by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 3
January 2023
Spotted
13:35

Decolonisation isn’t just about the West

Activists should acknowledge that non-Western powers are guilty too
by Peter Franklin
Why does this UN map only refer to former British and French territories?

Why is decolonisation such a hot topic right now? Wasn’t most of the world decolonised decades ago with the end of the old European empires? 

Well, in some ways, yes. But according to the academics who promote this concept, the process of decolonisation isn’t complete. For instance, in a piece for The Conversation, Mary Frances O’Dowd and Robyn Heckenberg argue that “colonisation is more than physical. It is also cultural and psychological”. Therefore it’s not enough to merely grant colonies their independence: colonial powers must also “challenge and change White superiority, nationalistic history and ‘truth’”. 


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One might suspect that the call to “decolonise the curriculum” in Western universities is a smokescreen for the woke Left, but it’s also more than that. It’s surely right for academics to question the assumptions that underpin their disciplines. Though overt imperialism may be vanishingly rare these days, we still conceptualise the world in ways that were formed in previous centuries.

For instance, why do we make a hard and fast distinction between Europe and its neighbouring continents of Asia and Africa? This would have made little sense to other cultures, like the ancient Greeks and Romans. Without indulging in bouts of self-flagellation, we should be fully conscious of the influence that the past has on our present-day thinking.

However, if the advocates of decolonisation want to be taken seriously as academics and not just activists, they need to ask themselves why their narrative is so heavily centred upon the empires of the West.

If you want to see this mindset clearly displayed, just look at the official United Nations map of “Non-Self-Governing Territories”. Basically, it’s a list of fragments from the British and French empires, plus a few territories governed by the U.S. and New Zealand. The only exception is Western Sahara, where there’s a footnoted reference to its Spanish colonial history, but no mention of the fact the current ruling power in that territory is Morocco. 

Not appearing on the map at all are territories controlled by other non-Western powers like China and Russia. There isn’t the slightest acknowledgement — despite all the evidence to contrary — that places like Tibet and Chechnya have been colonised.

The decolonisation movement therefore needs to take a dose of its own medicine and question its assumptions. Above all, why are some instances of colonisation endlessly re-examined while others are studiously disregarded? This glaring inconsistency is not sustainable. 

There’s one field of academic research where the indifference to non-western colonisation is beginning to crumble. According to a fascinating piece for Radio Free Europe, the invasion of Ukraine has prompted a major re-think among western scholars of Russian Studies and related disciplines:

Many scholars say the Russian state receives too much focus in academia at the expense of the colonised nations, regions, and groups, including Ukraine, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, as well as ethnic minority communities in Russia itself.
- Todd Prince

Indeed, a Grand Duchy centred upon medieval Moscow didn’t become a vast territory spanning eleven time zones without a spot of colonisation along the way. Further, as current events have made clear, this particular imperial project is ongoing.  

As much as we have cause to regret our own past, this mustn’t come at the expense of what is happening in the world today. 

