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In Praise Of [Anglo] Colonialism

09 September 2012 @ 17:15

Commenting in a post on the thesis of the movie 2016, Smitty remarks:

I recall reading A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East and thinking, yeah: imperialism is a bastard’s game. The notion of a small clique of people in power dividing a larger population against itself to retain control is the antithesis of liberty. And yet, that was the consistent British game across multiple continents for a couple centuries. Bad British: bad.

While Dinesh D’Souza’s film has brought the issue of Barack Hussein Obama’s background and held philosophy to the fore of discussion, one of the smaller conversations it has sparked is over Western Colonialism.

Both the Left and most of the Right seem to be in agreement that it was a bad, awful practice.

I partially dissent.

It worked when Great Britain practiced it.

In almost every place the British had colonies, there is civilization today. Unlike other nations, they gladly ‘took up The White Man’s Burden’, as it were, and sought to improve the lot of the non-Western peoples they ruled over — and they succeeded in the vast, vast majority of cases.  You can point to their foul-ups in the Middle East after World War I and rightly say ‘the Brits screwed-up’, but this can be explained by the twin failings of arrogance and idealism [ie: Leftism] that had invaded even Winston Churchill’s soul.

If you had to be a colonial subject, it was much better to be one under the English.

As to the issue of liberty that Smitty brings up: we cannot forget that the vast majority of lands colonized were filled with peoples who had no idea of what liberty was, and that it was The West that helped to tame their savage breasts. And it was the British who did, by far, the best work in this area.

As Mark Steyn wrote in After America [pages 190-191]:

[The British] were on the right side of all the great conflicts of the last century; and they have been, in the scales of history, a force for good in the world — perhaps the single greatest force for good.  In the second half of the twentieth century, even as their colonies advanced to independence, dozens of newborn nation-states retained the English language, English parliamentary structures, [the] English legal system, English notions of liberty, not to mention cricket and all other manner of other cultural ties.  Insofar as the world functions at all, one can easily make the case that it’s due largely to the Britannic inheritance.  Today from South Africa to India to Australia, the regional heavyweights across the map are of British descent, as our three-sevenths of the G7, about two-fifths of the permanent members of the UN Security Council — and in a just world it would be three-fifths.  The usual rap against the Security Council is that it’s the Second World War victory parade preserved in aspic, but, if that were so, Canada would have a greater claim to a permanent seat than either France of China.  The reason Ottawa didn’t make the cut is because a third anglophone nation and a second realm of King George VI would have made too obvious a simple truth — that, when it mattered, the Anglosphere all but the lone defender of civilization and liberty.

That there still exists a slave trade in the Twenty-First Century is not due to British colonization.  In fact, that the trade is so restricted and conducted in stealth is because of the efforts, first of the British in their colonies and on the high seas, and later because of their joint efforts with the Americans.

There is something in the character of the Anglo that has made it the greatest proponent and practitioner of Western Values.  That is the subject for different time, but the fact remains that no reasonable argument can be offered in dispute of this truth.

The fact that most of the peoples of the Anglosphere have given-up defending her is another tell-tale signpost of The Present Crisis.

34 Comments
  1. 09 September 2012 @ 17:26 17:26

    Yep.

  2. 09 September 2012 @ 17:35 17:35

    Even as a paddy, I can say mostly good things about the Brits. If Ireland were left to its own devices, they would have spent their time writing poems and singing, and never would have gotten around to things like hard roads or factories.

  3. 09 September 2012 @ 17:36 17:36

    Updated. I’m not sold on the argument, boss.

    • Adobe_Walls permalink
      09 September 2012 @ 19:46 19:46

      The results of British colonialism vary, in the places where it is not a smashing success it is the least worse compared to every other non American colonial power.

  4. 09 September 2012 @ 18:18 18:18

    WOO HOO !!!
    Another person that thinks as I do that British coloniaism was MOSTLY a good thing !!

