>Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 20:46:25 -0800
>From: Neal Blaikie <email@example.com>
>Subject: Re: The IFG - Still don't think.....
Just wanted to add a point on the whole Imperialism debate. It seems that
in the rush to determine whether colonization was good or bad, we are
lacking opinions from those whose countries were directly affected by
it. I come from just such a country, and we were affected for a far longer
time than the rest of the British Empire, with perhaps the exceptions of
Scotland and Wales.
I remember catching the end of a programme on British TV a few years
ago. Some guy (lower middle class, not a toff by any standards) going on
about how "I'll tell you what, we probably ran those countries better than
they could have run them themselves!" or words to that effect.
I can also remember an incident told to me by my sister from the mid
90's. During the filming of the movie "Michael Collins", the Union Jack
was required to be flown above Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. My sister came
across an elderly man staring stunned in the street as it was hoisted. He
explained to her of the wave of memories that came to him as he looked at
it. Of the overwhelming fear. He'd been a young boy the last time it was
raised for real over the city, but that time had remained vivid in his memory.
The point of the matter isn't whether we can run a country better because
we've been "civilized" or not, the point is whether we asked them to come
in the first place. While in Ireland's case in the early years of the
British claim to the country, many here were loyal to the crown, there came
a time when it was clear they had outstayed their welcome. When they'd
passed enough laws removing basic rights from the majority of the
population. When we finally drove them out, we were left with horrendous
housing, subsistence farming, no power grid worth a damn (unless you were
the upper class) and a tragic religious conflict. What little
infrastructure was there was not installed for our benefit, it was so the
British could have a little bit of home away from home.
Would we have turned out differently? Would we have been more advanced,
more "civilized" if they'd never come? Would we have been
savages? Irrelevant. The simple fact is that it was our country to
run. They were our mistakes to make. Our destiny should have been in OUR
OWN hands, not decided for us by some Overlord. There's no way to know
what we might have been all those centuries, but Imperialism did us no
favours. Good or bad, it should have been OUR country to shape.
Don't try to rationalize Imperialism after the fact, it is an insult to
those who suffered from it. It's also the habit of those who are from
nations who've never had to endure it.
"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and
crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures
to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."
-Q, Star Trek:TNG episode 'Q Who'
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