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 Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Tue 25 Oct 2016, 14:13

This one is far reaching so spread yourselves. In this context We may have different takes on what makes a colony. Settling a land and digging ought make a loose parameter.
Delving back in time should render quite a few and some of which were  pre-Phonetician. The latter set up many port colonies to serve their  trading needs from India to Portugal. International trade was not new even then.A;though they did not settle inland they did get substantial ports and harbours built.
That's a taster. Start when and with whom you like.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 14:03

Colonies are rarely actual colonies in the strict sense (transplanted citizens of one political territory to another one designed by the colonist nation) but a catch-all term covering everything from mass migrations (enforced or voluntary), political takeovers, asset stripping with built-in obsolescence once the raw materials are exhausted, overt exploitation of indigenous people, outright territorial expansion, punitive incursions, and a variety of combinations of these aspects almost as diverse as there are or ever have been "colonies" in existence.

So when analysing benefit accrued to the target of the coloniser one is completely at a loss to know where even to begin defining what on earth such a benefit might look like or who even would deem it so.

Your example of Phoenician establishment of ports illustrates about the only benefit which the colonisers at least agree on, especially when they are justifying their colonial presence in retrospect - namely establishment of an infrastructure which facilitates economic development. However even this apparently obvious benefit must always be historically judged based in part at least on an assessment of the human cost in establishing it, and in that respect there are few examples which survive scrutiny without some (and often quite a lot of) indictment of the colonial power that established it.

History seems to suggest that a colony which can exert some autonomy as early as possible stands the best chance of at least ensuring that benefit, if it exists, accrues in the main to the colonists themselves and not the power that established their colonial state. However even these examples carry a rather obvious caveat concerning the welfare of indigenous people affected by the colonial process, who as often as not face a struggle to share in this benefit, and that's when the process obviously didn't also include their mass eviction or genocidal elimination, or incomplete attempts at either.

Perhaps the only way to interpret colonisation as in any way a benign and beneficial force in history is simply to ignore the plight of those adversely affected at the time and point to its crucial role historically in establishing global trade, some globalisation of laws and standards etc, and through extremely prolonged and incremental steps facilitating local increases in living standards, health levels, life expectancy etc - but only when considering the surviving descendants' lot, not necessarily the fate of those living under colonial rule throughout that long process.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 15:12

Ah yes, after a study of nordmann's sensible eating diet sheet on this topic and now off the counter perhaps we can make a richer dish of this. There are ingredients enough for a Great P. Cook up. For instance the Vikings. Mass migration happened because there was not enough land for them back home (cf the ancient Greeks who did likewise.) After raids had produced evidence of good plunder, those who settled seemed to have been more peaceful, sparing the indigenous folk and farming the land. Did anyone benefit from this form of colonisation? I think they may. Input needed here please -one way or tuther.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 15:29

Indigenous people were displaced by Scandinavian intrusions, whatever their motivation was to intrude (the "not enough living space" theory is largely discounted here in Norway these days as unsupportable through evidence). Their presence also entailed territorial wars that lasted a long time and led to misery and death for many, so even leaving their initial plundering phase aside it is hard to see that development as being beneficial on balance for anyone, not even the colonisers on occasion.

One could point to their proven ability in matters of trade and town building as a benefit, I suppose. However other notable migrations, such as the Huguenots or the Jewish diaspora for example (there are many others), also led to significant shots in the arm for the economies of the lands in which they settled, without even a thought of "colonising" on their part at all. So it is also fair to point out that perhaps the colonial intention actually acts more often historically as a retardant to the accrual of benefit, even when such benefit stands to be gained.

The big question is always if the indigenous people would have developed the system whereby benefit could be accrued anyway without ever having been forcibly colonised. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, or at least not quite in the manner and at the rate it did accrue (if it ever did - there are many examples of advanced cultures being plunged backwards in terms of development as a result of colonisation too).

As usual, the Life of Brian addressed this conundrum most intelligently ...

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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 15:37

So really, you suggest that it is a rubbish topic because the lands did not benefit from the colonists - and so the Americas, Antipodes should have been left well alone.
 
Regards, P. the Confused of Essex- like wot we never  benefitid from them Saxons, eh?
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 15:56

As with several other topics which suppose benefit but disregard method it is, far from being "rubbish", simply prone to circular reasoning when actually examined. The aboriginal people of both the Americas and the Antipodes, for example, would certainly place what you are calling benefit in a very specific context which includes the cost to them in having achieved a share in that benefit - when in fact they can actually avail of it, something which even now is not a universal condition of their existence.

Mass migrations, invasions and colonial expansion, as I said earlier, can be construed as ultimately benign on a macro scale, but only in quite specific terms and always if one disregards the price paid by countless others involuntarily in order to create that which is classed as a benefit at all.

The proof of this is in the modern comparison between lands developed colonially and those which haven't been thus developed historically. No universal pattern indicating an advantage to either is readily discernible, and where a tolerable standard of living pertains would appear to be contingent on a myriad factors, none of which need include or refer to past colonialism in the slightest.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 17:07

And in relation to the Monty Python - 'What have the Romans ever done for us?' sketch ... it should be remembered that 1st century Jerusalem (like most other ancient urban conurbations that had successfully existed for a good while), did already have paved roads; a system of wells, canals, tunnels and cisterns to deliver drinking water throughout the city; sewers; a system for cleaning the streets; laws to govern and inspect the quality of food sold in the markets; laws about public nuisance; a system for maintaining public order etc... and all these established long before the Romans muscled onto the scene.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 17:50

The subcontinent had settled into a ppatern of lords and the rest before the British arrived. They colonised but not by intent. Napier, in fact went against orders to force march his newly arrived men ( to settle on going incursions) in Late August (in Sind it is ghastly then very humid -98% - and very hot) 80 miles or more across the larid  to do battle in a dense forest (thorny tangle,) against marauding Baluch/Afghans. His 'I Have Sind' message was a Punch joke but summed it up nicely. Local feudal lords were sorted out with peace terms arrived at and a few knighthoods - and land dished out. Of all the many things that the raj took with them, roads, railways, education, hospitals, libraries and much more, what they never did for the most part was sort out the feudal landlords. The rulers could be curbed but the others, no. Feudal landlords remain very powerful,restraining and very difficult to handle.
Th British may have lived well there but very few settled. Much as they loved it and their life there, 'Home' and returning there was ever in their thoughts. They dragged what they could of it to the tropics - and took what they could of the tropics home with them. From  what I gleaned from old colonialis, independence was always known to be inevitable but like many an old hand in control of anything, they did not want to let go in belief that no one else could properly take over.
Colonisation means change and with change, yes, many suffer. The end of it when it has been dominant also brings change..... and many suffer in the transition. We all know that part. It is only many years on that one ought to be able to assess what benefits there may have been. And that was my intent here. 
So, I bet someone knows a positive thing or two about colonials, Vikings, Romans, whoever,.......... the French even?
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 18:46

I think the world 'benefit' may need more definition/clarification. What may be considered a benefit to the coloniser may not be considered a benefit to the colonised at all.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 21:13

I think the word "colony" also needs the same. Ireland, never a colony in name, could be argued to have exhibited (and indeed suffered) the most obvious features of outright colonisation, while Massachusetts, for example, went from province to dominion to commonwealth and in the end rebelled against its colonial status, even though it too had never officially been anything of the sort. And both of them, whether regarded as colonial possessions or not, would never have swapped their own experience for that suffered by, say, the colonised inhabitants of the Belgian Congo. Spanish colonies were almost immediately ordained semi-autonomous Vice Royalties or Kingdoms while Portuguese colonies, largely for reasons of distance and expense, were initiated largely as sponsored dictatorships. Commercial exploitation was the motive for some colonisation, while with others this was a secondary aspect behind territorial expansion typified by sponsored migration. Britain, the largest coloniser the world has ever seen, employed all these models and even invented some unique ones of its own, such as penal colonies designed to adapt with time into territorial claims covering entire continents if possible, as in Australia, or sub-continental ambitions prosecuted on its behalf by private companies, a subtle but hugely important difference from the Dutch model it had initially emulated.

