Aren't some countries unfairly vilified for their slavery/colonial past?


Ad Honoris
May 2011
Navan, Ireland
IMHO, it's logical and becomes self-evident if one looks at the premises needed: resources, geography and political context.

That is iron and coal (material and energy) relatively simple to extract, relatively close and relatively simple to transport and a relatively liberal society.

GB had all that. It's also what Belgium had (it's why it punched so much higher than it's weight), in a certain degree North of France, North-western Germany, in a lesser degree AHE (Silezia, Moravia, Bohemia, Transilvania), even lesser degree Tzarist Empire. Aso.

It's odd how often we forget to look at geographic maps when we discuss history ... (that's a general remark, it's not only about this thread, or this forum)
I agree no one resource or factor was vital and geography was in many ways vital---- I remember reading that Dutch harbours were shallower than British making it less easy for them to develop bigger ships.

and Britain not being a battleground was indeed an advantage.

Even if one machine had not been invented or one resource not available it was such an age of innovation another way would have been found.


Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
San Antonio, Tx
Yes, a British who comes from an empire and used said empire's resources to build his company in Belgium.

Missed that you said independence. The point still stands that the industrial company you mention grew when Belgium was part of Holland, which is a colonial empire. And again, Cockerill was of course deriving his resources from the empire he came from (the British Empire).

Anyone saying Congo was not a colony in all but name is self-deceiving himself.

Germany did, but Austro-Hungary and Belgium definitely didn't, and Belgium and Germany developed a colonial empire anyway (meaning, they didn't to the same extent). They also mostly built on what intellectuals from colonial empires said. And yes, you posted some facts, but problem is that they don't contradict the general thesis that the Industrial Revolution was only made possible through colonialism.
I suppose it would be a fair surmise then that the Spanish were just too early in this game of nations because the Spanish gained enormous plunder from Central and South America. When the era of industrialization came about in fits and starts, would it be accurate to say that Colonialism had nothing to do with industrialization, and, in fact the wealth of Spanish colonies may well have ruined the Spanish economy during the age of industrialization. Rolling in dough is rarely a spur to innovation.


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
The New World silver didn't just mean the Spanish were "rolling in it", it also triggered the original Mother Inflations, at a time when no one really had the conceptual skills to work out why the value of the currency was inexorably tanking like it did. The kings of Spain became famous for being broke.
Feb 2017
Latin America
I suppose it would be a fair surmise then that the Spanish were just too early in this game of nations because the Spanish gained enormous plunder from Central and South America. When the era of industrialization came about in fits and starts, would it be accurate to say that Colonialism had nothing to do with industrialization, and, in fact the wealth of Spanish colonies may well have ruined the Spanish economy during the age of industrialization. Rolling in dough is rarely a spur to innovation.
No, because the British had a massive colonial empire before the usual dates given for the start of the British Industrial Revolution, while the US industrialised by already being big thanks to British colonial conquests and then subsequent expanding into Native American territory. The Second Industrial Revolution, meanwhile, occurred thanks to rubber and gutta percha as well as with the exploitation of petroleum deposits in the Russian Caspian, North America and Indonesia. Spain didn't industrialise because in the 16th and 17th centuries declared bankruptcy many times thanks to being attacked on all fronts by its rivals. It started the 18th century with invasions of its mainland by its rivals for crying out loud. The Spaniards were at their most innovative during their hegemonic period anyway. The galleon, cartography, the mercury extraction process, improvements in gunpowder weaponry and the creation of the Jesuits which as James Hannam pointed out was publishing the most papers on natural philosophy and aided in such developments like the barometer and the telescope, all occurred during the Spanish Golden Age and its immediate aftermath.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
Santiago de Chile
This is false. The caravel was an evolution of the longship (no one said Columbus used longships, but that the naval technology he used was an evolution of that of Viking age ships), though even if the caravel had been based solely on Mediterranean models, it was still the Anglo-Norman descendants of the Vikings following their naval traditions who built Portuguese and Spanish naval strength.

And pray tell how this "scientific way of thinking" allowed Europeans to dominate the world and what "types of sciences" aside from naval technology allowed them to dominate others. Was the cannon, the galleon, the arquebus, the product of a "scientific culture"? (The cannon and arquebus isn't even properly European because it's technology evolved from Chinese technology). What was so unique and different about this "scientific way of thinking" that others around the world didn't have despite having all the same intellectual elements as the Europeans (writing, mathematics, education centres)?

