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

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,992
SoCal
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.
So, the Portuguese purposely deprived Guinea-Bissau of profits by selling their rice at an artificially low price?

Also, I do agree with your points here. Indeed, the point about life expectancy would be similar to arguing that Israeli rule in the West Bank was beneficial because under this rule life expectancy in the West Bank significantly increased. Basically, this doesn't account for the possibility that life expectancy in the West Bank would have significantly increased even without Israeli rule. Indeed, AFAIK, various countries which were formerly colonies experienced a large increase in their life expectancy after independence.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,992
SoCal
The Idea that soem cultures/peoples are superior and they should gooven others (for their own good) It's paternalist racism to it's core.
Some cultures are superior; for instance, the West appears to have much less religious fundamentalism than various Muslim countries have:

http://www.unz.com/gnxp/smite-the-unbelievers/

The West is also much more progressive on things such as gay rights.

Still, I oppose using this as a justification to engage in colonialism (though regime change in exceptionally bad cases--such as Afghanistan in 2001 even without al-Qaeda--should certainly be fair game). As I said above, I am worried that the idea of "it's OK to rule other people without their consent as long as we know what's best for them" could be exploited by unsavory regimes and governments to force regime change on unwilling countries. :(
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,992
SoCal
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.
Thank you very much for finding Cabral's article and sharing it with us, Ighayere! :)

Yeah, it does seem like Portuguese rule didn't have that many positive benefits for the natives of Guinea-Bissau and that the Portuguese were unwilling to either grant citizenship/equal rights to the Africans in Guinea-Bissau or to provide them with a decent education. It's also interesting that as a result of the Portuguese exporting a lot of the food that was produced in Guinea-Bissau, the natives there didn't have enough food left over for themselves.

I agree that Gilley made a huge and extremely clumsy mistake in regards to Cabral.

BTW, do Guinea-Bissau's profits from cashew nuts nowadays exceed its profits from rice in the days where its rice production was at its peak?

Also, can you please elaborate on your criticism of Gilley's quote about the Gold Coast?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,992
SoCal
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.
That's true--and that's certainly a huge downside of colonialism. :(
 

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,501
So, the Portuguese purposely deprived Guinea-Bissau of profits by selling their rice at an artificially low price?

Also, I do agree with your points here. Indeed, the point about life expectancy would be similar to arguing that Israeli rule in the West Bank was beneficial because under this rule life expectancy in the West Bank significantly increased. Basically, this doesn't account for the possibility that life expectancy in the West Bank would have significantly increased even without Israeli rule. Indeed, AFAIK, various countries which were formerly colonies experienced a large increase in their life expectancy after independence.
Yes. Here is the source:

Merchants required special permission to export to countries other than Portugal, and Portugal's share of the import export trade increased dramatically. How many tons of peanuts a company could export to France or Germany, for instance, depended on how much it had already allotted for Portugal....... the Portuguese price for produce was often two or three times lower than those in neighboring Senegal or Guinee. This meant that Portuguese firms could buy Guinean goods at low prices, often for resale in other European countries, pocketing the extra profit at the expense of the producer. The same firms who exported the palm kernels, peanuts and rice were also the ones with the import licenses....
-pg 41 and 43 of "History of Hunger in West Africa"
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,992
SoCal
Yes. Here is the source:

Merchants required special permission to export to countries other than Portugal, and Portugal's share of the import export trade increased dramatically. How many tons of peanuts a company could export to France or Germany, for instance, depended on how much it had already allotted for Portugal....... the Portuguese price for produce was often two or three times lower than those in neighboring Senegal or Guinee. This meant that Portuguese firms could buy Guinean goods at low prices, often for resale in other European countries, pocketing the extra profit at the expense of the producer. The same firms who exported the palm kernels, peanuts and rice were also the ones with the import licenses....-pg 41 and 43 of "History of Hunger in West Africa"
Very interesting! Indeed, this appears to literally be a case of a colonized country being plundered of its resources by the colonizing power. :(
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,525
Very interesting! Indeed, this appears to literally be a case of a colonized country being plundered of its resources by the colonizing power. :(
That is the basis of colonialism. Colonies were founded for the benefit of the colonizing power. Plundering the colonies of their resources isn't some unforeseen mistaken side effect of colonialism.

It;s the very reason colonies were estbalished.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,525
Some cultures are superior; for instance, the West appears to have much less religious fundamentalism than various Muslim countries have:

http://www.unz.com/gnxp/smite-the-unbelievers/

The West is also much more progressive on things such as gay rights.

Still, I oppose using this as a justification to engage in colonialism (though regime change in exceptionally bad cases--such as Afghanistan in 2001 even without al-Qaeda--should certainly be fair game). As I said above, I am worried that the idea of "it's OK to rule other people without their consent as long as we know what's best for them" could be exploited by unsavory regimes and governments to force regime change on unwilling countries. :(
I linked the two just attacking one side of the AND is simply ignoring half the statement. It's taking my statement out of context. The AND is there for a reason.

The idea od superiori culturesm higher IQs is being expplicit used in these arguments to make decisions for others, racist paternalism at best rasist facism at worst.
 
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Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,992
SoCal
I linked the two just attacking one side of the AND is simply ignoring half the statement. It's taking my statement out of context. The AND is there for a reason.

The idea od superiori culturesm higher IQs is being expplicit used in these arguments to make decisions for others, racist paternalism at best rasist facism at worst.
Well, that's the thing--I disagree with the argument that having a superior culture or a higher average IQ justifies colonialism. For instance, I don't think that it would be legitimate for the Chinese to colonize America even if they do have a higher average IQ than the US has and think that they have a superior culture in comparison to Americans.