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
25 days ago

The BBC and Liberal Left’s view of the British Raj is hopelessly partisan and inaccurate.
Much of the current fashion of supposedly “decolonising the curriculum” has in fact narrowed rather than broadened what is taught. It’s decades since any children were told the British Empire was simply a force of unalloyed good for the world, but the pendulum has swung far too far the other way. The current fashion is to teach that it was simply a 300 year carnival of atrocities and depredation. What lessons can be learned from History if it is shorn of all context and nuance?
Even writers as nominally well-versed in the history of the Raj as William Dalrymple now offer a revisionist view that gives viewers and readers a skewed version of the period.
One cannot view the Empire without setting it in the context of its era – comparing it to earlier times and the behaviour of other colonising powers. It is frankly stupid to imagine that India without the British would have been the unsullied, exotic paradise of some writers’ imaginations. If the British had not ruled India, then another nation would – and the colonial rule of several other European powers was notably less benign.
Dalrymple has called for the statue of Robert Clive to be torn down from its plinth outside the foreign office – I will admit he makes a pretty good case for it, and describes Clive as “a vicious asset stripper” with some justification. Yet the same writer has written in far less trenchant tones about earlier Indian invaders.
The British weren’t the first, and were very far from the worst, rulers and plunderers of India. The British reputation among Indians (especially Hindus) is, as a result, far less toxic than that of earlier conquerors.
Muslim (Arab and Turkic) warlord-led armies invaded the sub-continent in waves between the 8th and the 17th centuries. They sacked hundreds of cities and thousands of Hindu, Sikh and Jain temples and completely destroyed Buddhism in its birthplace. Afghanistan was a wholly Buddhist land before their arrival. Almost all of Buddha’s followers, and its monuments there, were obliterated.
The Arabs and Turks enslaved tens of millions of native “infidels” and the death toll – according to eminent Indian historian, Professor KS Lal, – stood at “no fewer than 82 million persons”. Will Durant – another rather more impartial historian than Dalyrmple – wrote: “The Muslim conquest of India is probably the bloodiest stay in history, ….. ….. the works of Stalin, Hitler and the Holocaust not excepted.” There are huge statues eulogising these warlords all over Pakistan and Muslim Central Asia – William Dalrymple doesn’t appear exercised by their existence. Does he hold the white British to a higher standard, or the non-white, non-British to a lower one? The BBC refer to such “problematic” ideas as the “soft bigotry of low expectations”
Whatever the bitterness of Indians about the British Raj is as nothing to their bitterness towards the equally foreign and much more appalling Muslim Raj that preceded it.
So yes, when discussing our imperial past, of course we should include the very real and terrible crimes of the British in India – but we must also set the history and its legacy in context. Look at the India of today: The Congress Party was founded by the British and the first democratic elections were held under their aegis. India’s democracy, its parliament, its constitution, its legal system, its army, its civil service, its judiciary, its police, not to mention its vast railway network, are entirely the creation of the British. They also introduced cricket, a pastime of which Indians are more than a little fond.
The British did good as well as evil.
What did the preceding invaders – the ones Dalrymple holds in such regard – do that was good?

Last edited 25 days ago by Paddy Taylor
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
25 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Sadly Dalrymple has “gone native” as we used to say!
Even his dress sense leaves a lot to be desired.

Had the Comte de Lally triumphed at Wandiwash in 1760, would he seriously contend that the avaricious French would have been any less rapacious than us?

Judging by their later exit from both Indochina and Algeria, the Indians “got off lightly”, I would say.

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Much sense in this comment but: Dalrymple is writing for a British audience who have control over Clive’s statue, and none of the others; this article is not about the British in India, so why not wait for a relevant one to pop up to comment upon?

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Odd response.
I wasn’t complaining about Dalrymple’s call for Clive’s statue to be toppled – I said he made a pretty compelling argument for it. My comment was more on the monocular revsionist History that is the natural by-product of supposedly “decolonising” the curriculum.
That is entirely in keeping with the premise set out in the first five paragraphs of the article.

Last edited 24 days ago by Paddy Taylor
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
24 days ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

It’s funny how we in the West are criticised for any reference to the Crusades and related conquests, whilst Muslims revel in the glory of their conquest of Spain and Eastern Europe, lamenting their loss of these territories (a la Putin and the USSR) and expressing nostalgia for their historic imperial successes.

Andrew Buckley
Andrew Buckley
25 days ago

What on earth would be the point of attacking the old Russia, China, Zanzibar, Gulf Emirates, Kingdom of Dahomey etc (or even Spain and Portugal?) for all these past misdemeanors?
De-colonising the agenda, white privilege, reparations for slavery etc. are, just yet another neo-marxist fabrication to try to enhance their chances of pushing their rather weird ideas

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
25 days ago

It’s all a performative grift. Today’s evil colonizer narrative was developed in the west, and is part and parcel of the whole grievance studies movement that demonizes everything about the west.

The very notion of the evil colonizer can only be developed in nations that support freedom and internal dissent. Active colonizers like Russia and China would literally crush any internal attempt to label themselves as colonizers.

International organizations like the UN and various NGOs feed the self hate and guilt of western democracies to extract benefits for themselves, whether it be jobs, funding or future reparations. It’s a grift.

These groups ignore active colonizers today because Russia and China would tell them to pound sand. There’s literally no benefit for the UN and its members to label Russia and China as evil colonizers. Instead, these international organizations can enlist the support of repressive regimes in their effort to demonize and monetize the narrative of the evil western colonizers.

Make no mistake though, the whole notion of evil colonizer will only be tolerated and sustained in nations that actually support freedom.

