“The Conquest of the Earth…..is not a pretty thing”: Colonizing the Kongo
The most common justification is “salvation.” Colonizers claim that are simply doing the colonized a favor by rescuing them, “benighted people, from their indolence.” Colonizers see their culture and fundamentally themselves as superior. Furthermore, Hochschild points out that colonization originates from the belief that the colonized people are less than human. Europeans saw Africans as “inferior beings: lazy, uncivilized, little better than animals.” These notions of racial superiority were also backed by widely-believed social Darwinism.Nonetheless, this savior complex based on religious righteousness is a weak excuse. It is plainly the colonizer's greed for wealth and power. Thus, colonial control over any nation is always for the benefit of the conquering nation. And the quickest and most effective way of achieving dominance is through exploiting a nation's resources.
There are numerous benefits to colonialism…as long as you are the colonizer. The colonialist nation reaps enormous economic gain through the exploitation of the lands resources and people. The colonized nation, on the contrary, gains little to nothing. Entire ecosystems are destroyed and villages are eradicated. The nation may ultimately have better infrastructure from the intensive trading networks and rapid industrial development, plus interactions between two nations will certainly result in significant religious, cultural, and linguistic effects, but these benefits are ridiculously small compared to the innumerable degree of suffering and pain of hundreds of thousands
The normal is violence and fear. Colonialist nations repeatedly relied on military strength to force the people into submission. For example under King Leopold’s rule, whippings were frequently held to instill fear and set “examples.” These public displays of violence were solely to establish authority. Another commonality was the shared belief between colonizers like Leopold that “both vacant and nonvacant land [were their] property," thus, "claiming a right to all its products.” The extremes of colonialism would be the disregard for human life particularly through punishments. Reading the last page made me feel sick to my stomach. Colonizers did not hesitate to kill thousands, strand newborns, mutilate human bodies, force the consumption of rubber, or strip away all human dignity from the colonized.
Short-term effects were the rapid economic growth of European colonialist nations. Long-term is the distinction between "First world" and "Third World" countries. Many African countries are some of the poorest in the world. And decades behind their European counterparts economically and technologically. Obviously, it is impossible for colonizing nations to fully repay their former colonial subjects, however, it is their obligation to fully acknowledge and recognize their history together. Former colonial subjects should also receive some form of funding that prioritizes education and healthcare in these nations as well as initiatives for technological developments and infrastructure.
My answer to "I love pink" question (On June 8 2022, Belgian King Philippe expressed regrets for the colonization of the Congo free state (now DRC), do you think this apology was enough from the King? If not, what could he have possibly said to or done for DRC? Do you think DRC should forgive the state of Belgium?):
I think that it would be unfair to blame King Philippe for the colonization of the Congo. It's important for leaders and nations to recognize their history, especially the ugliest parts. However, a mere apology isn't enough for DRC to forgive Belgium and move on, because frankly they are struggling with the repercussions of colonialism. I think King Philippe could have better expressed his regrets and his desire to move forward through actions rather than words.
My question: In what ways could America better grapple with its own colonialist actions and history, if America needs to at all?