Neo-colonialism (Part 1)

As a former colonial subject, I am naturally opposed to colonialism, but I am not anti-colonial as regards individual colonial administrators. Indeed, I had 2 good friends who had served the Crown in Rhodesia and Malaya. However, neo-colonialism seems more evil.

“Neocolonialism can be defined as the continuation of the economic model of colonialism after a colonized territory has achieved formal political independence. This concept was applied most commonly to Africa in the latter half of the twentieth century. European countries had colonized most of the continent in the late nineteenth century, instituting a system of economic exploitation in which African raw materials, particularly cash crops and minerals, were expropriated and exported to the sole benefit of the colonizing power. The idea of neocolonialism, however, suggests that when European powers granted nominal political independence to colonies in the decades after World War II, they continued to control the economies of the new African countries.

The concept of neocolonialism has several theoretical influences. First and foremost, it owes much to Marxist thinking. Writing in the late nineteenth century, Karl Marx argued that capitalism represented a stage in the socioeconomic development of humanity. He believed that, ultimately and inevitably, the capitalist system in industrially developed countries would be overthrown by a revolution of the working class; this would result in the establishment of socialist utopias. In 1916, Vladimir Lenin modified this thesis, claiming that the rapid expansion of European imperialism around the world in the last decade of the nineteenth century had marked the highest stage of capitalism. Presumably, then, the end of imperialism (which Lenin believed would be the result of World War I) would mark the beginning of the end of capitalism. However, neither imperialism nor capitalism came to an end after the war or in future years. European empires persisted well into the 1960s.

With the granting of independence to colonies, a theory of modernization took hold. This suggested that independent countries would begin to develop very rapidly, politically and economically, and would resemble “modern” Western countries. It soon became clear, however, that this was not happening. Postcolonial theorists now sought answers for the continued underdevelopment of African countries and found a second influence in dependency theory.

Dependency theory first gained prominence as a way to explain the underdevelopment of Latin American economies in the 1960s. It proclaims that underdevelopment persisted because highly developed countries dominated underdeveloped economies by paying low prices for agricultural products and flooding those economies with cheap manufactured goods. This resulted in a perpetually negative balance of payments that prevented underdeveloped countries from ever becoming competitive in the global marketplace. Economic theorists of postcolonial Africa, such as Walter Rodney and Samir Amin, combined the Marxist-Leninist concept of colonialism as a stage of capitalism with the concept of underdevelopment to create the concept of neocolonialism, which Kwame Nkrumah called “the last stage of imperialism.” “… …

(This is an extract from Encyclopaedia.com on the Internet. Of what use were the international development agencies, when imperialism could be continued so easily?)

Putting down coloured roots in White Australia

I wrote about the following experiences in the mid-1990s. I was told by a professor of history and politics that they depict a sliver of Australia’s post-war history. They also show the growing acceptance by Australians of Asians in their domain.

“Accepted for citizenship while Australia was still officially white, I worked for the Australian government in such interesting fields as ethnic affairs (looking after the settlement needs of migrants); in the screening of foreign investment in Australia (to ensure that it was not against the national interest); the provision of assistance to secondary industry by government (ensuring the continued inability of Australian industry to be competitive globally); and the artistic (but very reasonable) creation of balance of payments statistics. Indeed, in 1963, I was the first public official (in the then Tariff Board) to argue for reduced import tariffs; naturally, I was disparaged as a ‘free trader.’ Yet, within 6 years, the term came into fashion.

I also made a small contribution to the education system in the national capital (in part by being the foundation chairman of a school board); to career protection in the Australian public service – by leading, for seven years, a trade union sub-committee working on career protection, i.e. improving the equity and efficiency of selection procedures (I received a Meritorious Service Award from my union); and involved myself in a couple of other community concerns (including overseas aid and public speaking for school children).

Twice a year, the local press is likely to refer to two on-going events which I initiated. That is, I believe that I integrated into the Australian nation quite successfully and productively, but without losing my cultural identity or without losing sight of myself.”

In mid-2015, I know that being bi-cultural is no big deal; but one should not expect a foot to do what a hand can do. Apart from that, it is interesting being an insider and (simultaneously) an outsider; the challenges are sociological, mental and moral.

Contact without impact

“The first Aborigine I talked to seemed to be a tradesman.It was in the 1960s. He confused me by asking about my colour. I felt that he lost interest in me when I explained that I was an Asian immigrant. I never saw him
again — not surprisingly, as this bar was becoming popular with public servants. The latter, having recently risen
from the working class, are normally very fussy about the company they keep, especially as they move up their
career ladders. One should never be seen to socialise with anyone below one’s level.

