Has anyone taken a look at Bruce Gilley's pro-colonialism article?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#11

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#12
Bad dishonest trash. Colonialism is no more defensible than slavery.
Ironic that you would say that, considering that colonialism resulted in the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in various countries, no?

Also, I actually do agree with you that forcing colonialism onto unwilling populations is a bad thing because it violates national self-determination (with the only exception to this rule being in cases of sparsely populated territory where you have enough willing people to settle it and change its demographics). Still, I don't see the shame in having undeveloped countries ask other countries for assistance--either when it comes to their military and police force, when it comes to reducing corruption and bribery, or when it comes to ensuring a better standard of living for their population by helping them build better infrastructure, et cetera.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,469
Benin City, Nigeria
#13
His example Guinea - Bissea.and its.comparison with Hong Kong was spot on.
No it wasn't. His interpretation of Guinea-Bissau is totally ludicrous.

I have never seen the developmental situation in Guinea-Bissau under Portuguese colonial rule described in any credible publication as being as anything other than very backwards or a complete failure. His attempt to portray the situation as being otherwise, by emphasizing the fact of greater rice production before the liberation war is misleading. While rice production was in fact disrupted by the liberation war, and Guinea-Bissau did not fully recover its previous levels of rice production even after the war (although it did make some progress toward that goal), it is also the case that production of cashew nuts for export has increased very substantially in independent Guinea-Bissau. Put simply, while there has been a decline in one area (rice production), there has been a greater shift toward another agricultural product (cashew nuts) and a substantial increase in the production of that other agricultural product in recent times. So if one can mention the decline in rice production I don't see why one cannot also mention the rise in cashew production.

With regard to the counterfactual implied in the article - "If not for Amilcar Cabral, then Guinea-Bissau would have gone on to develop significantly under Portuguese guidance etc. etc." this seems pretty ridiculous. It is simply contradicted directly by what the actual situation was in the colony prior to the PAIGC's rebellion against Portuguese colonial rule.

What was Guinea-Bissau's situation prior to the liberation war?

"The colonial administration remained far cruder in Guinea than in Angola and Mozambique.7 There, legislative councils, although largely token, were introduced in the 1950s whereas in Guinea the governor formally ruled alone until after the beginning of the colonial war, seeking or ignoring the advice of the consultative government council. In short, Portuguese colonial rule was rigid and centralised largely because the Portuguese regime continued to view its function primarily in terms of law and order at a time when French and British colonies were experiencing a measure of political and social progress. By the early 1960s Portugal had made some 'cosmetic' changes in its colonial administra- tion, mainly due to UN pressure. In practice, however, colonial rule was the same as in the 1930s.8 Moreover, most of the changes which did occur concerned Angola and Mozambique, not Guinea. It was not only administratively and politically that Guinea was the most neglected of the Portuguese colonies. It is widely recognised that Portugal did less to promote economic and social development than any other colonial power. The evidence suggests that it did substantially less in Guinea than in Angola and Mozambique, clearly the two most important colonies. Colonial rule in Guinea was crude and the benefits it brought were few. Much like the rest of West Africa, Guinea was turned into a supplier of primary agricultural products. The production of groundnuts was made mandatory while emphasis was placed on other products which the Portuguese could profitably export: coconut, palm oil, timber, etc.9 The structure of agricultural production as such was not changed by the Portuguese. Traditional colonial devices were used to guarantee the increased production of export crops: heavy taxes were levied and crop targets instituted. The shift to export crops had the overall and long term effect of reducing the villagers' ability to produce sufficient amounts of food and replacement seeds for themselves. By the 1950s, Guinean agriculture was showing clear signs of decline and distortion. The economic and commercial structure of Guinea 'indicated the colonial economy's increasing vulnerability and incapacity to develop.'10 By the fifties, the balance of external trade was increasingly unfavourable to the colony. Commerce was in the hands of Portuguese private firms and the Portuguese government had done nothing to encourage investment in Guinea.11 They themselves had invested little beyond what was required for the exercise of colonial rule. There was no industry, no railroad, and a very limited road network. Guinea was believed to have no mineral or other resources and was consequently of little interest to industrialists and government alike.12 Economically, colonial rule offered no prospect for development for the colony. Guinea, in that sense, was markedly different from Angola and Mozambique where Portugal had invested heavily. There they had sought to establish substantial white settlements and had encouraged massive foreign investment in mining, industry and transport after the Second World War.13 There were few social benefits which Africans could derive from Portuguese colonial rule - and fewer in Guinea than in the other colonies. Portugal itself was under the control of a powerful and effective fascist regime where no political rights could be exercised and where social benefits were non-existent. However, the situation was even worse in the colonies because of the legal distinction made between the assimilados and the indigenous. Only the former were entitled to the same 'benefits and privileges' as Portuguese citizens. Although the stated aim and the most cherished justification of Portuguese colonialism was the assimilation of its African population, the number of assimilados in the colonies remained insignificant: less than one per cent generally, and in Guinea less than 0 4 per cent. 14 One of the many requirements for the status of assimilado was literacy in Portuguese. Very few Guineans could fulfill that condition.15 On the whole there were fewer schools and more illiterates in Portuguese colonies than in the rest of Africa and the situation was worse than in Angola and Mozambique.16 In the Portuguese colonies state or official education was not available to the Africans; it was the privilege of the whites and assimilados. The education of the Africans had been placed entirely in the hands of the Catholic Church through an official agreement with the Holy See (1940). The nature and level of the education provided by the Church were such that few of the pupils acquired even the most rudimentary skill in reading and writing. Catholic education was ostensibly not designed to develop literacy but rather to promote 'good and civilised behaviour and attitudes'.17 At any rate very few Guineans even had access to that second rate education. Virtually none had gone to secondary school.18 It was estimated that, by the 1960s, only fourteen Guineans (some of them from Cape Verde) had had access to higher education.19 The situation concerning health was not much better although in that area the data is even less reliable and more difficult to interpret than for education." - Patrick Chabal, "National Liberation in Portuguese Guinea, 1956-1974" (1981)

