Jane Austen and ...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jane Austen and the Black Hole. Preface


Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability

Gideon Maxwell Polya

2008 Second Edition with Preface and Chapter Postscripts revealing horrendous Anglo-American Alliance holocaust commission, holocaust denial, genocide commission, genocide denial and “History ignored yields History repeated”, 1998-2008

PLUS comprehensive, updated INDEX (including a comprehensive Jane Austen Works & Connections INDEX)

G.M. Polya


First edition (1998). Copyright © Gideon Maxwell Polya, 1998. All rights reserved.

Second edition (2008). Copyright © Gideon Maxwell Polya, 2008. All rights reserved.

This book is copyright. This book may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, translated or transmitted in whole or in part, electronically or otherwise, without the written permission of the author, Gideon Maxwell Polya, except for brief excerpts in connection with reviews or scholarly analysis and subject to the conditions prescribed by the Copyright Act, 1968.

The author, Dr. Gideon Maxwell Polya, was formerly a Reader/Associate Professor in Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, 3086, Australia. The author of over 100 scientific publications, Dr. Polya was the Executive Director of the Asian-Australian Centre for the Study of Bioactive Medicinal Plant Constituents and the author of “Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds. A pharmacological reference guide to sites of action and biological effects” (Taylor & Francis & CRC Press, London & New York, 2003) and “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007).

Published by G.M. Polya, 29 Dwyer Street, Macleod, Melbourne, Victoria, 3085, Australia (e-mail: gpolya@bigpond.com ).

Copies may be purchased from G.M. Polya (price on request).

ISBN 978-1-921377-44-0

Printed by Campus Graphics, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Melbourne, Victoria 3086, Australia.


Preamble, including Preface to revised and expanded Second Edition [ i ]

1. Introduction - truth, reason, science and history [ 1 ]

2. The editing of Jane Austen’s maternal connections - the Leighs and Brydges [ 8 ]

3. The editing of the Austens and consequences of rustic amusement [ 18 ]

4. Jane Austen’s siblings and their descendants [ 27 ]

5. The editing of Jane Austen’s life [ 33 ]

6. The rare intrusion of humble social reality into Jane Austen’s novels [ 42 ]

7. The sensibility of Jane Austen’s literary contemporaries [ 56 ]

8. The judgement of Jane Austen’s peers and successors [ 66 ]

9. The East India Company, the Black Hole and the conquest of Bengal [ 75 ]

10. The Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 [ 88 ]

11. Warren Hastings and the conquest of India [ 99 ]

12. The impeachment of Warren Hastings and the judgement of history [ 106 ]

13. Colonial famine, genocide and ethnocide [ 114 ]

14. The Bengal Famine of 1943-1944 [ 133 ]

15. Pride and Prejudice - Churchill, Science, the Bengal Famine and the Jewish Holocaust [ 148]

16. Global warming and the unthinkable world of 2050 [ 166 ]

17. Antipodean epilogue - the moral dimension of the Lucky Country and the world [ 174 ]

Notes [ 202 ]

Bibliography [ 233 ]

Index [ 263 ]

To my wife Z ,

Daughter Zareena of Abdul and Habiban Lateef,

Sister Munni to Feroza Ainis (Pon), Feroze (Bob), Haroon (Teni), Shireen and Shazran (Caesar, Munna),

Daughter-in-law to John and Robin Polya,

Sister-in-law to Michal (Micky), Rosemary (Gigi), John (Chippy) and David,

Mum to Daniel, Michael and Susannah,

Mother-in-law to Jenn,

Dadi (paternal grandmother) to Will and Emily,

In the forty second year of our married life together.

“The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good-for-nothing, and hardly any women at all - it is very tiresome; and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention ... and invention is what delights me in other books” [Catherine Morland]

“Historians, you think,” said Miss Tilney, “are not happy in their flights of fancy. They display imagination without raising interest. I am fond of history, and am very well contented to take the false with the true. In the principal facts they have sources of intelligence in former histories and records, which may be as much depended upon, I conclude, as anything that does not actually pass under one’s own observation; and as for the little embellishments you speak of, they are embellishments, and I like them as such. If a speech be well drawn up, I read it with pleasure, by whomsoever it may be made...”

- Catherine Morland discussing History with Eleanor and Henry Tilney in Jane Austen (1818), Northanger Abbey 1

“History is always written wrong, and so always needs to be rewritten.”

- George Santayana (1953), The Life of Reason 2

“The hidden parts of history, the covert sides, are more orderly and rational, but can be seen and understood only if you are told where to look. The holes in history are what make sense of the thing.”

- Aarons and Loftus (1997) 3

“The “control of nature” is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.”

- Rachel Carson (1964) 4

“From the dawn of consciousness until the middle of our century man had to live with the prospect of his death as an individual; since Hiroshima, mankind as a whole has to live with the prospect of its extinction as a biological species.”

- Arthur Koestler (1974) 5

“We have come into this world to accept it, not merely to know it. We may become powerful by knowledge, but we attain fullness by sympathy.”

- Rabindranath Tagore, quoted by Henry Miller (1992) 6


I first became aware of the World War 2 Bengal Famine in about 1995 when I saw the movie “Distant Thunder” directed by the outstanding film-maker Satyajit Ray. 7 The film concluded with the statement that 5 million people had perished in the Bengal Famine. I was well aware of the Jewish Holocaust (6 million victims) – the more so because my father was a Jewish refugee from Nazism 8 . I went to my large personal library but found no record of the Bengal Famine except as a brief, several word entry in a German history encyclopaedia by B. Grun entitled The Timetables of History. A Chronology of World Events Based on Werner Stein’s Kulturfahrplan”. 9 I was appalled that such an immense, man-made catastrophe could occur at the same time as the Jewish Holocaust and with a similar death toll and yet be essentially erased from history and general public perception.

As an academic at a big university I had ready access to a big university library that had an excellent Indian collection. There I found a remarkable collection of Indian and European works dealing with the Bengal Famine. Because 1995 was the 50th anniversary of the end of World War 2, I wrote a succinct account of this atrocity and sent it to Mainstream media, politicians and leading academics around Australia. The response was almost comprehensive silence – the political, media and academic élite of Australia simply did not want to know about a man-made event as big as the Jewish Holocaust and “down to us”.

There were several positive responses to my attempt to inform my fellow countrymen. An Indigenous Australian (Aboriginal) radio station interviewed me for the benefit of their remote Aboriginal listeners - to them the Bengal Famine was just a vastly bigger version of what had happened to Indigenous Australians in the 2 century Aboriginal Genocide. A very prominent Australian Vice Chancellor sent me the opinion he had commissioned from a top Australian academic “expert” on Indian history – unfortunately this academic historian was only concerned to lavish praise on British rule over India. However, arising out of this “national informing process” a very detailed article by me entitled “The Forgotten Holocaust – the 1943 Bengal Famine” was published in a scholarly journal associated with the Macquarie University-based Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Sydney headed by outstanding genocide scholar Professor Colin Tatz. 10

Senator Christobal Chamarette of the humanitarian and ethical Australian Greens tabled my concerns in a fine speech about the Bengal Famine in the Australian Senate in September 1995, an event about which Australia was informed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reporting her speech – an astonishing and rare instance in which a Major Truth actually penetrated the Wall of Silence in Australia, the Land of Flies, Lies and Slies (spin-based untruths). 11 The rest was silence.

