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Third World Quarterly publishes “The Case for Colonialism” leading to censorship demands

Third World Quarterly publishes “The Case for Colonialism” leading to censorship demands

Demands for retraction, to fire the journal editors, even to fire author and to revoke his PhD.

Bruce Gilley of Portland State University (image above) published an article titled “The Case for Colonialism” in the decidedly anti-Colonial journal Third World Quarterly (home of the Edward Said Award).

In its self-description, Third World Quarterly writes:

TWQ examines all the issues that affect the many Third Worlds and is not averse to publishing provocative and exploratory articles, especially if they have the merit of opening up emerging areas of research that have not been given sufficient attention.

Gilley is no newcomer to controversy.

Just last month, Gilley published a piece in Minding the Campus on his resignation from the American Political Science Association (ASPCA), over its lack of ‘viewpoint diversity’ (Gilley self-identifies in that piece as an independent and swing voter)

In the Third World Quarterly piece, Gilley argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, Western colonialism was

“as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found.”

Gilley doesn’t claim that colonialism was free of costs and human suffering, rather that, when judging the legacy (and desirability) of colonialism, the costs must be measured against the benefits and must be judged on how colonialism fared relative to what would have happened in its absence (and what happened in its wake).

Countries that “embraced their colonial inheritance” did better “by and large” than those that “spurned it” and “anti-colonial ideology” has done grave harm to these countries, Gilley argues. Gilley advocates the “reclaiming of colonial modes of governance”, including, in some instances “recolonization” (with the consent of those colonized).

The notion that colonialism is always and everywhere a bad thing needs to be rethought in light of the grave human toll of a century of anti-colonial regimes and policies. The case for Western colonialism is about rethinking the past as well as improving the future. It involves reaffirming the primacy of human lives, universal values, and shared responsibilities – the civilising mission without scare quotes – that led to improvements in living conditions for most Third World peoples during most episodes of Western colonialism. It also involves learning how to unlock those benefits again. Western and non-Western countries should reclaim the colonial toolkit and language as part of their commitment to effective governance and international order.

…Research that is careful in conceptualising and measuring controls, that establishes a feasible counterfactual, that includes multiple dimensions of costs and benefits weighted in some justified way, and that adheres to basic epistemic virtues often finds that at least some if not many or most episodes of Western colonialism were a net benefit…Such works have found evidence for significant social, economic and political gains under colonialism: expanded education, improved public health, the abolition of slavery, widened employment opportunities, improved administration, the creation of basic infrastructure, female rights, enfranchisement of untouchable or historically excluded communities, fair taxation, access to capital, the generation of historical and cultural knowledge, and national identify formation, to mention just a few dimensions.

…Anti-colonial critics simply assert that colonialism was … ‘a foreign imposition lacking popular legitimacy’. Yet until very late, European colonialism appears to have been highly legitimate and for good reasons. Millions of people moved closer to areas of more intensive colonial rule, sent their children to colonial schools and hospitals, went beyond the call of duty in positions in colonial governments, reported crimes to colonial police, migrated from non-colonised to colonised areas, fought for colonial armies and participated in colonial political processes – all relatively voluntary acts. Indeed, the rapid spread and persistence of Western colonialism with very little force relative to the populations and areas concerned is prima facie evidence of its acceptance by subject populations compared to the feasible alternative…

Anti-colonialism, itself, argues Gilley, had its costs

It is hard to overstate the pernicious effects of global anti-colonialism on domestic and international affairs since the end of World War II. Anti-colonialism ravaged countries as nationalist elites mobilised illiterate populations with appeals to destroy the market economies, pluralistic and constitutional polities, and rational policy processes of European colonisers. In our ‘age of apology’ for atrocities, one of the many conspicuous silences has been an apology for the many atrocities visited upon Third World peoples by anti-colonial

Gilley compares countries that suffered under anti-colnialization, such as Guinea-Bissau, comparing its fate to countries, that, in his assessment embraced their colonial heritage such as Singapore. Gilley calls for instances of recolonialization, in the hope of creating new Singapores and Hong Kongs.

This is not the first academic (free version) piece Gilley has written expressing these sentiments.

The article, written in a somewhat provocative tone, has sparked quite an outrage.

Rather than celebrating the open mindedness of the journal’s publishing a piece challenging some of the central paradigms of their discipline, and taking this challenge as an opportunity to refute the piece, numerous academics have cried ‘foul’ and are calling for the retraction of the article and for sanctioning the author and the editors.

[Note: Original link taken down, archive version is here]

Members of the editorial board have threatened to resign. Some have threatened to boycott the journal entirely (even not to cite it). Cries of racism and ‘white supremacy’ dominating academia have naturally followed.

It is ironic that those outraged are so blinded by their own self-perceived (and frequently self-serving) victim status that they fail to see that it is precisely the overwhelming success of their own anti-colonial orthodoxy, rendering the defense of colonialism so marginal, that makes it possible for a journal like Third World Quarterly to view publishing such a piece as unthreatening in the first place.

[Note: Original link taken down, archive version is here]

[Note: Original link taken down, archive version is here]

It has subsequently emerged that the piece was initially rejected (at least once) by the journal via the normal peer-review process but was then published as a ‘viewpoint’ piece: something akin to a scholarly op-ed.

Two Petitions Calling for Gilley’s (and the editors’) Heads

At least two petitions, each with thousands of signatures, have been circulated calling for retraction.

First Petition

The first petition (which has already gathered nearly ten thousand signatures), begins with the call not to download the article.

