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 Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?

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Meles meles
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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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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 19:28

Temperance wrote:
Quote :
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.


Temperance,

and I, who thought that a careful and intelligent reader as you would help me to tackle this difficult message...

But yes I had to read it three times to follow the thread of reasoning. Have to say that Nordmann knows about what he speaks. And yes, if you read Ferval's link, it is not easy to explain. Chapeau for Nordmann. But as Ferval he drags me into a philosophical stance in my old days. Having never liked all that stuff.

And this whole long entry of Nordmann, if I understand the last paragraph well, was intended to end with some statement:

"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!"

My translation in layman's English is: from every event, how disgusting it may be for moralists, absolutist ones and relativist ones, one can always see a "benefit" from it? Wink  Nordmann?

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 20:31

It's difficult to answer you, Paul, without being accused of bullying (I ask you!) but no, the way the scam works is that the absolutist injects a moral absolute opposed to what appears to be a valid variable so that it looks like what rhetoricians call a "constant", and then invites all comers, including relativists to discuss the concoction. A wise relativist sees the scam and queries the absolute. However an unwise relativist or a relativist caught off guard mistakenly assumes the mismatch to be a valid qualifier beside a valid relativist variable (a fake constant in other words). It helps of course if the absolutist pretends they simply phrased it clumsily or advertises that they are easily hurt - polite and considerate (and presumably tolerant) moral relativists are more likely to play along so as not to hurt their feelings. Inconsiderate impolite bully relativists of course just answer as honestly and as carefully as their comments are hopefully read by others, probably even more so.

My post above was simply my take on what you had just described as your experience on Historum and other forums, and I was in total agreement with you. I was letting you know that you were observing a human trait which has a very long and ignoble pedigree - it was exactly the kind of thing that put people off the original "cynics" a few thousand years ago, who also preferred a good argument, whether logical or not, over just reasoning things out. They perfected the scam of mixing competing modes of morality in juxtaposition designed to suck others into the argument and inadvertently bolster their often highly spurious factual claims, the main one being that their absolutist definition of virtue was the only thing worth attaining. They were the absolutists of philosophy, in some ways even more so than the Judaeo-Christian-Muslim religious versions, and that's saying something when it comes to claiming to be right, and right by asserted standards that no one can gainsay without being declared wrong by those who feel they are absolutely right (you know the set-up). The fact that they behaved highly unvirtuously when faced with anyone who challenged them was an irony lost on them of course.

There is nothing new under the sun.

But meanwhile back with the colonisers and their supposed virtue in bestowing benefits, I found this rather amusing contribution to an Oxford Union debate addressing almost the same proposition in which the mentality of the ungrateful colonised is well expressed.. Shashi may be not at all one of my favourite individuals in this world but I found this semi-improvised speech of his quite appealing and funny.



I had hoped to see the other contributions to this debate but could only find excerpts in playlists that do not follow the correct order. Some speakers are better than others, and none were as funny as Shashi Tharoor, I thought, but then it would be better if it could be seen as intended, I reckon.

Like this one: Does Britain Owe Reparations - OxfordUnion
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 21:00

ferval wrote:
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..........


Ferval,

I didn't make it to the end. Although I kept the general thoughts. It's a bit in my opinion what Nordmann tried to explain in his difficult message, but it seems to be a difficult subject indeed if you read your link entirely.
For help I looked to wiki as I expected a more easy to read survey...but even there...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morality

I liked the approach:
"Peterson and Seligman[14] approach the anthropological view looking across cultures, geo-cultural areas and across millennia. They conclude that certain virtues have prevailed in all cultures they examined. The major virtues they identified include wisdom / knowledge; courage; humanity; justice; temperance; and transcendence. Each of these includes several divisions. For instance humanity includes love, kindness, and social intelligence."

I once, in a rather "acid" discussion about racism and eugenetica, mentioned the Unesco charter about racism and all, about each human equal to one another, and although I subscribe it fully, challengers can say that it is a moral point of view of "that" organisation. I have also the impression that the Unesco stance, that I BTW again fully subscribe, is more a set of the latest Western humanist values?


And yes, I forgot, out of the wiki: morality is a kind of behaviour evoluted along our human evolution and already present within the higher animal communities...? We are nearly born with it?


Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 31 Oct 2016, 21:24

Thank you very much Nordmann for this link:




Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 09:29

nordmann wrote:
  A wise relativist sees the scam and queries the absolute. However an unwise relativist or a relativist caught off guard mistakenly assumes the mismatch to be a valid qualifier beside a valid relativist variable (a fake constant in other words). It helps of course if the absolutist pretends they simply phrased it clumsily or advertises that they are easily hurt - polite and considerate (and presumably tolerant) moral relativists are more likely to play along so as not to hurt their feelings. Inconsiderate impolite bully relativists of course just answer as honestly and as carefully as their comments are hopefully read by others, probably even more so.


Mmm. Food for thought in that. I'm now fretting dreadfully as to which category I fall into. Perhaps others are too. Do I feel wise or foolish today? Do I "advertise" that I am easily hurt? Do I come across as tolerant and polite and considerate, as Paul always does? Most frightening of all, am I actually a dishonest person? Do I fancy myself as moral relativist, or am I really a closet absolutist? But could that apply to us all - if we are honest? Do I understand what any of this is really all about? Am I talking a load of complete crap and should I shut up and admit I am totally out of my depth? Have the squirrels dug up the bulbs?

And is nordmann really an intellectual bully - or just, like many genuinely very clever people, impatient with fools and/or dishonest people? Or just with anyone who doesn't agree with him? Sometimes with both?

I once quoted this, thinking it was from dear old Chomsky - I've been told it's John Searle, whoever he is.

With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practised the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” And I like that.

Let us be glad that nordmann always writes in English. Imagine if he were to write in French! I know we get the odd line or two in Norwegian, but that doesn't seem as scary somehow - perhaps because, like German, it is a "thoroughly respectable language" (unlike French).


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 10:01

I am not a bully, and I resent that implication more than you or Priscilla apparently understand. Nor am I "genuinely clever", or even "disingenuously clever". I am simply adding my tuppenceworth like everyone else.

The point about moral relativism, objectivism, absolutism etc is that one does not really decide which category one can opt for - they are not attitudes as such, or even mind-sets (to use the term Priscilla derides). They are three competing explanations for what people do anyway so the answer to your question "Do I fancy myself as moral relativist, or am I really a closet absolutist?" is yes, and more besides, depending on whose view is being applied to your behaviour, and if one prefers Epicurean honesty to Cynical assertion then one has to admit that the one person who is most unqualified to have such a view about one's own morality is oneself.

Deriding Derrida is easy - and rather necessary for sanity purposes. But don't confuse Derrida's obscure ramblings with rather well defined philosophical definitions of morality that really haven't changed in three thousand odd years or so. Religions have been founded and run on the tensions between these definitions where they conflict and certain political ideologies and practices blatantly exploit and confound them in order to get their way over people, so I reckoned I was quite correct to raise the issue as of genuinely historical importance, and was glad that Paul also had seen one rather obvious example of this in microcosm on Historum etc, as it shows that we are never as far removed or immune from the implications of these rather important philosophical theories as we often think.