A very busy research scientist and academic teacher, I nevertheless considered it my moral obligation to inform people about the “forgotten holocaust”, the man-made Bengal Famine in WW2 British-ruled India. With a background of 3 decades of scientific research and access to a fine Indian collection at the Dietrich Borchardt Library of Melbourne’s La Trobe University, I proceeded to research the Bengali Holocaust in detail. However I quickly found that it was necessary to put this man-made event into a wider historical and cultural context. Thus the 1943-1945 Bengal Famine was the last of a succession of immense famines in British-ruled India that commenced with the man-made 1769-1770 Bengal Famine that killed 10 million Bengalis or one third of the whole population a mere dozen years after British conquest of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey (1757). However this catastrophe was also largely deleted from British History – this intellectual crime against Humanity being effected by successive generations of passively lying British academics, politicians and journalists.

At this point serendipity intervened. My dear wife Zareena is of Bengali and Bihari origin (her grandparents having all been “5-year slaves” of the British in Fiji towards the end of the brutal British indentured labor system, the so-called Fijian “Girmit” system). Educated under a colonial British system in Fiji and thence at high school and university in Australia, she was completely unaware of these immense catastrophes that had befallen her people. No members of her extremely numerous family I quizzed about this had ever heard of the Bengal famines. However Zareena being a well educated lady of the British Empire was well aware of Jane Austen and indeed introduced me to this wonderful writer through the novel Northanger Abbey” - when I was about 50 years old, I must confess. This novel (only published after Jane Austen’s death because of – you guessed it – “English censorship”) contained an extraordinary speech by the heroine Catherine Moreland’s “lover” Henry Tilney in which he reprimands her for imagining some family horror buried in the gothic Northanger Abbey:

"If I understand you rightly, you have formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to -. Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting? " 12

From the little I have told you above about British imperial lying by omission that continues today in Britain and its colonial progeny, the answers to Henry Tilney’s questions about “connivance” and “perpetration” must in both cases be a resounding YES.

At this point my research widened into a more general inquiry into how such enormous crimes could be deleted from public perception in prosperous, literate, ostensibly free and democratic British –based societies. My eclectic book expanded to span literature, history and science, taking its cue from the admonition that history ignored yields history repeated. In introducing and leavening this sombre subject, my book initially deals with our heroine, Jane Austen, her life, connections, work and critics and describes the artistically legitimate, narrow social confinement of her novels. However such extraordinary selectivity has been illegitimately applied by a large body of “Austenizing” historians to whitewash colonial enormities and indeed Jane Austen and her Indian and other interesting connections have also been significantly “Austenized” as described in Chapter 5 of my book.

Specifically, “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” deals with the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 that killed 10 million people shortly after subjugation of Bengal by the rapacious British East India Company. This holocaust has been effectively deleted from history as have a further 2 centuries of such disasters in British India that culminated in the man-made Bengal Famine of 1943-1945 that killed as many as 4 million people in Bengal alone. The war-time Bengal Famine accounted for over 90% of total British Empire civilian plus military casualties of that conflict but has been effectively deleted from public perception.

The “forgotten holocaust” of Bengal occurred at the same time as the Jewish Holocaust and precise connections between these 2 horrendous events are explored in the book. However the people of Bengal - and indeed Third World people in general - are facing a major crisis in food availability in the 21st century occasioned by environmental degradation, industry-induced global warming, declining grain production, massive plant food diversion for biofuel and meat production and burgeoning populations. By honestly addressing the “forgotten holocausts” of the colonial past we can put resolution to the post-Holocaust crie de coeur “Never Again” and seriously address the crisis in biological sustainability that threatens the Third World and indeed the world as a whole.

The final chapters of my book dealt with the crisis in biological sustainability facing the world, the Australian response after 2 centuries of genocide, ethnocide and ecocide and how lessons from this resurrection of the “forgotten holocausts” of British history can guide us to humane solutions and prevent a catastrophe. My pessimistic view was that if a prosperous, educated, liberal democracy such as Australia would not respond to this moral message then why would less fortunate societies? That view has been justified by subsequent events as briefly outlined below.

I spent a lot of time and money trying to find a publisher for “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History” but my efforts failed in the aridity of remorseless and intrinsically racist Anglo-American holocaust-ignoring and holocaust denial. I accordingly published the book myself and sent copies to some major libraries, some major global figures and some decent writers and journalists. 13 The most amusing response I received was from the British Foreign Office on beautiful, thick, embossed paper: “The Prime Minister has instructed us to read your book. We have done so. Yours etc”.

Nevertheless, publication of the book elicited useful responses from decent, anti-racist, humanitarian advocates from around the world. The nascent Sulekha organization (now the biggest Indian literary website in the world) commissioned me to write about this. 14 I gave lectures and interviews and published articles in magazines and books over the subsequent years. 15 I even made a nation-wide broadcast on the Australian ABC science program Ockham’s Razor entitled “Bengali Famine” due to the intelligence and humanity of outstanding science journalist Robyn Williams who, in introducing my broadcast, said: “Can you turn science to history? To test it, I mean? You can't really do experiments on the past, so how could it be applied? Dr Gideon Polya insists that science does have a role in this regard, and he'll explain in a minute. But the point of such an exercise is important here, because the reason for Dr Polya's concern (and he's written a book about it) is one of the worst genocides on record, or not on record, unless you search long and hard. 16

Well, I was not discouraged from my duty as a decent human being but was very disappointed by this extraordinary mainstream media, politician and academic refusal to acknowledge events of such enormity – behaviour that I have described as “politically correct racism” (PC racism) in which endlessly politically correct people and societies remorselessly ignore horrendous abuses at their hands of subject people of other races.

I continued with my extremely busy career as a teacher and researcher. In 2003, after some years of 7-days a week work, I published a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds. A pharmacological reference guide to sites of action and biological effects" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London, 2003). There was space in the 500 pages of detailed tables in this huge reference book for succinct, relevant, historical and cultural “snippets” and I made sure that the Awful Truth of the WW2 Bengal Famine was briefly mentioned in relevant places for the benefit of a generally scientific readership. 17

I left full-time academic scientific work at this point and immediately devoted myself to researching a more general approach to this problem of Mainstream holocaust-ignoring that encompassed an even wider global perspective (in addition to part-time university and other tertiary institution science teaching, giving courses to the Australian University of the Third Age and a huge amount of humanitarian writing and advocacy published beyond the PC racist, Antipodean Land of Flies, Lies and Slies).

In short, my widened approach involved rational risk management (that, for example, makes aviation exceptionally safe). Rational risk management successively involves (a) getting accurate data about adverse events, (b) scientific analysis (this involving the critical testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses) and (c) systemic change to minimize the risk of repetition of adverse events. 18 Unfortunately, as we are all too aware, this rational protocol is typically perverted by (a) lies, censorship and intimidation, (b) anti-science spin (involving the selective use of asserted facts to support a partisan proposition, and (c) blame and shame with no systemic change.