    • 09 September 2012 @ 23:08 23:08

      I thought, frankly except for Adobe Walls and Rev. David Graham, I’d be alone in this belief.

      • 10 September 2012 @ 07:21 07:21

        Where would India be today, if not for British colonialism?
        Would they be closer to what Afghanistan is today?

        If more people weren’t ashamed to admit that Western values are probally the best, more people would embrace it !

        • Adobe_Walls permalink
          10 September 2012 @ 13:39 13:39

          Quite.

  5. M. Thompson permalink
    09 September 2012 @ 22:48 22:48

    Simply put, culture and ideas matter, no matter what anyone says.

    And colonialism was neither good nor bad. Besides, what are those aid groups but modern versions of the mission system?

  6. 10 September 2012 @ 00:41 00:41

    The most interesting part of 2016, I think, was the interview with O’s brother who doesn’t blame colonialism for all that’s wrong with his country.

  7. 10 September 2012 @ 16:40 16:40

    Part of the problem are the fantasies and fictions conjured up by TV. Whether or not a thousand years of Western civilization can survive 100 years of mass TV media remains to be seen. Seriously.

  8. 11 September 2012 @ 04:36 04:36

    Quite a good piece but where it falls down is the fact that the British Empire was responsible for the wholesale slaughter of millions upon millions of innocent men, women & children. To deny this fact is to view history through rose tinted spectacles. I’m sure Ghandi would have some-thing to say about this as would George Washington or Thomas Payne.

    • Adobe_Walls permalink
      11 September 2012 @ 14:09 14:09

      Say’s the nitwit with the Che avatar, “wholesale slaughter of millions upon millions”, really?

      • 16 September 2012 @ 11:52 11:52

        Wow What a cutting critique ignores the article and posts about an avatar! Don’t donate your brain to science!!

    • 11 September 2012 @ 19:59 19:59

      I want to see verified data, Che.

      • 16 September 2012 @ 11:30 11:30

        http://www.massviolence.org/India-from-1900-to-1947?cs=print Could also check out http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/08/torture-killing-kenya-britain-mau-mau Or better still the great iris famine in Eire where over 1 million people starved to death Great Irish Famineas John Mitchell put it, “The Almighty sent the potato blight… but the English created the famine”.[98 Of course I could go on and on but it’s best left for you to try to actually discover the truth yourself. Where-ever the British have been they have left a trail of death and destruction behind them Africa, India, Iraq the middle east it goes on and on. EMPIRE BUILDING BY IT’S VERY NATURE ENTAILS VIOLENT SUBJUGATION OF INDIGENIOUS PEOPLE. It’s a self evident truth. Which I see some on here like to stick their heads up their back passages and ignore.

        • Shawn permalink
          17 September 2012 @ 01:24 01:24

          To (try and) Recap: Conquest and domination is a bastard’s game. Agreed. Conquerors by definition force their will on others, using as much violence as necessary and often much, much more. Conquerors often don’t give a damn about how the conquered feel about this. This at a basic level applies to all entities aspiring to conquest including those entities found within Western Civilization.

          The world is full of bastards looking for conquest; I believe we all in accord on this point. So long as any bastards remain seeking conquest, there will be blood (at least potentially). An ‘endgame’ (in concept, not necessarily in practice) is now in sight: The most violent/crafty (politics, don’cha know) conqueror gets to set the standards, make the rules, and perpetuate culture. I think all those reading here concur that (despite any drawbacks, however defined, and in light of the beneficial effects it does provide, also however said benefits may be defined) Westen Civilization is more than simply first among equals — it is manifestly superior to all other known cultures. This, particularly in light of the fact that there are ‘other bastards’ vying to be hegemon, but also in and of itself.

          Thus, I argue that virtually anything the people of Western Civilization can bring themselves to do/have done on their behalf is justified. I do not say anything at all — I say that which the West can countenance doing, there is an important distinction there that I want to emphasize. And as long as ‘other bastards’ still vie for conquest, the West should do whatever is necessary to neutralize them. The Man of the West is carrying noble, sacred fire, and must not allow that fire to be extinguished.