All that one can say with some conviction about the conduct of these administrations over colonised people is that their consequent experience of this colonisation varied as considerably as the methods used to go about their acquisition, governance and their consequent status and histories.

And that's before one even begins to analyse the legacy of resentment often felt by many colonial subjects which affected to their detriment ex-colonial states and their subsequent economic potential and political stability, both of which all too often took something of the lustre away from any perceived "benefit" bequeathed to them by their colonial overlords, even when they had departed. Britain proved itself more adept than others at avoiding the worst elements of this tendency, such as can be seen in almost every historical instance of French withdrawal, but even then has left some notorious and very tangible examples behind it, especially on the African continent, and indeed on its nearest island neighbour. Discussion of the benefits of colonialisation in these places should still be embarked upon with extremely advised caution.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 23:14

Ah well, I tried. The blame game always wins. Perhaps it is the historians role to detect and lay the blame. But I have seen other sides; the baker cooking perfect shortbread in a hole oven beneath his shack in the foothills said with pride that the British had taught his family. This is  what Temps would call small organic weave of  benefits. I thought it clear enough that I suggested benefits to the land that was colonised. As I said, we all know what the colonists got out of it. A friend in Cambodia - moved in immediately the worst of the fighting was done and just after all the trained artisans (plumbers, electricians and such) were killed, she said that people hoped the  foreigners would teach those skills again.... as long as they were not French this time.
The trouble with some of you folks is that you read a lot and know a lot but you have not moved about at listened to years of unschooled voices at grinding grit levels. I have often been touched by people who have acknowledged things done by the British - and others -that have improved their lives. 
But that's an end to it, why bother. Perceived benefits but doubtful might well be applied to the hundred army pipers I once heard when sat in the front row of invited guests on a hot, dusty field, they, in full tartan and trimmings, of course, managed 'Black Bear'with huge pride and had somehow made it their own. 
So let's finish it here. Perhaps you would rather talk about the mess left behind - I am sure you would. I could give a Reith lecture on the causes and manifestation of resentment in this context - genuine,warranted, imagined, tutored, manipulated and patronised.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 26 Oct 2016, 23:26

Shortbread is not a benefit, of anything, ever.

I am sure there are many quaint and amusing examples of colonial legacy which you, or others, might choose to grace with the rather loaded description of "benefit". An inordinate interest in English football and horse racing is a legacy in ireland shared even by some rabid republicans who might subjectively agree were benefits too. But the real benefits which colonial powers were in a position to bestow, such as the artisan skills and expertise you refer to above in Cambodia, seldom came without a cost. It is not a "blame game" to indicate this rather obvious fact, just part of a plea that one uses the term "benefit" a bit more advisedly.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 03:15

Ah the retreat into victimisation didn't take long P, and sorry that I cannot tell you what you want to hear. Some of us folks may not have moved about and listened to voices at grinding level (although I've seen/talked and grew up with enough indigenous Australians at that grinding level who are normally completely ignored in these colonial benefit discussions it is noted) also telling you what you wanted to hear, but some of us were born and raised as the colonised. And as well travelled as you may be, it is that feeling of what it is to be colonised that you fail to understand.

I see many parallels in the current Brexit debate, we hear endlessly about the loss of sovereignty and even though it is only an imagined loss the feeling of outrage is genuine none the less. And when it is pointed out the many 'benefits' of EU membership we are told in return that the vote was from the heart and not the head. That some things are more important than the material benefits.

No-where near as eloquent as you guys as usual, but it is the best I can articulate it at this time of the morning anyway.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 08:16

Oh dear. All this reminds me of an old film I watched as a child -  North West Frontier, sometimes called Flame Over India. Stirring adventure stuff with a true Brit as hero - Kenneth More. But the ending made a great impression on me, even though I was only young: More, who has gone through all sorts of terrible dangers to rescue a little Indian prince from his dastardly enemies (he's helped a bit by some Really Decent Indians working together with the Brits - the cast also includes a big steam-train called The Empress of India), is told at the end of the movie that India will eventually fight for independence from the British. More stares (with his usual good humour) at the camera, inviting the audience to join him in his disbelief that a people can be so ungrateful. But there is also (it's in the trailer) a lovely line from a very posh English lady: "Half the world is only civilised because we have made it so."

I blame the Romans. They taught us all we know.



Many years ago - during the 70s I think - I heard  a BBC journalist who was reporting on the situation in Nigeria (Radio 4). He was interviewing a very old Nigerian lady. She was very unhappy and she told him: "I wish the British would come back. When the British were here we had good government - good roads, good schools and there was law and order."

The chap from the BBC replied, "I understand exactly how you feel, madam. Back in Britain we wish the British would come back."

He'd be sacked for that these days. But you have to be careful what you wish for - sometimes you get it.

PS Here's the whole film - we grew up watching this stuff. The "all the thanks you get" - plus a stirring quotation from Kipling - is at 2 hours 8 minutes - right a the end.



PPS Wish I'd never used "organic" elsewhere - Priscilla will never let me forget it. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 11:01

Exactly what does born and raised as the colonised mean, ID? I married one of those sort so I understand his context with a family  recorded  history of 800 years...plus, but am unsure of yours. Oh gosh, and yes, me playing the victim - put the hankies away folks, does it come across like that? Oh dear, I just couldn't be bothered to bang on - me semantics elastic is  as ever a tad weak, in truth. Sorry for myself tho, never. So wanner fight? I'm up for it I suppose - had a lifetime spent doing it- but that was to get a worthwhile result. My own rule of thumb was never to look for or  expect gratitude and recognition. This is only a word/thought exchange game, an enriching one, that I grant.
Of the former colonised - 50 years working in it in several areas, interestingly I only met with bitterness among the young who had never experienced it. And that could  get vicious. I recall an English friend fluent in local tongues (several) who with me endured a nasty student harangue when alone at a remote touristy place quietly saying that she expected none of them would be coming before her for a visa then. Silence then laughter. And when our very mixed racial group of noisy children returned the students became embarrassed and decided to return to their bus. It was marked with the name of a college founded by the British. I know not for what dreadful and devious colonial reason - possible even as a benefit but here we are not sure what that means.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 11:20

@nordmann wrote:
Shortbread is not a benefit, of anything, ever.

Yes it is when it is one of the several skills handed on to a baker in a remote spot in the Himalayan foothills enough to make a thriving bakery many miles from any other and serving hundreds of families. A small spin off but thus is life often improved. Another interesting (to me) was the on going British rule that only one head load of wood might be garnered a day - thus preserving the thinning forest..... the bakery was allowed a bit more but in the long run saving more of the forest in the daily roti making and lightening the women's work. Not only doing the cooking they first had to collect the wood for it.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 11:35

The ending of Sutee and the suppression of the Thugees, would be a benefit, I believe.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 12:11

I agree all these things mentioned (except the shortbread - I'm not giving in on that one) were largely enacted by the colonisers, ostensibly for the colonised's own good, and were therefore "good things", as they say in 1066 And All That. But are they always as good as what might have happened in the absence of being colonised, or for that matter were they the result of a broad political policy by the colonisers to look after everyone they had colonised, or maybe just good and practical ideas implemented unilaterally by whoever happened to be in a position to do so at the time, or maybe even sometimes just local solutions to local problems some of which may even have been caused by colonisation?

