Colonialism and Multiculturalism


Colonialism has taken a lot of blame for the problems of several Asian and African countries. But these places were "behind" that is why they fell to colonial powers. They face serious problems even after the colonialists left. Why? Because the old "bad" institutions were revived. See Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, etc. (Corruption, female mutilation.) Also Out of America by Keith B. Richburg.

It is true that the colonialists exploited the resources of these countries but that does not seem to be the major source of their misery. Goa is the most prosperous state in India (that became independent in 1947) maybe because it stayed under Portuguese rule till 1961. (Goa is India's richest state with a GDP per capita two and a half times that of the country as a whole. It was ranked the best placed state by the Eleventh Finance Commission for its infrastructure and ranked on top for the best quality of life in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators - Wikipedia)

Moving a society from the pre-industrial age to the modern age it is a haunting task. In the most successful case (Japan) this was done under authoritarian rule. Japan did not become a democracy until after 1945. The other relatively successful case (Turkey) also made the transition under authoritarian rule (Kemal). Fareed Zakaria (in The Future of Freedom) argues that economic development must come before democracy can take root.

Multiculturalism as Means of Oppression

Multiculturalism is a favorite of the progressives but it has its dark side. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has pointed the severe effects on its members (esp. women) by allowing an immigrant group to "self-govern" itself. I will add to that the following. "Cultural Autonomy" discourages assimilation and keeps the immigrant group distinct. It limits their access to the professions and, at some time in the future, makes easier their expulsion.

In an underdeveloped country respect for the "local culture" is often used by the ruling elite to keep people under control. I was amused to hear the same arguments used by the "right" in Greece in favor of local traditions also used by the "left" in the U.S. as part of a progressive agenda.

Under multiculturalism we may classify various course of "ethnic" studies (mainly African-American) offered at various Universities. The best opinion on this topic that I have read is by the Sir Arthur Lewis. He is an African-British who was born in the British Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. He has had a distinguished career as an economist, knighted in 1963 for his contributions to economics and winning the Nobel prize in 1979. He was on the faculty of Princeton University during 1963-1991 and he wrote the following in 1973:

"I yield to none in thinking that every respectable university should give courses on African life and on Afro-American life, which are of course two entirely different subjects .... It is, however. my hope that they will be attended mostly by white students. ...

The principal argument for forcing black students to spend a great deal of their time in college studying African and Afro-American anthropology, history, languages and literature is that they need such studies to overcome their racial inferiority complex. I am not impressed by this argument. The youngster discovers that he is black around thc age of six or seven: from then (everything tries) to persuade him that he is an inferior species of homo sapiens. By the time he is I4 or 15 he has made up his mind on this one way or the other. Nothing that the college can do is going to have much effect on his basic personality.

Let the clever young black go a university to study engineering. medicine, chemistry. economics law. agriculture and other subjects which are going to be of value to him and his people, And let thc clever whites go to college to read black novels, ,,,,,,: they are the one to whom this will come as eye-opener."

Photocopy of original statement by Prof. Lewis

Who killed the Arab Golden Age? (source: Ferguson, p. 68-)

The Ottomans put the clergy in charge of the state. Already by the end of the 11th century Islamic clerics repeated the Christian clerics' argument that Greek philosophy was incompatible withe the holy books. A Syrian polymath, Taqi al-Din [Takiyuddin al-Rasid] (1521/6-1585) built an observatory in Istanbul. He was the author of more than ninety books on a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy, clocks, engineering, mathematics, mechanics, optics and natural philosophy. Taqi al-Din's method of finding coordinates of stars was reportedly more precise than those of his contemporaries, Tycho Brahe and Nicolas Copernicus. Brahe is thought to have been aware of Taqi al-Din's work. (Wikipedia)

A comet was sighted over Istabbul on 9/11/1577 and Takiyuddin predicted an Ottoman military victory. The clergy claimed it was blasphemous to pry into the secrets of heaven. In 1580 the observatory was demolished. He was lucky not to be killed as had the Samarkand astronomer Ulugh Beg (1394-1449). According to Wikipedia that death may have been political.

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