I then met the redoubtable Charlie Perkins, a recent graduate. He addressed a group of university graduates,and impressed us with his enthusiasm and vision, as well as with his plea. He asked that the Aborigines should
be given the opportunity to adapt to modern society, to control their own lives and finances, even if they made
many mistakes during the learning process. He received a standing ovation. When I met him again, I was looking
for a job at senior executive level, and he was the head of the Aboriginal Affairs Department. He had changed. … … ”

“… … Somewhere along the line, I set about trying to help Aborigines in the public sector in Canberra to improve
their skills, thereby raising their confidence and presentation. I offered training in chairmanship and public speaking (skills shown to benefit everyone); and on their own terms. They could have their own Aboriginal
club within Rostrum, an Australia-wide organisation well regarded for its training capabilities, and whose
graduates were in senior positions in both the private and public sectors.

Or, we could provide training in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, there being no indigene employed elsewhere. Or, they could train themselves in that Department under our expert guidance. We had the skills and the will. There was, regrettably, no interest, in spite of my trying to persuade the highly regarded Captain Saunders (ex-Army and an indigene), and the Department’s senior management that what I offered was valuable. So, that was that. Since it would have cost the Aborigines nothing, except a little effort to learn and to practice …!”

“ … … When I worked, after retirement, as a lowly service station attendant, providing driveway service late at
night, I met a wide range of Aborigines, a few seemingly full-blooded. There were those who were apparently well
paid, driving expensive cars, and employed by Aboriginal organisations. I was told by a couple of them that,
in spite of their academic or professional qualifications, there were no jobs available to them in the private sector.

At about the same time, the federal government was talking about unemployed Aboriginal people learning to
conduct their own businesses. Why weren’t the unemployed whites asked to do this too?”

( I am not impressed – after 65 or more years residence in Australia – with official efforts to engage with the nation’s First Nation Peoples and to assist them to participate fully in the economy. Too much talk, wasted money, and no significant achievement. Only individual effort seems to have lifted some of our Aborigines into successful careers. Group effort has brought success in the arts. Official waffle appears to keep the ‘Why can’t they be like us’ lot pacified!)

More issues for asylum seeker supporters

“When due process leads to denial of asylum, and the taxpayer has spent a large sum of scarce funds, one can find some queer counter-proposals. These reflect sympathy for the asylum seekers, most of whom are most likely to be economic migrants who would not qualify for entry by the front door, or even the side door. Then, there are those who assert that, since Australia does not experience the floods of asylum seekers inundating Europe, we should take all comers. Isn’t the availability of a lifetime on welfare in Australia, plus Medicare, plus family reunion a probable drawcard? Shall we just open the immigration door?

Most relevantly, is there no part of Afghanistan which is safe for the Hazaras or other Afghans? Isn’t there a district in Afghanistan which is dominated by the Hazaras? Are there not large areas of Iraq which are predominantly Sunni, Shia or Kurd, to which an Iraqi asylum seeker could move, thus avoiding the large outlays of money, the risk of drowning, the detention (but with care provided at the Australian tax¬payers’ expense), and the risk of mental health problems? If there is somewhere else to go to, could the government negotiate with the governments we have put in place in Iraq and Afghanistan to take the boat arrivals? Would they not then be living within their own culture? And does not the UN convention also provide that asylum seekers have to show that there is nowhere else they can go?

On the issue of living with one’s own people, some Moslem settlers from countries with limited personal and political rights already seek to have Australia’s institutions amended to incorporate sharia law, when Islam has no separation between the law and religion. Would the pre¬dominantly Middle Eastern asylum seekers add to this pres¬sure? Historically, there were those who wished to turn a secular nation into one ruled by what they call natural law (which is not the same as a law of nature in science). Do our Tweedledum vs. Tweedledee governments have the integrity to retain Australia as a secular democratic nation, with religion kept separate from governance?

Do the uncritical Anglo-Australian supporters of boat arrivals condone the destruction of identification papers; and the irresponsible placement of women and children in unsafe boats which have no doubt been written off by their owners, the fishermen manning the boats being themselves probably dispensable? How do they condone the queue-breaking by those who obviously have money, but are not willing to be assessed as immigrants or as refugees by representatives of UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). An asylum seeker is not a refugee until accepted as a refugee. This is something some in the media have to accept.

