The benefits and dis-benefits of colonialism

A few years ago, published the following article of mine – ‘The pros and cons of British colonialism’. It has attracted attention continuously ever since. At about 800 words in length, it is easy to read.

It is, of course, strange to have an anti-colonial, a former British subject, acknowledge any benefits to subject peoples from colonialism. I instanced the English language as a significant benefit. It is now an international language. My relatives, by blood and marriage, are now well-entrenched citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore – as part of the Ceylon Tamil diaspora.

Regrettably, some of us have lost our heritage – except in our minds. Some of us speak only English, have no knowledge of our distant origins as Dravidians, and have little appreciation of the literary wealth of our distant forbears, the Tamils of India. These are the ‘cons’ of modernisation, offsetting the ‘pros’ derived from mastery of the English language.

Looking at the level of education experienced by my Australian children and grandchildren, I came to realise how well educated I was by the colonial British. I received a broader and deeper education than did my descendants! That the British people at home are significantly more tolerant than many (most?) of our colonial rulers in British Malaya was proven by 2 of my sisters who acquired valuable qualifications in Britain after WW2. As a schoolboy, I remember my elders referring to the ‘upstarts’ who ruled us.

Other benefits were British law and Western democracy. Codified law, drawing upon precedents, does offer a clearer path from the past to the present. However, I believe that the adversarial system in courts, and which allows lawyers to obfuscate issues and ‘play games’ (I write from experience)  diminishes prospects for justice. Pros and cons in balance!

Then, there is that so-called democracy. Every adult has a vote. Our political representatives (federal, state, and local government) are, however, not accountable to voters, and certainly never consult us. I write from experience as a resident in Australia over 65 years as an adult. At federal and state levels, political parties rule openly, their main objective being to hold office.

Today, we seem to be governed by Vaticanites. How so? Compassion is suppressed by Papal Bull, for example. Western democracy is indubitably a con!

The pros and cons offered by the hegemonic empire of the USA, based on indirect controls, await judgement.