The petition claims that the “offending article” has “brought widespread condemnation from scholars around the globe” and:

lacks empirical evidence, contains historical inaccuracies, and includes spiteful fallacies. There is also an utter lack of rigor or engaging with existing scholarship on the issue.

No examples of the above are given in the petition.  The petition calls on the editorial team:

To retract the article and also to apologize for further brutalizing those who have suffered under colonialism.


Editors at Third World Quarterly allowing this piece utterly lacking in academic merit to be published should be replaced from the editorial board.

Second Petition

A second petition, authored by Jenny Heijun Wills of the University of Winnipeg, with over 6,000 signatures, similarly calls for apology and retraction:

The sentiments expressed in this article reek of colonial disdain for Indigenous peoples and ignore ongoing colonialism in white settler nations.

The author is accused of insufficient respect for black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC):

The point that “Western countries should be encouraged to hold power in specific governance areas (public finances, say, or criminal justice)” (2) cannot be taken out of the context in which BIPOC around the world are surveilled, disenfranchised, and murdered by colonial and state structures of criminal “justice.” This condescension also infantilizes and dehumanizes BIPOC by claiming that they are incapable of self-governance. This is especially appalling when the author elsewhere in the article takes the words of multiple decolonial scholars of colour out of context in order to justify his violence against their respective communities and cultures.

…We will close by asserting that this article is not only offensive but damaging. It is an active attack on BIPOC scholars, thinkers, and people, as well as on the project of decolonization. In our current political context, the lives and safety of BIPOC, refugees, and allies are being threatened by radicalized white supremacist groups. These kinds of ideas are not simply abstract provocations, but have real, material consequences for those who Prof. Gilley seeks to dominate and objectify.

Social Media Campaign: Personal, and anything but Measured

Those protesting the piece are so outraged, that they are calling on people, if they must read the offending article, not to cite it or to download it directly from the publisher, which would give the piece traffic, rather they are sharing free links to the piece.

[Note: Original link taken down, archive version is here]

Meanwhile, Gilley’s character is being impeached. Former PSU students are accusing him of racism and discriminating against non ‘straight white males’ and have called for his firing:

I don’t think Gilley should have a job where he is allowed to teach students about public policy, especially given his track record of being unable to put his views aside to run the MPP program in an equitable way…At the very least, I’d like the institution to respond by distancing themselves from the views expressed in his works. This is an issue of student safety and having people at the institution who hold views like this does not create a safe campus for everyone.”

PSU has a responsibility, especially now to rescind Dr. Gilley’s tenure and terminate his employment. This article comes on the heels of other incendiary comments that Gilley has made, and is clearly testing the limits of what is acceptable. This is, in no uncertain terms, racism

A colleague of Gilley’s at Portland State says he will advise students against signing up for Gilley’s classes:

Calls for protest have begun, hoping to enlist Black Lives Matter:

People claim claim to be frightened and unsafe

Some are calling on Princeton to revoke Gilley’s PhD

In a widely circulated email, Syracuse professor, Farhana Sultana [Note: Original link taken down, archive version is here] and here] has attacked the article and the author as someone who has:

published white supremacist drivel in the past disguised as academic scholarship (e.g. supporting ethnic cleansing)

(Note: The article Sultana refers to did not “support ethnic cleansing”, rather, it argued that as an analytical category “ethnic conflict” was not useful in characterizing disparate conflicts in different regions (i.e. that categorizing such conflict as ‘ethnic’ disguised greater differences)).

Sulatana’s email opens:

I wish to bring to your attention a highly problematic practice in academia of not holding scholars or journals to high standards of accuracy, merit, or rigor. This is particularly so when they publish shoddy racist click-bait pieces

Recently, an author published a piece calling for the return of colonization and white supremacy in the well-respected journal Third World Quarterly… The article is full of inaccuracies & falsehoods, misqualifies existing scholarship on the topic, lacks proper citations, is poorly written and conceptualized, and morally reprehensible.

In a stunning display of denial of how entrenched Sultana’s worldview is in academia she writes:

We all know there are plenty of colonial apologists in academia as well as overt and closeted white supremacists who enable/promote/encourage such success; many more support it through silence and enabling such behavior to go unchecked thereby allowing racism to flourish.

Similarly un-self-aware

Accountability, rigor, empirical evidence, sound reasoning, and engaging with existing scholarship are essential foundations in academic publishing, and this particular article did not do any of that. TWQ needs to be held accountable for promoting such practices

A laudable sentiment of course, but the reader can peruse other articles and editions of TWQ or of Sultana’s writing and judge for oneself whether this standard is applied more generally.

The vindictive part comes next:

If in the process they do retract the article, then that author and his supporters will have hopefully learnt a lesson. This will put a dent in his dossier, however small. In the process of all this, it’ll also raise awareness that scholars and journals are responsible and can be held accountable.