There are so many varied combinations of answers in each specific case that it is foolhardy to simply call them all "a benefit of colonisation". Leave out the colonisation bit and call it "benefit of enlightened or compassionate local leadership" and you're on slightly firmer ground. Call it simply "often just nice things I've noticed, even in the colonies" and you're getting even more solid underfoot. In other words stop inferring that colonisation aims principally to confer benefit except very much in the minds of those who in reality colonised to derive benefit for themselves and you're more likely to find broad agreement from others that the "nice things" you noticed are just that, and even sometimes beneficial, in fact sometimes as with Sati or Thuggeri being outlawed admittedly more than just "nice". Just a shame people had to be colonised first to achieve it.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 23:07

What about the famous Pax Romana? The Jews were having none of it, of course, but did the rest of the Empire appreciate what Augustus had established all over the known world after Actium? On the huge monument which I believe Octavian erected atop the tent site from which he went forth to defeat Antony, the young Emperor (as he now was) ordered to be inscribed the words:  "Victory with peace secured on land and sea." I have read today in book about early Christianity: "For Augustus and for Rome it was always about peace, but about peace through victory, peace through war, peace through violence."

But it worked, didn't it? Peace is a benefit, after all, and the alternative vision for peace on earth has been, according to views expressed on another thread, of no benefit to anyone, anywhere. Were the Romans universally loathed?

And the Pax Britannica - was that a myth too?

However, I must add - although I seem only to be remembering lines from films here today - something generally frowned upon on history sites - that there was a great exchange of views in Gladiator. When one of his officers remarks to Maximus, "A people should know when they are conquered", the General replies, "Would you, Quintus? Would I?"

I'm thinking about Passage to India, too. That was an interesting study of British imperialism. Not all the British characters were thoroughly unpleasant, of course, although several were; and Dr Aziz and his friends admitted that, although they sought independence from their imperial masters, they nevertheless admired the British tremendously.

This is a very interesting topic, but, like all Priscilla's threads, very challenging.

PS Just remembered a bit from I, Claudius which always makes me laugh. This is from the BBC script:

Claudius: Yes. It's a v-v-vase. From India.
Livia: How very pretty. And from such a distant place. It's a pity we never got that far. So many fine things we could have picked up cheap.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 27 Oct 2016, 23:48

Temp wrote:
did the rest of the Empire appreciate what Augustus had established all over the known world after Actium?

The rest of Roman citizens or the rest? Like Britain's empire at its height, even by Octavius's time the variety of methods used to subjugate others and the various ways the subjugated regarded their identity and even their worth as individuals under Roman rule were as diverse as the people conquered. And it was to get even more varied in subsequent centuries as Rome expanded further.

The Pax Romana was not a myth, but leaving aside that myth played no role in the minds of those who employed the term, even the most marginal Roman understood that "peace" as meant in this phrase was not a benign idyll or even the pretence of one. At its best it meant the absence of civil war and therefore the opportunity to deploy the troops in other matters, where "peace" was rather far from the intent at all.

The only challenging thing about the assumption made in this thread's title, besides the avoidance of completely self-serving circular reasoning, is (as usual) the implied cause for things deemed beneficial. Benefit can be accrued in many ways, and general benefit enjoyed by entire communities is no exception, but to trace the benefit's root to an aggressive polity - however benign the aggressor feels they are - carries with it a requirement to identify what else can be traced to the same root. In the majority of models that colonisation adhered to (and there were many with varying degrees of aggression employed) the preponderance of effect which can be attributed to the cause is negative, sometimes in the extreme, for those at the receiving end.

So one can itemise things which superficially can be deemed beneficial and consequential to the colonisation process, but unless one either ignores large chunks of history or chooses only to regard a colony in its late or newly manumitted manifestation, one can never conclude that colonisation is beneficial, per se.

The inclination is to disregard the past and, having thus drawn an arbitrary line in time, choose only to judge the communally beneficial policies and actions which can be identified after it. However that is to fail to understand the true process by which even the opportunity to play benefactor came about for the colonisers, be they British or Roman or whoever else in the past set aggressive policies in motion to acquire territory and wealth at great human cost. Worse, it attempts to infer that the coloniser operated primarily with benefit for their target in mind. And there's a word for that ...
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 28 Oct 2016, 03:23

@Priscilla wrote:
Exactly what does born and raised as the colonised mean, ID? I married one of those sort so I understand his context with a family  recorded  history of 800 years...plus, but am unsure of yours. Oh gosh, and yes, me playing the victim - put the hankies away folks, does it come across like that? Oh dear, I just couldn't be bothered to bang on - me semantics elastic is  as ever a tad weak, in truth. Sorry for myself tho, never. So wanner fight? I'm up for it I suppose - had a lifetime spent doing it- but that was to get a worthwhile result. My own rule of thumb was never to look for or  expect gratitude and recognition. This is only a word/thought exchange game, an enriching one, that I grant.
Of the former colonised - 50 years working in it in several areas, interestingly I only met with bitterness among the young who had never experienced it. And that could  get vicious. I recall an English friend fluent in local tongues (several) who with me endured a nasty student harangue when alone at a remote touristy place quietly saying that she expected none of them would be coming before her for a visa then. Silence then laughter. And when our very mixed racial group of noisy children returned the students became embarrassed and decided to return to their bus. It was marked with the name of a college founded by the British. I know not for what dreadful and devious colonial reason - possible even as a benefit but here we are not sure what that means.

I think therein lies the problem, your understanding of colonialisation is based largely on the subcontintent (from what I can gather) and my understanding comes from a completely different corner, as does Nordmann's, as does ferval, as does Caro and no two are alike. Every single corner of it has it's own individual history, every one was goverened according those differences in culture, local politics, customs, geopolitical positions or whatever, some were goverened lightly and some weren't, and I really don't think anyone can take the example of one (yours) and apply it to the whole (anyone else's). It doesn't work.

My corner was a penal settlement and transportation is my family history and it is nothing like your examples of a colonly at all. So with my background I honestly cannot see any benefits in colonisation, neither to the indigenous peoples nor those shoved into a wooden ship and taken across the other side of the world to a life of hard labour merely to solve Britain's overflowing jail problem and to clear the streets of the smelly ones. I suppose there is a benefit in the long run for the descendents, but at what cost? I can't help thinking about the cost, and who is anyone now to say it was worth it when we're not the ones who had to pay the price?

Nah, you won't be getting a fight out of me. Too much on my plate and too distracted these days to work up that much indignation. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 28 Oct 2016, 03:31

This is really a reply to Nordmann's post, though it probably fits all right with ID's too.

But I don't think Priscilla's opening post posited either that benefits preclude accepting the general negative aspects of colonisation or that the colonists did act primarily with the benefits to the colonised in mind.

I have often wondered where Maori would be had the British not colonised them - I don't think they would have been able to escape the modern world, and I am not sure that any of them would have wanted to, though there is no doubt they have many criticisms of how Pakeha acted in their desire to acquire land.  Most Maori welcomed the arrival of Europeans as they saw them as traders, though there were one or two warning voices who could imagine or see the time when Maori would be overwhelmed in numbers. 

Cook was told when he set off on his first voyage to treat any natives kindly.  But there were clashes with Maori right from the start, and later settlers wanted places to live.  But I think there were benefits, if only in stopping cannibalism.  Polynesians would certainly say Christianity was a benefit - churches here have increased their membership since more people from Pacific Islands have come to stay.  (There are 7 times more Tokelau Island people here than in their native land, apparently.) Though since they also feel obliged to give a tithe to the church, others don't consider it so beneficial.

Maori might quite likely say alcohol was a benefit!  Not those who lament the problems of violence it brings, of course.  But for all the problems of gambling, alcohol abuse and the like, there are the benefits of greater food supplies, warmer homes, and easier access to the fish that Maori are so fond of.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 28 Oct 2016, 07:58

These are both reasonable stances in my view - however both stances are prone to either circular reasoning or misapplication of blame (which in the real world is anything but a game). I would never claim to have personal experience of being colonised, however I have quite a bit at this stage of post-colonialism, both in the context of my own land of birth and several others. And I have noticed - as many others have too - that there are patterns to both the mentality and the living experience of post-colonials, just as there are local differences. Appreciating and learning from this however is not served at all well if one tries to categorise their contributory factors merely as "beneficial" or "detrimental", and in my experience anyway the only ones so inclined to do this are largely the post-colonial colonisers. The ex-colonised are more likely to laugh at the assumption incumbent in either than treat them as worthwhile definitions of anything. They have more important things to think about, normally.