The entire article by Chabal is available here as well:

https://web.stanford.edu/group/tomzgroup/pmwiki/uploads/1386-Chabal1981_See_pg_84n44.pdf

Basically the colonial state had achieved almost nothing, and there was no sign that the Portuguese were going to invest in its further development the way they had started to invest in those colonies where there was a substantial white settler population (such as Angola).

What is also bizarre, is that he implicitly blames Cabral for any later infighting or missteps taken by his successors (even though Cabral had been assassinated in 1973 and did not choose who his successors would be, nor have any chance to help guide them as to what their policies should be).

The article is filled with specious or misleading arguments like the one about Guinea-Bissau. (The statement about the supportive attitude of the people of the Gold Coast toward Britain during WWII being a sign that colonialism on the Gold Coast was something voluntarily desired or accepted by the people of the Gold Coast was a particularly absurd argument), and it would be a lot of work just to even address it all (I don't intend to).

Some other people have already written some response articles, which one can find online with a search however.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,973
#14
Ironic that you would say that, considering that colonialism resulted in the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in various countries, no?
.
I dispute there is is any real direct link between colonialism and the abolition of slavery, there is a far greater link to colonialism and the creation of the mass commercial slave trade.

the people arguing against the slave trade and instrumental in bringing it about where not the same people as advocating and implementing Colonialism.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,469
Benin City, Nigeria
#15
Ironic that you would say that, considering that colonialism resulted in the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in various countries, no?
Colonialism also often resulted in the imposition of forced labor or coerced labor on the native peoples when it was required by the governing officials appointed by the ruling country or when it was requested directly by the settler population from the ruling country.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
7,973
#17
You judge his work for yourself:

Do Immigrants Import Their Economic Destiny? - Evonomics

For what it's worth, though, in his book Hive Mind, Garett Jones actually does express the hope that eventually all countries in the world will have average IQs comparable to those in East Asia. That doesn't seem like something that a racist would actually wish for.
His work says that smart people should make decisions, that dumb people should have less civic rights. It's racist fascism at it's core.

He's just Stefan Molyneux who can disguise his arguments in a intellectual cover.
 
Feb 2011
6,053
#19
Bad dishonest trash. Colonialism is no more defensible than slavery.
Yes, many of his sources are being used wrongly.
For example:
-He claimed that Guinea-Bissau was "a successful colonial state that had ... initiated sustained gains in life expectancy since bringing the territory under control in 1936".
-His source for this statement was "The Timing and Pace of Health Transitions around the World"
-He claimed that the "successful colonial state" of Guinea-Bissau quadrupled rice production