Priscilla's phraseology in the title of this thread demonstrates this too.

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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 11:42

I accept all that.

But what the heck - let us be robust in debate, but never unkind or impolite - or unfair - to one other. I don't think anyone here means to be any of those things. And yes, it is always wise to be aware of our own follies and nonsense and inconsistencies - an extremely uncomfortable exercise at times, though, I admit.

I think we have decided that colonisation was A Very Bad Thing and we have all been encouraged to think a bit more carefully; and that is always A Very Good Thing (really). So, as ever, you prevail, nordmann.

You do have to admit though, whatever her phraseology, Priscilla gets us all talking and thinking - her threads are controversial, but extremely stimulating. And nicely organic - in the best sense of the word.  

Here, have a biscuit as a peace offering. It is not a shortbread. I might start a biscuit thread - I wonder if biscuits are a benefit in any way? I had to laugh (I know I shouldn't have, as everything is so deadly serious these days, here and elsewhere) at one report I read of two sturdy economic migrants (not refugees) who were picked up by the coastguard off the coast at Ramsgate. They were taken ashore by the British authorities, interrogated, "given a cup of tea and a biscuit", and then sent back whence they had come (France). The biscuit type wasn't specified, but I bet it was a custard cream. I don't suppose the Chinese are very keen on them. Has any other heir to the British throne ever been a biscuit manufacturer, like His Royal Highness, the present Prince of Wales?

But I digress.


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 12:33

Temp wrote:
But what the heck - let us be robust in debate, but never unkind or impolite - or unfair - to one other.

Sod off.


Just kidding ... and even though I detest the object in the illustration above with almost as much vehemence and revulsion as I do shortbread I will humbly accept it in the spirit in which it was proffered and thank you profusely.

*sidles off backwards while gently chucking said custard cream surreptitiously into adjacent yucca pot*

But speaking of royalty and biscuits (and in a way it has some tangential relevance to a thread about colonist empires), employees in the Empire's own Huntley & Palmers in Reading, in the late 19th century the world's largest biscuit manufacturer (each biscuit a full three feet across maybe?), could not move around their factory without tripping over visiting hob-nobs (you see?) of imperial lineage. It started with the Prince of Wales dropping in in 1882 on a "visit". His doggy-bag must have really impressed the folks back home as he was succeeded by his mum, and then apparently almost every member of any royal household who was either directly related to Vicky or maybe just on her christmas card list. This included a gross or more of the local variety, plus umpteen Europeans, Russians, Prussians, Contussians, etc, and even extended to the Emir of Katsina whose party was guided around the factory by the wonderfully named director Herbert Pretty (the poor kids in the party got free chocolate bikkies but couldn't eat them as it was against their religion to dine in factories).


You can almost read the kids' thoughts here, can't you.

Royal visits extended right up to the 50s when the Queen Mum staggered around the joint a few times (they did a marvellous Cherry Cobbler, did Huntley & P).

However the most poignant name in the visitors' book has to be this one, which you can just make out on the left of the page:



That was in 1892. A short time later Oscar Wilde would be back in Reading, but in much more tragic circumstances.

Children on school tours up to the First World War received one biscuit per machine at which they stopped (H & P had hundreds of them) so that little jolly must have seemed like an ascent into some wondrous paradise for the local tykes. H &P also had a strict policy against tipping the guides, as this charmingly worded notice advised visitors. It really was a different age, wasn't it?



Don't get me started on biscuits!

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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 18:40

A hazed glance at on one of nord's long wordy threads - I theeenk I am an abolutist - or would be if I only had a divine Joanna Lumley voice and could say "Ab -sol- lut -ly, darling" to everything posted on this site - and mean it 
Actually little  matters of all the ivory tower philosophies about what people are and what their motives reveal of them and what they do about them which  adds up to not much  when about people in the field who try to do what they can to alleviate suffering. My admiration for them is boundless; the Dutch nun I know who in labours single handed in a leprosy colony, the smart foreign  ladies who several times a week go into a slum orphanage to feed very handicapped children; a Jewish friend who has been in the first wave of assistance to any disaster anywhere for many years who had no time to get her own condition checked and is now too far gone. The local ladies who start up garage  and bus schools for street children...... and on and on. Unsung and unheralded there are many, often tough nuts with attitude, too.  Some of which would make you wring your hands with horror; the realities they handle are not for the faint hearted.
Not what the thread is about - yet during colonisation much of value that went on too with solid foundations laid for others to take up the work when the others moved out. 
Whether the silent ones who just get on and serve mankind are any the worse than the philosophers and analysts who pontificate on abstracts  is moot. 
In a perfect world there would have been no colonisation, we all know that, but it wasn't all bad.  Absoluuutely, darling. I mean, really.


Last edited by Priscilla on Wed 02 Nov 2016, 18:42; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : punctuation)
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 19:04

Philosophers don't pontificate on abstracts - pontificators on abstracts do that. And nor do they all live in ivory towers unless of course the rent is affordable. All the people you've listed above are exemplary philosophers, or so it sounds, and I would wager none of them have had much use for ivory towers, though few I imagine would have much trouble discussing motivation.

You have a very narrow view of philosophy, which I hate to tell you is a philosophy itself and rather leans to the Cynic view I regret to say. Had your own tower had a few better windows your outlook might have been improved. I'll see what I can do.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 23:07

Anglian are very good for windows.  They have built in blinds inside the glazing now - useful.
I used to  have many windows but alas they got dusty with the dirt of circumstance and some were boarded with pain. When  awful things happens within the small sphere of your experience that you cannot redress, the cause of them burrows into memory and joins the yardstick by which you try to measure values. In current context here, however, in truth I just haven't the ability to follow the reasoning. Perhaps I once had it and its going as I age - as one does eventually... with luck. 

The people I cited would not discuss motivation;  when wading shoe deep in the shit one might share giggles about why the hell one does it but that's about all. You just get to know who you'd prefer to have on your life raft - and those whom you would watch like a hawk. I can't be bothered to look up cynic again. Although I would share water with a famed and quoted philosopher who sat back and continued discussing absolutes (or whatever, and beyond my ken) I probably wouldn't depend  much on such a one when the raft flounders. And don't you get on my raft and try to improve my mind either.

Unless,of course you have saved the tawny port.... in quantity.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 23:25

On a sinking raft one has to have priorities. First save the tawny port, certainly. Then perhaps the women and children types.