This perversion of rational risk management now threatens the Third World with climate change-driven decrease in agricultural productivity and huge global food price rises due to diversion of food for biofuel, climate change and globalization-based demand from the new Asian giants India and China 19. Humanity as a whole is acutely endangered due to the threat to the Biosphere from anthropogenic global warming. 20

Top American climate change scientist Dr James Hansen (head, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York City and adjunct Professor at Columbia University) has recently asserted that at 385 ppm (parts per million) atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration the world has already reached a tipping point at which all Arctic summer ice may be gone in several years rather than several decades, with immense implications for accelerating melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the methane-rich American and Siberian tundra with consequent huge sea level rises. He advocates the need to rapidly reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to a safe and sustainable level of 300-350 ppm. Dr Hansen indicates that this will require cessation of fossil fuel burning and reduction of atmospheric CO2 by re-afforestation, return of carbon to the soil as biomass-derived biochar and, if needed, generation of “global dimming” SO2 aerosols. 21

In a recent paper Dr Hansen and colleagues have provided a daunting prospect: “Paleoclimate data show that climate sensitivity is ~3 deg-C for doubled CO2 [carbon dioxide; atmospheric CO2 280 ppm pre-industrial], including only fast feedback processes. Equilibrium sensitivity, including slower surface albedo feedbacks, is ~6 deg-C for doubled CO2 for the range of climate states between glacial conditions and ice-free Antarctica. Decreasing CO2 was the main cause of a cooling trend that began 50 million years ago, large scale glaciation occurring when CO2 fell to 450 +/- 100 ppm [parts per million], a level that will be exceeded within decades, barring prompt policy changes. If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm”. 22

Top UK climate scientist Dr James Lovelock FRS has dire projections in “The Revenge of Gaia” (2006): “I describe a simple model where the sensitive part of the Earth system is the ocean; as it warms, so the area of the sea that can support the growth of algae grows smaller as it is driven ever closer to the poles, until algal growth ceases. The discontinuity comes because algae in the ocean both pump down carbon dioxide [by photosynthesis] and produce clouds [through cloud-seeding dimethyl sulphide production]. Algae floating in the ocean actively remove carbon dioxide from the air and use it for growth; we call the process “pumping down” to distinguish it from the passive and reversible removal of carbon dioxide as it dissolves in rain or sea water. The threshold for the failure of the algae is about 500 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, about the same as it is for Greenland’s unstoppable melting”. More recently (2007) Dr Lovelock has said that over 6 billion people will perish this century if climate change is not urgently and requisitely addressed. 23

However a combination of biofuel-, climate change- and globalization-driven food price hikes (wheat price has doubled in 12 months, rice price has doubled in 3 months) means that the world is now facing a disaster possibly 100 times greater than the man-made, food-price-driven Bengal Famine that killed 6-7 million in Bengal and adjoining provinces when the price of rice ultimately quadrupled. The United States (US) is currently using about 9% of its wheat, 25% of its corn and about 15% of its grain in general to produce biofuel. The United Kingdom (UK) has committed to large increases in the use of biofuels over coming decades, has recently announced subsidies for biofuel and supports the European Union (EU) target requiring 10 per cent of petrol station fuel to be plant-derived biofuel within 12 years. However the huge and intrinsically genocidal US diversion of 15% of its grain crop to biofuel production has had a huge impact already on soaring global food prices – the world is already facing a global food crisis with alarm being expressed by UN, FAO and other scientific experts. 24

Thus the UK Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor John Beddington CMG, FRS (Professor of Applied Population Biology at Imperial College, London.) has described the devastating potential of food shortages as an "elephant in the room" problem commensurate with that from climate change and warns that biofuel diversion (e.g. for canola oil- or palm oil-derived biodiesel and grain- or sugar-derived ethanol) is threatening world food production and the lives of “billions”: "It's very hard to imagine how we can see the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food. The supply of food really isn't keeping up." 25

We are running out of oil and the price of crude oil has now exceeded US$100 per barrel. However the proposition that crop-based biofuels represent a “green” solution to fossil fuel burning and the “peak oil” phenomenon has been shown to be incorrect. Recent US research by Fargione and co-workers and published in the prestigious scientific journal Science has shown that diversion of land to growing biofuel crops can produce an enormous “CO2 debt” from use of machinery, fertilizers, release of carbon from the soil and loss of CO2 sequestration by trees and other plants:

“Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuels are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels. In contrast, biofuels made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on degraded and abandoned agricultural lands planted with perennials incur little or no carbon debt and can offer immediate and sustained GHG advantages.” 26

In the first edition of “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History I referred the diaries of General Wavell and observed (p141): “On October 15 1943 in Cairo on his way out to India, Wavell inspected Indian troops and spoke to Casey about food. Casey said Australia had had a bad wheat harvest, Canada could just supply U.S. and British deficiencies and that the Argentinians had burnt their surplus of 2 million tons as fuel on the railways in the absence of coal, of which there was a world shortage.” 27 Now in 2008 Americans and Europeans are burning biofuel in their cars while 4 billion fellow human beings on Spaceship Earth are malnourished and facing starvation.

In assessing adverse outcomes the bottom line is excess death (avoidable death, avoidable mortality, excess mortality, deaths that should not have happened). Excess deaths for a country can be calculated from the difference between deaths actually occurring and deaths expected for a peaceful country with the same demographics. Thus the over 6 billion excess deaths predicted by Professor Lovelock from climate change will overwhelmingly be non-violent excess deaths (although Western military might ensures that the victims will not escape the “passive killing fields”).

In 2007 I published an analysis of global excess death entitled “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”. Based on UN Population Division demographic data, it calculated excess death and under-5 infant mortality for every country in the world since 1950. The results are horrendous: 1950-2005 excess deaths totalled 1.3 billion (for the world), 1.2 billion (for the non-European world) and 0.6 billion (for the Muslim world). These horrendous estimates are consonant with independently determined estimates for 1950-2005 under-5 infant deaths of 0.88 billion (the World), 0.85 billion (the non-European world) and 0.4 billion (the Muslim world). 28

As you might well imagine, such information is unacceptable to racist, lying Mainstream media and politicians and unacceptable to the same Anglo-American publishing culture that has kept most people ignorant of the World War 2 Bengali Holocaust. Ever the optimist about human nature, I wasted much time and money looking for a Mainstream publisher and ultimately published myself. I have sent over one hundred copies of “Body Count” to libraries and humanitarians around the world to assist their humanitarian advocacy – and to contribute intelligently to the first key step of global risk management, namely provision of fundamental adverse outcome data.

Unfortunately we live in an obscene world of massive lying by omission in which the politically correct racist (PC racist) corporate, media, politician and academic Establishments of the Western Murdochracies simply do not want to know about the consequences of their actions.

