Related or contrasting ideas may be found in the following sections: Nuclear Weapons, Peace, Rights, Rule of Law, and the Social Contract




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Colonialism is dead


Surprise! Imperialism is dead

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (former Associate Professor of Political Science and Social Studies at Harvard University, author on Holocaust studies), “Ending Our Age of Suffering,” The New Republic, October 21, 2009, p. 28

“If in 1900 you had said that it would be possible to end imperialism, few would have believed you. Imperialism, after all, had been a fact of the human condition for millennia. Likewise if you had said that it would be possible to stop war from being the principal means by which a large percentage of the countries of the world relate to one another. Yet each has occurred.”


The colonial period was good for Africa

Tunde Obadina (staff director), “The Myth of Neocolonialism,” Africa Business Information Services, January 23, 2008. Online: www.afbis.com/analysis/neo-colonialism.html; accessed May 15, 2008

“More than three decades after most African nations became independent, there is no consensus on the legacy of colonialism. With most African countries still only tottering on their feet and many close to collapse, some people ask whether the problem is due to Africa’s colonial experience or inherent adequacies of the African? For apologists of colonialism the answer is simple. Whatever may have been the shortcomings of colonial rule, the overall effect was positive for Africa. Sure, the colonial powers exploited Africa’s natural resources but on the balance, colonialism reduced the economic gap between Africa and the West, the apologists argue. Colonialism laid the seeds of the intellectual and material development in Africans. It brought enlightenment where there was ignorance. It suppressed slavery and other barbaric practices such as pagan worship and cannibalism. Formal education and modern medicine were brought to people who had limited understanding or control of their physical environment. The introduction of modern communications, exportable agricultural crops and some new industries provided a foundation for economic development. Africans received new and more efficient forms of political and economic organisation. Warring communities were united into modern nation-states with greater opportunity of survival in a competitive world than the numerous mini entities that existed before. Africa is in political and economic turmoil today, defenders of imperialism say, because it failed to take advantage of its inheritance from colonial rule. It was, they summarise, Africa’s inadequacies that made colonisation necessary and the outcome of post-independence self-rule suggests that the withdrawal by the colonial powers was premature.”


Colonialism was an economic boon to the colonized countries

Deepak Lal (Professor of International Development Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles), “New world math,” Foreign Policy, May-June 2008, p. 90+

“As Angeles himself recognizes, even if colonialism resulted in highly unequal societies in settler colonies, that does not imply that they had poorer economic growth records than places that were more homogeneous. Nor does it mean that the impoverished majority of the population in a settler colony would be poorer in absolute terms than the population of a peasant economy. Take Brazil and Mexico, archetypical settler economies by Angeles’s definition, where the white settler population ranged from 10 to 30 percent. Their economies grew at an annual rate of more than 4 and 6 percent, respectively, from 1950 to 1980, with substantial reductions in absolute poverty. Compare that with the peasant colony of India, where the white population was less than 1 percent. Its economy grew at only 3.5 percent a year during the same period, with no decrease in absolute poverty. Certainly, there are some dogmatic egalitarians in the world who would cheerfully trade growth or the reduction of absolute poverty for equality. But many people would be happy to look upon colonialism favorably — if it raised growth rates and reduced absolute poverty — irrespective of how it distributed wealth across society.”


The growing economies of some Asian nations debunks claims of economic colonialism

Tunde Obadina (staff director), “The Myth of Neocolonialism,” Africa Business Information Services, January 23, 2008. Online: www.afbis.com/analysis/neo-colonialism.html; accessed May 15, 2008

“As desirable as it would be for African nations and indeed the world to become socialist, the experiences of former Third World nations that have transformed into advanced economies, made the generalisations of the dependency school less credible in the 1990s.”


The idea that poor nations have been exploited is relatively new

Wayne Lutton (Ph.D. in modern history , Southern Illinois University), “Third world ideology and Western reality: manufacturing political myth,” National Review, October 23, 1987, p. 64

“Rangel points out that as recently as two centuries ago virtually the entire world was ‘underdeveloped’ — only it didn’t know it. What is today characterized as underdevelopment was simply the normal state of affairs. Moreover, when European countries that were making economic progress came into contact with non-Western peoples that were not, as when the French trounced the Mamelukes at the Battle of the Pyramids in 1798, it had not occurred to anyone that such difference was an injustice to be corrected, and not at all that the West was somehow guilty of a situation — the poverty of the Egyptian masses — that had always existed.”


Exploitation of poor nations is an assumption, not a proven conclusion

Wayne Lutton (Ph.D. in modern history , Southern Illinois University), “Third world ideology and Western reality: manufacturing political myth,” National Review, October 23, 1987, p. 64

“What has taken place, especially in the post-World War II era, is a reversal in the way people explain economic differences between nations. Rather than acknowledging that some nations have taken steps that lead to development, while others have not, it is currently accepted as axiomatic that the West is rich because it has plundered those countries that remain poor. ‘Third Worldism,’ in Rangel’s opinion, ‘has become the most potent socialist weapon of our time.’”


Differences between rich and poor nations cannot be explained by colonialism

Wayne Lutton (Ph.D. in modern history , Southern Illinois University), “Third world ideology and Western reality: manufacturing political myth,” National Review, October 23, 1987, p. 64

“The advanced capitalist countries do not owe their success to the Third World; they were wealthy before the start of their colonial undertakings. Some of the most prosperous Western countries (e.g., Switzerland, Sweden, Austria) never had Third World colonies. Others (as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) were themselves colonies. Still others (Holland, Belgium) experienced their greatest levels of economic prosperity precisely after they lost their colonies. And many countries — Uganda comes to mind — are racked by poverty and mass suffering ‘caused not by the colonial relationship but by its termination.’”


No non-Western pathway to prosperity has been found

Tunde Obadina (staff director), “The Myth of Neocolonialism,” Africa Business Information Services, January 23, 2008. Online: www.afbis.com/analysis/neo-colonialism.html; accessed May 15, 2008

“Despite the failure of African Socialism there remains a belief among some African thinkers and writers that there is an African way to development that is different from the European path. No one has been able to describe this African way in any detail. However, the search for an African model continues.”


Intervention in failed states is imperialistic, but justified

Vladislav Inozemtsev (chairman of the advisory board for the journal Russia in Global Affairs) and Sergei Karaganov (chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy; editorial board chairman, Russia in Global Affairs), “Imperialism of the fittest,” The National Interest, Summer 2005, p. 78

“This leads us to the third option, what we have labeled ‘neo-imperialism.’ It takes the position that if a country is unable to function — say, to secure the basic rights of its citizens — other states have the right to impose ‘governance’ via direct intervention. Examples of such actions include NATO’s military involvement in former Yugoslavia; Russia’s actions in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transdniestria, a self-proclaimed republic in Moldova; and the use of force by some European countries in their former colonies in Africa. Global developments over the last few decades show that core countries will have to resort to this type of intervention more and more, despite its unattractiveness and the mixed attitudes concerning the final results of such a strategy. The problem has been that the implementation of this doctrine is impeded by the lack of a mechanism for its legitimization. Neo-imperialism has been undertaken sporadically and sometimes unilaterally, and this has contributed to rivalry and mutual suspicions among the major powers of the world.”




Prager’s LD Vault: International Relations · Revised July 2010 · © 2010 John R. Prager
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