The Case for Colonialism: or, "The White Man's Burden"

All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us!?  Reg, spokesperson for the People’s Front of Judea, in The Life of Brian

     Colonialism is one of those phenomena or practices that the hysterical left has determined to be pure evil, and justification for it or praise for it to be the moral equivalent of justifying or praising genocide, or Nazism, or misery, death, and hell. The badness of colonialism, especially western colonialism during the modern era, is absolute and non-negotiable. Don’t even think about justifying it.

     Enter Dr. Bruce Gilley (a political science professor at Portland State University, educated at Princeton and Oxford), who went ahead and did it anyway. He published in a scholarly journal, the Third World Quarterly, an article entitled “The case for colonialism,” in which the fellow actually dared to defy politically correct orthodoxy by pointing out some truth and common sense regarding western colonialism and its effects upon what are now more or less independent third world countries. Here is the published abstract of the article:

For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts. The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it. Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places. Colonialism can be recovered by weak and fragile states today in three ways: by reclaiming colonial modes of governance; by recolonising some areas; and by creating new Western colonies from scratch.

     The man actually had the nerve to declare European colonialism, overall, to have been more good than bad, to point out that most colonized nations went into severe decline after the Europeans left, and to state some fairly obvious facts regarding the benefits derived by indigenous peoples as a result of it, such as:

…expanded education, improved public health, the abolition of slavery, widened employment opportunities, improved administration, the improvement of basic infrastructure, female rights, enfranchisement of untouchable or historically excluded communities, fair taxation, access to capital, the generation of historical and cultural knowledge, and national identity formation, to mention just a few dimensions.

Dr. Gilley also discussed critically some of the most common denunciations of colonialism and pointed out some of the irrationality and hypocrisy of the anti-colonialist position. Further, he suggested that a return to western colonialist policies—voluntary on both sides of course—could be of great help in improving the lot of people wallowing in poverty, hunger, disease, civil war, despotism, and “a cesspool of human suffering” in countries that used to be relatively prosperous and peaceful European colonies. In fact some of these policies are already being implemented, and successfully too, in camouflaged form, being called by euphemisms such as “conservatorship” or “cooperative intervention.” 

"Romans go home"

     At any rate, as could easily have been predicted, hysterical leftists in academia began howling, loudly. At least two petitions were raised, collecting more than 15,000 signatures, demanding that the article be retracted—i.e., censored and banned—and that Dr. Gilley publicly apologize for having written it, because it is, essentially, social science heresy and “hate speech.” One of the petitions included the following statement: 

It is an active attack on BIPOC [Black people, Indigenous peoples, and People Of Color] scholars, thinkers, and people, as well as on the project of decolonization….In our current political context, the lives and safety of BIPOC, refugees, and allies are being threatened by radicalized white supremacist groups.

As though their own aggressiveness were not helping to radicalize them, and swell their ranks. Also:

We all subscribe to the principle of freedom of speech and the value of provocation in order to generate critical debate. However, this cannot be done by means of a piece that fails to meet academic standards of rigour and balance by ignoring all manner of violence, exploitation and harm perpetrated in the name of colonialism (and imperialism) and that causes offence and hurt and thereby clearly violates that very principle of free speech. (emphasis added)

With regard to the claim that the article “fails to meet academic standards of rigour,” etc., it reportedly did pass peer review; and furthermore the petitioners nowhere actually refute Dr. Gilley’s observations in the article. As the wording of the petitions makes clear, Dr. Gilley should be silenced because his expressed ideas are too different from the ideological consensus of others, thereby causing them to experience pain and anger—that is, because of political correctness and feelings.

     Shortly after the petitions were launched, several members of the journal’s editorial board resigned in protest of the publication of the article. Also, threats were made to have the professor deplatformed from other journals if he did not apologize and retract the article, by threatening the editorial boards of the other journals, as punishment for his unrepentant heresy—to unperson him for his crime of wrongthink. The editor of Third World Quarterly in charge of publication was apparently reluctant to retract the article once published, however, partly because such a retraction would be in violation of the publication guidelines of the journal. The article had not been demonstrated to be careless and faulty in its conclusions, nor had Dr. Gilley been shown to be guilty of unethical misconduct. Simply because an article upsets people is not a sufficient reason for retraction in a journal with any pretensions to being scientific.

     Finally, however, the article was retracted. The explanation appeared on the former link to the article: 

This Viewpoint essay has been withdrawn at the request of the academic journal editor, and in agreement with the author of the essay. Following a number of complaints, Taylor & Francis [the publishers of the journal] conducted a thorough investigation into the peer review process on this article. Whilst this clearly demonstrated the essay had undergone double-blind peer review, in line with the journal’s editorial policy, the journal editor has subsequently received serious and credible threats of personal violence. These threats are linked to the publication of this essay. As the publisher, we must take this seriously. Taylor & Francis has a strong and supportive duty of care to all our academic editorial teams, and this is why we are withdrawing this essay. (emphasis added again)

Standard procedure of the radicalized left: bully and intimidate others into following the “progressive” narrative by any means necessary, including violence. Welcome to postmodern neo-Marxist academia. Recall the protesters’ own complaint about their side being victimized by threats from radicals.