Personally, I do not want to give any more oxygen directly to this racist fascist author who has written for alt-right websites and published reprehensible material in the past (his piece justifying ethnic cleansing was also published by TWQ and it should have generated pushback then but it did not — I think that emboldened both the author and the journal). We will not be able to change the mind of this man or racist his allies. I also worry about the hundreds of students who take his courses, and wonder what they have learnt. I doubt his university will take any steps to hold him accountable (it seems that US universities only fire professors if they call out injustices and not the other way around), so while many people have left this man, his department, his university voicemails and messages, I highly doubt anything will come of it in terms of reprimands. What we can do is put pressure on TWQ and other journals who enable this kind of behavior to count as ‘scholarship’ to desist from doing so any further.  In my opinion, not doing that is a disservice to all of us for all the labor we put into our own publications and scholarship

Sultana also posted a public Facebook post (also here), which opens:

There is a horrendous scourge that has ravaged the earth called white supremacy. I’ve spent a lot of my life doing the emotional, physical and intellectual labor of fighting white supremacist and racist ideologies through various means (through my teaching, talks, writing, peer reviewing, discussions, activism, social media like Twitter and Facebook, email listservs, etc.) all in order to promote justice, equity, and peace. The current situation of outrage and shock I’m experiencing is the result of a particular article published recently that has many up in arms, and rightly so.

It concludes:

In the end, such pieces with their advocating for colonialism and the brutality the underpinned it are meant to ruin our peace, trigger an emotional/emotive response, and make us angry, especially those of who have suffered from white supremacy, racism, colonial brutality or its aftermath, and more so when it happens under the guise of an academic ‘debate’ or an official publication, which all basically display peak white, Western, male privilege in my opinion. Calling out such scholars often results in nothing happening, but I am hoping that a journal retraction will be a productive outcome. Criticizing such publications and raising awareness about such racism in academia and the problematic publishing industry that enables it are a part of my service to humanity; but it is exhausting and soul-draining, especially when I’m ill. On top of it all, it is also sad that none of this work that I or any other people of color do continually will ever ‘count’ officially as it is unseen and unrecognized labor (but that’s another topic of discussion). However, I see this labor as an important act of resistance, however small, and also hopefully of transformation for change. All kinds of white supremacist racist drivel has to be resisted from all sides, especially given the craziness of the world right now, as silence is not an option.

Saner Responses: Rebut Rather than Retract

In the academy’s defense, there have been other, more measured responses, even from Gilley’s critics.

Nathan Robinson a Harvard graduate student published a piece in Current Affairs (of which he is the editor) called “A Quick Reminder of Why Colonialism was Bad”, in which he harshly attacks Gilley’s piece, calling “morally tantamount to Holocaust denial”. Nevertheless, unlike the aforementioned petitioners, Robinson actually engages Gilley’s claims and offers counterarguments in their rebuttal. Robinson opposes the petition to retract:

I am not signing the petition to have it retracted, because I believe that the journal shouldn’t retract it simply because there was public pressure.

…we must repeatedly emphasize that the reason Gilley’s piece is so wretched is not just because it advocates something that contradicts our sense of justice, but because he has deliberately produced a false version of history. I am sick and tired of people on the right saying those of us on the left simply Can’t Respond To Their Arguments. I’ve read their arguments, and they’re bad

Cynics might suspect that Robinson’s reading is not quite the impassioned objective reading he claims to be offering, but compared to the outrage emanating from other quarters calling for Gilley’s head, this is an improvement.

In Daily Nous, one of the two most important Philosophy blogs, Justin Weinberg argued for a norm of rebuttal over retraction. Arguing that the norms for retraction should be restricted to extreme cases of misconduct, Weinberg implied, without directly saying so, that this article does not seem to run afoul of them. Weinberg criticized those who “overstat[e] the harms (e.g. “brutalizing”, “violence”) than an academic article can cause”.

When Are Retractions Warranted? 

Retractions of journal articles are not always inappropriate. The Committee on Publication Ethics which publishes guidelines for journal publication, states the following for retraction:

Retraction should usually be reserved for publications that are so seriously flawed (for whatever reason) that their findings or conclusions should not be relied upon.

Sometimes, an author will request retracting his own paper, because he believes it to be flawed. Instances of retraction by editors, on the other hand, are cases where

  • they have clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or honest error (e.g. miscalculation or experimental error)
  • the findings have previously been published elsewhere without proper crossreferencing, permission or justification (i.e. cases of redundant publication)
  • it constitutes plagiarism
  • it reports unethical research

Absent from this, for obvious reasons, is research considered to be mistaken or disagreeable.


Every so often an episode arises in academia which lays bare how thin the distinction between academic scholarship and ideological advocacy has become. Scholarship purports to be evidence based, reasoned, and enlightening, even when mistaken. When scholars or reasoned advocates make a claim, other scholars will seek to refute that claim (or to support it). Whether one agrees or disagrees with the claim is almost immaterial: the claim is only as good as the evidence and reasons which support it. As the English Philosopher John Stuart Mill famously wrote:

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. (On Liberty)

Ideology, however, when disguised as scholarship, morphs into dogma and witch hunts. So when scholarship violates the sacred creed and taboos of the dominant ideology, censorship, condemnation, and cries of outrage frequently follow. The claims attacked are deemed not only mistaken, but ‘offensive’, ‘hurtful’, ‘hateful’, as are requests for reasons to support or reject that claim. The identity and character of the author is then impeached. In today’s academic climate, if the author is a member of a so-called ‘privileged class’, this will never fail to go unmentioned, its supposed relevance understood by all involved.

Episodes like this have grown ever more frequent.

Just last spring, the academic world was rocked by a scandal involving an article in the Feminist Philosophy journal Hypatia. Rebecca Tuvel, a Philosophy professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, authored a piece arguing in defense of ‘Transracialism’ (the idea that someone can identify with a race other than the one they were born into), on the grounds that there is no relevant moral difference between this and being transgendered. Tuvel’s article sparked outrage among those who found the piece insufficiently pious. A mass repudiation of the piece and of the journal ensued, including a mutiny by a substantial portion of Hypatia’s editorial board apologizing for publishing the piece. Petitions demanding retraction and apology followed.

