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Impact of Colonialism

The roots of colonialism go back to the middle of the eighteenth century. Affecting art, journalism, philosophy, music, and politics, romanticism was a mood or a disposition that defied rigid definition. It did indicate a revolt against rationalism and a consequent emphasis on sentiment, feeling, and imagination. The emotions of the heart, it was argued, though irrational, should be valued over and above the intellectualizations of the head. So that whereas Rene Descartes had said, “I think, therefore I am,” Jean-Jacques Rousseau proclaimed, “A thinking man is a depraved animal. “

In this havoc of power and ideas, one familiar face has re-emerged: that of colonialism. For many it is as undesirable as it is unbidden and unexpected. For others its recurrence is regrettable but comes as no surprise. For still others, it symbolizes the only sure way forward after the sudden shatters created by totalitarianism in the developmental paths of so numerous societies. For all, colonialism symbolizes a stage in the evolution of humanity to ‘higher forms’ of culture, one that should be endured or embraced, but is certainly destined to pass after a few chaotic decades (Smith 1995).

None of these situations seems to accord with the chronological facts or sociological realisms of ethnicity and colonialism. Instead of treating ethnicity and colonialism as phenomenon in their own right, they persist on evaluating them by the yardstick of a liberal evolutionary scheme, overt or tacit, one that is intrinsically problematic and perceptibly irrelevant to the dynamics of nations, colonialism and ethnic conflict.

For liberals and socialists dedicated to the view that humanity progresses in stages to greater units of comprehensiveness and higher values, the nation and colonialism can simply represent a halfway house to the aim of a cosmopolitan culture and a global polity . On the one hand, the nation can be applauded for superseding all those local, inscriptive ties and communities that have controlled innovation and opportunity and enchained the human spirit.

Its wider horizons have brought collectively all kinds of peoples with changeable origins, religions, occupations and class backgrounds and turned them into citizens of the defensive, civic nation. Conversely, the nation today has become an obstruction to progress, seeking ineffectively to control the flow of information and the channels of mass communication, and to obstruct and control the great economic institutions–transnational companies, world banks and trade organizations and the global financial and commodities markets.

Although the great forces of globalization, economic, political and cultural, have already diluted the power of the nation-state and are fast making all national boundaries and responses obsolete (Schopfin, George, 2000). Romanticism rejected the idea of the independence of the individual and stressed identification with an external whole, with something outside of oneself. Quite normally, this outside whole took the form of nature, as marked in the works of such romanticists as Wordsworth in England; Herder, Schiller, and Goethe in Germany; and Hugo, Rousseau, and Madame de Stael in France.

Frequently also, the center of one’s identification was the “folk,” the cultural group, or nation. Colonialism, in other words, was a political expression of romanticism . In many ways, the major philosopher of colonialism was Rousseau, whose influence on the French Revolution has been generally recognized. Rousseau’s ideal was the small, well-knit community in which each person freely gave himself over, quite literally, to every other person. We should obey the community, Rousseau taught, because in observing the community we obey ourselves.

The identity and unity of our wills produce a “General Will” that is completing, indivisible, infallible, and always for the common good. The individual’s commitment and fondness to the community and the General Will are total. French Revolution and Colonialism Following the French Revolution, colonialism spread across the continent of Europe and beyond. In a real sense, the past of nineteenth-century Europe is the history of colonialism or as a minimum this is one way of looking at it. The twentieth century saw the dispersal of colonialism throughout the world.

No country has been spared; none is an exemption. “Some Euro-enthusiasts, have hinted at the prospect of transcending the state and nation by forming a wider federation and a district political identity. Yet the federalists have been continually frustrated by the continuing vivacity of the national idea”. James Mayall, 1990, 94-5 With the exclusion of two brief periods, Western colonialism has continued unabated. For about a decade after each of the two world wars, Western colonialism was in a state of decline, even of ill reputation.

It was colonialism, after all, that had set in motion cataclysmic events, leading to appalling waste of human and material resources. But the decline of Western colonialism did not last long. Its renaissance after World War I was much hastened by the fascist and the Nazi movements of the 1920s and 1930s. After the Second World War, Western colonialism owed much of its vitality to the French Gaullist movement of the 1950s and the 1960s. More about this currently. The same world wars that led to the transient decline of colonialism in the West set the stage for the rise of colonialism in the East.

The “new colonialism,” as it came to be called, took place, for the most part, in colonial areas; and it was in large appraise a reaction against the Western policies of imperialism and invasion. At the turn of the century, colonial colonialism (more exactly, anticolonial colonialism) was almost an unknown phenomenon. Following World War I and the disintegration of the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian empires, colonialism began to appear in a few countries, most notably in India.

After the Second World War and the dissolution of the German, British, French, and other imperial designs, colonialism mushroomed in formerly colonial countries (Brown, Michael, 1997). Colonialism after Cold War Colonialism takes hold after the Cold war. By 1950, the philosophy of the Colonialism after Cold War had come to control public life in the United States. It was an ideology of American nationalist globalism, in which the United States was seen to be locked in global struggle with forces of international communism, proscribed by a Soviet government intent on world invasion.

That struggle was believed to intimidate fundamental American values, most particularly freedom of enterprise and freedom of religion, and the leeway of spreading those values, which were deemed collective, to the rest of the world, which longed for them. Within this ideology, almost all international problems or crises were seen as part of the overarching conflict between the United States and the USSR—between their contending ideologies and ways of life. Within this framework, a threat to “freedom” anywhere in the world was deemed a risk to the American way of life.

This presented a simple, dichotomous view that seemed too many if not most Americans to elucidate the often frustrating and considerably more composite developments of the postwar world. The roots of this philosophy lay in a tradition of belief about America’s national mission and destiny, a ritual reaching back to the seventeenth century. Key elements of this ideology were in place at the end of World War II; some developed throughout the war, and others preceded it. The final pieces fell into place between 1945 and 1950.

All through those years, the range of U. S. foreign policy discourse grew more and more narrow. Though, American nationalist ideology given the principal underpinning for the broad public consent that supported Cold War foreign policy. Seen through the prism of that principles, the U. S. had emerged from World War II as a completely matured great power, dedicated to comprehending freedom all through the world and prepared to usher in a new golden age in its own image.

After the war, the Soviet Union became a relentless foe because it exposed this idea of the American Century. From the late forties through the late eighties, the United States waged cold war against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics not mainly in the name of capitalism or Western civilization (neither of which would have united the American people behind the cause), but in the name of America in the name, that is, of the nation. The potency of the Colonialism ideology that appeared between 1945 and 1950—an principles that dominated U. S.

public life at least until the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991—derivative largely from its nationalist appeal. Yet although the vast scholarly literature on the Cold War, American colonialism remains a little-studied element of postwar U. S. history. Indeed, as Stephen Vaughn noted practically twenty years ago in his study of democracy and colonialism in the propaganda work of the Committee on Public Information during World War I, twentieth-century American colonialism remains a subject deficiently in need of further study (Vaughn, Stephen, 1980).

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