There is a common practice for Australian Customs/Immigration officers at airports to return to the country of embarkation those they consider on arrival not to be ‘bona fide’, even when they hold entry visas. They are kept in detention and placed on the next available plane going back. Arrivals by plane who have destroyed their papers after dis¬embarkation at our airports are treated the same way. It is not that difficult to track their travel. Boat arrivals without papers should surely be treated the same way.”

(Those who do not believe in an interventionist god, or in Santa Claus, may be excused were they not to expect any in-depth dialogue between apparently caring supporters of asylum seekers they have never met, and those who seek responsible policies in relation to the intake of immigrants and real refugees, unless they can see squadrons of pigs surfing through the air.

What the above extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door’ raise is this significant question: is the age of entitlement in Australia being extended to cover anyone who manages to arrive on our borders? A related issue: if we taxpayers are to be generous with our money, should we not be spending it on those who are clearly needy out in the real world? What a waste of scarce money (yes, it is scarce) in coping with opportunist entrants! )

The brutality of the British Empire

A recent review by William Dalrymple of ‘The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny and Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905’ by Ferdinand Mount brought back memories about what I had been told a lifetime ago about the brutality of European colonialism.

Dalrymple quotes the author in the following 2 paragraphs.

“The British Empire in India was the creation of merchants and it was still at heart at least a commercial enterprise, which had to operate at profit and respond to the ups and downs of the market. Behind the epaulettes and the jingle of harness, the levees and balls at Government House, lay the hard calculus of the City of London.”

“Theo erected a gallows in the grounds of Metcalfe’s house made out of the blackened timbers of his beloved home … Refugees sheltering in mosques would be plucked out and executed.”

The rest of this post are relevant extracts from Dalrymple’s review.

“ … we witness the power of the East India Company growing with speed, as it despatched its different Asian enemies one by one, its tentacles reaching across the globe, until it became by the end of the 18th century a major international player in its own right.

To the East it ferried opium to China, fighting the opium wars to seize an offshore base at Hong Kong and safeguard its profitable monopoly in narcotics.” … …

“Indians are often ‘natives,’ people who have the temerity to oppose the British are ‘the enemy,’ unless they are the Marathas, in which case they are, in addition, ‘fierce little warriors’ whose rajahs are often ‘ghastly characters’ or ‘remarkably nasty pieces of work,’ who indulge in ‘treachery, murder, especially fratricide, slaphappy extravagance and debauchery, only tempered by equally extravagant religious observances.’ Their attempts at unified action ‘bore less resemblance to a confederacy than they did to a sack of rabid ferrets.’… …
“ … At the end of the Vellore Mutiny, 300 mutinous sepoys who surrendered were hustled into a fives court where they were tied together and gunned down at a range of less than 30m.” … …

“The violent climax came with the Great Uprising of 1857, when the company found itself threatened by the largest and bloodiest anti-colonial revolt against any European empire anywhere in the world in the entire course of the 19th century. Of the 139,000 sepoys of the Bengal army, all but 7796 turned against their British masters. In many places the sepoys were supported by widespread civilian rebellion. Atrocities abounded on both sides, but the British crushed the uprising with a particularly merciless severity.” … …

“ … In one neighbourhood alone, Kucha Chelan, 1400 unarmed civilians were cut down. ‘The orders went out to shoot every soul,’ recorded one young officer. ‘It was literally murder.’ Delhi, a bustling and sophisticated city of half a million souls, was left an empty ruin.”

“ … in the final analysis, the empire was built by the sword and erected over the dead bodies of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Indian subjects.”

I am also reminded of Nehru’s report (read his ‘Glimpses of World History’) that in each of a number of massive famines in that period, about 20 million Indians starved to death. Presumably the Company’s finances were not affected.

One can only wonder if the Law of Cosmic Justice had an influence in Britain’s current unfortunate position as the USA’s Deputy Sheriff for Europe. Did not Roosevelt reportedly say, at the end of World War Two, ‘Now we own the b……s’?

Interesting snippets about humanitarian entry

“When a global HE policy replaced the Middle Eastern HE policy, the first batch approved overseas were not Baha’is, as expected, but Afghan carpet merchants from Pakistan. Some of Australia’s visa-issuing embassy staff were very flexible. At that time, the Baha’i were the only people known to be persecuted in the Middle East. A little later, we accepted a number of Baha’is.