Tuvel was ‘called out’ as a white woman, insufficiently aligned with feminists of color. Grievances, minor, and more minor, many of which were entirely false, were raised. Ultimately, the bulk of the Philosophy academy seems to have supported Tuvel (Philosophy as a discipline is still relatively scholarly, rather than ideogical, at least compared to the other humanities, although as the Tuvel episode illustrates, there are breaches in the walls), as did Hypatia’s editor in chief (at the cost of mass exodus). The episode, though left many casualties in its wake: beyond Tuvel herself (who is untenured and whose name is now strongly associated with scandal), one surmises that others will not so easily defend such ‘impious’ views in print.

This episode seem to be a repeat of the Tuvel affair. So far, however, Third World Quarterly has been mum. Whether this persists, and the article continues to be posted, remains to be seen. Gilley, at least, is tenured.

Meanwhile, the fault lines on free speech in the academy continue to reveal themselves. The picture is not pretty.

[Featured Image via Bruce Gilley website]


The author is a graduate student who must write under a pseudonym for fear of retribution from faculty.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


I’ve never heard of this publication or Dr. Gilley, but bravo to him for writing his article and bravo to TWQ for publishing! Write more!

The current Bretton Woods system is breaking down because the US is no longer willing to use our Navy to impose order on an increasingly disordered world.

Interestingly enough the colonial system is returning in a 21st century variant. Brexit is incentivizing The UK to negotiate trade deals with India, Australia, the USA and other old colonies.

And, Europe is returning to Africa to slice up new economic colonies for oil and minerals.

As Zasu Pitts would say (sounding very much like Olive Oyl) … “Oh dear …”

Intellectually, these people are in a real bind—they can’t use anything resembling scientific method (or Socratic dialectic, or … well … anything else, really) to criticize the thesis, because that stuff is all from the domain of white male privilege, and anybody else using it is subject to attack for cultural/sexual/whatever appropriation.

Well, boo-hoo.

Ned Flanders: “There are some things we don’t want to know. Important things!”

The extension of Western culture and civilization was going to happen, and it was a net benefit wherever it did.

If an area was blessed to be a British colony, it still has a distinct advantage over other colonial areas.

    tarheelkate in reply to Ragspierre. | September 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Yes. When I lived in India, one evening I had a conversation with a high-caste Hindu woman. She said, “The British raped us, but I have to admit that without the British, India would not be a nation today.”

      Milhouse in reply to tarheelkate. | September 19, 2017 at 2:53 am

      I don’t believe it’s true that the British “raped” India, let alone the Indians. I assume the reference is to the resources they took from India, which would otherwise have gone to Indian “rapists” and thus stayed in India, so ordinary Indians could have at least expected some trickle-down effect; but all those resources and more did stay in India, and were spread far more widely than they would otherwise have been. For all the prestige and good feeling the UK got from its empire, economically it was a net drain on its resources, which is why after WWII it could not longer afford it.

The Friendly Grizzly | September 17, 2017 at 9:48 pm

Zazu PITTS? DEAR ME…! I’ve not heard that name on 40 years.

But now the former western colonialists are consenting to being colonized by the third world, and this colonization is deemed a wonderful thing by the west’s ruling elites.

ugottabekiddinme | September 17, 2017 at 9:55 pm

As a casual student of a lot of history, especially the effects of the two world wars on the global structure of empire (British, Ottoman, Russian) and the steady erosion and devolution of imperial thinking towards “self-determination,” I will read the article and any serious critique with interest.

As for those who want silence (“Shut up,” she explained) and the ridiculous exaggerations of the evil effects (brutalization, aggression, unsafe, etc.)that an academic article will have, an article that will reach, maybe, a couple hundred, MEH.

The charlatans out themselves.

If you responded to the essay with emotional unsupported assertions supporting a witch hunt – you are fired. You don’t belong anywhere near academia.

If instead, you attempted to refute the author’s points with facts and logic and reason – even if you failed – good form, you can keep your job and reputation as an intellectual.

The British Commonwealth was pretty awesome. Before WWII some in Parliament wanted to give independence to India. Winston S. Churchill, of course, was vociferous in opposition to the idea. They got their independence in 1949. In the 1950s sociologist were in the villages, surveying people about how they felt life had changed with the departure of the British Raj. The most common response was “Departure of who?”. The British were very adept at having “advisors” in place, to advise. There are many colonies which are worse off with self-rule.

It’s always odd to watch people who ..
First, can’t take a joke … if this was a joke

Second, don’t see the forest for the trees.

There is a cultural hemgenomy if not a colonialization of the ‘Great Unwashed’ in the “flyover” portion of the US by the ‘enlighten voices’ of the coastal community of the US.
Most of these folks have no compunction that this must take place.

So the position of the paper is that there are both good and bad things which came out of colonialism, and the position of the opposition is to scream and suck their thumbs… I mean to deny anything good ever came of colonialism.

My first thought was of Naiper, who opposed the Indian practice of suttee in the Sindh providence while he was there. Suttee, for those who may not be familiar with the practice, is where the widow of a deceased man was thrown alive on the funeral pyre of her husband. Oh, those quaint third-world customs.

Anyway, when faced with local residents who insisted on carrying out the custom, he replied:

“Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”

The progressive movement in academia is a proverbial form of colonialism in which they force out other schools of thought and do not allow dissent or counter-discourse.