Last edited 25 days ago by clearmedia
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
25 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

“It’s all a performative grift. “
Absolutely right.
The people pushing this agenda are not, even remotely, in the ‘Equality’ business, they are in the ‘Grievance’ business.
And the racial grievance industry is enjoying a boom time. There are careers to be had and fortunes to be made. Who cares if we’re speaking the truth if we can make a buck from spreading falsehoods! No sense in trying to bring communities together when your lucrative career depends on stoking resentment on one side of the racial divide and feeding a sense of guilt to the other.
Mary Frances O’Dowd and Robyn Heckenberg, along with fellow hucksters like Robin Di Angelo, Ibram X Kendi, Kehinde Andrews and the Guardian’s Afua Hirsch, are basically little more than arms dealers in the culture war.

Last edited 25 days ago by Paddy Taylor
Richard Gasson
Richard Gasson
24 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Isn’t this an example of the Moynihan principle

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
25 days ago

World history is nothing but a history of colonisation Prussia colonised the independent states that formed Germany. India was colonised by the Mughals before the East India Company acquired territory and influence throughout India. African kingdoms were constantly colonising their neighbours. As the author points out the process has not ceased and the expansion of the Principality of Moscow to the control of many countries continues today. The degree to which the conquering people are willing to share rule has, of course, differed. Those conquests involving contiguous territories where the inhabitants have been culturally absorbed tend to be the empires that endure.

It is up to the colonised people to decide what cultural inheritance they wish to retain , absorb or recreate on obtaining independence. It is not the job of the former colonial power to dictate this or seek to alter their own culture, history and practices to meet the expectations and hopes of the people of their former colonies. If Indians wish to cast off colonial practices or retain them that is up to them. Equally there can be no obligation on us to alter our culture. The idea that it is is merely base politics and propaganda.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
25 days ago

By focusing on past colonizations we are missing the most pressing form of colonization going on right now within our schools, colleges and other public institutions: the neutering of manhood, the sowing of tribal divisions, the breaking of crucial social taboos, the break down of families, the removal of spiritual and historical artifacts, the rise of nonsensical sexual identities – these have ever been the tools of those who seek to beat other nations states and civilizations into submission.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
25 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Interesting (and subtle) point, Julian: the institutions that have for centuries sustained the Western nations and the idea of self-government, have been infiltrated by people who hate the Western Ideals, desire unicameral executive authority, and have turned these institutions into laboratories of neo-Marxist, “Get-Whitey” propaganda.
The author notes how this is playing out in “our” Universities – farewell to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association, and hello to grifters getting paid to be thought police.

Would they prefer to have the West (with its rule of law, respect for the individual regardless of demographic characteristics) colonized by Gengis Khan?

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
25 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

These ideas are of course also being exported to other parts of the world, where other cultures are less enlightened that we are.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
25 days ago

The colonialists went to undeveloped countries and built roads and bridges, brought peace, created institutions and encouraged agriculture and trade. The liberal interventionists, the Blairs, Clintons, Soros etc went to undeveloped countries, reduced them to rubble strewn wastelands, and then went home. But we’re supposed to hate and revile the former?
Yep, that makes perfect sense.

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Well, some colonialists did, and some didn’t; I suspect mostly the latter. Out of interest, where did George Soros reduce a country to a ‘rubble strewn wasteland’?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Soros was one of Hilary Clinton’s most generous backers.

martin logan
martin logan
24 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Your argument seems to be that the real problem was withdrawing from Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, after each was invaded. Quite a few colonies were gained through often destructive wars. It’s just that the colonizers stayed.
Given Colin Powell’s “You break it, you own it” dictum, that might actually make some sense.
Pure altruism may actually cause more problems than it solves.

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Hardly surprising given her oppo! So not quite the same then. As a massive philanthropist giving to poverty reduction and education I would say a force for good, unless you believe those crackpot conspiracy theories, which is of course your right.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
25 days ago

“Clearly, a civilization that feels guilty for everything it is and does will lack the energy and conviction to defend itself.”