Improving minds sounds rather pointless. It takes enough effort simply ascertaining they're there half the time. And not being motivated to discuss motivation is actually a philosophy I could admire.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Wed 02 Nov 2016, 23:46

The mind is there all the time but tuned to a different wave length from others. And as a helmsman, I am very good at assessing wave lengths so the raft won't broach. And my sense of direction is reasonable as long as the crew keeps quiet. Otherwise the course would get convoluted. 
Enough. I have bulbs to plant on the morrow - only 40 watt ones because we ought not use the 100 watt sort .But not the new kind;  couldn't bear flickering daffs.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 03 Nov 2016, 12:37

Going back to my bad parent analogy, there is of course one glaringly obvious benefit of previous colonisation. As with children who suffer bad parenting and vow to avoid those traits when parents themselves, many countries have similarly reacted by enacting constitutions which attempt to guarantee they do not emulate the worst characteristics of their former overlords. Ireland has a reasonably solid one (though flawed), while the US constitution - if it survives the current challenge to its integrity - will have proven itself adept at containing the nutcases and keeping things reasonably workable for over 200 years without ever coming close to being scrapped. Neither country, and there are a few more, might even have been motivated to employ one at all if it hadn't been for obvious injustices imposed under British rule that they were bound to eliminate upon independence, or at least aspire to eliminate.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 03 Nov 2016, 19:17

For all that, isn't the US an imperialist power - the new Rome? Children of bad parents often make the same mistakes after all - one way or another.



Quote :
... for obvious injustices imposed under British rule...


Oh, give it a rest, nordmann - I must admit I am weary of what seems to be continual Brit-Bashing. One tries to face up to the faults of one's country, but sometimes I feel here we are all viewed as little better than war criminals by virtue - or vice rather - of our birth.



Things have changed a bit and we were/are not all like this anyway.


I do not pretend to know anything about American politics, so I hesitate to send this, but I have been reading the long entry on American Imperialism on Wiki and found the following under the heading "Benevolent Imperialism", which seems after reading through this thread to be an obvious oxymoron. But is it? I had no idea so many historians disagree about this. Really, one wonders if arguing - or even discussing - anything here is of any value in this age of specialists. One is always talking through one's hat, whatever one likes to pretend.



Max Boot defends U.S. imperialism by claiming: "U.S. imperialism has been the greatest force for good in the world during the past century. It has defeated communism and Nazism and has intervened against the Taliban and Serbian ethnic cleansing. " Boot used "imperialism" to describe United States policy, not only in the early 20th century but "since at least 1803". This embrace of empire is made by others neoconservatives, including British historian Paul Johnson, and writers Dinesh D'Souza and Mark Steyn. It is also made by some liberal hawks, such as political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski and Michael Ignatieff.

British historian Niall Ferguson argues that the United States is an empire and believes that this is a good thing: “What is not allowed is to say that the United States is an empire and that this might not be wholly bad.” Ferguson has drawn parallels between the British Empire and the imperial role of the United States in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, though he describes the United States' political and social structures as more like those of the Roman Empire than of the British. Ferguson argues that all of these empires have had both positive and negative aspects, but that the positive aspects of the U.S. empire will, if it learns from history and its mistakes, greatly outweigh its negative aspects.

Another point of view implies that United States expansion overseas has indeed been imperialistic, but that this imperialism is only a temporary phenomenon; a corruption of American ideals or the relic of a past historical era. Historian Samuel Flagg Bemis argues that Spanish–American War expansionism was a short-lived imperialistic impulse and "a great aberration in American history", a very different form of territorial growth than that of earlier American history. Historian Walter LaFeber sees the Spanish–American War expansionism not as an aberration, but as a culmination of United States expansion westward.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson argues that the U.S. does not pursue world domination, but maintains worldwide influence by a system of mutually beneficial exchanges. On the other hand, a Filipino revolutionary General Emilio Aguinaldo felt as though the American involvement in the Philippines was destructive, "...the Filipinos fighting for Liberty, the American people fighting them to give them liberty. The two peoples are fighting on parallel lines for the same object." American influence worldwide and the effects it has on other nations have multiple interpretations according to whose perspective is being taken into account.




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_imperialism

PS Re Niall Ferguson - Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm praised Ferguson as "an excellent historian, but criticised him as a "nostalgist for empire". Mmm.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 04 Nov 2016, 15:10

Temp wrote:
Oh, give it a rest, nordmann - I must admit I am weary of what seems to be continual Brit-Bashing.

If being reminded by others of one's own nation's history is indistinguishable from "bashing" then this in itself speaks volumes about that history. Contrary to your perception as stated above the topic is actually "rested" quite a lot, a rather magnanimous gesture in my view on the part of those who could feel just a little historical entitlement to "bash" back on occasion but refrain out of civility.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 04 Nov 2016, 15:25

However the point was not simply an idle accusation against Britain for the purpose of "bashing" anyone, but to point out that addressing injustice through constitutional means is only abetted by having concrete examples of such injustices, the experience of which aids effective design of laws to combat them. Britain, like many other colonial powers, left us all with no small list of these, and it would be a silly person who claimed that such constitutional measures aimed at establishing a fair and just society cannot be deemed a "benefit" to those who live in it.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 04 Nov 2016, 20:47

Restraint and civility are always to be commended, nordmann; and I thank you for the occasions when you have demonstrated these qualities.

You must forgive me, however, for I am still confused. Are you saying that because the British were such total b*stards, the American nation learnt - and so, paradoxically, benefited - from our errors and determined that their laws and their constitution would be so framed to ensure that injustice, oppression and exploitation would have no place in their land?

To what extent were these noble aims achieved by the USA after their independence from the British?

nordmann wrote:
...and it would be a silly person who claimed that such constitutional measures aimed at establishing a fair and just society cannot be deemed a "benefit" to those who live in it.


That would indeed be silly, but isn't it also a bit silly to suggest that such worthy constitutional measures happened solely as a result of the terrible example of former colonial masters? After all, many legal reforms and new laws have come about in England over the past hundred years or so, similar attempts to make society fairer and more just, and there have been no colonial masters here: isn't it simply that human beings do progress and become more humane, thank goodness - even the English?

PS And weren't the Americans influenced by Magna Carta when they drew up their constitution - the example of the English being perhaps not entirely pernicious?
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 04 Nov 2016, 23:09

Temp wrote:
PS And weren't the Americans influenced by Magna Carta when they drew up their constitution - the example of the English being perhaps not entirely pernicious?

I sincerely hope not, pernicious being exactly what a document is that attempts to transfer power to a few unelected barons. If they were "influenced" by it, then fortunately they did not allow this influence to extend beyond simply emulating the fact that it was written down.

The problem with being a colonial power is that it tends to take the gloss off social reforms conducted in the country at its centre which are not then immediately extended to the colonies. It leads to accusations of double-standards on top of everything else.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Fri 04 Nov 2016, 23:31

Temp wrote:
Are you saying that because the British were such total b*stards, the American nation learnt - and so, paradoxically, benefited - from our errors and determined that their laws and their constitution would be so framed to ensure that injustice, oppression and exploitation would have no place in their land?

Many Americans at the time even said so - the constitution was devised to safeguard against the deprivations they had already experienced through British colonial rule, and in particular the policies enacted by an unelected autocratic power in the shape of the British monarch who they rightly saw as an emblem of absolute power wielded against rather than in the interest of the citizen. As Paine said, “Let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is King. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.”

The US constitution, and especially its many clauses ensuring power devolved to its citizenry in the form of elected representation, has proven a sturdy and effective safeguard in that respect. So while one can of course argue that it hasn't eliminated injustice, exploitation and oppression, it has certainly fuelled far more legislation designed specifically to curtail the former and eliminate the latter while at least providing a channel through which exploitation can be addressed. For all the document's faults, a USA administration would find it hard to treat its citizens as harshly as they had been treated by their previous British overlords, and that was more or less the point of it too.