The blinders you have to put on daily to not see this makes me think these zealous sycophants fall asleep each night chanting,”the end justifies the means” when no one else is looking.

I remember Mark Steyn long ago saying that European leaders no longer had policies, just attitudes. The people who screech about this article don’t know or care if his facts are right. They only care that his attitude is not sufficiently angry at white people, or deferential to … what was the acronym again? I forget. It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s just an excuse for the mandatory outrage at his unacceptable wrongthink.

The world is insane and its most insane inhabitants require everyone else be just like them.

What about Islamic colonialism? Was that good or bad, according to those offended by Western colonialism?

significant social, economic and political gains under colonialism: […] the abolition of slavery,

This one must be especially galling for the anti-colonialists, but it’s undeniably true. Abolition was entirely a product of British and French colonialism; the UK and France decided slavery was bad, so they stamped it out by force without giving a damn about anyone else’s opinion. If they hadn’t done so it would still be the norm almost everywhere in the “third world”, as it had been for all of history until then. (Even abolition in the US was largely a product of Canada offering asylum to escaped slaves, thus making it impossible to keep them in the northern states, which in turn led to the spread of abolitionist ideology.) If anti-colonialists were intellectually honest and consistent they would condemn the suppression of slavery as another Western crime against non-Western cultures. That they don’t speaks volumes of them.

    dkjack in reply to Milhouse. | September 19, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Your point reminds me of Napier, the great colonial governor in India. He was castigated by the local anti-colonialists for proscribing sati, the custom of throwing widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. His reply was that while India has the custom of sati, England has the custom of hanging men who burn women alive, so let each nation act according to its custom.

Datum: We all know (or should) about the horrors the Congo experienced under King Leopold’s rule. This was truly one of the worst crimes against humanity in modern history. But how many people realize that when the Belgian people found out about this they confiscated the Congo from Leopold, turned it into a Belgian colony, and governed it excellently for more than fifty years? Under Belgian rule, the Congolese enjoyed prosperity, good government, and all the blessings of Western civilization; almost the moment the Belgians left it turned into a hell-hole. This was not because Africans can’t govern themselves well; Botswana proves that. If the Motswana can run a decent country there’s no reason the Congolese can’t too, but the fact is they didn’t.

    alaskabob in reply to Milhouse. | September 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Cecil Rhodes move into the lands north of the Cape Town colonies used force to prevent the Matebele (Zulu) from continued war on the Shona. In a classic form of irony… the anti-colonialist “hero” of Black Africa, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, is Shona.

    IndependentDem in reply to Milhouse. | September 18, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    A Burundian colleague at the US Embassy in Bujumbura once said to me, during another boringly predictable political crisis, “You know, the Belgians left at least a generation too soon. We just weren’t ready.” He is Swiss-university educated, and one of the Burundian elite … and one of the finest men I’ve ever known. Perhaps one these leftist haters would like to call him racist.

It’s not as if, you know, India was a place of peace and prosperity before the coming of the British.

I noted the immediate descent of the criticism into cries of “racist” and “bigot” concomitantly with the accusations of “white privilege.” Once I read the first couple of tweets the rest were repetitive and predictable.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Dave. | September 19, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Same here. When I read an article on Legal Insurrection, I usually read every word. I didn’t make it far in this one after getting to the comments from the article’s critics. These types are really starting to tire me. They used to be funny, now they’re just broken records.

The Facebook exchange between Sultana and Janberg is particularly chilling… it appears these “academics” can only be comfortable working in an echo chamber.

I don’t see the problem. There’s a great deal to be said in favor of colonialism. I can’t think of any former colonies that have become independent in the last hundred years that have improved themselves over the conditions that prevailed when they were colonies.

Most colonial regimes were repressive to some degree, but barbaric cultures need to be suppressed. How many former colonies (particularly British ones) have the same degree of safety, order, rule of law, and productivity that they did as colonies? Most of the peoples who were colonized were violent, barbaric and unfit to rule themselves before they were colonized, and still are after the colonial powers have left.

    Milhouse in reply to Bisley. | September 18, 2017 at 8:21 am

    I can’t think of any former colonies that have become independent in the last hundred years that have improved themselves over the conditions that prevailed when they were colonies.

    Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, for three. But I know what you meant.

      Bisley in reply to Milhouse. | September 18, 2017 at 8:34 am

      I don’t know that even those three have actually improved through self-rule. They haven’t fallen back into barbarism because of the numbers of British who moved there — at least, not yet (their leftist governments may succeed in doing it).

      DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | September 19, 2017 at 12:12 am

      And I know what you mean too, Milhouse. But you just named colonies that were turned over to the descendants of the colonizers, rather than to the aboriginals. It might be better to consider these examples of colonists who became independent of their parent country, rather than colonies that became independent. The argument could be made that these countries are still “colonized” because the colonizers still run them, even though the original colonizing authority does not.

        Milhouse in reply to DaveGinOly. | September 19, 2017 at 3:04 am

        Say rather, these are countries that were successfully colonized, meaning that the colonists’ descendants became the majority. The same is true of the US, which I only didn’t mention because the original statement was restricted to “former colonies that have become independent in the last hundred years”; the colonies were successful, so when they became independent they retained the colonizing culture.

        Another form of successful colonization is when the locals adopt the important parts of the colonizing culture; this explains the relative success of countries like Botswana or India.