Jean Francois Revel

j watson
j watson
25 days ago

V much agree with the Author’s sentiment. Same with the debate about western atonement for slavery – similar illumination should be shown on the trade that went east and continued for longer.
History though shouldn’t be about either/or. Being open to the different perspectives, viewpoints and interpretations is one of the great things about the West and we should not lose confidence because some perspectives do not show our forebears in quite as good light as we might have assumed. We remain most defined by our values and an open mind and openness to learning is one of the proudest achievements. Understanding the past and what it means for us today must be pluralistic for this reason.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
25 days ago
Reply to  j watson

I don’t often agree with your views, but you’ve hit the nail on the head here. The values of open enquiry engendered through the Enlightenment (itself a culmination of centuries of thinking) present the opportunity to critique ourselves. It’d be a mistake to assume that makes us weak – it’s absolutely a strength.
The first of the 2022 Reith Lectures, by Chimamda Ngozi Adichie, is worth watching in this regard:
BBC iPlayer – The Reith Lectures

Last edited 25 days ago by Steve Murray
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
23 days ago
Reply to  j watson

Most intellectuals have little experience of the World and no responsibility of making life or death decisions. A product of middle class suburban upbringing, university and then office work. Compare with Orwell; Kings Scholar at Eton, then Burma Police for five, years, lived rough, fought in Spanish Civil war, etc.
It is laughable to believe that an intellectual can understand something in the past if they have no experience beyond safe comfortable office work.
The experience of someone who led Indians in combat in WW2 and then worked as as engineer in Africa in the 1940s to 1960s, undertaking construction of massive projects in remote areas, would provide a knowledge of the World beyond the comprehension of modern writers. Someone who had witnessed the horrors of Calcutta in 1947 and Biafra in the late 1960s would seen communal hatreds in the extreme.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
25 days ago

Great counterpunch by Peter Franklin to the current hypocrisy of exclusively attacking Western historical perspectives. By all means let’s question ourselves, but without an agenda. In the spirit of inclusiveness, we should question all global hegemonies.
More of this needed in 2023.

AC Harper
AC Harper
25 days ago

“However, if the advocates of decolonisation want to be taken seriously as academics and not just activists…”
Perhaps they just wish to bathe in the status of being one of the Elite, and paid for it? Just as wittering on about the mythical ‘Working Man’, Feminist Movement, Civil Rights, Stonewall, Climate Change and Vaccination have all been markers of ‘righteousness? Little to do with the truth of the matters under discussion but all to do with the approval of the Powers That Be?

John Riordan
John Riordan
25 days ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I agree. They are not interested in being taken seriously as academics, because that would make them accountable and subject to the rigours of academic discipline. And why would they bother with that, when they’ve already got taxpayer-funded jobs in academia without any of the traditional requirements?

Last edited 25 days ago by John Riordan
Jim R
Jim R
25 days ago

Although unfashionable today, one could argue quite persuasively that colonization was an enormous benefit for the colonized people on nearly any objective measure. As always, Monty Python summarized people’s blindness on this best:
“All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”
“Brought peace.”
“Oh. Peace? Shut up!”

Last edited 25 days ago by Jim R
Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

I suspect that those indigenous peoples killed off in various genocides (eg of many: Patagonians; SW Africans; Americans; Australians) didn’t get much benefit, or even those not killed off in that genocide but left living in degradation (eg of many: Americans; Australians; Tibetans; Chechnyans). And as for the Romans, didn’t they enslave quite a lot of their subject peoples, and nick their best land?

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

How does that justify a downvote, or whatever it’s called? What have I said that is false?

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
23 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Examine the migration of Nguni peoples post 1500. What brought the slaughter to an end was Shaka who created an empire the size of Europe. However, Shaka became so psychopathic he was killed by his brothers.The Ndebele Shona conflict is a relict of Shaka’s conquest.
Also the Hutsi/Tutsi conflict, Biafran and Congo conflicts; all tribal or religious..

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
24 days ago

Isn’t demanding that third world countries stop using fossil fuels a form of colonization? Or stop using modern fertilizers as happened in Sri Lanka. Or that they introduce gay marriage, abortion and other western rights that don’t exist in their culture? What if international aid and trade is withheld to enforce compliance. How is this different than imposing Christianity on third world countries a hundred years ago.

Iwan Hughes
Iwan Hughes
24 days ago

Since the decolonisations of the last seventy years or so, it has become clear that, with a few notable exceptions, the ‘liberated’ countries learned nothing from their contact with European Civilisation, and, freed to run their own affairs, most proved unable to run a bath. We are daily exhorted in the media to contribute to charities devoted to rectifying the structural and moral paucity of these states, whether by installing clean water supplies or saving their female children from barbarous treatment of various kinds. We matured beyond these sort of failings many years ago, and yet, somehow, it’s all our fault. Is it really?

