Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Aug 21, J. I must admit I find the modern backlash against colonialism to be somewhat ridiculous; as if colonialism were something new, something purely European, something malicious and unnatural. What else has mankind done since it rose in Africa but displace its neighbors? What else does any animal do but seek to thrive where it can? Any successful group soon becomes cramped as their population rises, and hence spreads out to new areas.
In this way, each species has developed and then expanded to its lim I must admit I find the modern backlash against colonialism to be somewhat ridiculous; as if colonialism were something new, something purely European, something malicious and unnatural. In this way, each species has developed and then expanded to its limits. Whenever there is a significant change in environment, a new species takes over the place of the old.
But this does not in any way lessen the worth of the displaced group. It is a mistake to see Darwinian evolution as leading towards 'something greater'. Human beings are no better than jellyfish, indeed, place a human being underwater with only small fish for his sustenance, and see how long he lasts.
No animal is better, each is specialized for a certain environment. Mankind has colonized the world, but so have ants, and pound for pound, there are more ants than people. Humans have altered their atmosphere and environment, but so did algae millions of years ago, and they drove most of the other animals extinct. Our ability to affect the world does not make us unique.
Populations of early man expanded across Africa and out into Europe and Asia. Some of these were Homo Sapiens, like modern man, others neanderthals, australopithecines, and other variations. These different groups fought for territory and resources, and one-by-one, wiped each other out. The expansion of animals across the globe is never one of peaceful balance. There can be no balance in a constantly-shifting environment. Eventually, we began to develop early cultures, not because any group of humans was 'better', but because of environmental effects for a theory about what sorts of effects these were, check out Guns, Germs and Steel.
The populations who developed things like agriculture and tool-use were able to expand, and when they expanded, they ran into the neighboring populations, who they fought, slew, sublimated, and combined with. Humans moved all around the globe, taking over land from other groups and wiping out the previous cultures. There is archaeological evidence that suggests that when the most recent migration came to America from Siberia, they completely wiped out the previous inhabitants and their culture.
Places like Australia, America, and Oceania are remote, so new waves are infrequent. Africa, Europe, and Asia, on the other hand, have been in a constant state of flux since prehistory.
The Man Who Would Be King is a Technicolor adventure film adapted from the Rudyard Kipling novella of the same name. It was adapted and directed by. "The Man Who Would Be King" () is a story by Rudyard Kipling about two British adventurers in British India who become kings of Kafiristan, a remote part .
The Indo-Aryans conquered northern India, the Phoenicians founded Carthage, the Trojans founded Rome on the heads of the Latins , and the Old Testament Jews committed wholesale genocide on the Amalekites and the Midianites to expand the tribe of Israel. As cultural ties grew stronger and new technologies were developed, larger and larger areas could be taken over and ruled by a single culture. The Roman Empire and China expanded under their technological and social successes, sublimating all the distinct peoples who surrounded them. Each group took what they could and tried to homogenize the cultures in the territories they controlled.
But they did not destroy the cultures they conquered.
Cultures are always in constant flux, growing, changing, mutating, combining, and cleaving. There is no 'pure culture' in the world, nor has there been, and though some have been destroyed, their traditions and practices did not actually disappear. Take for example the epic of Gilgamesh, the product of a nearly forgotten culture. Though the tradition it comes from is lost to time and its cities are buried beneath the sand, when we rediscovered Gilgamesh, it became clear that the story had influenced many cultures, including the writings of Homer.
Forgotten, but not annihilated.
The conquering culture overwhelms some parts of the previous culture, but it adopts others, often without recognizing it, and thus both cultures progress and change. Just as the Indo-Aryans changed Indian culture, which changed Chinese culture, which changed Korean culture, which changed Japanese culture, so was the colonial conflict between Britain and India a cultural exchange.
The terms of the exchange weren't fair, but such exchanges rarely are, and it certainly wasn't one-sided. By the time of colonialism, the geographical space in Europe had reached something approaching equilibrium. The most successful groups had sublimated those around them and expanded to an area of land they could roughly control and homogenize.