I yearn for the time when we rubbed 2 sticks together for fire 😉

This is what we need to consider for Mexico.
Build the Wall, or make it a territory or colony with no voting in American elections.

    nordic_prince in reply to Close The Fed. | September 18, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    The problem with Mexico is not so much the lack of resources as it is the corruption. Sadly, this seems to be the case for so many former colonies that have descended into chaos and/or anarchy.

      Whitewall in reply to nordic_prince. | September 18, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      why I wonder are central and south america in the state they’re in compared to north america? There were and are native peoples there and Europeans…Spanish and Portuguese, conquered-settled there. What happened?

        Milhouse in reply to Whitewall. | September 19, 2017 at 3:06 am

        That’s precisely the difference. They were colonized by Catholic Mediterraneans rather than by Protestant Northern Europeans. Very different culture.

It seems apparent that practically everything must have at least some benefits as well as costs. Would (for example) New Guinea tribes have been better off un-contacted and left in their stone-age world?

The worst of European colonialism was indeed very bad (for example, Belgium in the Congo, Spaniards in Peru). Yet a rigid anti-colonialism is unable to make distinctions between the worst and the rest and, although European colonialists were unquestionably self-interested, it should be uncontroversial to note that those who were colonized did receive some benefits from this.

Nor do anti-colonialists provide a counterfactual narrative of how the non-European world was to obtain the benefits of science and industrialism. Did they expect Europeans to act as pure, benevolent angels when they contacted non-European cultures, or assume that the colonized formerly lived in some Rousseauian, Edenic state of nature?

Why would it be controversial to note that colonialism had both benefits and costs to the colonized (or that the benefit-to-cost ratio was not always dismally small, let alone zero)? Is it truly radical to ask that historians take a less Manichean view of colonial history?

    DaveGinOly in reply to Albigensian. | September 19, 2017 at 12:19 am

    As was noted above, colonizers often improved the conditions under which the natives in the colonized territories lived. It is probably true that most brutal colonial regimes replaced native regimes that were equally brutal, or worse.

    Milhouse in reply to Albigensian. | September 19, 2017 at 3:11 am

    The worst of European colonialism was indeed very bad (for example, Belgium in the Congo, Spaniards in Peru).

    As I wrote above, Belgium in the Congo was very far from “the worst of European colonialism”, in fact it was close to the best. Leopold in the Congo was very bad indeed, but that was before the Belgians. It was Leopold’s private business enterprise, and he was a monster. When the Belgians found out what their king was doing (not in their name) they confiscated it from him, corrected all the problems he’d created, and governed it as a model colony for more than fifty years.

    Milhouse in reply to Albigensian. | September 19, 2017 at 3:13 am

    as for the Spanish in Peru, all I’ll say is that however bad they were, the totalitarian regime they replaced was worse.

4th armored div | September 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

1 – colonialism in it’s establishment was done through much Violante.
2 – the American colonies revolted against GB to form our Republic.
3 – the American colonists felt that they were able to ‘take care of themselves’.
4 – the primary reason for GB/French colonialism was as a financial enterprise not to bring Christianity to the heathen (which was the claim for Spain and at least tacitly for France).
5 – in the main the Brits did a decent job in maintaining ‘law and order’.
6 – at the time of American independence, indentured servitude, essentially slavery was common.

the colonialism of South America, Mexico, and Asia was a FAR different story. Canada was not quite the same as USA.

let’s not pretend that colonialism was all sunshine and light.

the positive aspects of colonialism was he eventual eradication of slavery, poverty and disease (though the natives of the new world were highly susceptible to European disease were almost completely wiped out)

in conclusion the Europeans (and the Americans in settling the west were guilty of genocide – the Nazis had good teachers).

let the flaming begin………

    (and the Americans in settling the west were guilty of genocide – the Nazis had good teachers).

    The Americans settling the West were at war with the Indians, and had been since 1776. As was its well-established habit in those days, England abandoned its non-European allies when the treaty conferences rolled around, and the Indians missed out on the Treaty of Paris … the one which ended the Revolution and made the United States of America a “thing”. Ergo, the Indians stayed at war. In retrospect, that was a poor decision. Indian massacres (that is, by Indians of anybody else) weren’t totally suppressed until the very early twentieth century. A proper “genocide” of the sort nineteenth century Americans were perfectly capable of managing would have ended those annoyances much sooner.

    Interestingly enough, the Progressive nuthold on education hasn’t extended yet to the American public library system. All this material is still available to any interested reader.

    The modern “concentration camp” of Nationalsozialist fame had been developed forty years earlier by Britain and Spain. Britain’s concentration camps for Boers were at least fairly well managed. Spain’s camps for rebels in Cuba were not, and the gross mismanagement and high death toll from dehydration and disease led directly to war with the local sleeping giant. A war which, incredibly, the European powers fully expected Spain to win.

      alaskabob in reply to tom swift. | September 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Furthermore, with the British wining the French and Indian War, Britain wound up with poorly maintained and supported frontier which the French had propped up with some largess with the Indians. Many tribes also supported the British during the Revolution and lost out with the end of the war. All was not peace and harmony before Columbus. The Lakota were generally called Sioux by other tribes… which means… “enemy”.

      Boer concentration camps “fairly well managed”? Well, then, so was Dachau. The depraved indifference of the British led to the deaths, by starvation and disease, of tens of thousands of Boer women and children. As I’ve posted, colonization can be a good thing, but the British conduct against the Boers, and, incidentally, against the Irish always and the Indians in the 1940s, are ghastly entries on the negative side of colonialism’s ledger. This is embarrassing, since the English are held up as examples of virtuous colonialism. No, they weren’t pure, nor were the other “good colonists,” the Dutch and French. And let’s not even speak of the Portuguese and Belgians!