My point is akin to an abusive parent and their offspring. If, having basically kidnapped a child and then reared it as my own, I systematically beat, sexually abused, starved, threatened, and in several other ways mistreated them, and then at an arbitrary point of my own choosing decided there was little more use for them - and in any case my conscience was now nagging me somewhat - so determined, for example, that they should at least receive a sufficiently decent educational standard such that their prospects of surviving without me were enhanced (proof that somewhere deep down I wasn't all that bad a parent, was I?), then I have conferred a "benefit" and they cannot deny having benefited. If I am really vainglorious I might even point out that when she passes this value on to her own children, and they to theirs, and so on, I have conferred a benefit that future generations can avail of, well beyond the timescale where my initial gesture could have been confused with something so sordid as a desire for atonement.

If the challenge here is to list off these "benefits" on these terms then that's easy. One cannot undo the rearing bit and may be inclined to dismiss it as mere "history", after which one can then conveniently ignore it and evaluate the "good" bits at the end of the process devoid of their historical, moral and social justice context. But as I said, doing this is a pursuit of interest and indeed "benefit" mainly to the bad parent, a "game" far more repugnant than the "blame game" in my humble opinion.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 28 Oct 2016, 10:27

Would it be too simplistic to say that the benefits that you perceive, P, are those which can arise from the contact between different races, cultures and civilisations  irrespective of whatever context in which those contacts might occur? That there are benefits in this contact is unquestionable, in the arts, sciences, philosophy and many more, even the culinary although I would cite chicken tika masala as a contra-indication, but when that contact is a result of the domination of one society by another and driven by the self interest of the dominating power then the cost-benefit analysis favours the coloniser far more than the colonised. If the good roads built by the Romans (and General Wade) improved infrastructure for the natives it was as a by product of the desire to allow armies of occupation to get from A to B quickly. Good things happen even in the most appalling circumstances but these cannot retrospectively justify the original wrong.

The Phoenicians are interesting in that, at least before the Carthaginian expansion, they were rather different from the imperial model; their colonies were very much bounded trading settlements, usually on islands or promontories and containing remarkably few weapons,  and their influence rarely expanded into the hinterland beyond the results of commercial relationships but still there was interchange between them and the indigenous population and the development of a hybridised culture.
My (very loose) analogy would be the Phoenicians were Waitrose to the Romans Tesco.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 28 Oct 2016, 11:11

Ferv, not that I would like anyone to know, the truth is that this was a bit of a tongue in cheek thread. Like others I start because I get peed off by the constant  and tired negatives heaped onto  the ever blameworthy facets of history. It seems to stick in some throats to have to name any benefits - and of course there are some. Caro, of course, got to the heart of it with a straight dart. 

From the shortbread baker in the forested foothills to the mighty Indus barrage, the British left much of value in pockets in the subcontinent and above all, my pick for there,  is the legal system they introduced - the ongoing use of which has held many an awful possibility at bay. I know nothing of other colonists - such as China in Japan, or elsewhere - but I guess even Russian hegemony was a sort of colonisation. I had just hoped for some out of the box  and generous acknowledgements from those with a broader knowledge. A few Positives V  a wealth of Negatives; of course my cup is always half full.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 28 Oct 2016, 11:34

Can a straight dart be thrown while circularly thinking? Must be yet another benefit of colonisation, I suppose .... Cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 29 Oct 2016, 21:38

As Caro in my opinion has it rightly approached, if a higher culture comes in contact with a less developed one, at the end, whatever the atrocities or calamities upon the lower culture are inflicted, there is in my opinion always a benefit for the lower culture, as by acculturation the lower one takes always some advantages of the higher one. With culture I include here the whole of cultural, economical, structural and organisational assets.
If I understand Nordmann well, contrary to what Nordmann states, there is in that questioning not a moral point of view, just, as the Germans say, unter dem Strich, what at the end are the benefits for the local population?
If I remember it well Nordmann, and I didn't agree either, as for the ex-Belgian Congo.
I still have the impression that after all the atrocities and misgoverning of the Belgian authorities, there are still benefits from the former colonial ruler. But I agree it is difficult to prove, if they would have better off, if they were let by the colonial powers to their own customs and traditions.
In my opinion there are many examples of higher civilisations in contact with lesser organized ones, which at the end, and I emphasize "at the end" were beneficial to the lesser organized ones. I think here, to call but two examples, at the Gaul and Britain under Roman rule...

PS: As for the ex-Belgian Congo, if they were let to their own, with no interference of whatever colonial power, they could have learned as independent local powers from the West, adapting modern ways of organizing their community and as such ended at a decent level, higher than the former one. But it could also be that a local warlord, not or well supported by a Western power, tried to make an empire among the neighbouring communities and yes perhaps after much atrocities, as in the former West, would have carved up an empire and perhaps not along the real colonial borders of today? And yes perhaps that new entity could be better off, than the nowadays Democratic Congolese Republic? Perhaps one can say that the colonisators have stolen the right from the Africans to do the same warfaring as they did in Europe in the building up of the several "nations"? Wink

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 01:17

Describing colonisers, whose aim is the wilful political subjugation of another people and their territory, as "contact with lesser organised ones" is a bit like describing a thief entering and thrashing your house, possibly murdering all those inside, and then making off with everything of value as someone in "contact with a lesser secured property". It practically infers that the colonised had it coming to them due to their lack of foresight in getting themselves organised enough in the same way that the unfortunate victims of the thief had it coming to them anyway for leaving the bathroom window open on a warm night.

I am even less impressed with the "what if" line of reasoning you employ than the "let's not look at the history" one in answering this thread's invitation to quantify "benefit", especially when invited to list only the assumed "benefits" accrued to cultures so obviously and often cruelly denied the chance to ever find out the "what if" in their own cases. It is spurious and egregious reasoning if the aim is to define and evaluate any product of a process and, worse, it is in this case therefore an attempt to perform historical analysis without actually looking at the history at all, let alone a curtailed version.

As I said before, the circular reasoning which one is obliged to employ when facilitating this request to define "benefit" in this instance through historical lens, and especially if one is told to disregard the historical cost of accruing such benefit, obliges one simply to short-circuit the flawed logic and restrict oneself to a contemporary assessment. The "benefits", on these terms, can only therefore be judged at face value, though of course retaining the definition "benefits of colonisation", thereby even implying on this extremely restrictive analytical basis therefore that colonisation itself was "beneficial" per se. That, I would hope, should never be a seriously adopted stance in a so-called historical discussion. The only alternative within such imposed restrictions is never to short-cut the flawed logic at all, and simply employ it with all its flaws to contrast the current reality not against history but against historical conjecture regarding what might have transpired had the colonisation never occurred. This by definition is a fanciful exercise bound only by the imagination and the power to invent alternate realities, and therefore seems a dangerously naive exercise indeed in the minds of people so willing to discount as unimportant huge swathes of the historical reality that had in fact transpired. This is the same type of flawed reasoning inherent in the attitudes of those who construct false histories when it suits, especially when prosecuting a particular agenda which they know history - actual historical facts - would undermine.

There is another side to this question relating to the concept of gratitude, a natural reaction one might think on the part of the beneficiary upon receipt of a benefit from a benefactor. What you call "higher" and "lesser" cultures exchange and bestow such benefits all the time, and no matter where one lives in the world one can, with little effort, list off several glaring examples of this kind of benefit within one's own familiar milieu, or at least one should be able to if unhindered by ultra-nationalistic or other similar blindness-inducing fallacies clouding one's perspective. And for people with such unhindered vision gratitude is indeed a natural, and commonly expressed, reaction.

