Tribal conflict – a legacy of colonialism

In Europe, the home terrain of the colonial rulers, nations had been created, about five centuries ago, on the basis of coherent tribalism; that is, an occupancy of the land, and a shared history, language, ethnicity and religion.

Within the unrealistic national boundaries created in the colonial territories, one or more lesser tribes became domi­nated by, or subservient to, a larger tribe. The Hindu Tamils of Ceylon, became an unequal political minority in the new nation of Sri Lanka to the majority Buddhist Singhalese after the British left; they seem to have been better off under the British. With the recent end of the claim for regional autonomy in their traditional territories by the Tamils, the Singhalese are reportedly copying the Israelis in infiltrating the lands of the minority (but without any claim that their god gave them the land in a historical past).

The breakdown of the old Yugoslavia, the devolution of political autonomy to the Scots and the Welsh within the United Kingdom, and the split of Czechoslovakia provide sufficient evidence that artificially created nations may not be durable. Pride in their ethnic heritage lead some tribes in such nations to seek independence. In the future, they may seek to merge with their counterparts in other mismatched tribal agglomerations.

For example, 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? … …

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?

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’

The legacy of European colonial empires

What was the legacy of colonialism? In British Malaya, now Malaysia and Singapore, the positive gains were: the English language, now the language of international rela­tions; Western democracy (for what that is worth); respect for law and order in the British way (but needing some serious improvements to deliver justice); and a form of mul­ticulturalism which is potentially more equitable than the traditional forms.

Colonialism, allied to slavery, ‘blackbirding,’ contract transfer of labour from one colony to another, and free immigration entry as needed, contributed to the juxtaposi­tion (and some intermingling of genes) of diverse popula­tions and cultures. This did enhance inter-cultural contacts and relations between the peoples affected. Did the colo­nies of the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian, French and Germans benefit in a similar manner? They were known to be more brutal than the British. Certainly, Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the communist revolution which drove the French out of Indo-China, learned about obtaining independence through revolution during his studies in France.

A cursory scan of some of the better-known empires to see if they offered durable benefits either to the subject peoples or to mankind in general might be of some casual interest. The difficulty inherent in this endeavour is in separating civilisation from empire, the former generally localised but often making a contribution to the future of mankind, the latter often generalised geographically but soon not worthy of remembrance. Civilisations endure. Yet, apart from those of China and India, has there been any substantial long-term continuity of civilisations?

China’s contribution to mankind is the emphasis on good governance, with a passing reference to the Void of the Cosmos. India’s contribution? Metaphysical speculations about the meaning of human existence and its relationship with the Cosmos. The contributions, both artistic and techno­logical, by the empires of old pale into insignificance against the wide range of the contributions of China and India (their current deplorable human rights record notwithstanding).

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’

The modern hegemonic empire

It is the new form of empire, however, that is most inter­esting. This is the hegemonic empire, based on influence (including threats and bribery). Only one exists, and it is almost global. Australia is a respected part of it. The empire of the USA does not physically control any foreign territory (except for a few islands here and there), unlike the Chinese and the colonising nations of Europe. It exercises influence in a variety of ways that are decidedly clever.

It appoints so-called ‘deputy sheriffs’ to safeguard the interests of the West in their respective bailiwicks; it has trade and mutual-defence agreements with nations which seek protection from imagined foes; and it has military bases here, there, and everywhere to protect the nations of the West and their allies. The USA will fight terrorism anywhere and everywhere; defend itself from attack by enemies, real or cre­atively conceived; keep the sea routes open, thereby making other navies unnecessary; sell armaments (its primary objec­tive?), and contain political threats, even imagined ones. This has given it the right to have a foothold in all sorts of places; we Aussies are grateful for such protection!

It also makes generous grants as strategically needed, to keep unpopular, even undemocratic, foreign leaders in power. Their job is to ensure that the needs of the USA, viz. oil and other resources, bases, access routes and export opportunities, are met.

Its deputy sheriff Israel is furnished with the latest weaponry to prevent an Islamic resurgence. This includes the intended breakup of Iraq into three ethno-religious regions; so wrote an Israeli scholar recently. A strong foothold on Iraqi soil will give the US power to over­sight lesser nations and overlook the more powerful. … … The US will also enable Israel to recover Judah and Samarra as that pure Jewish nation that their God decided was OK, even as it works assiduously to bring about ‘peace’ between oppressor and oppressed. Justice? Only the Court of Cosmic Justice can ensure that.

Ethnic cleansing, like ‘rendering’-with-torture, and assassination are acceptable, but only in the interests of protecting Western democracy. Australian politicians who visit Israel without being able to notice the plight of state­less Palestinians couldn’t possibly have any concern with this view of the Middle East of the future.

