I always thought materials such as Bakelite were interesting. And according to the Wiki article, this synthetic plastic was developed by a Belgian-American chemist.
Back to Morel. The author notes his “blind spots,” especially including his support for England’s colonies even while damning Leopold for his. This works to Morel’s advantage because his would have been a particularly small audience if he damned all colonialism.
To his credit (I was quite astonished to read this), the author notes another of Morel’s blind spot:
The picture Morel gives in his writings of Africans in the Congo before whites arrived is that of Rouseeau’s idealized Noble Savage: in describing traditional African societies he focuses on what was peaceful and gentle and ignores any brutal aspects—which occasionally included, for example, long before the Force Publique made it the order of the day, cutting off the hands of one’s dead enemies.
The author also criticizes Morel for his belief in “the magic of free trade.” As opposed to the “magic of command economies”? The author gives with one hand and takes with another. Still, so far, the book is less politically correct than I thought it would be. Here's some background on the author, Adam Hochschild. Nothing in particular stands out. He seems a typical liberal Jew, university bred, and outraged at all the things the Left are always outraged against. He was one of the co-founders of Mother Jones. Clearly he’s a fan of socialism and Marxism.
For these types, King Leopold’s Congo must have been a godsend. Set aside for a moment that there was virtually no free-trade occurring there (it was a slave state), it was damned as colonialism and colonialism was damned as an outgrowth of “the magic of free trade,” aka “capitalism.” It’s funny that Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot and others are never bad publicity for socialism.