    • Dan Dougherty permalink
      13 September 2012 @ 18:56 18:56

      Pardon me Che, no specifics, just some wild claim. However, if you want to talk verified wholesale slaughter, see Lenin-Stalin-Mao-Pol Pot, and let’s throw in Hitler as they are (were) two sides of the same coin.

      • 16 September 2012 @ 11:49 11:49

        Imbecile We are not talking about Lenin or Stalin. We are discussing the article above which specifically talks about the British Empire. You dumb ass!

        • Shawn permalink
          16 September 2012 @ 12:08 12:08

          Dan is pointing out the hypocricy of mentioning the death of millions, perhaps assuming you don’t have an issue with slaughter as long as the ‘right folks’ are doing the killing, and the ‘bad guys’ are being killed. Maybe he is right? In any event, I have no problem with wholesale slaughter, nor does the God of Judeo-Christianity, Whom I worship.

  9. Luke Fenton permalink
    12 September 2012 @ 10:47 10:47

    I have to respectfully disagree that it was a *fundamentally* good idea/practice. There were some good aspects to the British Empire, but I’m not of the consequentialist school of ethics.

    The worst thing about the British Empire and imperialism more generally is that it has given the third world and their supporters (of all political stripes) in the Western world a plausible-if fallacious-excuse for all of their problems.

    The fallout of the collapse of empires always hits hard. If we could have frozen the world situation at about 1912, maybe everything would have been fine. No commies in Russia, no Nazis in Germany, Christianity would still have a serious influence on society no victimology at home and abroad nor pandering to feminists, socialists, ethnic shakedown artists, and the rest of the usual gang of idiots! But alas, that world could not sustain itself in the end. In short, I am inclined to say that the negative results of the breakdown of the Western Empires far outweigh whatever positive legacies linger, or the good that they did back in their own day.

  10. Shawn permalink
    12 September 2012 @ 22:03 22:03

    I see the fact that anyone thinks Anglo colonialism was bad as proof that it was, in fact, good. It tolerated internal and external dissent and alllowed critical analysis of it to occur. Anglo colonialism, as a fruit of Western Civilization, was a manifest good, and has bequeathed many manifest benefits to the world.

    It carried Western Civilization, Western Culture, across the globe: The rule of law, limited government constrained by the people, personal freedom, free trade, the ennobling Judeo-Christian religion/philosophy, the ability to freely enter into contracts and enforce their stipulations, the free movement of people and ideas, and so on. No apology necessary: WC FTW.

    Also important, the distinct virtue of the intractable viciousness the vanguards of Western Civilization have visited upon the enemies of Western Civilization when necessary. That is, until now.

    All Man is animal — yet more than mere animal. The Man of Western Civilization becomes no less ethical, moral, no less human when he utterly blots out uncivilized barbarians — as he defines them — from under God’s sun.

    • Luke Fenton permalink
      13 September 2012 @ 10:12 10:12

      Shawn, with all due respect, Western Culture has little or nothing to do with free trade, nor anything at all with the “free movement of people”, by which I assume you mean mass open immigration. If my guess about the origin of the name of this website is correct, I should assume that the owner agrees with me on the point about large scale immigration! Did the British Empire create a lasting sense of personal freedom in those lands in which it colonized (with the exceptions of Canada, AUS, NZ)?

