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This definition and defense of apartheid, made long before its official application in South Africa, reflects a school of thought which can be traced back to the pioneer days of European settlement in the tropics, but which seems to have been stronger among the Dutch and the English than among their Portuguese and Spanish.

Even if consequences are clearly evil, we should not see just a vile motivation or rationalization. Much evil happens of ignorant application of not just "good intentions" but of simplest instincts or emotions. In particular, the apartheid phenomenon has some sure basis in anxiety with a completely other culture. The differentiation between English/Dutch and Spanish/Portugese colonizers confirms that: Nordic people have more discomfort feelings in unfamiliar surroundings. Say, Noorse Vikings could not establish relations with local tribes in North America and Greenland at all. The Dutch are more reserved than Spanish and Portugese - this may explain their less aggressive behaviour in Indonesia and most other colonies; the "apartheid" worked out relatively benignly there. But it progressed in the vile direction in South Africa.

The anxiety feelings of colonists were obvioulsy rationalized wrongly way too often. But this is more a problem of ignorance than vile ethics. I would still argue that the Dutch demonstrated less greed and unconcerned exploitation than "the norm". I am also glad for Portuguese and Spanish if they succeeded in more smooth communication and integration with the locals than others - you can learn something from any positive side. We can't ignore evil sides of "civilisation" we had, but willful rejection of the best that accured is not good either.

by das monde on Thu May 10th, 2007 at 11:18:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How exactly did they demonstrate less greed? By bombarding cities? By exterminating whole nations? By organizing racial classifications? By creating prison camps?

Do you even know that there was a war in Indonesia in 1945-46 between the Dutch and the Indonesian forces that beat back the Japanese?

by rootless2 on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 09:31:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
war in Indonesia in 1945-46 between the Dutch and the Indonesian forces that beat back the Japanese????

The Indonesian forces did not beat back the Japanese. There was large-scale cooperation/collaboration (depending on one's viewpoint) between the different fractions of Indonesian nationalism and the Japanese. I don't blame the Indonesians, they were second-class citizens in their onwn country and the Japanese slogan "Asia for the Asians" would make a lot of sense to them.

by bastiaan on Sun May 13th, 2007 at 06:29:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am also glad for Portuguese and Spanish if they succeeded in more smooth communication and integration with the locals than others - you can learn something from any positive side.

The passage I cited was not characteristic.  The author then goes on to say why you can poke holes through this characterization.  Sorry!  That is why I urged people to read the entire chapter.

In academic circles here in the Caribbean (as well - I'm sure - as elsewhere in the "colonized" world) we have been arguing these things over and over again without end with regard to slavery.  Was there really a difference between French slavery versus British slavery versus Spanish slavery?  The emerging consensus is that slavery is evil no matter who implemented it.  If you want, you can call ours "the view from the south".  I have no problem with that just as long as you recognize that we are entitled to call it what we want, being the victims.

Furthermore, we are entitled to criticize the Northern or Eurocentric view, if you want, of slavery.  I for one can say that I am utterly disgusted by those two intellectuals (Robert William Fogel & Stanley Engerman); the former that won the 1993 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for supposedly demonstrating the economic benefits of slavery for the enslaved in that book Time on the Cross.  I am loath to call myself an economist after I read that piece of shit.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne

by maracatu on Fri May 11th, 2007 at 02:21:18 PM EST
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