Moving beyond a narrow victimology
The subject of European Colonialism is arguably one of the most important historical topics in the modern world, because it is heavily intertwined with contemporary issues of morality, globalism, indigenism, religion, economics, ethics, etc. Whatever your opinions may be about it, European Colonialism is clearly one of the most important epochs in human history and still very relevant.
European Civilization and its subsequent colonization of practically the entire world have laid the foundations of Modernity. So broadly speaking, Colonialism and Modernity are interrelated, and the latter may be considered as a continuation of the former. And though this assertion may be refutable on an intellectual level, it remains incontrovertible on an emotional level, particularly for those who harbor feelings of victimhood. People throughout the world are now plugged into the global economy, the global village, and the globalist project, whether they want to be or not. And this condition has its precursors in European Colonialism.
Because of this situation, it is therefore reasonable to assert that a rethinking of the era of European Colonialism will – to some extent – lead to a rethinking of Modernity. In this regard, I would like to point to an interesting observation made by Eric Hoffer with regards to the legacy of European Colonialism:
“The discontent generated in backward countries by their contact with Western civilization is not primarily resentment against exploitation by domineering foreigners. It is rather the result of a crumbling or weakening tribal solidarity and communal life.
The ideal of self-advancement which the civilizing West offers backwards populations brings with it the plague of individual frustration. All the advantages brought by the West are ineffectual substitutes for the sheltering and soothing anonymity of a communal existence. Even when the Westernized native attains personal success – becomes rich, or masters a respected profession – he is not happy. He feels naked and orphaned. The nationalist movements in colonial countries are partly a striving after group existence and an escape from Western individualism.”
The True Believer, p.42
This alternative narrative to Western Colonialism is very original in that it does not portray this period in history exclusively as a period of evil and oppression, but more generally, as a period of social and cultural upheaval. It presents a narrative where Western Colonialism did not destroy traditional non-white cultures, but rather, it made the latter obsolete and unstable by simply existing.
From when Europeans, with superior technology and the means to circumnavigate the globe, explored and colonized most of the world, the worldview of many non-white cultures, with few exceptions, became obsolete. Their cosmologies, their technologies, their socio-economic systems had become, generally speaking, outdated. Something stronger and more sophisticated had come along to show them that there are bigger fish in the pond.
However, the obsolescence of traditional forms of non-White culture did not end with Colonialism. It was simply the beginning, and now, it continues with Modernity. Colonialism – as the primary vehicle of spreading Western culture throughout the world – has rendered many human social systems obsolete, setting into motion what we now know as the Clash of Civilizations.
However, it is Modernity which has dealt the killing blow. Where vestiges of local and ethnic identity existed and resisted the hard power of Colonialism, the soft power of Modernity now seeks to homogenize all national and ethnic identities by sublimating them in an egalitarian and Universalist system.
Therefore, if we are to move beyond the dangers of Modernity and “Post-modernity,” it is crucial to reevaluate the era of European Colonialism, and to examine it beyond the narrow confines of contemporary discourse.
It needs to be said that the victim morality which underpins most discourses on European Colonialism creates a very one-sided perspective on the issue. It’s true that European Colonialism has brought social upheavals, genocide, and exploitation to the rest of the world, but it also brought development, science, technology, medicine, etc.
Also, the narrative that Colonialism is responsible for the poverty of the Third World is also wearing increasingly thin, not only because of changing global power structures, but also because of the existence of prosperous ex-colonies. Despite the pervasive existence of exploitation in many European colonies, the truth is that the colonial system also brought trade and industry. Hong Kong, Singapore and Macao, for example, are very wealthy places despite their colonial heritage. Moreover, the Panama and Suez canals – both of which are important contributors to the Panamanian and Egyptian Economies respectively – can also be considered, broadly speaking, as products of Colonialism.
So, in any analysis of Colonialism, it is important to approach the issue beyond the confines of Liberal morality. To do so will allow us to view the period of European Colonialism from a practical and more balanced perspective. This is necessary in light of the complex changes that have been brought about as a result of European Colonialism, and subsequently, Modernity. Without an objective approach to the analysis of European Colonialism, the lessons of the past will be obscured by the moralistic posturing and skewed victimology of the present.
However, this brings up an important question. If we are not to look at Colonialism as a moral issue between oppressed peoples and oppressive nations, then how should we look at it?