      No, most of your list of the virtues of Western Civilization are really the values of the Enlightenment or else its grand daughter 19th century liberalism. Even if one puts a premium, for example, upon the right to enter into contracts, can you really say that this has created or sustained such a notion in the former colonies, apart from those settled, rather than merely occupied by Britain or the other imperial powers ? Outside of the West, we don’t necessarily see such respect for property rights, which are in any event a useful and beneficial outgrowth of our civilization rather than something at its heart. They evolved organically in parts of our civilization; they are not something to which another civilization can necessarily take a shortcut. Maybe they can be temporarily imposed at bayonet point, but when the mother nation packs up and leaves, all bets are off. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Maybe other civilizations can borrow the outer trappings of our culture, such as its technology, a certain business acumen or some modicum of a civil society, but have any of them really adopted its real essence? The West managed to direct the world, for a time, in a way which brought stability and benefit to itself and those nations under its control, but that *is not* the same as saying that our values and culture can or ought to be exported, so to speak. Whatever the philosophic flaws of George Orwell and Joseph Conrad, one would observe that their first hand experience with colonialism led them to see it as much as the “barbarian” corrupting the civilized rather than the imperialist bringing light and goodness to the “savages”. (Consult “Shooting an Elephant” and “Heart of Darkness”).

      No, man is not a “better” version of animal; man IS fallen but yet categorically different from animal.

      There were good and bad things about the Imperial Age, but I suspect much of the nostalgia for it results from a longing for a time when the West stood, more or less, over the world and in control of it, rather than a fair assessment of all factors at play.

      • Shawn permalink
        13 September 2012 @ 11:54 11:54

        Huh? You seem to have made several incorrect assumptions about what I wrote.

        Are you saying the Enlightenment and 19th century liberalism are somehow not distinctly elements of Western Civilization? Is the distinction between property rights being at the ‘heart’ of WC as opposed to *merely* being a ‘beneficial outgrowth’ of WC relevant to you — and *why*?

        How do you get from “free movement of people” in the context of WC, champion of individual rights, to “mass open immigration”, particularly, as you note, on a wesbite named thusly?

        With all due respect to Orwell and Conrad , their personal opinions on the issue as expressed are less than relevant (“Heart of Darkness” being fiction, after all).

        Thank you for making me realize I omitted laissez-faire Capitalism as a fruit of WC — or do you argue that point? Laissez-faire Capitalism is the basis for much social and individual freedom, technological enhancement, medical advance, and better objective standard of living. Even where “the point of the bayonet” never really reached, see Japan.

        Oops — I suppose the “bayonet” *did* reach Japan after all. Japan: a *very* different culture made over deeply and in it’s entirety, remaining a child of WC after the bayonets were put away. Takes me back to my point on, “the distinct virtue of the intractable viciousness the vanguards of Western Civilization have visited upon the enemies of Western Civilization when necessary”. In WC, after we conquer you, we give you a sandwich and let you take a nap while we rebuild your country and civilize you. Of course, as of late, we are trying to do that without the *conquering* part — which doesn’t seem to work. . . .

        Simply stated, our values and culture *should* be exported. Let’s reframe this: Is there a combination of culture and values you desire to replace WC with? I didn’t think so. All men being equal as created by God, those outside WC are able to understand, absorb and benefit from WC. If there is nothing better than WC — and there isn’t — why would we leave our brothers beholden to world-views that are substandard, counterproductive?

        I did *not* say man is a *better* version of animal. Man *is* an animal; I consult something called *Biology* to receive this revelation. Man is more than mere animal; I understand this by God’s revelation to Man in His Scripture.

        I have no nostalgia. I am concerned with the present as it unfolds and the future it contains within it.

        [Additionally, I count two cliches in your post. Please.]

        • Luke Fenton permalink
          13 September 2012 @ 14:00 14:00

          Ok, let us tackle this one by one, or else try to do so. The so-called Enlightenment occurred in the West, but I would not let that define it. I shall not attempt to into great detail as to its merits and faults, but it serves as a convenient starting place for tracing some (though not all) of the destructive intellectual and social trends in Europe and America. Not coincidentally, it marks the start of the decline of Christian influence. There are an assortment of intellectual/cultural movements throughout the ages, each with their various positive and negatives, but I would count few of these as so baleful on the whole as the Enlightenment. Aside from that, mere caution alone ought to make one reluctant to say that one era or movement somehow encapsulates the Western experience in its totality.

