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|Subject: Colonialism and “Under Development"|
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Date Posted: 17:40:10 01/06/05 Thu
In reply to: Ed Harris (London) 's message, "Yes..." on 17:05:08 01/06/05 Thu
The problem with the idea that colonialism is the cause of Africa’s poverty and misgovernment is that it is counter factual. If it were true that English colonial government was the cause of Africa’s problems then it would stand to reason that the United States which “suffered” from this problem from 1620 to 1775 or 1781, depending on how you measure the end of British colonial rule, would have a much worse problem. Like wise, India which was a colony for about 200 years should be worse off than Africa. While the British experiment with socialism in the mid 20th century at home and through out the empire was a catastrophe especially for the African Colonies, the fundamental fact is that Africa was poor when the Europeans arrived, it was poor (though less so in the British colonies) when they left, and it is poor now. Colonialism is just an excuse for the post colonial ruling class to trot out to take the blame for its failures. That is not to say that the Empire and the U.S.A. didn’t make mistakes, we did, but our failure was to lose confidence in the superiority of our ideas and fail to teach them to those we had won dominion over. Instead many of our forbearers indulged in the unspeakably mindless and vile belief in racial superiority.
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Ed Harris (London)
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Date Posted: 17:54:08 01/06/05 Thu
The old argument goes that the richer countries are rich becuase they all had colonies, and the poorer countries are poor because they all were colonies. The USA, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and others were all colonies and are some of the richest countries in the world. Norway and Switzerland never had any colonies and are even richer. On the other hand, until the 1990s Britain, which was the ultimate coloniser, was a complete economic failure. Bhutan is reckoned to be the poorest country on Earth but is also the oldest independent kingdom in history.
I disagree, however, that we failed to teach our ideals to our sibject peoples. Often we taught them all too well. The democratic ones learnt about freedom and what-not at Oxford, then went home and failed to see any reason why that shouldn't apply to them as well. The less democratic one's went to the LSE in the 30s and thought that economic and social controls should be concentrated in the hands of a central committee dominated by a chairman, and turned Africa in a a collection of People's Republics whose human rights record makes the Belgians look friendly.
And I'm not sure that doctrines of racial superiority were mindless - they were just very wrong!
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