At this point one has to turn to one of the world’s most important bioethicists for guidance. Professor Peter Singer (De Camp Professor of bioethics at Princeton University, a professor at the University of Melbourne and held by some to be the world’s most influential living philosopher because of his work on animal rights) has stated: “we are responsible for what we do and for what we fail to do.” 29

Professor Singer has controversially argued for the humane “active euthanasia” of severely disabled infants. At present many experienced hospital doctors will administer pain relief but not sustenance to such infants by way of “passive euthanasia”. According to Singer:

“Doctors who deliberately leave a baby to die when they have the awareness, the ability, and the opportunity to save the baby’s life, are just as morally responsible for the death as they would be if they had brought it about by a deliberate , positive action.” 30

These ethical injunctions are acutely relevant to Spaceship Earth on which 4 billion hover near starvation with an over-fed First World in charge of the flight deck. Indeed they become more acutely relevant when there is mass avoidable mortality in countries under violent First World occupation such as Occupied Haiti, Occupied Somalia, Occupied Palestine, Occupied Syria, Occupied Iraq and Occupied Afghanistan. We must note that it is extremely rare for Asian, African or Latin American countries to invade and occupy other countries – the only such countries involved in such obscenities at the moment are US-backed Ethiopia (in Occupied Somalia), US-backed Turkey (in Northern Cyprus) and US-backed Apartheid Israel (in Occupied Syria and Occupied Palestine).

Thus “Year 2005 under-5 infant deaths” / “year 2005 population” is 370,000 / 29.9 million (Occupied Afghanistan); 122,000 / 28.8 million (Occupied Iraq); 82,000 / 8.2 million (Occupied Somalia); 31,000 / 8.5 million (Occupied Haiti); and 3,000 / 3.7 million (Occupied Palestinian Territory) – as compared to 1,500 / 20.2 million (Occupi-er Australia) and 800 / 6.4 million (Occupi-er Israel).

“Year 2005 annual under-5 infant death rate” (i.e. as a percentage: deaths for every 100 under-5 year old infants in 2005 in a particular country) was 6.7% (Occupied Afghanistan); 2.8% (Occupied Iraq); 5.5% (Occupied Somalia); 2.7% (Occupied Haiti); and 0.47% (Occupied Palestinian Territory) – as compared to 0.12% (Occupi-er Australia) and 0.12% (Occupi-er Israel). 31

My book “Body Count” gave details of excess mortality for every country in the world since 1950, laboriously estimated using conservative assumptions (it took over a year to do these calculations, country by country in 5 year steps (or pentades). However, an empowering method for estimating “excess deaths” arose from the completed analysis. Thus for impoverished Third World countries the under-5 infant deaths are about 0.7 (70%) of the excess deaths for all age groups. Accordingly, if you know the under-5 infant deaths for such countries (e.g. from UNICEF or UN Population Division data) you can quickly estimate the excess deaths by dividing this number by 0.7. 32

A major contributor to the carnage in Occupied Palestine, Occupied Iraq and Occupied Afghanistan is the war criminal failure of the Occupiers to supply life-sustaining requisites as demanded unequivocally by the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Thus, according the World Health Organization (WHO), the “annual total per capita medical expenditure” permitted in Occupied Iraq by the US Coalition is $135 (2004) as compared to $19 (Occupied Afghanistan), $2,560 (UK), $3,123 (Australia) and $6,096 (the US). 33

It is useful here to present the relevant articles of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 34:

Article 55

To the fullest extent of the means available to it the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring the food and medical supplies of the population; it should, in particular, bring in the necessary foodstuffs, medical stores and other articles if the resources of the occupied territory are inadequate.

The Occupying Power may not requisition foodstuffs, articles or medical supplies available in the occupied territory, except for use by the occupation forces and administration personnel, and then only if the requirements of the civilian population have been taken into account. Subject to the provisions of other international Conventions, the Occupying Power shall make arrangements to ensure that fair value is paid for any requisitioned goods.

The Protecting Power shall, at any time, be at liberty to verify the state of the food and medical supplies in occupied territories, except where temporary restrictions are made necessary by imperative military requirements.

Article 56

To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory, with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics. Medical personnel of all categories shall be allowed to carry out their duties.

If new hospitals are set up in occupied territory and if the competent organs of the occupied State are not operating there, the occupying authorities shall, if necessary, grant them the recognition provided for in Article 18. In similar circumstances, the occupying authorities shall also grant recognition to hospital personnel and transport vehicles under the provisions of Articles 20 and 21.

In adopting measures of health and hygiene and in their implementation, the Occupying Power shall take into consideration the moral and ethical susceptibilities of the population of the occupied territory.

The infant deaths, the excess deaths and the legal obligations of Occupiers in these Occupied Countries are clear – but lying, racist, holocaust-ignoring mainstream media, politicians and mendicant academics simply look the other way – just as they have looked the other way in relation to the Bengal Famine and indeed the whole 2 century horror of British rule over India. It can be estimated that excess deaths in British India totalled 1.5 billion – a number that would astonish Anglo-Celts (and indeed many of their Subjects) brought up on the myth of Pax Britannica and the nobility of British civilization.

The perversion of rational risk management through successive (a) lying, (b) spin and (c) blame and shame (with war being the ultimate obscenity) is horribly illustrated by the remorseless post-1950 US Asian wars that have so far been associated with 25 million Indigenous Asian excess deaths (mostly non-violent and mostly women and children). Each war was associated with false and shabby “justifications” – the only real basis was US geo-political strategy.

The Korean War was associated with about 1 million excess deaths. Only 3 years after the end of the Indo-China War (excess deaths totalling 13 million) the US embarked on backing a fundamentalist Muslim war against the pro-woman, socialist régime in Afghanistan, this eventually precipitating a Soviet invasion in 1979 and a war that was associated with excess deaths totalling 2.9 million for the period 1979-1989. The subsequent civil war was associated with 3.3 million excess deaths in the period 1989-1999.

After 9/11 the Bush Administration told the appropriate stories. While no Afghans or Iraqis had been involved in the attacks according to the official Bush story, both Afghanistan and Iraq were bombed, invaded and occupied with horrendous loss of life. Two US think tanks have recently reported that the Bush Administration told a total of 935 lies about Iraq alone in the post-9/11 pre-invasion period (e.g. false assertions of Iraqi-Al Qaeda links, uranium oxide supplies and Weapons of Mass Destruction being the most notorious lies). 35

Indeed there is widespread expert, intelligence and scholarly scepticism about many aspects of the “official 9/11 story”. A substantial proportion of Americans believe that their government was at least passively complicit in the atrocity. Even former Vice President Al Gore, while dismissing complicity assertions, has lambasted the Bush Administration for criminal negligence prior to 9/11. 36

In November 2007 the former 7-year president of Italy, law professor, senator-for-life and Western intelligence intimate, Franceso Cossiga, told a top Italian newspaper that the US CIA and Israeli Mossad were responsible for 9/11, had done this to enhance US and Zionist interests and that Western intelligence agencies were aware of this. 37

The consequences of this horrendous violence, lying, spin and blame-and-shame perversion of rational risk management has been terror hysteria, anti-Arab anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, huge violations of civil rights domestically and of human rights abroad and Western involvement in horrendous war crimes in Muslim lands. Post-invasion excess deaths in the Occupied Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan Territories (as of March 2008) total 0.3 million, 1.7-2.2 million and 3.3-6.6 million, respectively, and there are 7 million, 4.5 million and 4 million refugees, respectively. 38

The Western world is variously complicit in UK state terrorism, US state terrorism, US-backed Israeli state terrorism and Palestinian Genocide, Iraqi Genocide and Afghan Genocide, noting that “genocide” is here defined according to Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”. 39

What can decent people do? Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. Decent people are obliged to bear witness, to get through the Mainstream media Wall of Silence and to inform others about these atrocities. Informing others is the first step in the rational risk management process that successively involves (a) data, (b) science and (c) systemic change. Since publishing the first edition of “Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History”, “informing others” is what I have been doing, with “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” a major vehicle of this pro-Peace, pro-Truth, humanitarian enterprise.