Thus, acceptable democracy in these nations of interest to the West is one with tribal leadership either adequately constrained or destroyed. The desired tribes are political par­ties. The good news is that there is no intended destruction of native cultures. The bad news is that, without occupying each country of interest, tribalism will continue.

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’

A moral leader of mankind – the USA

What could be the legacy of the US Empire? What do the Monroe Doctrine nations show? What evidence is there of governments in these nations displaying adequate respect for basic human rights, viz. freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and gender equality? How would these compare with the legacy of the British Empire in India? How about good governance, edu­cation, employment opportunities, housing, health services, clean water, toilets, and gender and caste equality?

Or, is it the case that an empire of political and cultural influence, a hegemonic empire, has no concern about such issues; that each government within the penumbra of US influence is autonomous in relation to human rights and associated institutions; that the policies within these coun­tries of interest to the metaphoric ‘godfather’ relate only to international relations, access by the godfather to relevant resources and markets, the purchase of compatible arma­ments labelled ‘Made in USA,’ and a readiness to join killing ‘coalitions of the willing’ under the nominal leadership of the UN or NATO?

Yet, this neo-colonising nation is the only major power which has shown any inclination to protect a minority here and there in the world from being butchered. As well, minority peoples within the USA seem to enjoy equal opportunity, especially if associated with personal initiative, enabling them to rise to positions of some power. Is there any evidence that such opportunity is available in the former colonising nations for those of their coloured chicken who have come ‘home’ to roost?

Thus, the USA can become a moral leader for mankind. Should we Aussies hold to this hope?

These are extracts from my book ‘Musings at Death’s door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society’

The excesses of exceptionalism

A claim of national exceptionalism has infused the global political scene. It is a version of the ‘chosen people.’ We now have a Western nation which, since about 70 years ago, has claimed the right to extend its influence over the nations of Central and South America to intervene in the affairs of nations all over the globe. Its approaches are multifarious. Its rationale (or rationalisation) reflects tactical creativity, backed by high-sounding concepts implying lofty moral intent.

Seemingly allied to (unidentified) local nations with possibly less-than-lofty intent, and ambitious conglomerations seeking to occupy high chairs, an effort to damage axes-of-evil nations or leaders has led to terrible tragedy in the Middle East. What has been the gain to this nation claiming to be exceptional and to its allies?

On the contrary, the penultimate claim of exceptionalism, by a cluster of nations in Europe – the ‘innately’ superior ‘white race’ colonising a great swathe of each continent over half a millennium – achieved substantial material advantages to these nations, with a side-benefit of accruing many coloured souls to the bosom of Christ.

Christian colonialism, however, destroyed or damaged many societies all over the world, and left a legacy of ongoing tribal conflict everywhere. The European nations have now effectively returned to their own borders. Their recent efforts to achieve a united Europe are, interestingly, being undermined by the odd member-nation seeking the benefits of communalism while exercising the rights of individualism.

There is also a re-vitalised Asian nation now claiming to be exceptional. It relies upon ‘traditional’ ownership of adjoining lands and sea. Were this nation to adopt a ‘pay-back’ stance in relation to those Western nations (plus Japan) for the depredations caused by the latter over a couple of recent centuries, the exceptionalism claims of both nations will be constrained.

After all, there can be only one large mastiff in any paddock. With two, there will be competition, with terrible collateral damage most probable. The current debacle in Syria and Iraq will look like a sandpit squabble were there to arise a battle as to whose exceptionalism is bigger.

Empires do tend to fade into the sunset. Protection for the small nations can, in the meanwhile, be provided by a global governance under the mantle of a tripartite agreement between, say, three powerful nations. Alternatively, a number of agreed spheres of interest may avoid the terrible destruction resulting from the excesses of exceptionalism.

The traveler, the trader, the marauder

Some young children love exploring – when they are allowed to do so. Some youths need to test something within themselves by undergoing clearly risky pastimes or endeavours.

I instance my (one and only) son, who decided, at age 17, to go wild water rafting. With 2 friends, without any relevant experience, they took on the Franklin River, said to be a very dangerous river to navigate on flimsy rafts.

When he left, my wife and I did wonder whether we would see him again. Having brought up our children, who did display early in life a risk-taking nature, to be self-confident, competent, yet careful, he was free, even at that age, to take on the world – if he wanted to (after due consideration).

Throughout the history of Man, either as individuals or in groups, men have travelled long distances – over the land or by sea – to explore or trade. Those who survived learnt about other peoples and their cultures and/or influenced those others with their own beliefs and values. This exchange would be osmotic and peaceful.

Since humans are a greedy species, there have also been, all over the world, almost interminable invasions, brutal wars, and forced religious conversions. Two of the desert religions top the list for rapacious performance over quite a number of recent centuries. The people who were responsible for most of the recorded depredations came out of small tribal nations in Europe: Europe itself being a relatively small peninsula jutting out of the massive continent of Asia.

