“Britain should pay India reparations for 200 years colonial rule”

Maybe the Greek should pay India for the damage done by Alexander the Great and Italy should pay France for the Roman occupation. The Neanderthals should be compensated for their extinction by the Homo Sapiens. Mexicans should be compensated for the moon crater, and I should be compensated for bad genes. Maybe I should sue my deceased grandfather.

That was an answer using technique number 1: “The extension, exaggerate your opponent’s proposition beyond its limits.” The metaphor of suing the deceased grandfather is an example of technique number 12, “Choose metaphors that support your position”. The position here is that you can’t blame current generations for the actions of their ancestors just as much as you can’t blame your grandparents for passing on their genes. We have to make the best of what we’re born with.

What was the issue? According to Dr. Shashi Tharoor at a speech for the Oxford Union (article in the Independent):

“In fact, Britain’s industrial revolution was actually premised upon the de-industrialisation of India.”

Interesting as this proposition is, the historical truth of the statement doesn’t matter here, we’re talking big bucks, like, I don’t know, the entire aggregated added value of the industrialisation to the British GDP for the past 500 years or so? Minus the amount of the aggregated surplus value of the GDP that would have occurred if the UK industrialised without India? Are we still in plus or minus? Should we deduct the costs of warfare in India as operating costs? Or add the opportunity costs of destroyed infrastructure as a result of the warfare? Or subtract the added value of the investments in infrastructure and education in India? What about the good will created by learning the Indians to speak English, what is the economic value of that? What about the Indians agree to pay off the Brits for the psychological damage to their cultural identity when they lost their colonies and immigrated to the UK en masse? Rhetorical questions are a great technique. As a rhetorical counter-argument to shoot back, I’d respond with:

Answer: “You’re stealing British jobs by undercutting the market. Consider that a reparation.” This has to be said in front of an audience so that the, right, public will hear it:

Technique number 28, ad auditorium: “Persuade the audience, not the opponent.” This is what Dr. Tharoor does as well. His audience was not the Oxford Union, but the general public and especially his fellow country-men.


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