When an administration does an unconstitutional act, a spectacular example being the internment of its own citizens of Japanese descent during WWII, then the presence of the constitution ensures that claims for redress and accountability can still be prosecuted, even if it took forty years in that particular case. Compare that to Britain's sterling efforts to compensate those interned without trial in Northern Ireland in the 70s and 80s, or for that matter even to acknowledge a possible illegality in their actions. That's the difference.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 09:10

Would it nevertheless be true to say that the British, for all their grievous faults, do have the ability to play fair and are willing to acknowledge error in themselves and greatness in others? Or am I, as ever, deceiving myself?



Did the presiding judge, Mr Broomfield, really stand before Gandhi, and were the remarks he made accurate; or was the whole scene just brilliant drama from Richard Attenborough?

PS Sorry about the Japanese subtitles in the clip: I have nothing against the Japanese (hope it is Japanese, not Chinese), but they are immensely irritating (subtitles, I mean, not the people).


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 10:18

nordman wrote 'For all the document's faults, a USA administration would find it hard to treat its citizens as harshly as they had been treated by their previous British overlords, and that was more or less the point of it too'


 That's now - but when it was written, the resident Indians would surely have had quarrel with this observation - the Cherokee, in particular. I doubt the British (UK) ever treated the colonists (British/European origin) there as harshly. The 'benefits'  to the new land were  initially self serving for the most part, it took time for them to be absorbed into other  and indigenous  cultures.


 National identity is a curious thing - origins and roots and such. These remain very important to people generations on. The great American Constitution (warts and all) was a progression from the roots of the people who wrote it, not from the land they colonised.......a benefit of colonisation?  
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 11:52

All very valid points in my view - I remember at an open US history lecture in Sacramento arguing with the lecturer about how the westward expansion of the USA was completely indistinguishable from the worst instances of contemporary colonialism (the British in Tasmania, for example), and that the modern phenomenon of the US regarding itself as the "leader of the free world", which is unsustainable when examined in any depth, stemmed from the inordinate tendency from the beginning for the ex-colonists to assume that addressing their own narrow grievances and government structure to their own satisfaction was all that required consideration, with none whatsoever extended to the people who were impoverished, expelled or slaughtered in the process but who shared the landmass on which the US was to expand and even had rights acknowledged by the US's own constitution which were simply ignored.

But that only serves to support my main point, which is that countries who engage in colonialism, in whatever guise, tend to leave more of a mess behind them in the process, often catastrophic mess, than they ever leave benefit. The latter can be construed in certain instances and with quite specific terms of definition, but the former is almost guaranteed in every instance and regardless of how it is defined.

Temp, the scene in the film above is a truncated version of the judge's summing up but accurate in that Broomfield did express exactly that he would impose a minimum sentence and hoped those higher would employ clemency later. This was in 1922 and Broomfield, along with most of the British colonial administration of the day, was acutely aware of what had happened earlier during and following the trials of Tilak, another journalist like Gandhi who was accused of sedition based on articles written in his newspaper. Like Gandhi, Tilak had eschewed violence, and if anything had been even less strident and more cautious in how he wrote. This had been in 1910, and the judge in that case, Devar, also sentenced the accused to six years imprisonment. Devar however used his summing up to imply that Tilak was just as bad as any hot-headed rebel, and probably worse in that he had the means to disseminate his views. In this he was simply voicing the then administration line. Tilak's sentence, perceived as unjust (and the verdict wrong) by many at the time, even some British it has to be said, led to a cycle of violence in which thousands died and which could well have spiralled to unmanageable proportions if WWI hadn't intervened, with all the martial law opportunities this presented to a regime perceived as losing control. Twelve years later Broomfield, and the administration, wasn't going to make the same mistake. Faced with an even more seditious person, and one who gladly accepted his guilt as charged, the judge made a point of passing exactly the same sentence as Tilak had received (he could go no lower without embarrassing the court himself) but issuing ameliorating words quite the opposite of Devar's earlier incendiary vitriol.

So yes, Broomfield can be cited as an instance of things going in the right direction at least, if excruciatingly slowly. But in this case very specifically one can also see how what had been learnt was from a very definite precedent which had, in many Indians' eyes, borne all the hallmarks of inept, insensitive, self-serving and aggressive colonial rule.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 15:42

nordman wrote  countries who engage in colonialism, in whatever guise, tend to leave more of a mess behind them in the process, often catastrophic mess, than they ever leave benefit. The latter can be construed in certain instances and with quite specific terms of definition, but the former is almost guaranteed in every instance and regardless of how it is defined.   

Your use of the present tense is curious. But to move on.

The North American Indians, Aboriginals,  Maoris, Amerindians, Headhunters of Sawark, many African peoples and so on, all of  whom were colonised, had not reached the material evolutionary stage of the colonists when taken over b them and they did benefit from being drawn into them: ready or not. Such peoples were handled in many different ways. For most people in the sub continent of 5000yrs of assorted  history and cultural progress it was just a change of masters - of whom many were not benign. Of course Britain left a mess once it began to tangle with religious issues in particular - and sub continental messes are ever on-going and ever very complicated with or without the British phase of rule and of which fair minded people there could list many benefits even if the clog your pen. 
Ghandi was also against the caste system and an enemy in many Indian peoples's eyes. The first PM of Pakistan  - a former Nawab who walked away from ruling his princely state (with only Rs 300)   had long been a champion in the Indian Assembly of land reform..... and his plane crashed in his first year of office before he could do the same there.  These were both political areas that the British had nervously avoided and why independence to resolve these issues was important..... neither fully yet sorted.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 15:45

And one step on from all of that. What of space colonisation?  What should be the guide lines?
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 16:07

Priscilla wrote:
Your use of the present tense is curious. But to move on.

If you had cared to read the entire sentence (you quoted only a segment) then you would understand why the present tense was acceptable grammatically. Not so curious after all.

Space colonisation, whatever that means, will have to involve the exploitation of alien species before it can begin to emulate that which was undertaken by European powers in the last four centuries. At this point in time however it looks like a potential squabble over very expensively accessed and none too certain mineral rights. Territorial, but not in the sense that merits "colonisation" as a descriptor.

Also, the argument that colonised people, having had demonstrably poor government and underdeveloped resources prior to colonisation therefore benefited from their subsequent exploitation, is not a view shared by the majority who examine history in any depth. Yes, the coloniser often inherited a mess, but that does not infer they were therefore simply equally as culpable as the regimes they usurped in contributing to that mess. What was almost unavoidable, in fact, was that they compounded the mess.

Having stripped the people of all their valuable assets in the meantime of course (when not simply annihilating them if they were deemed worthless), which was the real point of why they were there, not to benignly right old wrongs or prioritise the welfare of the inhabitants of these new dominions - except of course in so far as it helped in the extraction of income from these "overseas possessions" (and "possession" was indeed the term of choice in the old school atlases, as I recall).
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 16:10

Deleted. Off-topic.



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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 16:44

Deleted.


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 17:10

Temp wrote:
Not exactly a "benefit" of colonisation, I know

You're right.