    Flaming? Not enough substance there to flick my Bic.

    nordic_prince in reply to 4th armored div. | September 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    “let’s not pretend that colonialism was all sunshine and light.”

    No one is saying that, which would be obvious if you read even just the summary of the article. Nor was it about “genocide” of native populations.

    If you believed even a tiny fraction of what these whining, “anti-imperial” fascists are claiming, you’d have to conclude that Europeans had stumbled across pristine, Edenic populations which they then proceeded to rape and pillage. Sorry, but these “Edenic” cultures engaged in their own barbarism, and hardly needed to be taught by the Europeans how to rape and pillage.

“I have seen non-Indigenous scholars scoop the work of Indigenous thinkers & get it published first. Peer-review ‘works’ for specific bodies.”

I have seen a virtual blackout on AGW-skeptical articles, then have skeptics’ arguments refuted because they aren’t published in a peer-reviewed forum.
There is an academic establishment, and it’s every bit as insular as the Catholic Church was in the Middle Ages. They just don’t have the power to burn people at the stake. Yet.

How many of these outraged third worlders have had a ‘colonialist’ education, either in the UK or universities based on UK or American curriculum and design?

They should try and list how their current lives have been influenced by interaction with the West.

There are FEW things more enjoyable on a Monday morning than watching the self-proclaimed ‘intellectual elite’ get their panties in a Huff-n-Puff knot, sensibilities righteously offended! Thanks for the entertainment…

I have plenty of former retired workmates that were born a raised in British India. Invariably, to this day they all profess “hate” for colonialism. The Brits brought infrastructure, industrialization, respect for basic individual human decency and democracy. And yes, they executed it with strength and power. But without the Brits “India” today would still be the realm of self-styled religious rulers for life Nazam’s and Maharaja’s, and the abominable caste system split across the segregated religious tenants of Hindu and Muslim ways would still be the “culture”. And post-division of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh remain backward and ruled by despotic “generals”.

    Sanddog in reply to BigG. | September 18, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Yeah, that’s the thing… no one wants an honest discussion on what places like India would be like today without colonialism. Particularly any of the board members of TWQ who are highly educated products of colonialism.

It was probably an error to try to squeeze suppression of slavery into the “benefits” column on colonialism. It’s a two-edge sword at best.

The African slave populations in the New World were brought there by England, specifically to work on farms and plantations in the colonies. And England didn’t suppress the international slave trade until it was economically advantageous to do so. The Slave Trade Act of 1807 eliminated the trade within the Empire; the blockade of Africa began about a year later.

Scientific farming as developed in the eighteenth century increased the yields of farmland by at least an order of magnitude. England’s farms could then support hugely expanded urban populations while also requiring far less rural manpower—and a good thing too, as the newly-redundant farm workers migrated to the cities in search of work. The “satanic mills” of the Industrial Revolution thus had plenty of manpower to churn out unprecedented quantities of manufactured goods. Slave labor was no use to either English agriculture or farming; Britain had plenty of non-slave labor. And demand for brute human labor decreased as those new-fangled steam engines took over so much of the heavy lifting of both day-to-day and industrial life. But not so for most of England’s competitors. So suppression of slavery worldwide would damage the industrial base of foreigners and thereby benefit British manufacturers, and Parliament certainly knew it.

So, Britain did indeed suppress the slave trade, and therefore indirectly slavery itself … but only after being the major force building it up in the first place.

The other worldwide slave business was mainly Portuguese, and it was considerably different from the English version. But there’s not a whole lot good to be said about Portuguese colonial policies in general.

    alaskabob in reply to tom swift. | September 18, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    England held on to slavery internally within the Empire until the 1830’s except in India where is existed into the 1840’s. The slave trade was stopped in with the law you noted.

    tarheelkate in reply to tom swift. | September 18, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    You missed the Arab slave trade, which existed for at least 1300 years and is not, I am convinced, yet entirely eliminated.

    Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | September 19, 2017 at 3:36 am

    It was probably an error to try to squeeze suppression of slavery into the “benefits” column on colonialism. It’s a two-edge sword at best. The African slave populations in the New World were brought there by England,

    And France, the Netherlands, Portugal, etc. But the key word there is brought. All the colonial powers did, before they turned abolitionist, was to move slaves from one place to another. They did not enslave anyone, and without them slavery would have continued unabated.

    (By the way, I’ve noticed a very recent leftist practise of linguistic dishonesty: instead of describing people as having owned slaves, they say they enslaved people. George Washington, they now tell us, enslaved people at his home, as if he were running some sort of kidnapping operation there. No, he did not. In his whole life he never enslaved anyone. Every slave he owned was already a slave before he or she came into his possession. He had nothing to do with their enslavement, and had he not acquired them they would have remained slaves.

      tom swift in reply to Milhouse. | September 20, 2017 at 3:08 am

      All the colonial powers did, before they turned abolitionist, was to move slaves from one place to another.

      Not quite true. There are known cases of Portuguese slavers rounding up most of the (sparse) populations of Pacific islands. But that had little to do with slavery in the North American colonies.

‘Slavery’ has never been unique to any country or any race of peoples or to any ethnicity. It is a depraved human condition that exists in the human soul, and that continues to flourish to this day in a variety of forms.