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
24 days ago

The Roman Empire colonised vast tracts of North Africa and the Middle East; the USSR colonised a huge political and territorial geography to create its own evil Empire following the brutal arrival of Lenin in 1917.
From the outset Lenin was determined to foment revolution in the non-communist world and spread Marxist communism globally and established the Comintern (founded 1919). The USSR early in its existence created an office for decolonisation which supported initiatives by the likes of the British Communist Party and nationalist movements in the colonies. WW2 created an opportunity for USSR to expand its empire by subjugating large European populations within its brutal régime. During the Cold War the USSR provided massive funding and support in kind (i.e. weapons, logistics, etc.) to [especially] African ‘liberation’ movements; without whose backing these movements would never have prevailed. These so-called liberation struggles were, in any case, nothing more than ‘acquisition struggles’ to capture political dictatorial power and enable the new leaders to purloin the wealth created under British colonial rule without having to create it themselves.
British colonialism was generally benevolent and respectful of native cultures, whom it groomed (haplessly, as history has shown) for ultimate independence and self-government. This was the essential policy thrust of the Colonial Office as implemented by its governors in the individual colonies. The current Woking Class seeks to destroy any historical belief that British colonialism might have been an overall force for good, in spite of the negative aspects which nobody sensible would deny. That this elite is succeeding in this endeavour is a frightening lesson how those in power can so swiftly (i.e. in the past 5-10 years) and ruthlessly discredit a nation’s history and thereby dismantle cultural identity and national pride (as distinct from jingoism); though the incubation has been unswerving over the decades since WW1.

Michael James
Michael James
24 days ago

”The decolonisation movement therefore needs to take a dose of its own medicine and question its assumptions.’
This article’s unquestioned assumption is that the declonisation movement is seriously devoted to professional academic standards. What if it isn’t?

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
24 days ago

An unpopular opinion here but for me Russia did not “colonise” Ukraine in the way it did other parts of the Russian empire. Ukraine (not that there was ever a united Ukrainian state) was linguistically, ethnicly, culturally and religiously very similar to Russia. As a schoolboy i did russian language and can still recognise that Ukrainian and Russian are jist dialects – closer to Geordie or Scouse than a seperate language. Kiev is the founding city of Orthodox “Rus” (which became Russia). Rusky Mir doesn’t stand up without this pillar which is why the attempt to split the ukrainian church from the Moscow patriarchate seemed so ridiculous and politicqlly motivated at the time and still does. It is like saying that in the future Novgorod might secede from Moscow and set up its own church.

Compare Ukraine to Chechnya for example – ethnicity, religion, culture and language far different to the average russian where russia planted its own people (cossacks) to keep the local population at bay. That is colonisation. You don’t hear too many making this point. Ukraine is to Russia what Scotland is to Britain. A fundamental part without which it can’t be whole – unlike the central asian states or the farther reaches of the country.

It doesn’t make what Putin is doing right but that is the context. You can support Ukraine without buying into the nationalist propaganda which has been put out to help the war effort.

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

A couple of points here.
Geordie and Scouse are the same language, ie same words, grammar and spelling, just pronounced differently with a very few words unique to each region. Is that really the same as Russian and Ukrainian? With zero knowledge of the language I can see that they are spelt differently at least!
Scotland is indeed a fundamental part of Britain, thanks to assorted conquests by England, but it ain’t any part of England!

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
24 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Thanks. To a foreign ear Scouse and Geordie sound very different to RP, have different words, and grammar. Ukrainian is similarly distinct but to call it a seperate language is like saying that the russian spoken in the Far East is a different language to that in Moscow. Up until a few decades ago it wasn’t an issue for anyone other than linguists – ordinary people spoke a mixture of Russian and Ukrainian, in the east of Ukraine more russian and in the west less.

I think you have your history wrong on Scotland’s place in the British state – it was a peaceful, equal and voluntary union requested by the scots after about a century of fudge (where the two crowns were held by the same monarch) which formed Britain, not conquest.

martin logan
martin logan
24 days ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Do I assume that you can read Ukrainian?

