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I see a few problems with arguments like "colonialism is colonialism no matter the shades". Would you object any kind of idea of colonization?

Perhaps most consequentially, the argument restricts your options "to make the world better". You leave yourself only a radical measure: uncompromising rejection of a phenomenon, ethical imperative by a decree. That may work with some issues, or at a proper time - like it happened with the abolishment of slavery in the US. But radical "good intentions" go awry often, right?

History and "empirically" realistic possibilities of a given culture should not be ignored. People change their behaviour most easily by following an example. When you say "any colonialism or violence is the same", you compell to ignore any differentiation of behaviours, so people are free to ignore mounting evils of most "effective" examples. Evils like violence and greed evolve, and these evolutions thrive on attitudes like "there is no difference". Why obstruct opposing evolution of more "humane" colonizations, etc?

As I said, forcing a radical imperative is possible at a right time. But to keep best opportunities to make that time and not spoil it, it is wise to appreciate and keep best examples of already available (or previously known) "decent" colonizations or whatever.

The attitude of "no shades" often implies "the worst" human nature or prior history, by effectively ignores whatever was nice or decent in other cultures. Ironically, this is kind of colonist attitude towards the past - "people are typically barbarians, etc". Seeing more shades might help to see more positive perspective of humanity (even if it is uncomfortable to "most civilized"), and inspire ideas that have more chance to be accepted smoothly.

by das monde on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 10:44:48 PM EST
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