As with other HEs, they were placed in a migrant hostel in a city in which resided members of the same community. These had agreed to assist the initial settlement of the new arrivals. A kind hostel manager had arranged for a local imam to greet the arrivals. He did not know that the arrivals were not Moslems. The next day he rang me to ask what he was to do with the halal meat. This was the measure of the care we gave all new arrivals.

Some Ministerial approvals were also so flexible, that I was threatened by an ethnic Australian sponsor of his relatives overseas when I pointed out that I did not have the authority to approve entry outside policy. The sponsor himself had benefited from an earlier flexible Ministerial approval. Eminence in one’s profession can engender uncivil conduct! Or, was it evidence of a Middle Eastern culture?

For a short period only, the Tamils of Sri Lanka had entry as HEs; not surprisingly, the majority approved seemed to be disproportionately Christian. Yet, this was a generous entry policy, as even migrant entry from the Indian sub-continent had been constrained for years by positioning a strong arm against the entry door. This was achieved by limiting the Australian immigration staff over there. Two of those who had worked in this region subsequently worked in my team, one after the other.

They were not posted overseas after unwisely protesting to the head of the department about this discriminatory practice. The 2001 Census data shows the bias in favour of light-skinned East Asians. Regrettably, it is just possible that certain Australians have not yet outgrown their prejudice against dark-skinned people. My gut feeling is that, even at the official level, Australia has a certain antipathy in this direction.”

(These extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door,’ show how much Australia has matured; skin colour is not relevant any more for migrant entry. Immigrants from China and India now outnumber migrants from any other source country. The emphasis is on numbers and diversity of sources, in spite of a lack of any long-term planning – a very foolish policy, based on a shopkeeper approach; the more customers (consumers) the better. Necessary infrastructure and the associated investment funds?

As for humanitarian entry policy, it was flexible (so to speak). Was that why I was harassed by representatives of various communities seeking extra-policy approvals, and individuals seeking entry for their relatives? I spent hours deflecting these people. I recommended that they follow due process, although I realised that this was not their cultural tradition.)

Quaint aspects of humanitarian entry

“Soon, as I was told, the Liberal Party wanted white right-wing HEs, just for a change. These came from Eastern Europe (except Yugoslavia). Anyone claiming to be a refugee seemed to be accepted. In one recorded instance, a man claiming to be a refugee went back home to collect his wife, as advised by an Immigration officer! As with the Indo-Chinese, Australia provided their airfares, housed and fed them in a migrant hostel for 6 months. They received a regular welfare payment, which enabled them to pay for their board and other expenses. They were then allocated a flat for 3 months, to ease their entry into private accommodation.

Many of the Indo-Chinese moving into their own homes were assisted by small loans to buy furniture, much of it not repaid. As a couple of Indo-Chinese girls said to an Immigration officer, ‘You Aussies f…ing stupid. You give money for nothing.’ Little wonder that there was, and still is, such a rush of claims for asylum entry. Acceptance as a refugee permits a lifetime access to the public teat.

Later, the Labor Party sought white left-wing HEs. So I was informed. We found them in post-Allende Chile. However, there soon developed a flood of applicants from all of Central and South America. Then the Vaticanites enabled East Timorese to receive HE admission, even when they were living in Portugal, their country of nationality! Our senior bureaucrats and Ministers can indeed be very flexible in their decision making.

All of a sudden, Poles living within Poland could qualify as HEs! How influential was the Polish Pope? Then, for a while, ‘White Russians’ came from China as HEs. These had fled the arrival of communism in Russia 60 years before. An all-white colleague of mine used to claim proudly that he was Chinese; he was born in China of White Russian parents.

There were also Jewish Russians who had been permitted by the Soviet Government to join close family in Israel but who, on arrival in Vienna, sought El Dorado in Western nations. The Prime Minister of Israel in the 1980s was not happy at having up to 85% of potential citizens deflected elsewhere, mainly by professional recruiters from the USA.

Then, contrary to policy, presumably through Ministerial discretion, a number of Jewish Russian women married to non-Jewish men were permitted entry to Australia. They had left Israel because they did not like their experiences as second-class citizens of Israel. There are two other classes below them, as confirmed to me by my good Jewish Australian friend who had spent some time in Israel. (My friend is not ‘self-hating,’ is knowledgeable, and observes the Jewish traditions). One of these Jewish Russian women subsequently worked for me in the Department of Immigration; she was a worthy immigrant, who also told me a great deal about Israel.”

