News & Commentary World

Decolonization Is On Track

"If you never had to tame Vikings, don't complain about how others did it."

Decolonisation is on track. If you have read my blog for some time, you will have noted that I am anti-imperialism. By that, I mean that I believe it is inherently wrong for one nation to rule over another nation. I think this is taught scripturally and history and current experience shows why the Bible is right.

Imperialism leads to a lot of problems, including the suffering and degradation of the imperial nation in control. Nations which engage in empire eventually are conquered by those they subjugated and dominated. It’s as close to a law of history as you can get. 

That being said, there is no doubt that European, and especially British, Colonisation improved the world in remarkable ways. After all, if you have a choice to live in a third-world country or a third-world country with roads and indoor plumbing, which do you choose? Roads and indoor plumbing every time. Colonisation brought these things and many others. 

It is the double edge sword of empires that they raise subjugated peoples to new heights of civilisation. But they also dominate and exploit those people’s resources and efforts to achieve those ends. This was as true of Rome as it was of modern European Colonisation. But modern Colonisation brought the world to never before seen heights of expansive civilisation. 

After all what other nation in history used its imperial power to stamp out slavery in its own realm, and to attack the pirating slave ships of other nations? None, before the English. British Colonisation may have been achieved with the edge of the sword, just as any other empire was, but it did genuinely tame a fair proportion of a very dangerous world. 

Now that Anglo-American Colonial or imperial power is waning, much of that dangerous world is returning to its natural state:

Forced marriages, modern slavery on rise

About 50 million people globally are living in modern slavery and a growing number of women are in forced marriages, new Australian-led research shows.

A study, spearheaded by philanthropic foundation Walk Free, found widespread socioeconomic instability linked to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic had contributed to increasing poverty and forced migration.

An estimated 28 million people are in forced labour and 22 million are trapped in forced marriages.

The number of people in modern slavery has risen by more than nine million over the past five years, the report by Walk Free and the UN’s International Labour Organisation and International Organisation for Migration found.”

Though they attempt to blame the rise of slavery on Covid and Climate Change, this growing trend has correlated to the decline of western power for some time. It was British ships that were used to put a halt to much of the West African slave trade. It was American marines that put an end to the Barbary pirates.

The dominance of European fleets in the Mediterranean made it very hard for Muslim powers to continue their ancient reliance on African and European slavery. Since Europe has receded all of these things are increasing again.

You can hate Colonisation all you want, but you are about to find out why many people preferred it to the natural state of things. We can demonstrate this from history.

For instance this statement by Sir Charles James Napier (then Commander-in-Chief of British forces in India, 1843–1847) to a Hindu priest’s objection to the prohibition of Sati:

“Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

Napier enforced a new morality on the Hindu peoples, a superior morality, saying widows shall not be burned. Can you disagree? That is objectively better. 

He did more than that, as well:

“As governor, Napier established a model police force, encouraged trade, and began work on a breakwater and water-supply facilities for Karachi. He also repulsed marauding hill tribes on the northern Sindi border.”

These are all good things. Clean water is the most important thing a city needs to be clean, disease free and liveable. 

No one can deny that there were great evils committed by colonists and imperialists. As I have written extensively, imperialism is itself inherently wrong because no people should ever rule over a foreign people. This will bring conflict, suffering and other troubles. But most of these things are in the ancient past. They are irreversible. 

However, the gains made by the anti-slavery, pro-clean water colonisers are not irreversible. They are being reversed in our day, and so I am warning you: be careful what you wish for. Because though there were undeniable evils of European Colonialism, there are far great kinds of evils that humans can suffer, and not many other nations or peoples, outside of the European peoples, sought to extinguish such evils.

Once that reforming energy is removed from much of the world, it is likely many people will see in modern times why the Colonizers carried guns and swords everywhere they went; the world was a far more dangerous place before their efforts than it was after them.