They were aided by new and powerful weaponry when they went initially to explore, then trade; marauding came naturally when their animal instincts exploited opportunities for subjugation of the peoples they traded with. Traditional economies were destroyed, and much injustice was imposed upon the so-called ‘natives,’ including conversion to a faith offering no more than the prevailing ones; often less. Ask the indigenes of North America and Australia to begin with.

Now the marauders are toothless, and back at home. Yet, the new emperor in the West, the hegemonic one, has harnessed them into a modern aggressive force; but this team lacks a coherent capacity to bite anyone powerful. As with the failed British invasion of Afghanistan in recent history, there may now be another toothless retreat, especially from the Middle East.

The guise of diplomacy can provide a necessary cover. In the long run, only negotiation can provide the pathway to peace with a necessary co-existence.

Former colonies of the USA

Africa

  •  Liberia (1821–47) – Liberia was never officially claimed by the United States. Rather it was founded by the American Colonization Society, a private American civilian organization.

Asia

North America

Oceania

South America

(Source: Wikipedia)

 

(Comment:  Even the USA, which posits itself as representing freedom, was slow in releasing control over some of its territories. Since then it has become one of the neo-colonisers of the West. Having acquired a new kind of empire – the hegemonic empire, one based on influence rather than on control – it offers protection to nations such as Australia.

Whether it ends up as one of the many brief empires of history depends essentially upon the movements of our planets. How  predictable are such movements, and their potential impacts?  Could they depend  on God’s Will?  

Could hegemonic empires be replaced by co-prosperity spheres of the kind Japan had in mind?)

 

Former Spanish colonies

FORMER  SPANISH  COLONIES

(From Wikipedia)

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

L

M

N

O

P

R

S

T

U

V

W

 

It is interesting to see the changing face of European colonialism.  First, Portugal breaks out as a new State from Spain; then goes on the rampage all over the world – only to be cutback by other marauders (sorry, explorers and traders), especially Spain – all of whom pray to the same god.  The planets have no respect for our insubstantial god, do they?

Then, other marauders, especially England and the Netherlands, rob Spanish carriers of loot from the Americas.  Without this loot, Europe would not have been able to finance its trade and economic development, especially through the money changers authorised by the Pope.

So much misgotten wealth, leading to so much suffering by the ‘natives everywhere,’ who were  overcome by such superior white fellows, and their arrogant and misdirected priests.          

 

Former colonies of Portugal

In Africa

Portuguese presence in Africa started in 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta and is generally viewed as ending in 1975, with the independence of its later colonies, although the present autonomous region of Madeira is located in the African Plate, some 650 km (360 mi) off the North African coast, Madeira belongs and has always belonged ethnically, culturally, economically and politically to Europe, some 955 km (583 mi) from the European mainland.