I never said anything about walls and stones, I said that runic writing survives in garbled magic inscriptions. Don't strawman me. That Mayans and other Mesoamericans wrote on amate paper is a fact, and most books on said paper didn't survive because of the tropical environment of Mesoamerica. Hence why we have more stelae than amate books (huun), which is certainly far more than what we have for runes. We have the use of runes for symbolic magical purposes in medieval books and the adaptation of some runes to the Latin alphabet, but that still doesn't change the fact that runes was not used to write any of the saga literature we have, the Latin alphabet was, and that during the Viking Age, Scandinavians were virtually no different than pre-literate societies because their form of writing can hardly count as such. Yet Europe owes far more to this pre-literate society than anything coming from medieval Scholasticism or the Renaissance.

And Roman law is compatible with human rights? Are you seriously going to come and say that Roman law, the same law that had torture, crucifixion, treated women like property, had slavery and burning at the stake, etc., didn't have significant alterations throughout the 19th century alone?

Aztec hieroglyphs are no different than the Chinese script. The Japanese who were the first non-Europeans and non-Americans to industrialise and demolished four European colonial empires in Asia during the 20th century and is still the fourth biggest economy in the world right now and a leader in innovation did not replace their form of complicated Chinese character writing for the Latin alphabet. China itself hasn't done it and it is now according to some the biggest economy by GDP and purchasing power. The Western prejudice against script writing is completely unfounded and outright ignorant.

Europeans "rediscovered" nothing from the Romans, because for the nth time, nothing about the Renaissance allowed Europe to dominate others or even progress technologically, which it had already done so to begin with. Naval power, the one thing that allowed Europe to dominate others, was the product of pre-literate Scandinavians. Caravels were already invented by the early 14th century, before the likes of Dante and Petrarch and Poggio Bracciolini. One has to ask why the Byzantines got destroyed by the Ottomans, and by Arabs and Visigoths before that for that matter, if Greco-Roman science was this unique particular thing no one else had. The later advances made by Europeans after the Renaissance ended also had nothing to do with Greco-Roman science. Antibiotics, the telephone, the steam-powered ship, the Gatling gun, all those things were developed by Europeans on their own (made possible by plundering others) without reading the theological ramblings of Plato or the hilariously wrong geographical notions of Pliny the Elder. People really overrate the scientific and technological value of Greco-Roman literature, as not only didn't they really influence anything, they couldn't because other than perhaps Varronian architecture, and architecture existed in Europe outside the imput of Greeks and Romans among Celts and other peoples, everything in said literature is either wrong or simply has nothing to do with science and technology.

Again, said caravels are an evolution from longships. They wouldn't exist without them. They also preceded the start of the Renaissance, and whatever improvements that occurred with them hardly had anything to do with the Renaissance (if somehow, the "rediscovery" of lost Greco-Roman technology led to this, then prove it). But even had the caravel been based on exclusively Mediterranean models, the only reason why the Portuguese and Spaniards had them and decided to exploit them was because the Anglo-Norman descendants of the Vikings built their naval strength. Even the idea of crossing the Atlantic comes from Scandinavians (Columbus visited Iceland and the Portuguese visited Greenland itself, while Toscanelli who was the one who inspired Columbus to decisively cross the Atlantic, postulated this view based on the 15th century Danish cartographer of Viking lands Claudius Clavus).

From the Faroe to Iceland and then from Iceland to Greenland is still a massive distance. Less than from the Azores to Cuba, but still quite massive. And again, the caravel was an evolution of the longship. The Spaniards wouldn't have their ships without the Viking ship models. They didn't develop their caravels either from scrap or from Mediterranean models. Though like I said above, even if they were, it was the Anglo-Normans who left their naval tradition on the Portuguese and Spaniards anyway. They wouldn't have their fleets and thus go on exploration without the Anglo-Normans. Even the idea of crossing the Atlantic came from Anglo-Normans and Scandinavians.