However colonisation, unlike other cultural "contacts" (as you choose to term them), tends to poison the benefit bestowed in many cases through a rather natural association on the part of the colonised between the benefit and their memory of the historical process employed to bestow it. This rather mitigates the gratitude somewhat in many cases, sometimes to the point of the ex-colonised, with a "biting one's nose off to spite one's face" attitude, even rejecting, attacking or dismantling the very thing which might have been beneficial - be it material or conceptual - purely because of its obvious source. That which should have been only a benefit becomes instead a symbol of something else entirely, and is often removed with vehemence - something that rarely occurs in the wake of other less subjugatory or neutral instances of historical cross-cultural fertilisation, for example through trade or migration, even when they sometimes happened on monumentally disruptive scales at the time and not without considerable resentments arising among those immediately affected. Colonisation, being what it is, has proven itself adept at producing this extremely negative reaction and extremely hit-and-miss in producing its alternative extreme. The fact that it produces both, and much in between, in fact disqualifies it as a suitable category of historical process which can be ascribed common causal status in producing benefit. The actual process whereby benefit is ascribed must obviously be more complex, with much responsibility for the origin of the ascription resting in fact with those who are traditionally seen only as passive beneficiary, the colonised, and not in fact within the power of the so-called benefactor to decree. Simply put, whatever the presumed origin of the benefit, it becomes one only when assumed also, and often quite substantially adapted in this process, by those who now enjoy it. Even more simply put, it is a benefit accrued despite the rather reprehensible process which contributed to its presence, rather than because of it.

This is why the question as posed above, in ignoring completely these complex but vitally important aspects to the historical reality of what colonisation actually was, reveals itself only as a gross assumption inviting even grosser ones to be made in answering it, however well-meaning or considerate the aim might be of those who answer it in their own minds. This is in fact a ploy often used by the proselytisers of racism, ultra-nationalism, and a whole host of other repugnant ideologies when attempting to persuade otherwise well-intentioned and fair minded people to their cause. It is vile. And it cannot be conducted without misstating, side-stepping, distorting, ignoring, or demoting history - which alone should raise alarm bells among people who share an interest in that very subject.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 07:48

Perhaps a bit of Tacitus is relevant here. This is part of the speech made by Calgacus containing the famous ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant, usually translated as "they make a desert (desolation?) and call it peace". Whether Calgacus ever said anything of the sort is a moot point: I believe most experts consider that Tacitus made the whole thing up, which in itself I find interesting.

"Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans were resisted, still left in us a last hope of succour, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery. To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain's glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvellous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace (ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant)."

(From Tacitus, Agricola 29-32.)

What I'm finding ironic is that this indignation of nordmann links to the writing of the Gospels and to the spread of early Christianity. This is not the thread to explain further, but I hope to post something on the Star of Bethlehem topic later (if I have time), showing how those incredibly brave Jews of the first century were actually defying an Empire - and setting up their executed leader as a living alternative to Augustus (miraculous birth, royal titles, useful star and all) and to all the ruthless successors of that first Emperor. Pity it all went pear-shaped (or Roman-shaped) later.



http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/imperialism/readings/agricola.html
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 12:14

Christianity was a theological departure and never concerned in its early years with geo-political autonomy, so what little of their experience can be adduced from the historical record in that regard is purely tangential to the subject under discussion. However the Jews as a nation most definitely were thus concerned, so of course you will see a connection between my comments above and that particular people's experience of subjugation. But, even as Priscilla says in her opening post, this subjugation's form was simply one of many history throws up and which, to varying degrees, can still be classed as colonisation.

The Tacitus extract is rightly interpreted as evidence of Roman misgivings, not about the morality of subjugation, but about the inherent dangers of expansion for expansion's sake. The real danger, and it was one that was most visibly recognised as valid later by emperors themselves in the form of Hadrian's "hard border" limes and walls, was that expansion placed inordinate and ultimately dangerously insoluble stresses on internal administration of the state. But the concern was only about the Roman state, not the relative welfare or experiences of those states which had been subjugated, or which stood to be subjugated should the policy continue to incorporate them through force into a political hegemony which might collapse as a result.

So there is nothing ironic to be presumed, and nor is my "indignation" necessarily linked anyway to any specific example of colonisation in any of its guises historically. If I am indignant it is about the injury to history itself which is delivered when one is invited to contemplate either "benefit" or "colonisation" as causally linked without acknowledging that either or both of these terms are loaded historically with component aspects to their definition which actually preclude the notion of "benefit", partly in some cases and completely in others. To ignore this, and then to demand that only the artificially limited definitions of either should be employed in the discussion in order to preserve the causality inferred by the opening hypothesis, renders the resultant discussion an historically toothless, and from the colonisers' aspect, self-serving traducement of the historical record.

PS: The same historical record, by the way, which shows Rome having had no major problem with absorbing within its hegemony monotheism along with just about any other form of theism it encountered in the process. Bravery on the part of the absorbed monotheists may be inferred when contemplating Christians defying edicts to engage in sacrifice as a religious rite and suffering the consequences of their civil disobedience, or Jews raising emissary missions to officially petition the emperor himself in addressing issues regarding what they perceived as threats to their welfare or domestic administration, or even the followers of Mithras pursuing an aggressive proselytisation within the very power base of Rome itself, its military, but these are not theological instances of courage as much as they are instances of policy courageously adopted and instigated from the sub-administration layer of Roman society in which the risk for daring even to do so could often carry lethal implications, something which the historian would be inclined to place into a long and venerable history of such disobedience and "lower class" chutzpah in Roman society dating right back to the Gracchi and before. They do however also speak volumes about Rome's traditional priorities when defining and dealing with threats from within, the really vicious backlashes always arising when the effect of such disobedience was assessed as potentially ruinous to the administration of the day, regardless of what had motivated that disobedience, theology included.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 12:59

You don't understand what I'm getting at, nordmann. However, my thoughts do not belong on this thread, that is absolutely true. But the early Christians were fighting Rome, you know, but not with armies and not in the geo-political sense.

Back later if I have time. I'm quite excited about Augustus' star - and other things. The Christians pinched a lot - cheeky blighters.

Apologies to Priscilla if I'm interrupting her vile thread with my nonsense.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 13:21

Yes, tangential, as I said. The early Christians, rather than being a colonised people, were very much a product of previous colonisation, so much so that I am surprised certain contributors here as yet haven't declared them one of these supposed "benefits" of same.

And I did not say the thread was vile. I said proselytisation of obnoxious ideologies through deliberately misapplied causality and the attempted manipulation of historical data to support that subterfuge was vile.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 17:29

@nordmann wrote:
This is why the question as posed above, in ignoring completely these complex but vitally important aspects to the historical reality of what colonisation actually was, reveals itself only as a gross assumption inviting even grosser ones to be made in answering it, however well-meaning or considerate the aim might be of those who answer it in their own minds. This is in fact a ploy often used by the proselytisers of racism, ultra-nationalism, and a whole host of other repugnant ideologies when attempting to persuade otherwise well-intentioned and fair minded people to their cause. It is vile. And it cannot be conducted without misstating, side-stepping, distorting, ignoring, or demoting history - which alone should raise alarm bells among people who share an interest in that very subject.


Well, I'm sorry (and I'm not speaking for Priscilla here), but I think that "vile" and "gross" were rather unfortunate choices of words, vile even. If I were Priscilla (and of course I am not), I'd be tempted to tell you to go forth etc. after reading that. But I am a careless reader these days and no doubt I am overreacting. Just that the "it" to which your uncomplimentary complement refers in the above is a bit vague and could easily be misunderstood.

@nordmann wrote:
I said proselytisation of obnoxious ideologies through deliberately misapplied causality and the attempted manipulation of historical data to support that subterfuge was vile.


I'm sure we would all agree. I am unaware we have any such proselytisers around here.