I have been lecturing, broadcasting and writing thousands of articles and letters to media around the world. I have also made formal complaints to the International Criminal Court (ICC), most recently submitting a detailed complaint against Australia for on-going Australian complicity in Indigenous Genocide (Aboriginal Genocide, 90,000 excess Indigenous Australian deaths 1996-2007; Iraqi Genocide, 1.5-2 million Indigenous Occupied Iraqi excess deaths in 2003-2007; Afghan Genocide, 3-6 million Indigenous Occupied Afghanistan excess deaths in 2001-2007) and Climate Genocide (complete loss of some Island Nations; 16 million avoidable deaths globally each year and increasingly climate change-impacted; and over 6 billion deaths predicted by the end of the century due to greenhouse gas pollution profligacy; and with Australia being the World’s worst developed country for annual per capita CO2 pollution). 40

This Second Edition has essentially only involved minor clarification of the Jane Austen family tree and typographical and other minor corrections to the 1998 First Edition text. Accordingly, in reading the main text please remember that it was written 10 years ago and referenced by a literature available then. However in addition to this Preface, detailed, documented Postscript comments at the end of each chapter bring the text up to date and thus provide a cogent record of Anglo-American Alliance holocaust commission, holocaust denial, genocide commission, genocide denial and “History ignored yielding History repeated” in the decade since the publication of the First Edition.

Dr Gideon Polya

Melbourne, Australia

September, 2008

Jane Austen and the Black Hole. Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Introduction - truth, reason, science and history

“...I am rather inclined to suppose him a very respectable Man;...but it also has been declared that he did not kill his two Nephews, which I am inclined to believe true; & if this is the case, it may also be that he did not kill his wife...”

- Jane Austen on Richard III in The History of England (1791) 1

Ultimately this book is impelled by the oft-quoted assertion “Those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.” 2 It addresses excesses of the past that have almost completely disappeared from general history books and from general perception and which are set to recur in the next century for similar reasons of greed and moral torpidity. My argument is about historiography, science and humanity and is specifically concerned with the people of Bengal and their immediate future that threatens to outdo their tragic past in terms of human suffering and loss of life imposed by greedy and morally unresponsive foreigners.

Two centuries of British rule in India were repeatedly accompanied by horrendous human disasters due to callous exploitation by those responsible for their enslaved subjects, the human toll from these events amounting to scores of millions of people.3 The two principal disasters suffered by Bengal were the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 that consumed about 10 million people 4 and the Bengal Famine of 1943-1944 that ultimately swept away as many as 5 million people through starvation and attendant disease in the latter half of World War 2. 5 In between these 2 appalling events Bengal, and indeed India, suffered 2 centuries of famine and merciless exploitation that killed scores of millions and reduced hundreds of millions of people to wretched lives on the edge of the abyss.

Leaving to one side the precise mechanisms involved, the administering authority bears the responsibility for such events. The metropolitan community that would thus rule others has a continuing responsibility to ensure that at the very least such crimes against humanity are recorded, remembered and learned from by all. This has clearly not happened pursuant to the above disasters and this dereliction is indeed the subject of the present work. Holocaust denial of this kind and a continuing global commitment to blind economic expansion have created a crisis in biological sustainability that will resolve itself over the next century.

While the world has ostensibly departed from the era of explicit imperial colonialism, the present “neo-colonial” world order means that the poor and weak are subject to the rich and powerful by other means. An ostensibly free Bengali ryot (peasant farmer) couple and their children today are no less subject to the men of the City of London (now linked with the men of New York, Chicago, Washington and Zurich) than were their counterparts of 230 or indeed of 60 years ago. However the economic power of these latter day First World versions of the East India Company men is not accompanied by any formal or publicly acknowledged responsibility for their subjects. Global warming attendant upon the irresponsibility and greed of the industrial world is likely in the next century to visit upon the people of Bengal a disaster that will dwarf the horrors of their colonial past.6

We live in a global village and the "first world", "northern", "developed" societies are relatively well informed in principle about the present and likely future situation of the debt-ridden, impoverished people of the subject "third world". 7 However such wretched people are in reality of minimal concern to us and their transient invasion of our lives (principally via television) can be dispelled by a flick of a switch. Like the servants and other common folk in the neighbourhoods of an exquisite Jane Austen novel, these people are largely anonymous, ignored and unlamented in the rich tapestry of our elevated, hygienic lives.

Nevertheless barriers to humane sensibility are substantially dispelled by social or familial intimacy. While the West Indies represented a major source of contemporary wealth, its indigenous or slave inhabitants do not intrude into the world of Jane Austen's literary art except for the elegant "half mulatto, chilly and tender" Miss Lambe, made "the most important and precious" of her young ladies' party and indubitably acceptable by her wealth and consequent social position in the unfinished novel Sanditon. 8

The growth of the British Empire in 19th century was inevitably accompanied by increasing racism reflecting ruler-subject power relations and Miss Lambe would not have had the same social acceptability in 1850 - nor indeed in 1950 - as in 1800. Nevertheless post-war migration from former colonial countries, consequent social intercourse and intermarriage and the politically correct ideals of the modern global village have today generally restored normal interpersonal decencies if not a practical sense of collective social responsibility towards vulnerable Third World countries that will be critical in the coming catastrophe.

The present author’s connections

It is useful for the reader to know from what patch of the social and intellectual woods the writer is coming from. To convince the reader that the underlying social responsibility argument of this book does not stem from a "holier than thou" position borne of superior moral and intellectual sensibilities of the writer, I should admit at the outset to having been married to a woman of ultimately Bihari and Bengali origin for over 30 years and we have 3 lively children. Her grandparents were among indentured labourers to the Pacific islands of Fiji from Bihar, Bengal and other parts of India early this century, 9 her paternal grandparents leaving India and crossing the kala pani (the Black Water) on the Ganges in 1913. In the rapid advance characteristic of such colonial societies, my wife's mother, Habiban (daughter of Tez Ali), became a school teacher (and indeed was known in her community of Nausori and Suva as “Teacher”); my wife’s father, Abdul Lateef MBE (son of Kassim and Bedami), became a lawyer, distinguished himself in public life and was a member of a parliamentary delegation that negotiated independence for Fiji from Britain in 1970.10 Of their unusually small family of only 6 children, the 3 sons are lawyers and the 3 daughters are, respectively, a science graduate/teacher-librarian, a secretary and a highly-positioned anthropology PhD working for a major international bank.