          Are the distinctions vis-à-vis property rights (more specifically those since about the Enlightenment) and 18th and 19th century liberalism and the essence of Western Culture relevant and why would I think so? I would cheerfully explain why-provided that you clarify as to whether or not you, kind sir, think they are relevant. No need for great detail, even a simple yes or no will suffice. There is no use in me explaining my own position until I better know the nature of your thoughts, and could then more precisely approach this discussion.

          Laissez-faire is too broad a topic for us to discuss here, alas. I shall note, however, if that precept serves to *define* the West,as opposed to have been something that existed in the West, then the West has only existed since fairly recent times. One would have to ignore Roman and feudal law, and mercantilist and other economic doctrines. I am not endorsing or opposing any specific economic perspective; I am merely stating that it is problematic at best to say that any single such view really stands at the core of the Western nations. In any case, laissez-faire has always had an existence more theoretical than real.

          If I have misunderstood what you meant by “free movement”, I do sincerely apologize.

          On culture by bayonet: why didn’t Western Culture quite take in most of the places colonized? Virtually the entire world was under the occupation of the Western powers 100 years ago; yet I would hesitate to call Africa or Asia Western in any meaningful sense. Japan has modernized, and did so long before formal occupation. Industrialization and modernization are not the same as becoming a part of the West. Japan saw what was coming and knew it was necessary to update their technology to keep up with the West and to hope to carve out their own sphere; China learned this lesson only after much difficulty. I would not question at all whether Japan had not been civilized all along; but never have they been really Western. Despite superficial things, Japan retains what I would call a Confucian culture.

          I do agree that the West is a better culture than any of the alternatives (though I do think that elements of Confucian culture in East Asia are admirable, and that it would be even more so if they were tempered with Christianity). What I don’t think is that it can be exported, because I don’t see any satisfying examples which lead me to think otherwise.

          I suppose you and I will have to agree to disagree as to how to define man. You define him biologically; I define him spiritually and, broadly speaking, metaphysically. Consult biology, but I shall consult 1 Corinthians 15:39 “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” (KJV)

  11. Luke Fenton permalink
    13 September 2012 @ 14:15 14:15

    Oh, and I would add that Orwell and Conrad are quite relevant. Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” is based on his own experience. Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” is a a classic short essay on his experiences as a colonial policeman. (Orwell said that Evelyn Waugh was as fine a writer could be while being a conservative, or words to that effect. I would reserve that and say Orwell is about as fine an essayists one might be while being a socialist).

    Further, I am no great prose stylist (especially in English), nor do I pretend to be one. That said, I do feel that I have expressed myself in a way coherent enough that anyone can understand that which I write. No need to nitpick.

    Otherwise, I think I have responded to each of your points.

    • Shawn permalink
      14 September 2012 @ 00:05 00:05

      I believe the Enlightenment is a net good for the world. Yes, I think it created obvious problems for Western Civilization, but I maintain the benefits outshine the drawbacks.

      I do not say the Enlightenment encapsulates Western Civilization, nor am I attempting to limit Western Civilization to the concepts I note; I simply note the concepts as undergirding and/or being fruit of Western Civilization.

      Naturally, I hold the concepts noted as relevant. Why do you seem to make a distinction regarding whether they are the heart of or the outgrowth of Western Civilization? I think in the context of my writing it is clear what I’m trying to say: The combination of items I note, and many similar concepts, taken together, distinguish Western Civilization from barbarism/other cultures/other things referred to as “civilizations”. Western Civilization is preferable to all alternatives of any kind whatsoever.

      I, too define Man spiritually. Ecclesiastes 3:19. Shared DNA between Man and beast. Respiration. Hemorrhage. Man is different and superior to beast. Yet Man is beast, is born, dies.

      Yes, I know of Orwell; I know of Conrad. I disagree with their visions.

      I do pretend to be a great prose stylist, you might want to consider it for yourself, it’s quite liberating, you know.