  • Angola/Portuguese West Africa: colony (1575–1589); crown colony (1589–1951); overseas province (1951–1971); state (1971–1975). Independence in 1975.
  • Arguin/Arguim: (1455–1633)
  • Accra: (1557–1578)
  • Cabinda: protectorate (1883–1887); Congo district (1887–1921); intendancy subordinate to Maquela (1921–1922); dependency of Zaire district (1922–1930); Intendacy of Zaire and Cabinda (1930–1932); intendancy under Portuguese Angola (1932–1934); dependency under Angola (1934–1945); restored as District (1946–1975). Controlled by Frente Nacional para a Libertação de Angola (National Liberation Front of Angola) as part of independent Angola in 1975. Declared Cabinda a Republic in 1975, but not recognized by Portugal nor Angola.
  • Cabo Verde/Cape Verde: settlements (1462–1495); dominion of crown colonies (1495–1587); crown colony (1587–1951); overseas province (1951–1974); autonomous republic (1974–1975). Independence in 1975.
  • Ceuta: possession (1415–1640). Ceded to Spain in 1668.
  • Elmina: possession (1482–1637). Captured by the Dutch West Indies Company.
  • Fernando Pó and Annobón: colonies (1474–1778). Ceded to Spain in 1778.
  • Portuguese Gold Coast: (1482–1642), ceded to Dutch Gold Coast in 1642
  • Guiné Portuguesa/Portuguese Guinea: colony (1879–1951); overseas province (1951–1974). Unilateral independence declared in 1973, recognized by Portugal in 1974.
    • Cacheu: captaincy (1640–1879). United with Bissau in 1879.
    • Bissau: settlement under Cacheu (1687–1696); captaincy (1696–1707); abandoned (1707–1753); separate colony under Cape Verde (1753–1879). United with Cacheu in 1879.
  • Madagascar: southern part (1496–1550)
  • Madeira: possession (1418–1420); colony (1420–1580); crown colony (1580–1834); autonomous district (1834–1976). Made an autonomous region in 1976.
  • Mascarene Islands: fortified post (1498–1540)
  • Malindi: occupation (1500–1630)
  • Mombassa: occupation (1593–1638); colony subordinate to Goa, capital of Portuguese India (1638–1698; 1728–1729). Under Omani sovereignty in 1729.
  • Morocco enclaves
    • Aguz/Souira Guedima (1506–1525)
    • Alcácer Ceguer/El Qsar es Seghir (1458–1550)
    • Arzila/Asilah (1471–1550; 1577–1589). Restored to Morocco in 1589.
    • Azamor/Azemmour (1513–1541). City restored to Morocco in 1541.
    • Mazagan/El Jadida (1485–1550); possession (1506–1769). Incorporation into Morocco in 1769.
    • Mogador/Essaouira (1506–1510)
    • Safim/Safi (1488–1541)
    • Santa Cruz do Cabo de Gué/Agadir (1505–1541)
  • Moçambique/Portuguese East Africa: possession (1498–1501); subordinate to Goa (1501–1569); captaincy-general (1569–1609); colony subordinate to Goa (1609–1752); colony (1752–1951); overseas province (1951–1971); state (1971–1974); local transitional administration (1974–1975). Independence in 1975.
  • Ouadane (1487)
  • Quíloa (1505–1512)
  • São João Baptista de Ajudá: colonial fort (1680-c.1700); fort subordinate to the Portuguese colony of Brazil (1721–1730); fort administered by colonial governor (1730-1858) subordinate to Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe (1865–1869). Fort re-established under separate administration (1872-1961). Annexed by Dahomey in 1961.
  • São Tomé and Príncipe/São Tomé e Príncipe: crown colony (1753–1951); overseas province (1951–1971); local administration (1971–1975). Independence in 1975.
    • São Tomé: possession (1470–1485); colony (1485–1522); crown colony (1522–1641); administration under Dutch occupation (1641–1648). French occupation in 1648.
    • Príncipe: colony (1471–1753). United with São Tomé in 1753.
  • Tangier: possession (1471–1662). Ceded to England in 1662.
  • Zanzibar: possession (1503–1698). Became part of Oman in 1698.
  • Ziguinchor: possession (1645–1888). Ceded to France in 1888.

North Atlantic and North America

The Azores were discovered early in the Discovery Ages. Labrador and Corte-Real brothers later explored and claimed Greenland and eastern modern Canada from 1499 to 1502.

In Central and South America

Brazil was explored and claimed in 1500, and become independent in 1822. Unlike the Spanish, the Portuguese did not divide its possession in South America in several vice-royalties.

  • Barbados: Possession known as Os Barbados, discovered by Pedro Campos in 1536 being an exile post for Brazilian Jews. The only Caribbean possession the Portuguese held for eighty-four years until Portugal abandoned the island to continue exploring nearby Brazil.
  • Brazil: possession known as Ilha de Santa Cruz, later Terra de Vera Cruz (1500–1530); colony (1530–1714); vice-kingdom (1714–1815); kingdom united with the Kingdom of Portugal (1815–1822), independence in 1822.
  • Cisplatina (Uruguay): occupation (1808–1822). Captaincy in 1817 (of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves). Adhered as a province of the new Empire of Brazil in 1822. Became independent 1827, changing its name to Uruguay.
  • French Guiana: occupation (1809–1817). Restored to France in 1817.
  • Nova Colónia do Sacramento: colony in present Uruguay (1680; 1683–1705; 1715–1777). Ceded to the Spanish Empire in 1777.

In Asia and Oceania

India was reached by the Portuguese in 1498 by Vasco da Gama. Macau was the last possession in Asia and was handed over to the People’s Republic of China in 1999.

(From Wikipedia)

Portugal seems to have been the first European ‘cab off the rank’ to bully its way to ownership of lands occupied by coloured peoples all over the world.  How the mighty have fallen! The cyclical movement of our planets may explain the rise and fall of unwarranted ambitions.

 

Former Dutch colonies

North America:

Caribbean:

South America:

Africa:

Indian Ocean:

Middle East:

Indian Subcontinent

Asia-Pasific:

The country of New Zealand was named after the province Zeeland in the Netherlands and the island of Tasman was named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who discovered and mapped out most of New Zealand, Australia and Tasman.

The country of Australia was also called New Holland. The first recorded European sighting of the Australian mainland was made by the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon, who sighted the coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606. Willem Jansz. sailed on the ship Duyfken. During the 17th century, the Dutch charted the whole of the western and northern coastlines of what they called New Holland, but they made no attempt at settlement.

(From Wikipedia)

It is amazing that a small nation like the Netherlands should have been able to acquire an empire.  But it is a fact that in the 17th  century, the Dutch ruled the seas.