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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 17:14

OK, I've deleted it. Point taken. Babylonian exile was about slavery, not colonisation. But there has been much excellent post-colonial literature. But again, off-topic.

Will shut up now.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 17:28

I agree. And there was a lot of good colonial literature. And there was a lot of good pre-colonial literature. In fact one gets the distinct impression there would have been a lot of good literature without the necessity for millions to die through colonialism in order to produce a few stories and poems.

And since the whole Jewish "exile" is looking remarkably more like fantasy rather than history anyway thanks to archaeology, maybe that poetry you had referred to just needs a slight change in definition anyway. It's still good though, even after all your deletions.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 17:41

Why do you always have to be so scathing and nasty, nordmann? I was trying to make what I thought was a polite response, but I realised my witterings about space law and literature were off-topic - were rather stupid actually - hence the hasty deletions.

Suffering - colonial or other - does often produce great art,  a sadly paradoxical mystery. But I shall say no more - I'm not in the mood to battered here, thank you.


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 17:57

I am being neither scathing nor nasty. And in fact I agree with you - that the colonial experience produced some good literature, and still is producing good literature in a post-colonial era. However in the context of cost that one pushes the ledger to the extreme when calculating balance of benefit, I feel.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 19:09

I took Nordmann's post as a general comment on colonialism, not a dig at you or the British in particular. You are taking this far too personally Temp, you are not responsible for your history after all. None of us are.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sat 05 Nov 2016, 23:55

Nordmann, stripping of valuable assets or destroying what was deemed of no valuable is a sweeping statement. ID can tell us what was stripped from Australia or destroyed - I'm not saying it didn't happen but curious to know what, Caro can do the same for NZ and others chip in with their knowledge of other places. I know something of the subcontinent in that it was a source of cotton, jute and spices. But it was also a huge market, for selling to let us not forget - and of course  to keep people in work in Britain.


Salesmen, (called box-wallahs) from Europe were considered socially inferior by the governing and military  Raj and local elite too - much as merchant traders were considered as metics at ancient Greek ports with limited  social access; trade smells. 
Of course cotton goods made in Lancashire were sold back - local weaving was not industrialized though fine muslins etc from there were exported to the west. Trade was enormous and huge harbours built for it. (I once was taken to a distant isle in the mouth of the Indus that had been the haunt of pirates long ago where the ground was a vast mosaic of broken china - from China trashed for being of no value and still there 250 years later. I digress.)

Tea was planted in the hilly regions about Chittagong  both for local use and export and of course jute grown and exported world wide.The indigo market was rifled I imagine for abroad - and artifacts - but the finds of the Indus valley remained in the local museums ( to be rifled more recently by local politicians). But some of the fine mogul minatures are in India House still - with probably much else besides.

But, like I said, trade was a great lure including big stuff such as railway engines and such. Asset stripping there was not so prominent - but I admit that my knowledge there is limited. At a superficial mind search, I think it was the wild life of such places that suffered greatly,  the great tiger shoots, fur trapping in Canada and so on. I suggest that trade was a benefit - many local people trace the origins of their business to those times, both started and owned by their families when fortunes were made by some.... I can supply names! Many of their children being educated abroad  then set up many large educational foundations  and colleges- not for foreigners but for local children. - and of a high standard. ... a benefit? 
Both Mr Ghandi and Mr Jinnah were astute lawyers. I suggest that had they not had this education, bringing any form of  enfranchising  the masses through local means may not have happened for a very long time.


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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 13:20

Each colonial target represented a uniquely different challenge to Britain with regard to the common goal of extracting wealth from its possession, and therefore direct comparison beyond this obvious aim reveals little by the way of insight into the hows and whys related to each colony's exploitation. India and Ireland, for example, throw up many well known parallels (at least well known to Irish and Indians), whereas the remote and by comparison resource-poor Antipodean colonies followed a trajectory similar more to each other than to the rest of the empire's possessions. But even then Australia, probably due to its perceived remoteness and a perceived contingent worthlessness of its indigenous population, produced one of the British Empire's most shameful acts of pure genocide, whereas New Zealand (and Caro can correct me if I'm wrong) produced on the contrary a model of dealing with indigenous people more analogous, for example, with that pursued under French colonialism on the North American continent, before of course it was superseded by British and American colonial expansion into the same territories and peoples later.

Trade, as you say, was indeed a great lure for Britain on the Asian sub-continet, as indeed it was for other European powers who each initially vied with Britain for that golden fleece. But under Britain, as you also allude to, "trade" in as much as indigenous people could participate in it, much like as had happened in Ireland, was under the empire one which was conducted always under one overriding stricture that the profits from that trade should devolve to the imperial overlord, not the people on whose backs it was being generated. Stripping resources to feed the "industrial revolution" back home, and then selling the produce for a profit back to the people whose resources had been stripped while simultaneously disallowing them from competing as producers, is still "trade", but one that is highly unethical and completely geared to the benefit of the oppressor, not the oppressed, by anyone's book.

In the case of education one cannot argue at all that this is not beneficial, however it comes about, and I would not even pretend to detract from this obvious truism. And one could go further and say that when Britain sponsored educational initiatives and facilitated the elevation of its colonial subjects through this means it was actually ultimately contributing to the inevitability of losing its colonial possessions. This would appear to be a case therefore of Britain acting for an ultimate good at the expense of its imperial chances of continued success in exploitation, and to a point this is true. However there was also a cost to not educating people which Britain knew it was in no position to pay should it adopt this as a long-term policy for all of its colonies (educational initiative was by no means a universal policy under British rule - as again Ireland can be pointed to for confirmation where the opposite applied with some rigour for 150 years). A complex and developed civilisation, as the Indian sub-continent represented, and especially an extremely populous one, cost more to subjugate to the point of uneducated acquiescence than to manage at least partially within civilised terms, and it should be noted that education was as often employed as a tool of social division as it was a social leveller, sometimes intentionally and sometimes just in effect, but when thus employed worked in important ways to the advantage of the power maintaining the status quo. So good and all as the policy can be deemed to be therefore, it was - like the Secretary of State for India Morley's extreme objections to the Devar sentencing of Kilak - motivated with a view to perpetuating imperial rule and its potential for vast profits, not to create an altruistic principle as policy, and definitely not with a view to eventually dismantling the regime. A benefit therefore with an unacceptably high cost to the majority, in other words, and by no means an uncomplicated proof of altruistic intent.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 16:35

nordmann wrote:
Each colonial target represented a uniquely different challenge

As was said in the first 2 posts, colonisation is a distinct exercise. It is not to be confused with imperialism and they are not interchangeable words. Quite often colonisation and imperialism are in directed opposition to one another. And then there is colonialism. This is a third concept again and describes the overlap between imperialism and colonisation. Colonialism is what occurs when colonists see imperial rule as giving legal validity to their colonisation, while at the same time imperialists see colonists as providing demographic affirmation in a particular imperial project.

The imprecise use of the words ‘colony’ and ‘colonialism’ over the years by journalists and others (not least by the offices of state) has caused much confusion in this. For example it was only in 2002 that the UK’s remaining ‘colonies’ and ‘dependencies’ were belatedly but correctly designated as overseas territories.