Any one of the millions of Bengali victims of past British imperial or mercantile policy is not simply another nameless statistic of the Third World suffering to which we have become innured through the "compassion overload" induced by the daily news. To a significant extent any such victim can be perceived as connected with any Bengali extended family, not so much for the commonplace crime involving the victim's suffering and death at foreign hands so many years ago, but for the present-day, continuing crime of racially- and culturally-selective forgetting.

The continuing white-washing of history is an offence as well as a danger to present-day people of the same ilk and indeed to all of us. In Germany and in France today it is an offence to deny the Jewish Holocaust, the Judeocide of World War 2, there being a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment for this offence in Germany.11 The Bengali Holocaust (first described in these terms by Jog (1944)12 and indeed also by the Manchester Guardian in 1944)13 has been completely forgotten in many standard general histories. One supposes that the deletion from public perception has been sustained by some general acceptance of the notion that somehow Bengalis don't matter. My personal interest in this “holocaust ignoring” derives from a familial involvement in both tragedies.

On my father's side I am descended from a prosperous, substantially “assimilated” Austro-Hungarian Jewish family that had progressively entered the mainstream of Hungarian society in the latter half of the 19th century. 14 My great grandfather Jakab Pollak (Polya) (1844-1897) was a lawyer-economist and utterly dedicated scholar who, incidentally, translated into Hungarian Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations (1776) (a work that draws upon the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 as an example of the failure of economic managers). 15 It appears that access to Jakab Polya’s translation of this “capitalist” classic was restricted to professional economists in communist Hungary. This family made substantial contributions to industry, culture, scholarship and science. Thus my grandfather Jeno (Eugene) Polya (1875-1944/45) was a great surgeon (of Polya/Billroth gastrectomy fame) who performed some 50,000 surgical interventions and published some 500 scientific works.16 His brother, George (Gyorgy) Polya (1887-1985), was a very famous mathematician (most generally known for his classic book How to Solve It ), with an immensely productive career spanning 7 decades in Budapest, Zurich and Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.17 A third brother, Laszlo Polya (1891-1915/16), is presumed to have died as a soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Army on the Eastern Front during the First World War and one can only guess at the contributions he would have made if he had survived. This family was effectively wiped from the face of Europe in World War 2, the survivors (including those who had wisely left before the Holocaust) scattering principally to England, America and Australia.18 My father, John (Janos) Bela Polya, fled to Australia and thence to Tasmania (as far away from the lunacy of Europe as one could go) and distinguished himself as an organic chemist and staunch defender of academic and intellectual decencies.19 My grandmother’s cousin, Dr. Edith Bone (née Hajos), went to England but was arrested in Budapest on returning to Hungary in 1949 as a journalist for the Daily Worker. She escaped during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Her remarkable mind-over-matter survival in solitary confinement in prison is described in Seven Years’ Solitary (1957), a work that, with other such accounts, is a testament to courageous self-possession at the edge of the abyss. 20

The destruction of the Hungarian Jews (and the failure of the world to save this last major surviving body of Jews in German-occupied Europe) 21 is not unconnected with the contemporaneous “Forgotten Holocaust” in Bengal. As we will see, Winston Churchill, as a major wartime leader of Britain and the British Empire, was critically connected in different capacities with both events, a reality not apparent from his famous histories. 22

History is written by the victors

The victor writes history, or more generally stated, the non-vanquished writes history. The Egyptian Pharoah Ramses II (1301-1234 BC) was well held by the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh on the River Orontes in Syria (1296 BC) and was lucky not to have been comprehensively demolished. Ramses II commissioned his servants to render this near-disaster as a great victory for posterity. In his account of the discovery of the Hittite Empire, Narrow Pass, Black Mountain, C.W.Ceram (1955) describes this licence thus:

“Today it is known that these reports inspired by Ramses were shameless falsifications of history. They are the first examples of we have of such rewriting of history.” 23

Tudor recorders of history - no doubt concordant with the wishes of victorious Henry VII and his son Henry VIII - would have it that Richard III had eliminated most of his own important relatives including the 2 young Princes kept in the Tower of London. This was transmuted by Shakespeare into his famous play The Tragedy of King Richard the Third 24 but has been the subject of sensible scepticism as cogently and entertainingly described in The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (1951) and The Trial of Richard III by Drewett and Redhead (1984). 25 Nevertheless Hicks (1992), while accepting the reality of Tudor “demonization” of Richard III, also accepts his responsibility for the disappearance of the Princes. 26 As the quotation at the beginning of this Chapter indicates, young Jane Austen had a healthy scepticism about Richard’s supposed guilt at the age of 16. Nevertheless basic, essential data concerning Kadesh and Richard III has survived - the Battle of Kadesh was fought, but the outcome is arguable; the “little bastards” were murdered in the Tower, but we can debate the culprit.

The bottom line for both scientific and historical scholarship is respect for the basic data. An extraordinary aspect of the history of the famines of Bengal is the elimination of the actuality of these immense tragedies from general and even specific histories and their consequent absence from general current perception. This book explores this Black Hole of British history that has consumed even the most horrendous realities. We are using the term Black Hole in several senses in this book. We are familiar with the astronomical Black Holes that have such a massive concentration of mass that even light (illumination in a physical and metaphorical sense), cannot escape. This nomenclature in turn surely derives from the “historical” Black Hole of Calcutta. This was a tiny room in which 146 British prisoners were supposedly incarcerated overnight on 20-21 June 1756 and from which emerged only 23 survivors. This event has gone into our language and is routinely used daily to represent any situation involving unproductive and irreversible consumption of valuable resources. However, as we will see, the Black Hole and attendant events and people are intimately linked to Jane Austen and her family. Further, this major element of demonizing British Imperial iconography may not even have happened or, if it did, has been immensely exaggerated. 27 The Black Hole in this disquisition represents a number of things: the historical “event”, a very destructive, racially-loaded imperial myth, a metaphor for the extraordinary “ignoring” or “disappearing” of major historical realities by society and its academic elders and the human and biosphere catastrophe if the current crisis in biological sustainability is not resolved satisfactorily in the next few decades.

Jane Austen and historiography

Jane Austen was born in 1775 - 5 years after the apocalyptic semi-depopulation of Bengal, the richest province of the Indian sub-continent, under the remorseless fist of the East India Company. She was born into a family with manifold connections with British imperial expansion and specifically with Bengal. 28 Her life was spent in a fashion not dissimilar to that of the leisure life of civilized, educated people today - a modestly comfortable life of gentle family pleasures, of books, music, art, sociability, tamed nature and conversation. Her exquisite novels, written at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, are like a pool of tranquillity, a moral oasis in a period of horrendous violence and awfulness. 29

One maximal human lifespan of about 125 years from Jane Austen's untimely death in 1817 brings us back in time to the accession of William III and Mary (1689), the beginning of the end of Catholic Highland Scotland and the commencement of a military struggle with France that would conclude with the Battle of Waterloo (1815). 1692 saw the Massacre at Glencoe of Jacobite Highlanders and the major English naval victory over the French at Cap de la Hogue in a conflict that would evolve into one of the first major wars of modern times, the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713). This war was qualitatively different from others in that it involved “modern”, large-scale offensive carnage and generated immense wealth from attendant domestic and foreign activities for its chief administrators, notably Sir Winston Churchill's ancestor John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, and his Paymaster, Jane Austen's relative James Brydges, the first Duke of Chandos and the great-uncle of Jane Austen’s mother. 30 The same span of years forward in time brings us to the commencement of World War 2, the ultimate war to beat all preceding wars in human history in terms of human carnage and commercial profit.

