what benefits, if any, there were in colonialism? Give examples. If there were no benefits, explain this view. Examine and explain what you consider to be the most serious harm done by colonialism.Give examples.
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Colonialism implies the economic exploitation of one country by another, and during the age of empires, that was the sad history of Europe and the New World. History would have been quite different if and equal trade could have been established from the very beginning between the raw materials of a colony and the manufactures of an industrialized country.
Certainly some of the negative aspects within a given colony included the dispersion, destitution and death of natives, the institution of slavery in places, and the political subjugation of natives and colonists by the European country. However, over time, trade increased, commerce increased, and the standard of living in the colony rose, to the point where it could break away from the "Mother" Country. The United States revolting against Britain and Central and South American revolting against Spain provide examples. All the disadvantages were not solely the colony's; in the case of Spain, the exploitation of gold within the Central American colonies ended by destroying the economy in Spain, and cleared the way for England's ascension into a world empire. The competition for colonies, beginning with the Age of Exploration in the 1500's, were one of the contributing factors to the First World War.
There were some benefits to colonialism, depending on the country. For example, the United States brought more democracy and economic expansion to the Philippines than would (arguably) have existed if the US had never colonized the islands. As someone who is half-Filipino myself, I am not trying to claim that the US occupation was all for the good. However, the Philippines were, for example, the first country in Asia to have a freely elected national legislature. This, along with the sorts of economic and social (education, hygiene) changes brought by the Americans show that colonialism was not always 100% bad.
Many of the countries that were under Colonial governments enjoyed a posterity heretofore never known. There was improved education, industry, discoveries of natural resources, economic progress. In order to realize the negative aspects of the end of colonialism, one only needs to look at the history of some countries such as Uganda which after the English withdrew fell under the tyranny of Idi Amin Dada who ruled from 1971-1979. For, the number of people killed as a result of Amin's regime of terror, savagery, and even cannibalism is estimated by international observers and human rights groups to range from 100,000 to 500,000.
After the end of colonialism, many of the people who were under English colonialism immigrated into England. Last summer's rioting and social problems in London point to some of the negative issues facing European countries that now have these immigrants from former colonies.
Some historians who have some good things to say about colonialism (such as Niall Ferguson, as in his most recent book The West and the Rest, as well as others) argue that colonialism sometimes greatly improved the health and education systems of the affected countries, at least in comparison with what existed before. The legacy of British colonialism in particular (such historians argue) was often one of laying the foundations for democratic governments, at least in comparison with what existed before. Ferguson makes an interesting contrast between British colonialism in North America and Spanish colonialism in Central and South American. It's worth pointing out, however, that some of Ferguson's arguments have been vigorously attacked.
I can think of two more case-study examples of the benefits of colonialism; India and The American Colonies.
First, India, while being ruled as a part of the British Empire after the disasterous Sepoy Rebellion, experianced an unprecidented level of industrialization and infastructure investment, mostly contributed by Britain. Railroads, telegraphs, roads, powerplants and mills were all build by the British, and when Indian achieved its independence in 1947, they kept all the infastructure. The first schools and universities in India were also built by the British, and many Indians admitted these were all good things.
Also, the American Colonies in 1755 had to fight a very long and devestating war with their old advasaries, France. The British Army, came over to North American and absorbed most of the cost and casualties that ultimately removed the French from the New World and allowed the Americans to spread west.
These are positives, but may be outweighed by the negative factors.
Many of the so-called benefits of colonialism helped to remedy situations that colonialists created. Finding cures for diseases that Europeans brought in the first place is hardly a contribution. Niall Ferguson's book makes assumptions about western democracy and capitalism that are highly subjective at best. I think many individuals in colonial societies benefited from colonial rule, but for the vast majority of colonial people, I see the colonial experience as a net negative. But it happened, and I think the way forward is not to justify it, as Ferguson, despite his protestations to the contrary, is trying to do, or to condemn colonizing nations. Rather we need to think of it as another example of the ways in which societies, including societies conquered by colonial powers, have oppressed and made violence against each other over the centuries. The more conscious we are that these things happen, the less likely (one hopes) we are to repeat them.
In my view the benefits of colonialism are dual and diverse.The colonialist gained immense economic and political benefits. They exploited the natural resources that were available in the colonies for their own benefit. The cheap and sometimes forced labour meant they had the needed manpower to maximize their gains. colonies also provided a ready market for manufactured goods .many of the western colonial countries increased their global political influence through these territories.For the colonised the main benefits were improved health services and education.In non literate societies,the learned colonial languages enabled the colonised to record their own history and realities, which are different from some of the colonial records. Colonial influence through christianity made it possible for some horrible traditional practices to change,a good example is the killing of twins in some regions of Nigeria and canibalism in various African and pacific countries.
The greatest harm done to the colonized is the destruction of their traditional values and customs. colonialists made scant effort to understand the customs of the people they colonised. Many had an ethnocentric view of all issues which were racist. In merging different groups to form countries, No effort was made to build unity and understanding between the different groups.There were discriminations favouring some groups which is the foundation of many ethnic conflicts in African nations .
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