And this confusion is rife. The thread title ‘Colonisation: What were the benefits to the Colonised Lands’ yet it has generally been discussed as reading ‘Imperialism: What were the benefits to the Subjugated Peoples’. If the question is to be answered as written, then the benefits to lands, (rather than peoples) of colonisation (rather than imperialism and colonialism), needs to be assessed.

The opening post mentioned that this is a far reaching topic and so it is. An attempt to assess benefits to ‘lands’ as a opposed to peoples as such is problematic. Lands nearly always include, flora, fauna and human inhabitants. Very few don’t. And being living humans we are predisposed to consider that living = good while dead = bad. (Although taking a look at the current living main candidates for the U.S. presidential election one may well wonder if the dead ones were all that bad.) Similarly our preference for life over death tends to equate to a preference for animal, vegetable and mineral in that order. On balance (and by a considerable margin) we humans tend to prefer woodland and meadow to desert and scrub. Dung beetles, scorpions and trapdoor spiders etc, of course, may hold a different view.

The colonisation of lands by humans has nearly always had a major impact on the flora and fauna of a particular territory not least as a result of the deliberate or inadvertent introduction of new species. The Roman colonisation of North Africa, for example, famously created the breadbasket of the empire. The question as to whether Roman Africa was the fertile, irrigated success story it has been cracked-up to be is hotly contested by historians. Some suggest that Roman engineering and maintenance of aqueducts etc did indeed produce a landscape visibly greener than that of today. Other, however, suggest that although wheat had originally come to Europe from the Near East, by the time the Romans began cereal cultivation in North Africa, highly domesticated strains of water-thirsty, European-style wheat were used, the production of which severely stressed the local aquifers. The jury is still out on this.

Closer in time (and as has been mentioned earlier) the expansion westward of the U.S., firstly beyond the Appalachians and then beyond the Mississippi, was one of the most comprehensive examples of systematic colonisation in modern history. A similar story occurred in Canada let's not forget. And, staying with wheat, the almost monoculture which followed the colonisation of those lands resulted (after only a few generations) in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s and, in the case of Oklahoma, after only one generation. In conjunction with the westward migration of humans went leafy spurge, a toxic weed native to Eurasia which, as an invasive species, has had an aggressive and sometimes devastating impact upon native North American plant life and soil health.

But it’s not all bad news. The Columbian Exchange has meant that one of the by-products of the European colonisation of parts of Africa was the introduction of American crops such as cassava and sweet-corn (maize) to the agriculture of that continent. It has been estimated that the exponential growth in the human population of Africa over the last hundred years has been in large part down to the beneficial effects of the widespread availability of these wholesome foodstuffs.

And neither did good things only come from the Americas. Going back to Roman colonisation, then this Englishman for one is grateful to the former colonisers of ancient Britain for introducing, roses, horse chestnut trees, onions, plum trees, rosemary, walnut trees, leeks, elm trees, fennel and apple trees etc to these lands.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Sun 06 Nov 2016, 18:06

nordmann wrote:
Each colonial target represented a uniquely different challenge to Britain with regard to the common goal of extracting wealth from its possession, and therefore direct comparison beyond this obvious aim reveals little by the way of insight into the hows and whys related to each colony's exploitation. India and Ireland, for example, throw up many well known parallels (at least well known to Irish and Indians), whereas the remote and by comparison resource-poor Antipodean colonies followed a trajectory similar more to each other than to the rest of the empire's possessions. But even then Australia, probably due to its perceived remoteness and a perceived contingent worthlessness of its indigenous population, produced one of the British Empire's most shameful acts of pure genocide, whereas New Zealand (and Caro can correct me if I'm wrong) produced on the contrary a model of dealing with indigenous people more analogous, for example, with that pursued under French colonialism on the North American continent, before of course it was superseded by British and American colonial expansion into the same territories and peoples later.

Trade, as you say, was indeed a great lure for Britain on the Asian sub-continet, as indeed it was for other European powers who each initially vied with Britain for that golden fleece. But under Britain, as you also allude to, "trade" in as much as indigenous people could participate in it, much like as had happened in Ireland, was under the empire one which was conducted always under one overriding stricture that the profits from that trade should devolve to the imperial overlord, not the people on whose backs it was being generated. Stripping resources to feed the "industrial revolution" back home, and then selling the produce for a profit back to the people whose resources had been stripped while simultaneously disallowing them from competing as producers, is still "trade", but one that is highly unethical and completely geared to the benefit of the oppressor, not the oppressed, by anyone's book.

In the case of education one cannot argue at all that this is not beneficial, however it comes about, and I would not even pretend to detract from this obvious truism. And one could go further and say that when Britain sponsored educational initiatives and facilitated the elevation of its colonial subjects through this means it was actually ultimately contributing to the inevitability of losing its colonial possessions. This would appear to be a case therefore of Britain acting for an ultimate good at the expense of its imperial chances of continued success in exploitation, and to a point this is true. However there was also a cost to not educating people which Britain knew it was in no position to pay should it adopt this as a long-term policy for all of its colonies (educational initiative was by no means a universal policy under British rule - as again Ireland can be pointed to for confirmation where the opposite applied with some rigour for 150 years). A complex and developed civilisation, as the Indian sub-continent represented, and especially an extremely populous one, cost more to subjugate to the point of uneducated acquiescence than to manage at least partially within civilised terms, and it should be noted that education was as often employed as a tool of social division as it was a social leveller, sometimes intentionally and sometimes just in effect, but when thus employed worked in important ways to the advantage of the power maintaining the status quo. So good and all as the policy can be deemed to be therefore, it was - like the Secretary of State for India Morley's extreme objections to the Devar sentencing of Kilak - motivated with a view to perpetuating imperial rule and its potential for vast profits, not to create an altruistic principle as policy, and definitely not with a view to eventually dismantling the regime. A benefit therefore with an unacceptably high cost to the majority, in other words, and by no means an uncomplicated proof of altruistic intent.


Nordmann,

it was that what I meant: "Benefits despite of..." And in that I follow Priscilla too...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 07 Nov 2016, 08:48

Yes, Paul. Benefits attributed to a cause always require this qualification where applicable. When "cause" refers to a political process the main point and purpose of which is quite other than simple bestowal of benefit (and religion is included in that area when it engages in social administration), and when a feature of that process is to claim sole credit for a benefit imparted anyway, then the requirement for that qualification becomes all the greater.

As long as everyone here adopts the need for that qualification and therefore discusses "benefit" within the limited definition remaining then I think everyone is in agreement. Personally I don't see the point of that on a history site where the whole rationale should be to trace any such benefit to its ultimate source if possible, and also to analyse without necessarily accepting at face value historical claims to have settled this question in any specific instance from before. As far as I can see if the claim originates within a political administration then it is automatically suspect, especially when it declares itself the original cause, at least until the true agenda of that administration can be assessed if possible, and the true course of events that transpired can be adduced separate from their claim. If they all match up in the end, well and good. But they rarely do.

