[SPORK] Was Colonialism good or bad for the world? (was: Q: Was British rule bad or good for India? and before that: The rhetoric of liberation...)

JS Kelly jskelly@jskelly.com
Fri, 21 Mar 2003 12:02:08 -0800 (PST)

to isolate just india and just britain is to look at such a small slice of
the picture. so many of today's '3d world' countries are former colonies
of england, france, italy, spain, portugal, belgium, holland (and in the
end, germany). given that it is impossible to know 'what would have
been,' the history and outcomes of that system taken as a whole seem to be
pretty solidly on the negative side.

On Fri, 21 Mar 2003, Justin Mason wrote:

> Rishab Aiyer Ghosh said:
> > let's say the impact of british rule on india was too large, over too large
> > a period of time, to answer that question either way. "was it bad" is easy
> > to demonstrate with examples of the usual colonial brutality; "was it good"
> > generally relies on "where would india be were it not for british rule" 
> > scenarios which are impossible to prove, one way or another.
> > 
> > certainly, there are positive attributes to india today that arguably owe
> > something to british rule (english, democracy, common law); whether things
> > would have been worse _without_ british rule is impossible to say, but it is
> > also easy to falsify any causal effect of british rule, since other countries
> > they ruled haven't ended up with india's democracy.
> Good answer!
> I'm not from the subcontinent, but I am from another ex-british colony ;)
> My answer, if you'd asked the same thing about the republic of Ireland, is
> that it certainly *changed* that country's destiny massively.  It would
> have been very different without it, but we can't be sure exactly *how*.
> Having said that, there is definitely a case for answering "was it bad"
> with cases of arbitrary border-drawing, resettlement, ethnic cleansing,
> exile, divide-and-conquer tactics etc. which took place heavily in both
> colonies (as far as I know) and have had an extremely long-lasting effect.
> --j.