Problem with the statement:
-Portuguese started colonizing the place since the late 15th century. 1936 was only the year when the Portuguese conquered the last batch of islands from the place.
-The source only mentioned Guinea Bissau's life expectancy in Appendix I which said it faced increasing life expectancy in either the 1940s or 1950s and this Appendix I ended in the year 2000. It didn't say anything about whether colonialism caused this: http://u.demog.berkeley.edu/~jrw/Biblio/Eprints/ P-S/riley.2005_timing.pace.health.transitions.pdf
-He left out how the rice produced in Guinea-Bissau was sold at artificially low fixed prices, so Guinea-Bissau had a rice deficit. It was to the benefit of the colonizers, not the colonized. <---This last part is a common pitfall of many apologist arguments, pointing to increased production but leaving out who benefited from it, and who sacrificed the most for this increased production.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
13,495
SoCal
#20
Yes, I've looked at some of these responses to Gilley. Some of them make very good points--such as about how the imposition of alien rule on various peoples in the past does not undercut the case in favor of national self-determination. They also appear to show some errors in Gilley's work--which is good considering that it allows us to get a better picture of the situation. Still, there was an error in Sahar Khan's article about decolonization ending the slave trade and slavery; AFAIK, it were colonialists who ended the slave trade and slavery. Plus, Muslims and Africans have a long history of engaging in slavery and it doesn't appear that Europeans can be blamed for this--though obviously Europeans were guilty in regards to engaging in slavery and the slave trade later on.

I can't believe people compare actual colonialism with what China is doing now in Africa. African countries agreed to do business with China, that's their choice. Whether they think the deal is good or not is their choice to make, not the choice of former colonizers who insist that African choices aren't good, that Africans should listen to their former colonizers on who to do business with. If other countries don't like it then feel free to offer African countries a better deal, Africans aren't idiots. Africans don't need former colonizers telling them whether they can pay back their debts, they can do the accounting for themselves. It's their bank, it's their money, it's their country. If it's such a bad deal then former colonizers could simply offer them a better deal, if they truly cared. It's demeaning treating them like children rather than adults. On the other hand these people don't have a choice:



Herero Genocide:


Now when China offers African countries a deal, the Africans have the option to reject the deal. After which the deal either falls apart, or China offers to renegotiate like what it did with Malaysia. They didn't start a coup and put a more preferable government in power, they didn't invade with guns blazing, they didn't sell them disease ridden blankets, they didn't bomb their cities until they submitted. See the difference?

Now do these African leaders have a gun pointed to their heads when they said they wanted to do business with China?:



Yes, I strongly oppose it when countries try to shove colonialism down other peoples' throats. As you said, the Chinese offer African countries deals with African countries have the right to reject. No one is forcing them to accept deals like European colonialists did. I do think that in certain cases military interventions could have been justified for humanitarian reasons--for instance, to abolish slavery and/or the slave trade, to stop genocide and/or ethnic cleansing (like in Kosovo), and/or to overthrow brutal regimes like the Taliban's Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Still, those interventions were meant to be temporary--as in, the goal was ultimately to restore sovereignty to the people who lived in these countries. AFAIK colonialism generally didn't make plans for eventual independence until after the hands of the colonizing powers were forced in regards to this--for instance, as a result of being bankrupted by World War II.

That said, though, your points here about colonial brutalities such as in the Belgian Congo and the Herero Genocide in Namibia are certainly extremely valid but also beside the point here considering that Bruce Gilley explicitly makes it clear that he is talking about late colonialism here. Of course, the fact that colonialism was extremely brutal in its early stages might very well be a great reason to refrain from engaging in colonialism altogether.

Also, I am extremely wary of the argument that it's perfectly acceptable to rule over unwilling peoples simply because you think that you will do a better job governing them than they themselves will. By that logic, if China believes that the U.S. would be better run under an authoritarian system of government, it would be well within its rights to try imposing such a system of government on the U.S.! I certainly extremely strongly disagree with this and similar attitudes! :(

Now let's look at what British Prime Minister Churchhill viewed the locals who are supposed to be under his protection:

I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.
-Churchill addressing the Peel Commission (1937) on why Britain is justified in deciding the fate of Palestine

I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes
-Churchill on how Britain should deal with the Iraqi revolution against British rule in 1920

I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.
-Entry dated to September 1942 on a conversation held with Churchill in Leo Amery : Diaries.

I hope it would be bitter and bloody!
-Churchill, upon hearing news of conflict between the Muslim League and Indian Congress, July 1940

If food is scarce, why isn't Gandhi dead yet?
-Churchill's witty retort to British Secretary of State for India Leo Amery's telegram for food stock to relieve the famine of Bengal in 1943 (4 million peopled starved to death.)

And here's the kicker:
Relief would do no good, Indians breed like rabbits and will outstrip any available food supply
-Leo Amery records Churchill's stance on why famine relief was refused to India, 1944, when British mouths were filling up on imported Indian grain
Yes, Churchill's attitude towards the colonial question was unfortunately often a backwards and brutal one. :(