My answer to that is to look at Colonialism as a perennial pattern of human behavior that will continue to exist in human affairs but constantly take on different forms. This view is inherently conservative in that it assumes that conflict, conquest and expulsion of populations will not be done away with at the Liberal “end of history” but will continue in ways that will defy the definitions set by the prevailing zeitgeist.
However, this pessimism is tangential. What really matters is that this new perspective will give all people a more realistic perspective on Colonialism, and to perceive it as something that is not uniquely European, but instead, a behavior pattern that is shared by all humanity, thus removing it from the persistent narrative of good (darkie) vs. evil (whitey), which I have already mentioned above. It will also allow us to examine Colonialism in its various forms, and not just the ones perpetrated by Europeans. Of course, such a new perspective can have a considerable effect on the zeitgeist, and will force a lot of people to recognize that despite the promises of our age, the dangers of our past are still here, lurking in new forms and preying upon those who have the hubris to think that they have overcome the burdens of the past.
It is necessary to point out also that the modern definition of Colonialism is ultimately related to Western identity. For the rest of the world, the White man is the colonizer even when he is not colonizing anything. The modern system of economics and politics, although not always imposed upon the Non-white masses of the world, is copied as a matter of economic, social and technological necessity.
In former colonized nations, Non-whites may have expelled the White man, but he also kept the White man’s stuff, along with the White man’s system of economics, politics, morality, and in many cases, religion. The same thing is happening now with Modernity. Non-white societies that are “empowered” or “developed” are defined as such when they attain a certain level of success and prestige within the norms of Modernity. As such, among the problems of Modernity is the uniformity of values that it imposes upon a complex multiplicity. This imposition – like Colonialism prior to it – leads to an alienation that is not yet fully felt among many developing countries.
To put this into context, it is important to compare European Colonialism with other forms of Colonialism perpetrated by other racial groups. Historically speaking, the Turks, the Japanese, the Mongols, the Arabs and various Malay groups have at some point in history engaged in what can broadly be considered as Colonialism. Even today, we can argue that non-whites still engage in Colonialism. Two very obvious examples include the Chinese colonization of Tibet, and of course, mass non-white immigration into White/Western Nations.
And yet, all the various colonial expansions of Non-white groups and populations are conveniently ignored by the moral narrative. Even Genghiz Khan, whose Mongol hordes caused untold destruction and death, has been historicized into a footnote of history. He even has an airport named after him.
Of course, the reason why such colonial expansions by Non-white groups are ignored is that their legacies have largely been historicized. Despite Genghis Khan’s vast empire, the Mongol people of today play a very minor role in the world stage. Not so with the ‘White Devils.’
European Colonialism – on one level – was the expression of European culture on a global scale. And to attack European Colonialism in this context is to inevitably attack European culture as a whole. The changes wrought by European civilization upon the entire world are still very relevant today, even if most of the world takes such changes for granted and sees them as inevitable. In this context, Colonialism ceases to be an act perpetrated by certain European nations on Non-white groups or nations. Instead, on a subliminal level, it becomes a world-changing process that has culminated in what is now Modernity, one that dilutes meanings and boundaries between peoples and cultures.
Modernity is similar to Colonialism in that it imposes a set of Western and Liberal norms and morality upon Non-white societies. The complication however is that many Non-whites do not actually want to get rid of globalism and Modernity. Many Non-white groups – considering their desire to mimic Western technological and socio-economic systems – only want to get rid of those aspects of Modernity which don’t serve their interests, which is another manifestation of the “Go Home Yankee But Take Me With You” Syndrome, which I spoke about in a past article. The result is a desire by Non-whites to recreate Modernity in their image, which needless to say, creates a set of very complex problems.
It is therefore important to understand mass immigration in this context. On a macro level, the breaking apart of traditional Non-white social systems has also broken down resistance to Modernity and systems based on the Western Liberal paradigm. Therefore, Non-whites are forced to either mimic Western style societies (e.g. Japan and China), immigrate to them or more commonly a little bit of both. What such responses amount to is the attempt to de-westernize Modernity, and the continued erosion of traditional forms of Non-white culture in favor of the creation of a modern world where Non-whites are in charge.
This pattern was very similar to what has happened in colonial countries all over the world. When the colonial powers became weak, those who were colonized seized control of the system of the colonizers. This trend is folly however, because Modernity is antithetical to any meaningful form of identity, and ultimately it will destroy those who are trying to control it. The answer to the alienation of Modernity and universal egalitarianism is not to change or take control of it, but to ignore it, and to return to the traditions which are the root of all differentiation.