Many wars were fought over the same pieces of land, which were passed back and forth again and again. Technologies increase more and more quickly over time, as illustrated by transportation at the beginning of colonialism. Tallships traveled to foreign lands, like America and Japan, and when they arrived, they discovered that the local cultures were not able to contend with the wartime technologies the Europeans brought with them. The unification of China and remoteness of Japan meant that new technologies, such as navigational aids, water-clocks, and gunpowder, were not widely adopted.
The Chinese bureaucracy did not value these changes, because change always means political restructuring, and they had no threat of close neighbors like Europe to drive them to an arms race. The Europeans were not better or smarter than the Chinese, they were merely adapted to different requirements.
It's rather like the case of Tibbles the cat: On Stephen's Island in New Zealand, there was a species of flightless bird. There was also a lighthouse.
The lighthouse-keeper owned a cat, named Tibbles, who hunted the birds. By the time it was recognized that they were a new, unique species, Tibbles the cat had eaten them all. They are the only species known to have become extinct due to the actions of a single animal. The flightless birds were not 'less advanced' than the cat, they were merely specialized for a certain kind of lifestyle.
The cat could not have survived on the island by itself, after all, which the wrens had no problem doing. The wrens were as good as they could be at surviving on a remote island, which meant they didn't waste energy on nonexistent predators. But, when conditions changed, they were overcome. It is said that the Aboriginal people of Australia have a social system whereby two members meeting for the first time, no matter how remote, can determine their genetic relationship to one another within a few sentences. Their culture is not an inferior one, it merely specializes in different areas.
The Europeans had a different background than the people of Africa or the Americas. They were not better-suited to life in those parts of the world, as the many deaths of the Virginia colony showed, nor were their cultures in any way 'better', but they were specialized in killing people efficiently and holding land. Since the Europeans had already expanded roughly to their limits in Europe, it produced a great change when trains and steamboats allowed them to access remote areas of the globe. It was easier for them to fight for land in Africa, America, and Oceania than it was for them to fight for land against their powerful neighbors.
They expanded, as humans always have, in waves, the more physically powerful culture dominating the one with other specializations. There is nothing new about this, except the range at which they were able to expand, and there is no 'pure culture' that did not establish itself after the displacement of others.
Colonialism was remarkable because it was unprecedented for people to commit war on others so far away, and because in terms of military technology, it was often one-sided.
The extinction rate for animals is at an all-time high right now, but this is chiefly because the variety of animals is at a high. Land has been separating and breaking up since the age of the super-continents, and so there are more islands, more mountains, and hence, more remote areas to produce extra-specialized animals. In the wake of global travel, many species are finding themselves in the position of the Stephen's Island Wren, as rats, cats, pigs, and rabbits are taking over the world.
This is because the specialization only thrives in a closed environment. In open competition, the generalized animal survives. Think of weight classes in boxing. But it is a mistake to equate one sort of superiority with another. Just because you can kill another man does not make you smarter than him.
And yet, for all his knowledge, it avails him not in death. This is the pain we feel from colonialism, that those who 'won' did not do so because they were smarter or better, but merely because they were more skilled at killing. But people do not kill merely to kill. We kill to propagate ourselves, our ideas, and our cultures. No culture ever really destroys another, and even the culture that 'loses' the war does not lose itself. The Africans who were enslaved by their fellows, sold to Europeans, separated, and forced to work did not lose their culture, even though they faced as daunting a path as can be imagined.
Indeed, their culture combined with the European cultures in America and blossomed in new and unpredictable ways. Rome brought back people and culture from all of the lands into which it expanded, and was eventually overtaken by one small, insignificant group, The Christians. Cultural interaction is not a bad thing, and the pure, unadulterated, unchanging culture is a myth. And this myth is what allows White supremacists, Black nationalists, and Islamic fundamentalists to unite under the same banner of 'racial purity'.
The mixing of cultures is natural and produces the most remarkable effects. It is by the transfer of ideas that humanity grows.