      • Luke Fenton permalink
        15 September 2012 @ 15:01 15:01

        In case that you are still following this post, I shall respond. Indeed, I find this discussion interesting and can find enough energy to continue to participate so long as anyone else does the same.

        On Orwell and Conrad: they serve,at least, as counterweights to a rosy and triumphalist view of imperialism. The main question here is whether imperialism was good-in and of itself-or whether it was good due to its results.

        Why would I consider the noted distinctions as relevant? The simple answer is that they are relevant. Western Civilization has existed prior to, and independent of the Enlightenment, laissez-faire, and the rest of those things which you had asked me about regarding relevance. Hence, it stands to reason that such things, whether in theory or practice, are not the necessary conditions with which one can distinguish our civilization from whichever others. Otherwise, our civilization is only a few centuries old. And if you do, as it would seem, limit the idea of civilization to only our own, you are saying in effect that civilization begins at such time; which is to say, more or less, at about the time of the Enlightenment. In other words, what would have made Western Civilization better than that of any other part of the world at about 1400 or 1000 AD?

        Likewise, if imperialism spread some Enlightenment ideas and certain economic doctrines and practices, we cannot necessarily say that it spread Western culture, as such.

  12. Shawn permalink
    22 September 2012 @ 02:50 02:50

    I put this up a few days ago, but got busy (and some stuff happened overseas or something about Ambassadors and movies or something). I just wanted to repost and take it from here:

    To (try and) Recap: Conquest and domination is a bastard’s game. Agreed. Conquerors by definition force their will on others, using as much violence as necessary and often much, much more. Conquerors often don’t give a damn about how the conquered feel about this. This at a basic level applies to all entities aspiring to conquest including those entities found within Western Civilization.

    The world is full of bastards looking for conquest; I believe we all in accord on this point. So long as any bastards remain seeking conquest, there will be blood (at least potentially). An ‘endgame’ (in concept, not necessarily in practice) is now in sight: The most violent/crafty (politics, don’cha know) conqueror gets to set the standards, make the rules, and perpetuate culture. I think all those reading here concur that (despite any drawbacks, however defined, and in light of the beneficial effects it does provide, also however said benefits may be defined) Westen Civilization is more than simply first among equals — it is manifestly superior to all other known cultures. This, particularly in light of the fact that there are ‘other bastards’ vying to be hegemon, but also in and of itself.

    Thus, I argue that virtually anything the people of Western Civilization can bring themselves to do/have done on their behalf is justified. I do not say anything at all — I say that which the West can countenance doing, there is an important distinction there that I want to emphasize. And as long as ‘other bastards’ still vie for conquest, the West should do whatever is necessary to neutralize them. The Man of the West is carrying noble, sacred fire, and must not allow that fire to be extinguished.

    • Luke Fenton permalink
      22 September 2012 @ 15:11 15:11

      Well, I can agree on the realism in foreign policy angle. It is difficult, however, to assess as to what if any degree British and other empires were “necessary”. I’l allow that there were some positive effects in the short, and even long term. Certainly, it seemed like a good idea at the time and there is much admirable in it, especially on an administrative level. It’s also a great adventure story, for whatever that’s worth. I wouldn’t condemn the British Empire too much; they often, though by no means always, acted well in the role of de facto world leader. (The Crimean War is an example of a mess-up on their part. I always get riled up when this or that European power got too chummy with the Ottomans.) The real problem came with the First World War; the war and its results triggered instability on a meta-level, whereas the world has been fairly (though not always) stable from the defeat of Napoleon.

      I would argue that Western Imperialism was not so much *necessary* from a strategic or even an economic point of view (most of the colonies cost more money than they brought in-India is the big exception here) so much as it was inevitable. The West had been looking outward for some centuries already, and its technology had outdistanced most of the world for awhile, too. I truly doubt that the rest of the world would have reached a stage that advanced and been in a comparable position to dominate in reverse. Imperialism didn’t really protect the West from the rest of the world in those days, From 1500 on, the only real world powers not of the West were the Turks, and later Japan.

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