Thursday, September 28, 2017

Author Of "The Case For Colonialism" Gets The Tuvel Treatment


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Retraction is not the way to go, and does set a dangerous precedent. So as more of an aside, really, I have to say that that abstract is pretty f***** up.

"Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts."

I have no idea what that could possibly mean. Beneficial to whom? Slaves? And what the hell does it mean to be "subjectively legitimate"?

"The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it."

Did better? Tell that to all the people that got trampled! Oh, and I wonder why the countries that spurned it, e.g. Haiti, did worse? Maybe because they weren't allowed to join the international world order on account of having staged a successful slave revolt. (Speaking of dangerous precedents...)

"Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places."

Anti-colonial ideology causes a lot of harm as a result of colonizers punishing their subjects for acting on it. The international community's response to the Haitian revolution really is a helpful case here.

Oh, and what's the upshot: new colonies!

Wow. I gotta say, that all seems really, really nuts to me, but--full disclosure--I haven't read the article. But if that abstract is any indication, jebus...

11:16 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I hate to admit how little I know about colonialism...but, since it's a shibboleth of the left, I just assume its badness is overblown... Which...y'know...isn't exactly a great argument...

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new Anon here. I have read the article. I'd say it's about 50% reasonable plea to assess colonialism more objectively, and about 50% deliberately exaggerated and provocative rhetoric, driven by exasperation.

The reasonable part: the author confines his plea to the period from the early 19th century, after the British empire had abolished slavery, to the 1960's. So, there's no defense of Cortes, Napoleon, or Clive. The author mostly has in mind British colonies (he is British) like Nigeria, Hong Kong, and the directly ruled parts of India, where the colonial power largely confined itself to imposing peace and administering the colony with a bureaucracy of rotating professionals. His argument is that people were better off living under a trained, modernizing class of foreign administrators than under a prince, chief, or mandarin. He also claims that the colonized people themselves agreed, voting with their feet by migrating into areas under, or more directly under, colonial control. It's not democracy either way, so why not choose the colonial official who will build a railroad over the rajah who will build a palace, even if the administrator doesn't look like you?

Anyway, that's the argument, and its not completely crazy, though it is seriously weakened by the author's ignoring colonies like South Africa, Rhodesia, and Australia, where there was European settlement and land grabbing. He also ignores completely episodes of flat out mass murder during his "nice" colonial period, as in the Congo by the Belgians and Tanzania by the Germans.

As for the provocative rhetoric, the author works in international development. Apparently, every time a project is suggested that involves bringing into a country a bunch of foreign technocrats, the project is attacked for resembling colonialism. The author, a technocrat, is really sick of this. He wants to be able to say "Sure, it looks like colonialism, so what?" and get on with his sewer or whatever. Hence, his demand for "new colonies". These are really just big urban development projects with libertarian economic policies, insulated against local government control, either to protect them against corrupt officials or leave them defenseless against capitalist exploitation, depending on your point of view.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks for that, Anon.

Jeez, I really ought to learn something about the subject...but it's one of those topics that I'm averse to in part because I'm *so damn sick* of hearing the PCs bitch about it ceaselessly.

8:18 AM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

The trouble with colonialism is that at it's worst it is utterly, catastrophically bad...and the word case scenario happened over and over again.
And by catastrophic, I mean: on the order of Mao and Lenin. That's what happened in India under the East India Corporation, where a number of droughts killed many tens of millions who otherwise would have eked by if farm output weren't being exported to Britain. Colonialism also pretty much wiped out the native Americans in a number of countries--nof least, in the US. And of course, there's the Congo, which inspired Heart of Darkness and (indirectly) Apocalypse Now.
Colonel Kurtz is only fictionalized. He is not pure fiction. Did Colonialism have benefits for the colonized? Sure. But all too often, it was in the same sense as Mao. After the killing fields, life expectancy did go way, way up in China.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Addendum: it's worth noting that not all Colonial cases were as bad as those mentioned...but it's also worth noting that not all of them turned out as even as well as Communist China. Haiti and Congo/Zaire come immediately to mind.

11:58 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

Addendum II:
It's also worth noting Iceland and Japan. These are pure cases of modernization without colonization. I suggest that the natives in those countries did rather better than those in the average colony.

12:01 AM  

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