(No matter how they were enabled to enter Australia, one might expect that most entrants would want to find work or establish a business, in order to make a success of their new lives. That did happen. The exceptions may be, according to our media, many of the recent boat-arriving asylum seekers; their unemployment rate is reportedly high, and for long periods.

The above paragraphs are extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door.’)

Is immigration to benefit only the entrant?

“Modern Australia was founded by immigrants, and developed by immigrants. Under the sway of capitalism – that the economy must grow for ever – governments tend to favour a rising rate of immigration. This policy is the preferred substitute for a long-term development plan, or even a population policy. Awaiting for God’s Will may explain this approach.

However, refugees and asylum seekers either cannot afford to wait, or chose not to wait, for God’s Will. Of course, there are genuine refugees and ‘wannabe’ refugees. The majority of the latter are most likely to be economic migrants who, in all probability, will not pass our normal selection process – which has worked well.

Today, asylum seeking is probably the biggest entry racket, aided by some Aussies who seem to believe that the Australian taxpayer is required to benefit every claimant for refugee status. This is in contrast to tradition where the migrant is expected to benefit Australia. Even border control now awaits God’s Will, since neither side of politics has any policy worthy of note. In the meantime, what are the issues involved?

To begin with, national borders remain relevant, not¬withstanding that national sovereignty has been substantially fractured by the role of the UN, its conventions, and coalitions of saviours (whether or not operating with UN approval) engaged in the War on Terror.

Migrant entry, normally through some form of screening, is intended to benefit the receiving nation. The post-second world war policy of seeking immigrants commenced with entrants from Britain. It was extended sequentially to Europe, the Levant, East Asia, then other Asia, and finally became truly global. Australia’s immigration program is now somewhat substantial. This sequence of geographical sources reflected the gradation of acceptance from white skin colour to all other colours, and thereby to all cultures, as enabled gradually by a growing public tolerance.

Family reunion, introduced only a few decades ago when sought by settlers from the Mediterranean, was intended to keep the sponsoring immigrant happy. Because of continental Europe’s rapid economic development, few family members in the Mediterranean region could be persuaded by family in Australia to use the new program. Instead, the early beneficiaries were the British; later the East Asians. Even if entry is restricted to nuclear family members, there may be little increase in the productive capacity of the nation. All immigration has cost-offsets; family reunion can represent a substantial cost.”

(The above extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door’ set out what should be obvious. However, the current age of expectation, in which someone else’s hard-earned money is sought from the government by many who are not in actual need, is juxtaposed with a quaint age of giving; this involves policy-free politicians and their supporters demanding that anyone who enters Australia by the ‘back door’ (the self-selected) should go on the public teat immediately, and remain on it for ever.

I was, however, wrong when I wrote about the dearth of border control; a strong Minister stopped the back door entry. However, inevitably, there are international bureaucrats and other ‘experts’ on human rights blathering about anything except about what should be sound national policy. However, when our politicians are seen to be either incompetent or indifferent, … … !)

The authoritarian rainbow

I was born into an authoritarian family and culture. We were an immigrant family living in a typically authoritarian cultural terrain. Authoritarian cultures are Asia-wide. That is because Asian cultures are communitarian, except for some modernised or Westernised individuals. These cultures are not individualistic, as in the modern nations of the West.

Communitarianism reflects the central role of the gene (and marriage)-linked clan in life. Even in the diaspora of the Hindu Tamils of Ceylon (now re-named Sri Lanka), the clan remains (so I have been informed) an atmospheric bond – tying relatives spread over many countries into a tradition-bound ideationally-coherent unit. The extent of traditional authoritarianism will, of course, vary over space and time.

Beyond the clan stands the tribe. Historically, as well as currently (in most parts of the world), the tribe is the structure into the lacunae of which fit the clans sharing a language, a religion, and all manner of cultural traditions. The similarities within a tribe over-ride any surface differences. This was manifest pre-World War 2 when, through chain migration, the Ceylon Tamils entered British Malaya; while geneology was traced through village origins, they were one people – even in the way some dishes were cooked.

Of course, within a predominantly multi-tribal multi-ethnic nation (as I have mentioned in an earlier post) excessive tribal cohesion can delay integration into that nation. In such a nation, in time, nationalism is likely to overtake tribalism (as has happened in Malaysia), in spite of some stakeholders in the tribes affected anchoring themselves to a vaguely-remembered glorious past or to the prevailing religion.