If we go back about 250 years (or 2 maximal human life spans) from the year of Jane Austen’s death, we come to the accession of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558), the entrenchment of a Protestant establishment and the commencement of an aggressive expansion of England into the greater world of the Americas, Africa and the East Indies. Advance 250 years from 1817 and we come to the late 21st century at which point the global environmental and economic consequences of moral and intellectual unresponsiveness and of thoughtless and aggressive expansion will be all too apparent.

One cannot criticize Jane Austen, the Artist, for the confinement of her art to the gentle and comfortable domesticity of the English Upper Class of circa 1800. Her novels deal with English Home Counties gentlefolk with annual incomes in the range of about 200 to 10,000 pounds and are delicious exercises in conversation and manners concerned with the matching of young men and women consonant with love and future material practicalities. It is not for us to cavill at the fact that the violent ugliness of the real world does not intrude into her world. There is no more room for the wretched, starving masses (British or Bengali) in the art of Jane Austen (1775-1817) than in the Arcadian landscapes of John Constable (1776-1837).31 One notes, however, that the common folk of England had an assured place in the overwhelmingly powerful landscapes of Joseph Turner (1775-1831), a contemporary of Jane Austen and John Constable. 32

Nevertheless Jane Austen was there and her family and connections were intimately involved in the process of preserving and extending the national and international hegemony of her class. The very displacement of her art from the attendant violent realities has provided a paradigm for what can charitably be seen as the remarkable, continuing English capacity for highly informed self-delusion about the world and their place in it. [I hasten to add that my maternal ancestry derives from early settlers to South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria from Cornwall, Devon and Middlesex as well from Gaelic Scotland. Thus a maternal great-great-great grandfather was a game keeper (in Ilesworth near Twickenham, London) whose son went out to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) and there married a woman from Argylleshire in the Scottish Highlands. Other forebears were Devonshire free settlers in Willunga, South Australia. I can thus surely be credited with a licence to be suitably critical of my own lot.]

Self-delusion is not confined to the English - indeed it is asserted that the essential difference between man and beast is not the ability to make tools, use language or to deceive one's fellow creatures but the capacity of man to deceive himself. We all do it, whether we are a Tory academic historian like G.M.Trevelyan erasing Irish or Indian famines from history, 33 a Jewish intellectual facing death in a concentration camp 34 or a starving Bengali woman returning to prostitution with the war-time British Military Labour Corps to preserve the life of herself and her child. 35

Jane Austen herself has posed a germane series of questions that are directly relevant to this problem. In Northanger Abbey the heroine, Miss Catherine Morland, affected by the somewhat Gothic atmosphere of the Tilney family home and the romantic horrors of Mrs Radcliffe's novels, conceives the fantasy that General Tilney (the father of her beloved, Henry Tilney) has done away with the late Mrs Tilney. (Let us remind ourselves that the late Mrs. Tilney is merely one soul as compared to the millions of Bengal, Bihar and Oudh despatched through the rapacity of the East India Company in the eighteenth century alone). Henry reproves Catherine as follows:

"If I understand you rightly, you have formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to -. Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?" 36

Catherine at this point rushes off to her room "with tears of shame".

This present book sets out from the beautiful, decent, articulate and morally sensitive microcosm of Jane Austen's life and art to explore her family and connections, her world and the appalling, continuing holocaust that was British imperialism in India. We will inspect the historical realities and the soldiers, administrators and scholars that contributed to our dim perception of the man-made tragedies of Bengal. In doing so we will nibble at a large literature and discover that not only have the Bengal holocausts and similar events been essentially deleted from generally-perceived history but even the more interesting and entertaining aspects of the lives of Jane Austen and her connections have been similarly rendered fit for polite society.

Science and the Austenizing of history

This “Austenizing” of history deserves to be addressed seriously. It is quite acceptable and legitimate for an artist such as Jane Austen to choose her medium and message just as it is perfectly reasonable for old-fashioned epicureans to delete “religion, sex and politics” from dining table conversation. However in academic scholarship, and ultimately in the areas of perception and policy in the parts and the whole of society, it is important that the basic facts are known. It is only then that we can begin to construct models, hypotheses and theories and to make predictions about matters pertaining to the future of our world. The ugly facts of Imperial Britain in circa 1800 were not relevant to Jane Austen’s literary masterpieces but they are relevant to our understanding of history, human responsiveness and the likelihood of future catastrophes.

An experimental scientist has an advantage over the historian in that he can assess the data, generate an hypothesis and then set out to test the hypothesis experimentally. Indeed Karl Popper defined the scientific process as involving the construction and testing of potentially falsifiable hypotheses - an hypothesis was “scientific” in his perception if it could be experimentally tested. 37 This procedure leads to progressive refinement of scientific models when they are on the right track and points up major problems when there are major missing elements in the collective scientific perception of the systems under study. Such problems can be addressed by the formulation and testing of new hypotheses and are often successfully dealt with through technological advances.

While this sort of scientific advance can be seen to be evolutionary and incremental it is also clear that occasionally “revolutions” occur in our collective perception of reality. 38 Thus one of the classic examples of this sort of change in perception is provided by the Copernican revolution. It is indubitable that the sun rises in the morning, passes across the sky and then sets, to rise in roughly the same position again the following day. Our simple perception of this daily passage may lead us to infer (as did the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy) that the Sun may orbit the Earth. However the revolutionary perception of Copernicus (and thence Galileo and Kepler) was that a simple model to explain this and a huge body of additional astronomical data involves the Earth revolving on an axis and actually orbiting around the Sun. 39

This example provides a salutory lesson that “self-evident” and “general” perception and inference do not necessarily equate with reality, a proposition that applies not only to experimental science but also to historiography and the “social sciences” such as economics. It is notable that George Soros, the Hungarian Jewish investor, philanthropist and former undergraduate student of Karl Popper at the London School of Economics, has applied a critical “Popperian” approach to dealing with the gap between perception and reality in the marketplace - with evident sustained empirical success that has earned him billions as well as the accolade of being “the world’s greatest investor” and “the world’s greatest philanthropist”. However Soros has also applied such analysis of perception/reality gaps to societies in disequilibrium and in particular to the old Soviet Union that have changed rapidly and catastrophically when the divergence between policy and reality became unsustainable. 40 The same sort of analysis is relevant to the looming conflicts involving expanding human populations, the impact of environmental change on agricultural productivity and sustainability, the dramatic decline in biodiversity and indeed the survival of major elements of the biosphere and of billions of human beings.