And as with Vizzer's argument concerning the impact of colonisation on flora and fauna (however loosely colonisation is defined it is still a very serious issue historically too), then it can be seen that even the qualified definition of "benefit" can itself be a very temporal thing, and that something defined and agreed as a benefit by all concerned at one point in time can later prove to have been anything but. But that's another matter, and probably worth a thread here in its own right.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 07 Nov 2016, 17:55

I have been trying to find Priscilla's comment somewhere on the thread noting that Gandhi was a lawyer, but I can't locate it. There is surely an irony in the fact that Gandhi was indeed trained in law at the Inner Temple, London. Many of his friends were, like Nehru, Cambridge men. Nehru was a graduate of Trinity College, and later, like Gandhi, was called to the Bar. These men certainly benefited from a first-rate English education.

I have been watching the famous Attenborough film this afternoon - not the Run, Iggy! For God's Sake, Run! one by his brother, David - but  the Richard Attenborough award-winning epic based on the life of Gandhi. There is one wonderful comment, addressed to a distraught Lieutenant-Governor: "You do realise, don't you, that back home, children are writing essays about him?" The death-knell of the British Empire realised in that line, I think.


Islanddawn wrote:
I took Nordmann's post as a general comment on colonialism, not a dig at you or the British in particular. You are taking this far too personally Temp, you are not responsible for your history after all. None of us are.


I'm sure I am taking things too personally, ID. It is a fault of mine. But I am British, and, although there is much in my country's history I deplore, there is also much of which I am proud - so I do get upset when the criticism of the Brits seems relentless. We all admit that some terrible things have been done in the name of Empire - but the reason I got so distressed the other day is quite simple: the British are not all bad, and, like the candidates on The Apprentice, we will usually "hold up our hands" when we know we've acted like prats and made a general balls-up of things. If I were continually to post stuff about IRA thugs, I'm sure nordmann would - quite rightly - be the first to object. There are murderous, power-hungry so-and-sos in all nations: there are also decent people who admit when they are in the wrong and try, however ineptly, to put things right.

That said, the thread has given me much to think about and for that I thank all contributors.



Last edited by Temperance on Tue 08 Nov 2016, 02:29; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 07 Nov 2016, 18:34

Have just started watching Part Two of Gandhi and was struck by this line, which I suspect says it all for everyone here:


Gandhi: Despite the best intentions of the best of you, you must, in the nature of things, humiliate us to control us...
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 07 Nov 2016, 19:38

Temperance wrote:
I have been trying to find Priscilla's comment somewhere on the thread noting that Gandhi was a lawyer, but I can't locate it. There is surely an irony in the fact that Gandhi was indeed trained in law at the Inner Temple, London. Many of his friends were, like Nehru, Cambridge men. Nehru was a graduate of Trinity College, and later, like Gandhi, was called to the Bar. These men certainly benefited from a first-rate English education.

I have been watching the famous Attenborough film this afternoon - not the Run, Iggy! For God's Sake, Run! one by his brother, David - but  the Richard Attenborough award-winning epic based on the life of Gandhi. There is one wonderful comment, addressed to a distraught Lieutenant-Governor: "You do realise, don't you, that back home, children are writing essays about him?" The death-knell of the British Empire realised in that line, I think.


Islanddawn wrote:
I took Nordmann's post as a general comment on colonialism, not a dig at you or the British in particular. You are taking this far too personally Temp, you are not responsible for your history after all. None of us are.


I'm sure I am taking things too personally, ID. It is a fault of mine. But I am British, and, despite my goodly dollop of Irish Catholic genes, and although there is much in my country's history I deplore, there is also much of which I am proud - so I do get upset when the criticism of the Brits seems relentless. We all admit that some terrible things have been done in the name of Empire - but the reason I got so distressed the other day is quite simple: the British are not all bad, and, like the candidates on The Apprentice, we will usually "hold up our hands" when we know we've acted like prats and made a general balls-up of things. If I were to continually post stuff about murdering IRA thugs, I'm sure nordmann would - quite rightly - be the first to object. There are murderous, power-hungry so-and-sos in all nations: the British could be bad, but not as bad as some. It's a Darwinian thing, is it not?

But I ramble off-topic again - just needed to reply, rather than sitting sulking under my stone.


Well I don't really agree with justifications Temp, the British could be and were sometimes just as bad as everyone else could be. It is human nature and no-one is really less 'bad' or less 'good' than anyone else. And no the British weren't 'all bad', again just like everyone else there are decent people and not so decent people but I don't think anyone suggested otherwise anyway.

However the thread is about colonialism and there is no way the British Empire could have been avoided in this context, it is not a criticism of 'Brits' rather a criticism of the Empire and colonialism of which only a minority of 'Brits' participated in or really gained from. The majority of British were treated as badly as those in the colonies so I'm at a bit of a loss as to why you'd be offended.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Mon 07 Nov 2016, 20:49

Not offended, ID - as I have stated above, merely thoughtful; and being made to think is never a bad thing.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Tue 08 Nov 2016, 09:42

Temp wrote:
If I were to continually post stuff about murdering IRA thugs, I'm sure nordmann would - quite rightly - be the first to object.

Not at all, and I have much to say on that subject - especially in the context of a thread related to the effects of colonialism and how benefit can come at an unacceptable cost.

The notion that a discussion about colonialism will not by its nature involve much reference to Britain's rather shameful past behaviour is rather naive. Priscilla asked that the net be widened regarding colonial method and instigators, and I initially attempted to honour that request as you can see above, but then she herself narrowed the field to Britain, so I have commented within that context too.

And I actually disagree with the observation you made about your fellow countrymen "we will usually "hold up our hands" when we know we've acted like prats and made a general balls-up of things". This is not generally true at all, or at least what the British consider "owning up" to faults is rarely such as would satisfy the criteria normally applied to genuine acknowledgement of uncomfortably shameful national history.

The historian David Olusoga recently made a very valid point in an interview concerning his own specialist field - the history of blacks in Britain. David, being a modern kind of guy, invites and welcomes feedback from the public via letters, tweets, facebook comments, blog comments etc. Since the Brexit debacle he has had to review this policy as - like many others - he has experienced a huge rise in abusive and offensive vitriol directed against himself. But even before this he was frequently charged with "going on too much" about slavery, that he wouldn't "give it a rest" and that people were just "sick of hearing about slavery" and so on. To which he tended to ask his accuser to simply name a British slave plantation, a British slave ship, or even a British profiteer from the slave trade. The most common response was that his interlocutor couldn't actually name any of these, a phenomenon which to Olusoga suggests that people are "sick" of an historical subject (to the point of being abusive about it) before they've even bothered to learn the actual history. Which, you have to admit, is rather telling.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Tue 08 Nov 2016, 10:16

I am naïve - I would be the first to admit that: I try to be fair and, foolishly, expect fairness in others. It is an unfortunate character defect, and it has got me in some fine old messes during the course of my life.

This country has many ignorant bigots; but there are also many others here who, admitting their ignorance about many things, try to do something about it and learn; and who, incidentally, abhor racists and fascists - those who persecute others because of their colour or creed - or anything other perceived "difference". Hatred and ignorance breed hatred and ignorance - that I readily and sadly admit, but, as I have said and will repeat, we are not all bad, and our history is not entirely one of shameful and dishonourable conduct, as you, I am afraid, seem to think: just a simple acknowledgement of that would be appreciated. Perhaps as an Irishman that is difficult - impossible indeed - for you: it was for my grandfather.

