Both the Good and the Bad of Colonialism Must Be Acknowledged

While I think people often get very one sided, we must acknowledge both sides. We must acknowledge that many of the problems many countries face today are due to the legacy of colonialism and slavery that European nations brought upon the world.

But it is of course also fair to say as you point out that most of these places would be far behind in development today without western influence.

There are people who blame the west for everything without giving us any credit.

But there are also plenty of white supremacists who will point fingers at countries we screwed up and say “look at those loosers, they cannot get anything right. They must be so stupid or ignorant.”

One example is e.g. decolonization. Civil wars and economic decline happened all over Africa. White supremacists used this to argue Africans are too stupid to governmen themselves and we should still have been in charge.

However if you zoom in on the problem it is pretty clear why it happened. You built up an advance state aparatus where only whites where allowed. No black was given any education.

Then when independence came. White pack up their things and leave. Imagine if in our country all the administrators, CEOs, engineers, architect, economists etc all just packed their bags and left. The only ones left are the blue colloar workers. People with no experience in running a government.

It would naturally turn int a disaster. In the Congo the highest educated man, when the whites left was the postmaster. In a country of millions of people.

We basically set them up for failure, and then we used their failure to argue that they are incompetent and that we should have continued to be in charge. When you deny people education and opportunity this image become a self fulfilling prophecy.

Much the same can be said about slavery. White supremacists will point out that descendants of slaves in America are better off than the descendants of free men in Africa. As if that somehow makes slavery okay. While this may be technically true. It is simply an attempt to gloss over the fact that blacks and whites in America have never been given equal opportunity.

You see white conservatives point fingers at blacks and go “you where given equal opportunity and yet you are so much poorer than me.” Except they where not. Their white ancestors where given both vast tracts of free land as well as an education. The ancestors of black American where given nothing. Actually they where given less than nothing. They where beaten if they even attempted to learn to read and write. Yet white supremacists love to play immigrant out against each other. “Look at the Jews they are good at reading and writing. Why not you?” It is rather ignorant to compare a culture emphasizing the reading of the Tora for centuries with a culture where people who learned to read where viciously beaten by their white masters.

Every minority has had their own unique struggles. While we cannot blame whites for everything wrong in this world, we have to acknowledge the significant role whites have played in shaping the world as it looks today for booth good and bad. We cannot simply take credit for the good without also taking responsibility for the bad.

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store