Skip to comments.(Vanity) The New Colonialism, or, Out of One, Many
Posted on 06/03/2006 10:01:34 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
One of the staples of progressive thought, especially as taught at the University level, is the historical record of colonialism and exploitation of less-developed countries at the hand of Western Europe and the United States. According to this model, much of what is currently the Third World is only in that condition because it has been plundered, and its goods and natural resources expropriated for the benefit and profit of others. Examples include sub-Saharan Africa, many Central American and South American countries, and Southeast Asia.
There are a couple of comments to make about this. First of all, is it necessarily true that undeveloped countries would suddenly have joined the ranks of the First World if not for marauding robber barons and their oh-so-evil Eurocentric masters? Consider for example Central America, and the notable achievements of the Aztecs and Mayansmuch of the society was based on slave labor, and on non-sustainable agricultural methods (Earth First take note!) But it is not as though the land was anywhere near as fertile as say the Great Plains, anyway. In the 20th Century, Mexico was found to have significant oil and mineral depositsyet it remains poor, with nary an ExxonMobil in sight. The inefficiency, poverty, and oppression is home grown.
As another example, one may consider India. Recall that in his masterpiece The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich (a liberal) predicted that by the year 1974, the United States would cut off food aid to India, Egypt, and other countries it considers beyond hope. (Hat tip to P.J. ORourke.) But according to Deloitte and Touche, for many years, India was one of the richest nations on earth; in 1820, according to the Progressive Policy Institute, India accounted for 16% of the worlds GDP, compared to 2% for the United States. Now it is true that in India, even today, there are some 300 million people (about the population of the United States) subsisting on about a dollar a day. But this obviously does not imply that the wealth of the US arose by theft from Indiaeven if the total wealth of India was carried off all at once, it still would not have matched the growth in the wealth of the United States. Instead, India, like so many other nations, played with Communist and Socialist economic policies, which held them back. It is only recently that they have learned to try capitalism; and they still have to get past the stage of robber barons themselves, if the disparity in income is any indication.
However, there is a way in which the First World has had a positive effect on developing countries. Two ways, in fact. The first is education. The famed Indian Institutes of Technology, the source of so much hype and promise, are not indigenous to India. Rather, they were instituted by the British during the days of colonialism. How ironic, that the very institution which has been accused of impoverishing poor countries has helped to enrich them! The second way is as a market. Look at the trade deficit the United States runs with China. Does anyone really think that China would have built up hard currency reserves approaching a trillion dollars (yes, read that again; with a T)if they had relied only upon internal trade for their growth?
However, I feel there is a way in which the First World may be contributing to the impoverishment of the poornot safely in the pages of some history text, but in the present day. And, again, ironically, it has to do with education. Despite the famed Indian Institutes of Technology, many Indians come to the United States for their schooling. As do students from many other nationsPakistanis, Russians, Germans, Mexicans, Filipinosthe list goes on and on.
Ordinarily, this would be a good thing. But all too often, it is not. This is not because education is bad but because the economic opportunities in the United States, and the voracious appetite of the United States business community for labor, combine to create a giant sucking sound of many of the most hardworking and intelligent people, from countries across the world, to work here. Think for example of the H1-B programs, of the large number of students who accidentally overstay their student visas to disappear into the larger community. For that matter, the United States is even denuding the Philippines of its supply of nurses. So now, we are no longer draining the natural resources of the rest of the world (let China do that!); instead, we are draining their human resources. 21st century Colonialism at work. Only this time, the United States is the joint colony of many other countries. The melting pot--e pluribus unum--has been replaced by the diversity prism-- ex unus , plures.. How long can this be sustained, before either the supply dries up, or before the unique culture of the United States, which encourages such growth, is overwhelmed?
Recall that in his masterpiece The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich (a liberal) predicted that by the year 1974, the United States would cut off food aid to India, Egypt, and other countries it considers beyond hope.When an author refers to Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb" as a masterpiece, the author is either A) being ironic, or B) ignorant.
And he was wrong, just like Malthus before him.
It was meant as sarcasm...guess I could've made that point clearer.
Oh, sorry, you're the author. :'( I noticed the P.J. O'Rourke part, though. ;')
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