The recent death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew who, together with 2 intellectual colleagues, took the island of Singapore into a prosperous independent nation, raised the issue of authoritarian governments. Singapore, like China, is a planned command economy – thereby producing results beyond the scope of those Western nations led by political-party tribes with few plans for a strong future; laissez-faire prevails!

Australia, typical of such nations, is also authoritarian, but in less overt ways. For example, in spite of more than 80% of voters seeking voluntary euthanasia (in the form of physician-assisted death) in the name of true compassion for those whose severe pain is not being alleviated through both palliative care and pharmaceutically, our governments will not budge! So much for representative government; what is represented is a restrictive ideology of the political-party tribes controlling the people.

In other countries, authoritarian governments can also be based on overt greed or religion; but with the camouflage provided by a surface democracy. Authoritarianism will rule in various colours!

Would not a command economy which develops the nation, and which offers the people, progressively, increasing freedoms (to be expressed responsibly) be more attractive? Relying on ‘market forces’ while yet inflicting the political party’s religious preferences on the electorate is a poor alternative, surely?

The ethos of operational individualism, when tied to authoritarian ideological governance, is a mirage: one can walk into the sea only so far without possessing some apparatus for buoyancy when the supplier’s door is closed.

The damage caused by European colonialism

“ … the southern Moslem states of Thailand might logically belong with Malaysia. Does the Buddhist nation of Thailand rule the southern states according to Buddhist teachings? Are the Moslem peoples in the southern regions of the Philippines rightly ruled by the Spanish blood-infused Christians of that nation? Should therefore the national boundaries laid by colonial marauders be set in concrete?

In the case of Indonesia, with its official cultural tolerance set out in its praise-worthy principle ‘Panchasila,’ the very wide diversity of its ethno-religious peoples spread over so many islands may mitigate against equitable and efficient governance. Tribalism can be expected to over-ride a shared hoped-for nationalism, especially if the Roman Catholic priesthood has any influence.

When one considers what the British did to the Indian sub-continent, after bringing together a great variety of peoples previously ruled as independent entities, one can only wonder at the seemingly unlimited capacity of the relatively tiny (and now unimportant) nations of Europe to create inter-tribal mayhem elsewhere. That their chickens are now coming home to roost, in the form of their former subject peoples now claiming a home with their former ruler, may be seen as cosmic justice. Or, will cheap labour compensate for the presence of the unrespected ‘other’ of yesteryear?

A major issue in colonial heritage is whether the modernisation which inevitably occurred in the colonies benefited the subject peoples. Although the improvements in transport, education and health facilities were established as necessary infrastructure in the occupied territories, there were clearly some benefits to a few. But the downside was the destruction of the traditional economy, especially the loss of skilled artisans.

Nehru pointed out in his letters to his daughter, while he had been imprisoned by the British (simply because of his wish to achieve the independence of India), that the economies of Egypt and India had been destroyed by the British; and, worse still, that in each of the four famines of India in the nineteenth century, twenty million were estimated to have starved to death. Of what use was the infrastructure to the poor?

A recent academic study shows that modernisation in the Middle East by the ‘great powers’ Britain and France (which played merry hell with boundaries and rulers there too) did not result in the consequent expected inflow of new technologies as had occurred in Europe. There, modernisation in the form of new political and social structures, the inculcation of new values and modified approaches to governance, trade and commerce, enabled the introduction of new technologies as available, subject to the recalcitrance of religious and other community leaders.

What was the modernisation in the Middle East? A new administrative middle class which dressed and spoke like the foreign rulers? Did that aid the economic development of their peoples? Not on the basis of evidence. It was post-independence investment by both foreigners and locals which rebuilt some former colonial nations.”

(One might accept that any investment by the colonial governments was directed to developments which suited the rulers back home; any benefits to the ‘natives’ were incidental. That 20 million Indians starved to death in each of 4 famines under the British says it all. That local industries were destroyed is also undeniable. The damage done to the peoples in the Middle East continues.

Why place Muslim districts in East Asia under Christian or Buddhist rulers? Why grant Hindu lands to Buddhist rulers? Why split the Indian sub-continent on the basis of religion? Why rush around converting the lowest social groups to Christianity? Why create a ‘creole’ Christian people wherever they reigned? And back home, the rulers lived in splendiferous style, thanks to the spoils of colonial rule.

Hopefully, the events described in the above extracts from ‘Musings at Death’s Door’ will never ever be repeated. Would it not be nice if Western politicians and priests allowed people in other countries to live as they wish?)