Historians have a difficulty in that the data they have is simply the collected flotsam of past eras and past events. Occasionally new technology provides a radical new way of accessing this information store (as seen in modern archaeology). However the historian, unlike the experimental scientist, cannot in general perform experiments to test “Popperian” hypotheses. An historian cannot re-run the Battle of Waterloo in the flesh after the fashion of the fictional re-run by historian Miss Hazlestone in Tom Sharpe’s hilarious Riotous Assembly, in this instance a re-run of the Battle of Isandhlwana involving Zulu and white psychiatric inmates as protagonists.41 However modern computers provide conceivable avenues for “re-running” historical models of such events with the attendant perturbation of particular variables (such as the Prussian General Blucher arriving at Waterloo earlier or later).

Cosmologists and evolutionary biologists have a problem akin to that of historians in that critical events they are concerned with are believed to have taken place literally billions of years ago. It has been possible to perform laboratory experiments demonstrating the formation of amino acids and other key “monomeric” components of living systems from electric discharges through an inferred “pre-biotic” atmosphere of methane (CH4), nitrogen (N2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). 42 However no in vitro construction of even the simplest “self-replicating” chemical system has been achieved. Man-made “evolution” through processes akin to Darwinian “natural selection” are readily demonstrable as in plant and animal breeding (through selection of desirable traits) and in molecular biological selection processes in the laboratory. The changes in the distribution of dark and pale moths in Industrial England (the so-called “industrial melanism”) is readily explained in terms of the camouflaging of darker moths in a grimy, sooty environment and their differential selection within a moth population. Nevertheless, while Darwinian evolution in its crude essence is accepted by virtually all biologists, major problems exist with establishing the molecular details of how self-repairing and self-replicating systems (i.e. living organisms) arose and how evolution actually happened. 43

Scientists have an ethical commitment to the “data”- they cannot pick and choose to suit their hypothesis. However scientists can typically get more data, repeat experiments, quantitate reproducibility and apply statistical arguments to their data. Historians have a peculiar responsibility towards the “facts of history” because these “facts” are essentially all the data they have. Of course it may well be that some “facts” are considered to be more important than others but the legitimacy of the licence offered by such value judgements has worn very thin when major catastrophes are ignored by major historians. The basic data should be given and then we can dispute the relevance of the victims to the “big picture” of human experience. Thus the historian G.M. Trevelyan in his History of England (1952) totally ignores the Bengal Famines - and indeed any famine in India - and, while effusive about the marvellous benefits of the imposition of the British Imperial Way, has nothing to say about the “native” recipients of this largesse or the supplanted and perverted cultures. 44

Finally we should return to the predictive value of history either as typically purveyed by our parochial historians or properly dealt with in an ethical and scientific sense. At this point in time there is a fine balance between global population and available food. There are serious predictions of a substantial decline in staple food production in tropical countries next century due to global warming 45 and even optimistic projections predict a doubling global population by the mid-21st century. 46 The populous tropical “Third World” is under dire threat of famine next century. A human disaster of an unthinkable magnitude and awfulness is looming if there is to be a continuation of the view in “First World” countries that such people are irrelevant to the grand sweep of human progress or are otherwise undeserving of human compassion. The biosphere is facing a man-made crisis involving catastrophic decline in biological diversity and an immense threat to biological sustainability as we have known it. 47 And yet it is by and large “business as usual” for the world, the “Asian Tigers” have been progressing in leaps and bounds and there is manifestly insufficient global action now to steer us away from disaster. The lotus eaters prefer to remain unruffled and unmoved:

“O let us shut the future out,

Lest thoughts should poison with the shaft of doubt

The happy now!” 48

This book sets out to describe some of the most horrendous crimes against humanity and how they have been almost completely deleted from general perception by the media, academics and “elders”`of my own “British” culture. It presents the further contention that the world has to come to terms with these past realities in order to vigorously address collapsing biological sustainability. Of course nobody likes doom and gloom and “shame” is one of the most distorting feelings. I am reminded of a cartoon by George Booth (1974): a clergyman is being chased out of a New England church by his enraged flock and the reason is apparent when we see the church noticeboard announcing the title of the sermon: “Are we all prostitutes?” A gem that is also germane to our disquisition is a further cartoon by Booth (1977) showing a tribe of people on a flat plain and one individual asserts “It is so!”. His tribe respond with a plethora of negatives: “No! Hell no!Absolutely not!” until a huge hirsute figure appears clutching the edge of the horizon and declares “It is so!”, whereupon the whole tribe reverts to “Yes! Verily. Without doubt it is so! You damn betcha it is so if he says it is so!” 49

In writing about the horrendous genocide and abuse of humanity in our past, the continuing “holocaust denial” of our culture and the crisis in biological sustainability that threatens our humanity, I am conscious that a modicum of leavening may be required. We all like to read a trenchant literary or other “cultural” critique in the press, our pleasure influenced no doubt by the principle that “there but for the grace of God go I”. I have no criticism to offer of Jane Austen’s literary vehicle per se, this being a matter of choice for the Artist. However, while conceding that some of the most effective historiography is suffused with the Art of Poetry, I nevertheless demand that historians, like scientists, respect the basic data. Thus, among other things, this book is a catalogue of some of the most surprising examples of historical deletion or oversight that I have called “Austenizing”. At the more innocuous end of the historiographical spectrum, we have the Austenizing of the more interesting and indeed scandalous aspects of the lives of Jane Austen’s connections that would appeal to the mischievous and voyeuristic in all of us. At the heavy end of the spectrum, we have what could be described as sustained, widespread “holocaust ignoring” that effectively amounts to massive “holocaust denial” in our culture. We are all familiar with the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust, yet the contemporaneous man-made Bengal Famine has been effectively deleted from general perception - this substantially Muslim Holocaust has become a Forgotten Holocaust.

This “holocaust denial” in our culture has blunted our responsiveness to inhumanity and is part of a more general failure to face up to the present reality that threatens biological sustainability and the lives of billions. However some hope remains if those with power and resources can tunnel through the wall of several centuries of dishonest and racially- and culturally-biased historiography, see the awful carnage that has been so well hidden and give resolution to the post-Holocaust plea: “Never again”.

2008 Postscript

As outlined in the Preface, major scientific bodies such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 50, the US National Academy of Science 51, the UK Royal Society 52, other national and global scientific bodies, 53 and the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 54 are warning of the dire threats to humanity from unaddressed greenhouse gas pollution, global warming and climate change. Indeed top US climate scientist Dr James Hansen (NASA) says that at the current 385 ppm atmospheric CO2 we have already passed a tipping point and must urgently return to a safe and sustainable 300-350 ppm CO2 to avoid catastrophe for humanity and mass species extinctions. 55 Professor James Lovelock predicts over 6 billion will perish this century due to climate change. 56 Biofuel-, climate change- and globalization-driven food price changes already threaten “billions” according to the UK Chief Scientist Professor John Beddington. 57 Yet climate sceptic Bush America still refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol and it is “business as usual” as the major climate criminal countries, the US, Canada and Australia, continue to pollute and ignore the Climate Emergency and Sustainability Emergency facing Spaceship Earth. 58