I wonder too if we are doing what (I believe) historians are not supposed to do: judging the actions of people in the past by 21st century (Western) standards and beliefs. Surely going around conquering and subjugating was judged to be a perfectly reasonable activity until some time in the last century? Occupations, in fact, to be encouraged in one's sons? That's my point about the early Christians: they seemed rather foolishly to be suggesting a couple of thousand years ago that perhaps subjugating, brutalising and generally humiliating others wasn't such a good idea and didn't - in the end - bring much real happiness or peace to anyone, the conquerors or the conquered. Wasn't that a bit of a novel idea - and one which was shamefully ignored by later Christians? Hence what struck me as the irony of your position -  and by that I mean your legitimate loathing of imperialistic greed, violence and hypocrisy. Just seemed to me you were being a bit of a closet Christian, that's all (defeated-at-Whitby sort, I mean, not the other lot). Perhaps Blake - who considered Milton to be of the Devil's party without realising it - would suggest that you do not realise whose whose side you are on: perhaps you are of God's party without  realising it. Now there's a thought.

Anyway, this is all off-topic here. Back to Star of Bethlehem and Virgil now.





vile (adj.) Look up vile at Dictionary.comlate 13c., "morally repugnant; morally flawed, corrupt, wicked; of no value; of inferior quality; disgusting, foul, ugly; degrading, humiliating; of low estate, without worldly honor or esteem," from Anglo-French ville, Old French vil "shameful, dishonorable; low-born; cheap; ugly, hideous," from Latin vilis "cheap, worthless, base, common," of uncertain origin, perhaps from PIE root *wes- (1) "to buy, sell" (see venal). Related: Vilely; vileness; vilety (early 13c.).


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 17:35

Thanks for the tip. I shall ensure my readers are more careful in future. And thanks for the definition of "vile". I would never have guessed I could have picked a more correct term.

Christianity as a non-violent philosophy actually doesn't work that well, even in its supposed earliest manifestation, where it made the mistake of marrying an already quite well thought out version of that philosophy with Judaism. Genocidal pacifists are the last thing the world needs. In modern times we have chosen to ignore the Judaic bits, which actually brings us closer to the Platonic roots of the "good" bits, and makes one wonder if we ever needed the two thousand year interruption in the flow at all.

But you are right, you digress. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 17:43

@nordmann wrote:
I shall ensure my readers are more careful in future.


Fair enough.


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 30 Oct 2016, 20:25

@nordmann wrote:
Describing colonisers, whose aim is the wilful political subjugation of another people and their territory, as "contact with lesser organised ones" is a bit like describing a thief entering and thrashing your house, possibly murdering all those inside, and then making off with everything of value as someone in "contact with a lesser secured property". It practically infers that the colonised had it coming to them due to their lack of foresight in getting themselves organised enough in the same way that the unfortunate victims of the thief had it coming to them anyway for leaving the bathroom window open on a warm night.

I am even less impressed with the "what if" line of reasoning you employ than the "let's not look at the history" one in answering this thread's invitation to quantify "benefit", especially when invited to list only the assumed "benefits" accrued to cultures so obviously and often cruelly denied the chance to ever find out the "what if" in their own cases. It is spurious and egregious reasoning if the aim is to define and evaluate any product of a process and, worse, it is in this case therefore an attempt to perform historical analysis without actually looking at the history at all, let alone a curtailed version.

As I said before, the circular reasoning which one is obliged to employ when facilitating this request to define "benefit" in this instance through historical lens, and especially if one is told to disregard the historical cost of accruing such benefit, obliges one simply to short-circuit the flawed logic and restrict oneself to a contemporary assessment. The "benefits", on these terms, can only therefore be judged at face value, though of course retaining the definition "benefits of colonisation", thereby even implying on this extremely restrictive analytical basis therefore that colonisation itself was "beneficial" per se. That, I would hope, should never be a seriously adopted stance in a so-called historical discussion. The only alternative within such imposed restrictions is never to short-cut the flawed logic at all, and simply employ it with all its flaws to contrast the current reality not against history but against historical conjecture regarding what might have transpired had the colonisation never occurred. This by definition is a fanciful exercise bound only by the imagination and the power to invent alternate realities, and therefore seems a dangerously naive exercise indeed in the minds of people so willing to discount as unimportant huge swathes of the historical reality that had in fact transpired. This is the same type of flawed reasoning inherent in the attitudes of those who construct false histories when it suits, especially when prosecuting a particular agenda which they know history - actual historical facts - would undermine.

There is another side to this question relating to the concept of gratitude, a natural reaction one might think on the part of the beneficiary upon receipt of a benefit from a benefactor. What you call "higher" and "lesser" cultures exchange and bestow such benefits all the time, and no matter where one lives in the world one can, with little effort, list off several glaring examples of this kind of benefit within one's own familiar milieu, or at least one should be able to if unhindered by ultra-nationalistic or other similar blindness-inducing fallacies clouding one's perspective. And for people with such unhindered vision gratitude is indeed a natural, and commonly expressed, reaction.

However colonisation, unlike other cultural "contacts" (as you choose to term them), tends to poison the benefit bestowed in many cases through a rather natural association on the part of the colonised between the benefit and their memory of the historical process employed to bestow it. This rather mitigates the gratitude somewhat in many cases, sometimes to the point of the ex-colonised, with a "biting one's nose off to spite one's face" attitude, even rejecting, attacking or dismantling the very thing which might have been beneficial - be it material or conceptual - purely because of its obvious source. That which should have been only a benefit becomes instead a symbol of something else entirely, and is often removed with vehemence - something that rarely occurs in the wake of other less subjugatory or neutral instances of historical cross-cultural fertilisation, for example through trade or migration, even when they sometimes happened on monumentally disruptive scales at the time and not without considerable resentments arising among those immediately affected. Colonisation, being what it is, has proven itself adept at producing this extremely negative reaction and extremely hit-and-miss in producing its alternative extreme. The fact that it produces both, and much in between, in fact disqualifies it as a suitable category of historical process which can be ascribed common causal status in producing benefit. The actual process whereby benefit is ascribed must obviously be more complex, with much responsibility for the origin of the ascription resting in fact with those who are traditionally seen only as passive beneficiary, the colonised, and not in fact within the power of the so-called benefactor to decree. Simply put, whatever the presumed origin of the benefit, it becomes one only when assumed also, and often quite substantially adapted in this process, by those who now enjoy it. Even more simply put, it is a benefit accrued despite the rather reprehensible process which contributed to its presence, rather than because of it.

This is why the question as posed above, in ignoring completely these complex but vitally important aspects to the historical reality of what colonisation actually was, reveals itself only as a gross assumption inviting even grosser ones to be made in answering it, however well-meaning or considerate the aim might be of those who answer it in their own minds. This is in fact a ploy often used by the proselytisers of racism, ultra-nationalism, and a whole host of other repugnant ideologies when attempting to persuade otherwise well-intentioned and fair minded people to their cause. It is vile. And it cannot be conducted without misstating, side-stepping, distorting, ignoring, or demoting history - which alone should raise alarm bells among people who share an interest in that very subject.

Nordmann,

it is therefore that I never enter threads on the Historum about "better" "best of" and all that, while they mostly imply questionings of value, moral and all. I said it before, when searching for history, I only look for the evenements, independent from their moral value.
But you are right, if one asks for "benefits", you are already with the concept of that word on the moral value tour. And as such it is worthless to discuss overhere an item which has a moral value?

"Simply put, whatever the presumed origin of the benefit, it becomes one only when assumed also, and often quite substantially adapted in this process, by those who now enjoy it. Even more simply put, it is a benefit accrued despite the rather reprehensible process which contributed to its presence, rather than because of it."