Rhodesia was a leading provider of agriculture in Africa. Zimbabwe, not so much. Facts are often racist, but most of the nations with the lowest national IQs are from black Africa:

Interestingly, Niall Ferguson, famed author and scholar, makes the same basic point, apparently without hazard to his career. What the infantile tantrums of the anti-colonialist left ignore is that a “case for colonialism” is not advocacy but, as the author modestly points out, an assessment of the pros and cons of colonialism historically and of its current legacy. No honest look at the Third World can evade the glaring reality that the humane, civil, just, competent attributes a former colony has (and most countries of the world have been colonies at one time) are largely legacies of its colonizers. Perhaps support from the esteemed professor would provide succor for a besieged colleague, though perhaps, given his comfortable Harvard sinecure, Ferguson has retired from active combat.

By the way, the fashionable notion that colonialism is a form of slavery is a ridiculous conceit. All colonialism amounts to is non-indigenous governance. Considering the sorry state of most of the Third World, outsourcing governance to those who have a better track record than the locals makes eminent sense.

There is also the interesting book on the same theme

“In Praise of Empires: Globalization and Order” – by D. Lal

BTW Edward Said has been well criticized by the book

“Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism” – by Ibn Warraq

I remember when “peer review” meant experts pointed out potential flaws in a paper. Now it seems to mean no more than clicking “like” on a Facebook page. Those who consider themselves academics and call for censorship must be severely and openly criticized en masse. It appears to me that those arguing against colonialism also argue for foreign aid of which I see no difference between the two.

I’m reminded of the Monty Python skit about “what have the Romans ever done for us?”

What should be concern in this discussion is the welfare of those we used to call “Joe S**t the ragpicker and Mrs. S**t and all the little S**ts” with some sympathy, referring to any locals in the vicinity of various overseas military installations, around which things were not boring.
Were they better off, worse off, or about the same under colonialism? I don’t think there’s any other legitimate question.
That said, European influence could be a catastrophe before any Europeans showed up. See the Great Death in the Americas where perhaps 90% of the population died of European diseases without every laying eyes on a European.
Or the Beaver Wars. The insatiable demand for furs set Native Americans fighting each other for control of the trade and its profits and the fighting could go on quite energetically without any direct French efforts.
It would be impossible to find records of traditional cultures before they were subject to European influence, even if not direct action.
So we don’t know how the S**t family was doing and so we don’t know whether their lot was improved.
That said,. the resources to build the Taj Mahal were sweated out of starving peasants just as the majestic cathedrals of Medieval Europe were paid for.

    “sweated out of starving peasants just as the majestic cathedrals of Medieval Europe were paid for”
    Is there some solid research on this point, or is it gratuitous derision? I find it entirely plausible that the same medieval nobles and peasants who risked everything to volunteer for crusade, would make similar sacrifices to build transcendent architecture that mirrored their transcendent faith. Forced laborers building munitions for WW2 Germany tended to botch the work, if cathedral construction was similarly “sweated out,” it is doubtful there would be a “majestic” result.

      Milhouse in reply to Mark30339. | September 25, 2017 at 6:48 am

      Nobody claimed that the craftsmen who built the cathedrals were forced laborers; they were well paid, so why would you expect them to botch it? But the money to pay them was indeed sweated out of starving peasants and serfs. The nobles had no honest money of their own; every penny they had was stolen from those who created the wealth. The crusaders were vicious thugs who signed up for the chance to rape, loot, and kill. Why would they give anything away?

Reminds me of the scene in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” where the Leftist are debating what the Roman occupiers have done and they start out with saying “What have the Roman’s really done for us?” and they end up thinking about the Sanitation. Roads, etc. Same can be said for Western Civilization.

When I step back from the details of the controversy, I marvel at how instant, how intense and how broad-based the response has been. This is not a fair fight or an honest dialogue — and we on the Right tend to be caught flat footed because we are so rooted in honest dialogue in order to nurture government by negotiated rule. The Academy (and its offspring at Google, Facebook & elsewhere) is so willing to show contempt for dialogue and go straight to repression — how ironic.
While this is chilling, it is also an opportunity (and I think this is Bruce Gilley’s subtext). What we may have here is an attempt to expose one of the Left’s over-reaction buttons. Perhaps there are more, and perhaps we can learn when to avoid them, and when to coordinate pushing multiple buttons to distract, divide and dilute the repressionists. The goal would be to serve our interests in restoring mutually embraced dialogue and avoiding further matriculation down the repression/resistance road.

The sheer numbers of Third World people migrating to Europe and the United States in search of a decent life is a strong testament to the truth of the professor’s assertion.

I couldn’t get the reply to open.
Civilization is built on agricultural surplus. That is, what can you get from a farmer after harvest and still leave him enough to survive to get the next harvest in.
All the people doing other things, including going on Crusade, had to eat without producing food. IOW the ag surplus was the foundation.
The masons and the scut labor and the supervisors all ate what the farmers were forced to give up.
From the Mound Builders of the Midwest to Europe up until the middle of the twentieth century, the upper classes have been larger than the lower orders. That’s a matter of nutrition and it means the uppers could command resources from the lowers that the lowers would dearly loved to have for themselves and their children.
Point is whether Joe S**t and his family were doing better afterwards, or worse. That the boss came from a different continent is monumentally unimportant in comparison.

When among acquaintances for lunch and I wish for quiet, I love to drop the, “Cortez saved the Aztecs from themselves” argument so I can quietly finish my meal.