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Old November 23rd, 2016, 08:52 AM   #1

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Why are former western colonies still undeveloped?


In de Gaulle's WW2 memoir, he writes frequently about his differences with Britain and America over colonial policy. Basically, de Gaulle felt like the pre-1939 French colonies were still French "possessions" and France would damn well decide what they were going to do with them and when they did it.

He had two justifications:

(1) They BELONG to France!

(2) Granting independence to these colonies willy-nilly whenever they wanted it was not good for the colonies because the people there just weren't ready for it. France knew what was good for them and the people who lived there did not. As de Gaulle put it in his memoir:

" ... the transformation of peoples still primitive and ill-assured states would launch a wave of xenophobia, poverty, and anarchy." De Gaulle stated (to Harry Truman in a personal meeting) that France would decide when and how much independence should be granted to France's colonies.

As we have seen, de Gaulle predicted the future accurately in a lot of cases. Take the former Rhodesia (British, not French ... but the principle still applies). Today's Zimbabwe has seen a whole generation of xenophobia, poverty, and anarchy -- just as de Gaulle predicted. The current Global Multidimensional Poverty Index of Zimbabwe is lower than at any time since it started to be measured. South Africa, on the other hand, has had a much more successful transition to independence, although they seem to be backsliding more recently.

Was de Gaulle right all along? A case might be made that de Gaulle's only mistake was speaking the truth when people were not willing to hear it.

Should western nations have presented a united front and adopted a stronger and completely paternal attitude? Was what happened inevitable under any circumstances and it didn't matter what de Gaulle or any western colonial power did or said? France fought bloody and failed wars in Algeria and Indochina. No colonial power has been able to hang onto much. Enclaves like Puerto Rico or Guiana are about the only places left.

Were the peoples in these colonies responsible for the poor results seen in their countries or have they been held down by the developed world? Zimbabwe's sorrow is more the result of civil war between native war lords and the subsequent totalitarian regime that emerged.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 09:10 AM   #2

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The number one trap of new countries (especially new democracies, and doubly so those without existing institutions, national identity, and civic histories) is civil war. So, really, this question is almost 'why do civil wars occur in former colonies?' That's largely a case of why civil wars occur at all, and the answer to that tends to be a combination of low incomes and low opportunity cost of violence.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 09:30 AM   #3

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who says Europe had or has a right to better them? does it really affect us if they are poor, or were poor? Colonialism existed for racist purposes, and the notion of betterment was just to justify that.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 09:48 AM   #4
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The former colonies are suffering because they should have never been invaded in the first place. Their issues were their own, their land was their own. It was a crime against humanity for Europe to invade other people's land. As a result, billions continue to suffer and will for a long time.
It's like committing crimes and abusing a person, and then wondering why the victim is still suffering from the abuse. If it takes one victim of a personal crime a lifetime to recover, imagine that it will take a nation more time than could be imagined to recover
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 09:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notgivenaway View Post
who says Europe had or has a right to better them? does it really affect us if they are poor, or were poor? Colonialism existed for racist purposes, and the notion of betterment was just to justify that.
Exactly. As more people are the learning true history and not the glorified version that we were taught, people are mad, disgusted, and plan to never ever forgive.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time for colonizer supporters to see what many in the world are thinking. I know it's against the rules for me to post social media comments of other people, so I won't, but I really think many here should seek out those discussions to see what the other side has to say about colonization, it would be a much needed learning experience away from the glorification of colonization.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 10:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roses2 View Post
The former colonies are suffering because they should have never been invaded in the first place. Their issues were their own, their land was their own. It was a crime against humanity for Europe to invade other people's land. As a result, billions continue to suffer and will for a long time.
It's like committing crimes and abusing a person, and then wondering why the victim is still suffering from the abuse. If it takes one victim of a personal crime a lifetime to recover, imagine that it will take a nation more time than could be imagined to recover
This is an extreme version of history..

First, not all europeans were "colonizing"

Second europeans by far were not the only ones colonizing.. Amazingly one never hears these kinds of accusations levelled at the turks or the arabs

Third it highly arguable countries that were colonized suffered.. For many it was accelerated growth and they got more investment than the colonizer got back from them via export of raw material

Fourth, some colonized countries (for example South Korea) are doing great.. others were simply doing very poorly before colonization (which is why they got colonized in the first place) and are still doing poorly... and would have done poorly (perhaps even worse) without colonization
Point and case is Ethopia which was not colonized, but briefly occupied (4 years, that's less than some countries in Europe during WW2) and is doing worse than many countries in Africa which were colonized...

First and foremost countries which are not developed are in this state because they lack the natural conditions that lead to development: abundance of natural resources including in some cases even basic ones (water, wood, good arable land)
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 12:14 PM   #7

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 12:34 PM   #8

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In some cases it because the nations borders had been created with geographical features in mind, like rivers or mountains, rather than divisions between ethnic or religious groups. Some of the nations formed from former European overseas colonies cobbled together peoples from different ethnic or religious groups, who did not always get along.

Those states struggle for the same reason that Yugoslavia failed.

Iraq is a good example of a state that would be better off had it long ago been divided. It should have been divided into three separate nations: A Kurdish state, a Sunni Arab state, and Shia Arab state.

Last edited by Scaeva; November 23rd, 2016 at 12:37 PM.
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 07:31 PM   #9

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Quote:
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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
The older get, Uncle Fred, the more I realize Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday above all others.

With no decorating, no presents, no greeting cards, it doesn't rob us of the time and expense of preparation. Just spending time with friends and family, catching up with those we don't spend enough time with. It's just a nice day spent with those closest to us.

I rather like it!
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Old November 23rd, 2016, 08:20 PM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roses2 View Post
The former colonies are suffering because they should have never been invaded in the first place. Their issues were their own, their land was their own. It was a crime against humanity for Europe to invade other people's land.
Well, now other people invade Europe, but I don't hear the "crime against humanity" argument in this case
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