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

I respectfully disagree on both posts (as a native Englishman whose been around a bit).
Scouse and Geordie are only as different as many English regional accents were (think Cockney, Brum, Devon etc). Nowadays there is no substantial difference (you would be very hard pushed to find any English person struggling to understand either) and there are very, very few words left unique to each city. The written word is exactly the same, and always has been in both grammar and spelling – is that the case with Russian and Ukrainian?
Scotland and England were at war for a long time. The Union of the Crowns in 1603 was most certainly not a Union of States. Scotland mostly took the King’s side in the Civil War and formed Charles II’s army defeated at Worcester in 1651. Cromwell then invaded and conquered (those words are no exaggeration) Scotland leaving Monck there as head of an army of occupation (again no exaggeration and even he daren’t venture far into the Highlands). After the Restoration of 1660 relations were easier but the Scots were bankrupted by the Darien expedition and England baled them out with a few wagons of gold (literally!) to buy the union of 1707. It was neither voluntary (under monetary duress), equal (higher per capita representation of English in both Commons and Lords) or peaceful (you may have heard of a couple of wee stooshies in 1715 and 1745).

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
8 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

I think that the point still stands on the language. If you were to spell them phoenetically most accents (I only pick out Scouse and Geordie as they come most readily to mind) would look completely different to standard written english, both in spelling and grammar. Listen to Jimmy Carr’s comedy for examples – Brum “how am yaw?” Instead of “how are you?”. I am saying that os essentially the same difference that has been picked out and exaggerated by Ukrainian nationalists. Most Ukrainians would understand a Russian speaker walking into their shop.

The Scots were mostly on the side of parliament at the start of the civil war and kicked it off (Presbyterians, Prayer book war etc.). That is not to say that there weren’t Royalists (and later Jacobites) in Scotland but they were never a majority – look how small the army the king raised for Worcester (half the size of the Parliamentary army and not all scots) or for the two “jacobite risings”.

martin logan
martin logan
24 days ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Sorry, Muscovy’s control was a rather short period in Ukraine’s long history. The Lithuanian/Polish hegemony was longer, and far more significant.
And any talk of “Rusky Mir” is just nonsense. It’s already alienated every Central Asian republic, for understandable reasons.
Moreover, Russia’s eventual takeover of Ukraine was quite violent. Ever heard of Mazeppa? Likewise the conquest of the Tatar enclave of Crimea was a military conquest.
And being a Russian speaker, I can state categorically that Ukrainian is far more than a “dialect.” Braid Scots is very much closer to standard English than Ukrainian is to Russian.
A far better comparison is Ireland. Obviously a minority on the island still look to Britain. But the majority are no more likely to join with Britain than Ukrainians are to rejoin Russia.
In both cases military attempts to subdue a former colony just created a hostile, vengeful neighbour.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
8 days ago
Reply to  martin logan

Thanks for helping my case. Broad Scots (which i assume you are referring to) is basically english spelt differently – see the english vs Scots version of Auld lang syne on wikipedia. While not an exact comparison (what would be?) even another level of distinction still mark them out as the same language – much closer than either to polish or czech for instance.

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago

As a service to the majority of the commentators here, may I recommend the History Reclaimed website and newsletter. It is a counterbalance to what most of you rail against (I won’t use that horrible, misused word beginning with w!) although in my humble opinion leans a little too far ‘right’; however I do like some balance in what I read. Anyway, here is a current article about how the British did not loot India – I expect that you will like it:
https://historyreclaimed.co.uk/did-the-british-loot-india/?mc_cid=cd215101f5&mc_eid=49b00b87eb

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
23 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

History Reclaimed is a good website and I endorse your recommendation.

Josef O
Josef O
24 days ago

This effort to blame the “West” of colonisation is pretentious and has the aim to create a sense of guilt which lowers the defences against the authoritarian powers who try to take advantage. The respect for the freedom of people is a result of the progress made by Western civilizations after the birth of the enlightenment. Enslaving and deporting defeated populations is already mentioned in the Hebrew Bible almost three thousand years ago:the deportation of the ten tribes of Israel in 722 BC by the Assyrians or the deportation of the remaining two tribes by the Babylonians in 586 BC. And this is just a small fraction.

Last edited 24 days ago by Josef Oskar
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
24 days ago

Why didnt Africans colonise Europe and find America? They had just the same opportunity? Why have African, and certain Islamic countries not advanced as other continents and countries for nigh 2000 years? Please can someone explain, using fact based, proven empirical evidence?

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
25 days ago

If the sort of thinking in the above article catches on, Russia will become a small rump state shorn of its historic interior, which is exactly what NATO would like most.