Yes, if we put the morality in it, I also think that's the best way to class it as a "benefit"

"This is why the question as posed above, in ignoring completely these complex but vitally important aspects to the historical reality of what colonisation actually was, reveals itself only as a gross assumption inviting even grosser ones to be made in answering it, however well-meaning or considerate the aim might be of those who answer it in their own minds. This is in fact a ploy often used by the proselytisers of racism, ultra-nationalism, and a whole host of other repugnant ideologies when attempting to persuade otherwise well-intentioned and fair minded people to their cause. It is vile. And it cannot be conducted without misstating, side-stepping, distorting, ignoring, or demoting history - which alone should raise alarm bells among people who share an interest in that very subject."

Yes I agree. By writing history without a moral stance, others, as you call them, proselytisers of racism,ultra-nationalism, and a whole host of other repugnant ideologies, will point to the advantages of for instance the push in scientifical applications caused by warfare.
Or the benefits of warfare. And yes that is inevitable, that's what you call, I think, circular reasoning, while by pointing to benefits, advantages, they are adding a value, moral point of view, which was not intended in the writing history without a moral stance.

And I also agree that when one is writing history without a moral stance, one can always discuss afterwards, even among historians, the moral implications of the historical events. And that seems to spark on fora in  my experience, the most prolific threads.

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 08:33

Hi Paul - in philosophy the concept of moral relativism is what covers this phenomenon - the subterfuge I mentioned above. On its own it merely means that different people and different cultures can have different standards by which they judge things to be right or wrong. As a concept goes it's pretty much ok in that it seems to be backed up by general observation, though even then there is a very good case to be made for deducing from this that we are defining morality to suit ourselves and that a completely relativist definition for morality means essentially that no good definition exists, or indeed that there is no guaranteed "common" or innate morality among humans, which again is rather disproved by general observation. So philosophers tend to shy away from pressing the point too much - the jury is still out. The polar opposite is moral absolutism, though this is also suspect, or at least not supported too well by observation either.

But that's not the end of it. Of those who swear by moral relativism there's a gang who go a little further and talk of meta-ethical relativism. These say that moral relativism makes us all into "descriptive moralists" - basically that not only do we have to wait and observe before we can adduce or define which moral standards are being applied, but also that some of us descriptive moralists have to accept that therefore there is no objective right and wrong per se, and therefore all our default positions should be one of tolerance. This is actually a very popular stance among Christian theologians at the moment (who once were die-hard absolutists but have had to box clever in recent years), though they hedge their bets by saying that this is all human stuff and that really there is one giant absolute moralist up in the heavens waiting to pounce on us all in the end anyway (ie. moral relativism is wrong, however meta-ethically it still works ultimately as this leads people to being tolerant, and anyway they'll be found out by a supernatural absolutist who will punish them for being relativist but maybe reward them for modifying the theory - you take your chance).

This is all old hat - philosophically it dates back to ancient Greece and Persia, and probably beyond, and the dilemmas it poses are also well understood. The dilemma it poses for studying history is that it basically means one should not even begin to do so without taking on board at least a fair dollop of meta-ethicality while assessing past people and events. This automatically makes the historian a descriptive moralist, which also makes him or her a moral relativist by default. This is the only way one can dispassionately assess any past event, but unfortunately also renders some past events almost impossible to assess since the parameters by which one can gauge how relative one is being may no longer exist, and often don't.

We tend to call these "grey areas". However to an absolutist, who likes their black and white separated (in some countries all too racially), this just won't do. Being absolutists though, for them the solution is simple. The same shortcuts and by-passing of observation etc that allows them to be absolutist also makes them "transcendental moralists". They believe some morality is a constant and overrides all other variations in importance and application, though which morals are constant may not in fact be always the same package for absolutists of different hue. But that doesn't matter as there's no one to contradict them anyway since the moral relativists cannot automatically gainsay them without producing observational evidence, something that is difficult if not impossible in many historical contexts. So they are free to obligingly define the parameters the relativists lack for them. And they do, often. What's worse, it is simply amazing how many relativists fall for the scam over and over again, principally because they clutch for constants from which to calculate retrospective morality (relativity requires something to be relative to) and are therefore easily fooled by clever language, false but strongly asserted data, and anything else that can be employed by absolutists to convince others that they absolutely have a handle on that which is absolutely historically true and absolutely can be used therefore to deduce relative morality. In this way they get the relativists to argue their absolutist case for them without even realising it. Religion is the big daddy of this scam when addressing history, but it is by no means an only child in this family of ersatz historiography.

I have half a mind (it's obvious isn't it) to start a thread inviting suggestions for what might be construed as the benefits of physical torture through the ages. Once I have handily by-passed the moral relativist dilemma over "benefit" and implied through my use of the term that this bit of the factitious equation has already been settled then the rest of you can start working on the other part of the spurious bifurcation and, you know as well as I do, the request might well receive several positive responses too!
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 10:26

@nordmann wrote:
Hi Paul - in philosophy the concept of moral relativism is what covers this phenomenon - the subterfuge I mentioned above. On its own it merely means that different people and different cultures can have different standards by which they judge things to be right or wrong. As a concept goes it's pretty much ok in that it seems to be backed up by general observation, though even then there is a very good case to be made for deducing from this that we are defining morality to suit ourselves and that a completely relativist definition for morality means essentially that no good definition exists, or indeed that there is no guaranteed "common" or innate morality among humans, which again is rather disproved by general observation. So philosophers tend to shy away from pressing the point too much - the jury is still out. The polar opposite is moral absolutism, though this is also suspect, or at least not supported too well by observation either.

But that's not the end of it. Of those who swear by moral relativism there's a gang who go a little further and talk of meta-ethical relativism. These say that moral relativism makes us all into "descriptive moralists" - basically that not only do we have to wait and observe before we can adduce or define which moral standards are being applied, but also that some of us descriptive moralists have to accept that therefore there is no objective right and wrong per se, and therefore all our default positions should be one of tolerance. This is actually a very popular stance among Christian theologians at the moment (who once were die-hard absolutists but have had to box clever in recent years), though they hedge their bets by saying that this is all human stuff and that really there is one giant absolute moralist up in the heavens waiting to pounce on us all in the end anyway (ie. moral relativism is wrong, however meta-ethically it still works ultimately as this leads people to being tolerant, and anyway they'll be found out by a supernatural absolutist who will punish them for being relativist but maybe reward them for modifying the theory - you take your chance).

This is all old hat - philosophically it dates back to ancient Greece and Persia, and probably beyond, and the dilemmas it poses are also well understood. The dilemma it poses for studying history is that it basically means one should not even begin to do so without taking on board at least a fair dollop of meta-ethicality while assessing past people and events. This automatically makes the historian a descriptive moralist, which also makes him or her a moral relativist by default. This is the only way one can dispassionately assess any past event, but unfortunately also renders some past events almost impossible to assess since the parameters by which one can gauge how relative one is being may no longer exist, and often don't.

We tend to call these "grey areas". However to an absolutist, who likes their black and white separated (in some countries all too racially), this just won't do. Being absolutists though, for them the solution is simple. The same shortcuts and by-passing of observation etc that allows them to be absolutist also makes them "transcendental moralists". They believe some morality is a constant and overrides all other variations in importance and application, though which morals are constant may not in fact be always the same package for absolutists of different hue. But that doesn't matter as there's no one to contradict them anyway since the moral relativists cannot automatically gainsay them without producing observational evidence, something that is difficult if not impossible in many historical contexts. So they are free to obligingly define the parameters the relativists lack for them. And they do, often. What's worse, it is simply amazing how many relativists fall for the scam over and over again, principally because they clutch for constants from which to calculate retrospective morality (relativity requires something to be relative to) and are therefore easily fooled by clever language, false but strongly asserted data, and anything else that can be employed by absolutists to convince others that they absolutely have a handle on that which is absolutely historically true and absolutely can be used therefore to deduce relative morality. In this way they get the relativists to argue their absolutist case for them without even realising it. Religion is the big daddy of this scam when addressing history, but it is by no means an only child in this family of ersatz historiography.