I shall delete my completely inappropriate post over on the Rant thread - yet another feeble and naïve attempt from me to lighten the atmosphere. Maybe it is time I delete my membership here too.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Tue 08 Nov 2016, 10:37

At no point have I - or as far as I can see anyone - said that everyone in Britain is "bad", or indeed that you should feel you have to defend all your countrymen against such a charge even were it to be made. And of course British history cannot be simplistically summarised as entirely shameful, that would be as silly as pretending it was all good.

If nothing else, this site that you now wish no longer to be a member of (which would be an extreme pity), proves this point again and again and again. The bulk of the discussions have a British bias, and within that bias an impressively wide range of views and attitudes is represented, all the more impressively because of the small contribution base. This in itself lends the lie to any accusation that this bias is being abused - either by me "as an Irishman" in gratuitous and ill-thought criticism or for that matter anyone else in gratuitous ill-thought defence.

I don't know how much simpler an acknowledgement on my part that "all British people aren't bad" has to be before you see that I have never failed to acknowledge such a simple truism. I am truly sorry you have chosen to take offence where none was intended and certainly none delivered on my part.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Tue 08 Nov 2016, 13:28

nordmann wrote:
To which he tended to ask his accuser to simply name a British slave plantation, a British slave ship, or even a British profiteer from the slave trade. The most common response was that his interlocutor couldn't actually name any of these

A telling phenomenon indeed.

It also goes to the heart of how history is propagated and consumed in the UK. On the one hand there is a heavy bias in the mass media, the state institutions, the universities and the curricula of schools etc, towards dynastic patriotism, unionism and imperialism which are generally presented as being allied concepts and basically 'good things'. On the other hand, however, any aspects of Britain's imperial past which do not sit well with 21st century sensibilities (i.e. pretty much most of it) are dismissed as being down to a handful of 'bigots' and 'bad eggs' and, anyway, the bad things didn't happen 'here' in 'this country' and so are essentially irrelevant to 'us' and are not really part of 'our' history.

In other words the goalposts are constantly shifted. When it suits, then 'our history' is the history of the Great British Empire but when it doesn't suit then 'our history' is the history of Little England - and vice versa. With such shifting parameters then it's no wonder that in popular discourse there tends to be a lack of precision regarding Britain's imperial past and related concepts.

Thus, rather than being able to discuss in detail why individuals such as, say, John Hawkins was a merchant adventurer, a slave trader and a privateer but not a colonialist and the reasons for that, and rather than being able to discuss why Francis Drake was an explorer, a slave trader, a privateer and a colonialist but not a colonist and the reasons for that, and rather than being able to discuss why Walter Raleigh was an imperialist and a colonialist and even a colonist/settler/planter himself but not a slave trader and the reasons for that, instead such discussions tend to be characterised by broad-brush allegations regarding the whole 'British Empire' and the 'British' themselves with corresponding sweeping defences.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Tue 08 Nov 2016, 18:16

Vizzer wrote:


A telling phenomenon indeed.

It also goes to the heart of how history is propagated and consumed in the UK. On the one hand there is a heavy bias in the mass media, the state institutions, the universities and the curricula of schools etc, towards dynastic patriotism, unionism and imperialism which are generally presented as being allied concepts and basically 'good things'. On the other hand, however, any aspects of Britain's imperial past which do not sit well with 21st century sensibilities (i.e. pretty much most of it) are dismissed as being down to a handful of 'bigots' and 'bad eggs' and, anyway, the bad things didn't happen 'here' in 'this country' and so are essentially irrelevant to 'us' and are not really part of 'our' history.


And a timely reminder from one 93 year old. 

The Crown, like Downton Abbey, Victoria or even Indian Summers, depicts moments in history as a pageant in which the wealthy, the entitled and the nobility oversee the lives of millions with benevolence, wisdom and grace. As I have been both a witness to and participant in history since 1923, I can tell you that was not the case. Millions lived lives of abject misery during the 1930s while the 1% of that time enjoyed an obscene opulence. Despite the vast wealth of 19th-century history a TV dramatist can draw upon, our nation’s rich heritage too often becomes an infomercial for monarchy and empire.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/08/the-crown-portrayal-of-history-insult-to-my-generations-struggles
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Tue 08 Nov 2016, 22:03

Temperance,

I have not that much time as I am involved for the moment in an Afrocentrist thread on Historum.
http://historum.com/general-history/123336-moorish-african-muslim-contribution-european-advancement.html

"I shall delete my completely inappropriate post over on the Rant thread - yet another feeble and naïve attempt from me to lighten the atmosphere. Maybe it is time I delete my membership here too."

Temperance you are not naive and in my opinion I haven't seen yet "inapproriate posts" of yours overhere. In fact you are as valable as any member of this small team, even more. And you are certainly not to think that you are the minor one in this team or it has to be that you are assuming it yourself, which I find would be a pity for you. No I find that you have to stay your grounds and if you by occasion makes a mistake that's not a big event. Others overhere do the same on my first sight...

And as Nordmann I say in reply to your above sentence: "which would be an extreme pity"...

Kind regards and with esteem, esteem sparked by all the years that I have already acquaintance with you,

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Colonisation: What were the Benefits to the Colonised Lands?   Thu 10 Nov 2016, 07:57

PaulRyckier wrote:
Temperance,



Temperance you are not naive and in my opinion I haven't seen yet "inapproriate posts" of yours overhere. In fact you are as valable as any member of this small team, even more. And you are certainly not to think that you are the minor one in this team or it has to be that you are assuming it yourself, which I find would be a pity for you. No I find that you have to stay your grounds and if you by occasion makes a mistake that's not a big event. Others overhere do the same on my first sight...

And as Nordmann I say in reply to your above sentence: "which would be an extreme pity"...

Kind regards and with esteem, esteem sparked by all the years that I have already acquaintance with you,

Paul.



Thank you, Paul, for your genuinely encouraging message. You sometimes miss the subtleties of nordmann's prose style. He has the ability - ironically one perfected by the snooty English upper classes - to be both icily polite and insulting at the same time. Words such as "silly" and "naïve" embedded in the text of his post(s) - although apparently not directly aimed at an opponent - could be read as conveying an uncomfortable subtext, as could, of course, the wording of that classic weasel expression of regret: "you have chosen to be offended". I didn't choose to be offended at all: nordmann just bloody well got right up my nose. That's ordinary English, by the way, not superior-put-down-English-to-be-used-when-addressing-uppity-inferiors English.

But what the heck - no doubt I'm imagining all this. And, after all, we all have far more to worry about now than me having a fit of the vapours. (You'll have to look that up. Smile )

PS My inappropriate post was a recipe for Empire Christmas Pudding, as concocted one year by the chief chef at Buck House. It mixed ingredients from all over the British Empire to produce a royal version of the heavy, sticky abomination we all consume on December 25th. I readily admit that Imperial Christmas Pudding was/is of no benefit to anyone.
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