Seventeenth century globalisation story time

Gather round children. Do you know where black pepper comes from? Where it used to come from?

Black pepper is native to South East-Asia and Europeans needed it, because without it the rotten food we ate tasted awful. But Europeans produced nothing much that Asians wanted other than silver and gold, and we didn’t produce much of that. So do you know how we bought pepper?

We sent guns to Africa to buy slaves. We sent slaves to Latin America to dig up shiny metals. We sent the shiny metals via Europe to South East-Asia to buy pepper and they told us to bugger off.

“Bugger off?” Asked Jenkins.

“Yeah,” said Obduluwangay “we’re naked, why do we need these round pieces of metal?”

So we changed tactics. We sent guns to Africa to buy slaves. We sent slaves to Latin America to dig up shiny metals. We sent the shiny metals via Europe to India. In India we hired brokers to hire weavers. The weavers sold us cloths and we took them to South East-Asia and they told us to bugger off.

“Bugger off?” Asked Jenkins, now he was really annoyed.

“Yeah,” said Obduluwangay “I’m not wearing that! Is that chintz?”

“Yes” said Jenkins, “don’t you like chintz?”

Obduluwangay looked offended, “that’s the sort of thing they wear in Bantam, not round here.”

So we changed tactics again. We sent guns to Africa to buy slaves. We sent slaves to Latin America to dig up shiny metals. We sent the shiny metals via Europe to India. In India we hired brokers to hire weavers. The weavers sold us cloths and our brokers told us where to go and we took these specific cloths to specific cities in South East-Asia where specific styles were worn.

“Oh lovely,” Obduluwangay said “have some pepper.”

“Hooray!” declared Jenkins, who promptly died of scurvy.

Thus concludes our story. The world has been a globalised place for a very long time, but it is a significantly better one now than it ever has been before.

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