I have half a mind (it's obvious isn't it) to start a thread inviting suggestions for what might be construed as the benefits of physical torture through the ages. Once I have handily by-passed the moral relativist dilemma over "benefit" and implied through my use of the term that this bit of the factitious equation has already been settled then the rest of you can start working on the other part of the spurious bifurcation and, you know as well as I do, the request might well receive several positive responses too!




All this was addressed to Paul and, perhaps, to all the careful (intelligent?) readers out there, so it is probably inappropriate to respond. However...

Nordmann's post has made me very unhappy because I cannot understand most of it and I feel stupid. But it is comforting to know that I'm not alone in feelings of intellectual inadequacy and that even someone like Noam Chomsky has occasionally felt confused. Chomsky (I once had a cat called Chomsky) has admitted he hasn't a clue what some modern philosophers are on about. I haven't a clue about what most philosophers are on about - ancient or modern - and certainly not nordmann. Shame, because I was enjoying the discussion. I still think this is a really interesting thread, but I'm having a definite hedgehog moment at the moment. Quite squashed.


It's entirely possible that I'm simply missing something, or that I just lack the intellectual capacity to understand the profundities that have been unearthed in the past 20 years or so by Paris intellectuals and their followers. I'm perfectly open-minded about it, and have been for years, when similar charges have been made -- but without any answer to my questions. Again, they are simple and should be easy to answer, if there is an answer: if I'm missing something, then show me what it is, in terms I can understand. Of course, if it's all beyond my comprehension, which is possible, then I'm just a lost cause, and will be compelled to keep to things I do seem to be able to understand, and keep to association with the kinds of people who also seem to be interested in them and seem to understand them...  (Noam Chomsky)

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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 10:36

Temps, you are such a thoughtful woman. There was I, in  real ignorance, thinking about about starting a thread on Intellectual Bullying; What are the Benefits?

My experience of this site is that when contention crosses the track the train hoots loudly and races down a very dark tunnel. I had better stick to hula hoop posts - and may possibly mention candy floss.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 11:27

@Priscilla wrote:


My experience of this site is that when contention crosses the track the train hoots loudly and races down a very dark tunnel.


That reminds me of an old tune they used to play on Children's Hour in the 1950s. It and Sparky's Magic Piano were my favourites. However, let us note that the Runaway Train is referred to as a "she". Smile

But I digress.  Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 12:34

Returning somewhat to the OP I’d just like to mention China and Japan.

I’m wary of 'what-if' scenarios, but it is quite feasible that either or both countries could have been colonised by western powers. In the case of Japan this could well have been by the Portuguese, Spanish or Dutch in the 17th and  early 18th centuries, or by Britain perhaps towards the end of the 18th century. Or maybe by the French or later by the US, or possibly Russia, as the 19th century progressed. Of course within just 50 years of being forced by US gunboat diplomacy to end its self-imposed isolation, Japan had industrialised to the point of being able to militarily defeat Russia and had become a colonising power itself ... and within just another 50 years was a global power challenging both the US and UK (and French and Dutch) interests in Asia and the Pacific. Similarly China - which under the Qing dynasty, particularly throughout the 19th century, was weak, internally divided, inward-looking and vulnerable to outside influences - could well have found itself partitioned and with huge swaths of its territory falling under colonial control. This might have been perhaps by France, already pushing East from Indo-China, or the Netherlands and Britain seeking to expand from bases in the South, or later by Russia and Japan, pushing Southwards from Mongolia or Manchuria.

Colonisation of China, or at least considerable external control, was a credible possibility at least up until WW1. This is from 'Le Petit Journal' (1898) ... Britain, Germany, Russia, France and Japan - all ignoring China - discuss amongst themselves how to carve up the Chinese pie:



But in the end, neither Japan nor China (nor indeed also Thailand and Tibet amongst other states) were ever colonised by any "western" power, ..... and so they never "benefited" from colonisation. But what colonial benefits, exactly, did they miss out on? What did India get from colonisation that China and Japan failed to acquire because they remained independent sovereign states?


PS : One of the biggest markets for Scottish shortbread is ... yup, you guessed, it's China!


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 14:05

Didn't China itself colonise a few places? Japan? I'm not sure what you would call what it did to Tibet.

Whar a pity no one taught the  Chinese to make their own shortbread; we need a benefits missed thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 14:19

I bet the Chinese would have been brilliant at cricket. So it's probably a good thing we left them in peace. Bangladesh has certainly put us in our place, as the India Times has reported with glee.

http://www.indiatimes.com/sports/bangladesh-beat-england-for-the-first-time-in-tests-and-the-internet-goes-wow-264548.html

Only trying to lighten the mood (mine at least) - sorry.


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 14:26

Yes China has annexed/invaded/conquered/colonised Tibet (I'm not sure if the Tibetans feel they have benefited by this colonisation) ... but in response to other comments I was trying to limit myself to western imperialism (although I did mention Japan), and to events before WW2 and so prior to the modern, globalised world.

Also it seems no-one needed to teach the Chinese how to make their own shortbread ... they just worked out how to do it for themselves (without the benefit of colonisation!):



... or even more "traditional" are these from the Guaishushu (China) website:



... although the Chinese still seem to hanker after the real, pukka, Scottish product if they can get it.


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 15:01

Re short bread and hankering for the Scottish product - don't we all. 

I ought look it up but didn't China colonise Japan at some time. The were further ahead in civil development than the subcontinent which had iit in spasms. I suppose democracy was something I do not think China has got a handle on yet. They might even get a benefit point on nord's suggested torture thread. fear if it is very persuasive when you want to get people to do something. China managed a lot with slave labour for far longer than other places that had to come to heel. That was an evil of colonisation in parts also but - so the media says -is on going.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 15:21

Well, nordmann, your latest contribution sent me off to read Stanford on the topic. There's a lot there and I just about managed to hang on in there to the very end - where I read:

As was seen, there is some evidence that relativists are more tolerant than objectivists, and it has been claimed that, even if relativism does not justify tolerance, it would be a positive feature of relativism that acceptance of it makes people more tolerant (see Prinz 2007: 208). Of course, this judgement presupposes that, in some sense, it is good to be tolerant.




http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-relativism/



I like shortbread..........
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 15:30

Forgive me ferv but is this by the chap who also wrote scripts for 'Yes, Prime Minister?' Sir Humprey Speak is sooooo useful.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 15:43

This is quite an interesting article from the Independent, published earlier this year.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/british-empire-students-should-be-taught-colonialism-not-all-good-say-historians-a6828266.html



...Ashley Jackson, Professor of Imperial and Military History, King's College London, commented: “We do need better education...what’s important is that we should understand our past, and that means a warts and all understanding.”There is a need for honesty in dealing with Britain’s past, according to Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham and the former head of Wellington College.

“History teaching should always be honest or it is merely propaganda by powerful interest groups. The history of the British Empire was not all bad, and not all good. Understanding its subtlety and its importance to British and world history is essential for every single student,” he told The Independent.



Interesting that Sir Anthony Seldon says that "the history of the British Empire was not all bad, and not all good". Is a balanced view possible? The views on this thread would suggest not -  that the warts have it.



EDIT 1: Just read ferval's post. Oh, Gawd.

EDIT 2: Shortbread is the fastest way to get fat ever invented. It should be eschewed, never chewed. It is the most evil of biscuits.

Marks and Spencer have produced this Christmas abomination:

This popular rotating musical biscuit tin plays 'Jingle Bells' and is filled with all butter shortbread rounds.

Just look at that bloody elf.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 16:32

To be honest, I thought that the part of the quote I highlighted was a rather witty and ironic aside from the author of the piece but then I have always had a rather twisted sense of humour...........


Shortbread is not the fastest way to get fat, millionaire's shortbread is.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 18:53

I've deleted my frivolous comments about bell-ringing elves and 'Verschrikkelijke ikke' (Despicable Me) ... they were inappropriate for the current serious tone of discussion ... (although I do still keep thinking that 'colonisation' is miss-spelled, and that it refers rather to invasive medical procedures of the lower intestine).


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