptford.”
15/5/2014, 21h, Cinema Europa, Zagreb, Croatia
John Hutnyk: Quid pro quo: the East as a career
7th Subversive festival: “Power and Freedom in the Time of Control”
Moderator: Bernard Koludrović
The Whampoa and Kowloon Dock company was founded by William Jardine of Jardine Matheson, shipbuilders, jade merchants and opium traders; Douglas Lapraik, watchmaker and shipbuilder; Thomas Sutherland Founder of the HSBC bank, managing director of P&O, member of parliament, leader of the Liberal opposition; and Jas Whittal, manager for Jardine Matheson (Feldwick 1917). Fortunes made from opium, or from the provision of port facilities to opium traders, facilitated vast wealth extraction. Skip a hundred years and the docklands need attention, enter the modern avatar: the Hutchinson Whampoa corporation is presently 49% owned by Cheung group, led by Li Ka-Shing since 1977, the 8th richest person in the world – it owns the 3 phone network, hotel chains apartment house, mining, telecommunications, philanthropist. And coming soon to Deptford…
This below is just in from the Architecture Journal.
Boris approves Farrells’ £1bn Convoys Wharf scheme
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has approved Terry Farrells’ £1bn Convoys Wharf scheme in Deptford, south east London
Farrell’s masterplan for the 40 acre site, which was submitted for outline planning back in May last year, includes 3,500 new homes, shops, restaurants, and public space.
A plea from the scheme’s developer Hutchinson Whampoa resulted in the application being ‘called in’ by Johnson back in October, after Lewisham Council’s 16 week period to make a decision expired.
Johnson said: ‘We need to build thousands of new homes in the capital and proposals to do that at Convoys Wharf have stalled for far too long. I am pleased that we have been able to work on a scheme that will have enormous social and economic benefits for local people while preserving the heritage aspects of the site.’
The planning approval includes a section 106 agreement which requires City Hall planners to meet with Lewisham and Hutchison Whampoa to come up with an alternative scheme for Sayes Court Garden, and to build a community centre with a primary school at the centre of the site.
The developer has also been requested to fund a feasibility study into the building of a replica of the Lenox warship which was built on the site, looking into how it can be incorporated into the regeneration of the historic site.
The site in Deptford which has been derelict for the past 14 years is said to be one of the largest potential sites for new housing in the capital.
Convoys Wharf Site to Participate in Open House 2013
Hutchison Whampoa are delighted to announce they will be opening the Convoys Wharf site to the public on Saturday 21st September 2013, as part of the London Open House.
Open access to the site will take place between 11am-5pm. Visitors can look forward to viewing an exhibition of the masterplan proposals in the historic Olympia warehouse, while meeting members of the Convoys Wharf development team and also enjoy a riverfront pop-up café.
Open House London celebrates London’s premium buildings, places and neighbourhoods and offers a cost free, unique opportunity annually to discover the the city’s innovative architecture, with over 700 buildings of all kinds opening their doors to everyone.
To find out more about London Open House 2013 and to see what other activities are taking place around London, please visit their website at:
This, from the East India Company ship yards to the return of Whampoa opium capital to London, is the topic of my talk the day before at the Zeitgeist workshop in Bielefeld.
John Evelyn’s garden at Sayes Court was one of the most famous and revolutionary gardens of its time. Evelyn’s many visitors included his friends Samuel Pepys and Christopher Wren, and even Charles II himself. Through surviving documentary evidence the garden’s legacy lives on, but the garden itself fell into sad neglect shortly after his death in 1706, and through the vacillations of fate has come down to us today as a corner of the parcel of Thames-side Deptford known as Convoys Wharf. Now scheduled for development, the current owners intend to build directly where the most innovative and influential parts of the garden lay, destroying any future possibilities for discovery. The project Sayes Court Garden is founded on the belief that this crucial piece of our national heritage is not only a once-beautiful historic garden, but also has a vital role to play in the success of the new development for the community at large.
Deptford is now perceived as a deprived neighbourhood of south-east London, classified as an Opportunity Area in the Mayor’s London Plan. The forty acres of Convoys Wharf dominate the river; long closed off to the public at large, at first glance it looks like any other brownfield site in need of some urgent and much welcome development. However, this is not entirely the case. The whole site has a rich history, and just under the concrete skin lie not only the origins of the garden, but also the granite docks and slipways of Henry VIII’s Royal Dockyard, founded in 1513. For 350 years this was the foremost Naval Dockyard in the realm; Raleigh, Drake and Cook all have their stories here. In Evelyn’s time the manor of Sayes Court was walled off from the Dockyard, but they were closely linked.
In 1856 what remained of the house and grounds were purchased by the Admiralty and incorporated into the expanding Dockyard. As new ships became too large with the silting up of the Thames, the site was sold. The proposals from the current owners, Hutchison Whampoa, consist of 3,514 new homes in a mixed-use development, to include retail and office space, a primary school and a working wharf. The success and longevity of such a development depends to a large extent on a sensitive response to the site and its surroundings – both cultural and physical. To achieve these aims the design needs to be distinctive and engaging: heritage assets hold the key. Restoring John Evelyn’s garden at Sayes Court would bring immeasurable benefits to the area, and stimulate interest and recognition from around the world. Along with the potential to mark Henry VIII’s Dockyard on the same site, this neglected corner of London could become a tourist destination in its own right, complementing nearby Greenwich along the Thames Path. For the neighbourhood itself, this extraordinary garden could help to define the character of the new development, giving a strong sense of identity and becoming a source of local pride.
One of the most exciting aspects of the project is the garden’s capacity to function as an open space under the democratic guardianship of the community: a new “common”. It would be a place of delight and beauty for everyone to enjoy, a challenge to the trend which sees access to our exceptional heritage reserved for the wealthier boroughs. Planting the numerous trees and medicinal herbs would bring sorely needed and ever-increasing advantages to health and the local environment, and the garden could become once again the setting for experiments and research. All in all, it would be a fitting remembrance for two great and generous-hearted men who dedicated their lives to improving conditions for all strata of society: John Evelyn himself and also his descendant, William John Evelyn, who donated his ancestor’s garden to the people of Deptford. After everything that has since passed, it is proper that it should belong to the public again.
Hutchison Whampoa need to be persuaded that these benefits outweigh any difficulties in re-structuring part of their design or possibly losing a small portion of building land. The current proposals completely ignore Sayes Court Garden, and support is urgently needed if this unique piece of London’s past is to be saved – to become part of our future.