I never implied you were a Nazi or anything like that. Stop reading and projecting things that aren't there. I'm merely pointing out that justifying colonialism because Europeans brought things like antibiotics or increased transportation (after plundering other peoples) is no different than justifying Nazism because the Nazis did good things. And I also happen to know the UN and Raphael Lemkin's definition of genocide. Thank you. The idea that Europeans didn't commit genocide in their colonial wars and during colonial rule when the fact that they killed millions dispossessing them from their lands or working them to death is laughable. And no, we don't live in a world with less hunger and less war. This is ludicrous. 1 billion people suffer from starving malnutrition and millions die from starvation every year. We have the US perpetually occupying two Muslim countries and perpetually bombing 5 more. We have the French invading and bombing Mali and keeping it in a state of war. Various civil wars that are the product of imperialism and the legacy of colonialsim haven't ended, like that of Colombia and Congo, and others have only ended recently with accusations of genocide, like Sri Lanka. European colonialism did objectively make the world a worse place to live in the last 500 years, with whatever "progress" mainly done in medicine done mostly to keep a working force to exploit alive (I bet you'd like to work in a Southeast Asian or Central American sweatshop) as Michel Foucault pointed out rather than out of the loving-kindness of Europeans.
They didn't ''bring'' antibiotics they invented them, bit of a difference there. ''Increased transportation'' is like saying adding spices to food that is otherwise bland is ''improving it a bit''. Difference being the Nazi's didn't actually do good things to their conquered people's though...assuming you were right in said analogy. Yes 1 Billion people suffer starvation it used to be much more, science (western science mind you in the form of the agricultural revolution) has allowed us to not have even greater percentages of people suffering, we also used to have diseases of all sorts and thanks to the scientific method developed by among others Europeans we no longer have small pox, we no longer suffer from the black death left and right or lose millions every year to a whole host of diseases and maladies. "Perpetually" does not mean what you think it means, its literal definition would mean you would have to prove the United States of America bombs everyday of every year said "Muslim" countries. Colombia's ''civil" war is nothing the doing of American or European imperialists but of the doing of left wing loony toon Marxists drug traffickers in the jungle who use child soldiers. "Objectively" a worse place to live? Go look at some actual statistics please, We live in a better world today than ever before even with all the bad things going on, virtually in every sense we live better now than kings in the past. In fact I do not want to work as a Southeast Asian or a Central American sweatshop worker, thus I went to school and college and became educated in what I am writing to you now, nor has anybody in my family since we value education, but then again we are ''imperialists'' and ''invaders'' in you're eyes.
(It's always Foucault, whenever I run into a wall made of bricks of inconsistency it is always Foucault standing there)
The distance between the Faeroe's and Greenland is 1/5 the distance between the Azores and Cuba by the way.
Yes nobody had ships before the Vikings, OK then.
Naval power doesn't mean anything if you don't have something to back it up beyond that, you keep arguing that Naval power is the sole reason that allowed Europe to conquer and dominate but you keep forgetting Naval power will only get you so far, you need something more if you wish to consistently hold a territory, not to mention develop it in any sense. (This is were science, at least eventually comes in, by the way the Spanish language was very handy to the conquistadors something no native group had, the ability to quickly jot down an instruction on a piece of paper and relay it to somebody far away).
I'm telling you that Runic inscriptions are not garbled ''magic'', and that there were runic written papers. You are being ethnocentric here, Aztec and Mayan hieroglyphs apparently are the most sophisticated thing the world but Norse Runes are the works of a bunch of savages.
Oct 2014
California, USA
But then countries like Spain don't get the same moral judgment. Spain, and Portugal, started European colonialism and the slave trade, and there aren't as big movements or moral outrage at bad past actions.
My understanding is that "The Black Legend" (regarding Spanish treatment of the "Indians" in the New World) was part of the justification for countries like England and France's push to colonize (not that "new land" wasn't enough justification). Like, some of the more famous medieval illustrations of atrocities against "Indians" under the Spanish are from French translations of Bartolome de las Casas' "A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies." (My understanding is that his works were for many years suppressed in Spain, his own country, because of how horribly they painted Spanish colonization, while more widely spread in other countries who liked to use them to paint Spain in a bad light.)

While French and English treatment of the indigenous people of the Americas was not incredibly better, they at least tried to claim it was. So, if today they get more blame, and what happened in Spain is talked about less, it's not always been that way. (But I don't know that in Spain or other countries it is talked about less. I assume than in the UK and the US we talk about our own culpability more simply because it's OUR history, and we teach about our own history more in general).