Tony Price
Tony Price
24 days ago

No – NATO would like to halt Russian imperialism and protect its members from invasion.

martin logan
martin logan
24 days ago

Nobody ever asked for Russia to give up Siberia. Indeed, no one is arguing for that now.
Sounds like the current internal propaganda/hysteria in Putin’s Russia:
“Without Ukraine–Russia won’t exist !!”
Actually, I think it will…

Last edited 24 days ago by Martin Logan
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
24 days ago

“As much as we have cause to regret our own past, this mustn’t come at the expense of what is happening in the world today.”

I don’t regret our own past in the slightest. That’s a nonsensical concept – if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t exist.

Mike Cook
Mike Cook
24 days ago

Bravo to tiny Israel – the only country in the world able to
de-colonise and re-establish itself, shaking off centuries of colonisation by one empire after another, from the Romans, to the Arabs, to the Ottomans when the British arrived in 1917.
Strange though, one would have thought that those pushing the decolonisation agenda would laud Israel, but the opposite is true, I wonder why?

Paul Hemphill
Paul Hemphill
24 days ago

“…Grand Duchy centred upon medieval Moscow didn’t become a vast territory spanning eleven time zones without a spot of colonisation along the way. Further, as current events have made clear, this particular imperial project is ongoing”.
indeed, many in the West do indeed ignore the East. Whilst Americans were pushing the frontier westwards, the Russians had their “wild east”, a process of territorial expansion as ruthless and as brutal as “how the west was won”.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
23 days ago

The greatest power is knowledge which is what Britain passed on when we set up schools, universities and hospitals which is why we were supported by Syed Ahmad Khan.
Syed Ahmad Khan – Wikipedia
Sir Syed defines education “as the process to bring about whatever good is in man.”
There was also A Curetjee who was FRS.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardaseer_Cursetjee
By 1947 there were Indian who were Brigadiers.
Britain never had ban on people entering education .Prince Ranji The Cricketer was at Cambridge in the late 19th Century, Nehru went to Harrow and Trinity Cambridge.
The East India Company introduced slection based upon exams which Indians were able to sit from the early 19th century. Slection based upon exams was further developed when Britain took over from the EIC. There were entrance exams for ICS, Army, Police, Forestry Service, Railways, Universities and Medical Schools. Post 1947, Indians wore their ICS ties.
Much of the problem with colonial issues are due to the Americans and French.
There was an Indians who was majors with a DSO banned from a hotel in WW2 in the USA. It was American officers who objected to Larry Constantine , the West Indian cricketer staying in a hotel; not Britons. There has been no limiot on Jewish people entering universities. By the 1850s Britain had Jewish MP who was also a Baronet. Ther was an Indian Baronet by the 1830s.
Britain withdrew from Empire and did not creat an Indo China or Algeria.
It was understood by the ICS / Army that Empire was coming to an end by the mid 1930s and there was tacit agreement that Indians would fight for Britain and we would leave. Proof of the loyalty earned by British officers are the vast numbers of Indian Order of Merit ( especially First Class, equal to a VC ), VCs, GCs and other medals awarded for bravery. Very few Indians captured in WW2 fought for Japanese or Germans. In WW1 and WW2 the largest volunteer army was from India. Even though Independence was being discussed in the `1930s, millions of Indians volunteered to fight in WW2 and did so bravely.
Did more Indians fight the Germans in North Africa than those from occupied Europe? How many French, Danes, Belgians, Dutch, Danes and Norwegians , etc were fighting for the Allies?
At Imphal, Kohima and Burma Campaign, Indians fought bravely against the Japanese: why when they could have attacked the British?
The Battle of Sargarhi is a good example of where British officers were able to earn the loyalty of Sikhs. The Sikhs chose to die rather than surrender because they had made oaths of loyalty. One does not make oaths of loyalty to those one despises as cowards.
Battle of Saragarhi – Wikipedia
During WW2, the Indians could have risen up against the British but did not: why ? The British were able to earn the respect of many Indians. What most writers and intellectuals lack is an understanding that respect can be earned( apart from Orwell). Intellectuals and writers are voyeurs and therfore lack the experience of earning respect such that a person would one entrust one’s life to ? The respect by which someone can inspire others to acts of bravery, even their deaths.

William Brand
William Brand
23 days ago

Would a member of the miority Luo or Masi tribes in Kenya be better off with an English overlord than a kikyu local ruler. A Luo became American president but has no chance in his native Kenya. Independence just exchanged rule by the biggest tribe for European masters in countries with multiple tribes.