     So it seems that we have another version of James Damore on our hands. Dr. Gilley’s article is, or at least has the potential for being, another Google memo. It’s certainly a worthy sequel. It could have been entitled “Academia’s ideological echo chamber: how bias clouds our thinking about colonialism.” And as with the infamous Google memo, I have little doubt that many times as many people will read “The case for colonialism” now as a result of its being anathematized as heresy, as would have read it if the hysterical PC thought police had had the emotional maturity to leave it alone, contenting themselves with the harder work of actually refuting its claims. (I certainly would never have heard of it, or of the Third World Quarterly, if it hadn’t elicited yet another hysterical leftist shitstorm commented upon by conservative and libertarian bloggers. And now I’ve gone ahead and read the thing, with interest, and have learned more about the advantages of colonialism. One juicy little tidbit I picked up from it is the fact that the British themselves actually benefited, thrived even, from being colonized by the Romans.)

Google Memo II, or Return of the Google Memo's Revenge

     Yet again, the emotional immaturity, intolerance, and vindictiveness of the so-called progressive left has helped them to undermine their own position. Such intolerance might have been much more effective a thousand years ago, but nowadays, in a more rational age and culture, it is beginning to backfire horribly. The new left, especially on university campuses, discredit themselves through their own petulant histrionics again and again, and more and more people see this, and are appalled, or, better yet, indignantly defiant. When a movement’s efforts to stop people from seeing the truth, or even from seeing the result of free expression, causes more people not only to see it, but actively to seek it out, then such tactics aren’t so bad after all—for the rebels defying that movement, that is.

     I had been intending to write a post on the benefits of colonialism myself, and probably will eventually, insh’allah, considering its opulent political incorrectness; although Dr. Gilley’s article is still findable on the Internet, despite being taken down from its original source, and he has written on the subject much more learnedly than I could. A currently workable link to his article, which article I urge you to read by the way, is below, and also here. For now I will point out one big blessing that the author of the new Google memo didn’t specifically mention.

     A rather dramatic benefit of European colonialism is that because of it the practices of cannibalism, headhunting, and human sacrifice were almost eradicated from the surface of this earth, and pretty quickly too. There’s no point in going into gory details on the Aztecs, Dyaks, Polynesians, etc., but since I’m currently residing in the beautiful, relatively peaceful land of Burma, I’ll mention a little-known fact concerning human sacrifice in a pre-colonial Buddhist country. Towards the end of Burma’s precolonial era, when the British had already annexed the southern portions of the country, the Burmese king’s astrologer informed him that he must relocate the capital city again. (Relocating the capital at the urging of fortunetellers was fairly common in those days.) The king, having just enough sense to realize that he couldn’t afford the expense, decided on a compromise: he’d consecrate and protect the precincts of the palace, located at the center of the capital, Mandalay, by burying people alive around the periphery. (The Thais, then known as the Siamese, did one better than this: they would consecrate and protect a plot of ground by planting a pillar there, putting a pregnant woman down in the hole, and then squishing her by dropping the pillar on top of her. This method was viewed as more effective in producing guardian spirits for the site. Or so I have read.) When news of this planned mass live burial somehow leaked to the public, it caused an exodus of people from the city, no doubt considering themselves unworthy of such an honor. The British used this case as propaganda in the newspapers back home as a convenient justification for annexing the rest of Burma, rescuing the poor people from uncivilized, barbarous despotism. (Of course they had other reasons also.) I may as well mention in passing that before this situation there was already a massive influx of Burmese people from Upper Burma into the colonized British portion due to greater economic prosperity there.

     And don’t even get me started on black African tribes, as recently as the early 20th century, flinging live babies into rivers to appease the river gods. Let’s not even go there for now.

a currently live link to the original article: 

headhunting is much less common nowadays
(although nose rings seem to be making a comeback)

Appendix: The White Man’s Burden
by Rudyard Kipling

Take up the White Man's burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go, bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

Take up the White Man's burden—
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek another's profit
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden—
The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine,
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
(The end for others sought)
Watch sloth and heathen folly
Bring all your hope to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden—
No iron rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper—
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go, make them with your living
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden,
And reap his old reward—
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:—
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden—
Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness.
By all ye will or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent sullen peoples
Shall weigh your God and you.

Take up the White Man's burden!
Have done with childish days—
The lightly-proffered laurel,
The easy ungrudged praise:
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers.


  1. It seems to me that "Social Justice" is actually a euphemism for the White Man's Burden.

  2. Ah, yes....Was recently reading about Kiplings poem 'IF' being defaced at Kings college a year, or more ago because he was a white 'imperialist'. And here is his, 'White Man's Burden'.

    I guess we could suggest to all the 'hate whitey' people that we should go ahead and return to child sacrifice, and head hunting.

  3. Also pertinent:

  4. Interesting article, I really thought you´d mention the classic Monty Python´s scene, so clever and so funny, about the "Romani ite Domum" in the "Life of Brian" movie. (Watch it at ) Satire sometimes is the best argument.


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