Forum:Anti-colonialism and the U.S.

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Moved from Talk WIGO CP, on, ironically, Columbus Day 2010

Now I know it's Sunday afternoon and I've just had a yummy roast dinner with maybe a glass too many of red wine, but can somebody please decipher the gibberish TK has D'Sousa spouting on MPL?img "It's not Dreams of my Father" but "Dreams from my Father." What? --PsyGremlinHable! 14:30, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

Well obviously "Dreams from my Father" implies that they are nasty, foreign, Kenyan dreams rather than home-grown, all-American ones. I think that's about it.  Lily Inspirate me. 14:54, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
So if Anti-colonialist is a bad thing, what are we supposed to do, colonize some 3rd world countries? Wait, Is that what the US is doing in Afghanistan and Iraq? ThiehCP≠Child Porn? 15:06, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
I find it fairly amusing that an advert for an article by Dinesh D'Souza links to "anti colonialism"... which is simply another advert for an article by Dinesh D'Souza. --Sid (talk) 15:08, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Anyone feel like pointing out that the United States was created by anti-colonialists?--TinOl (talk) 18:12, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
I WANT MY COLONY BACK YOU FILTHY YANK ANTI-COLONISTS! DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 19:56, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Tell you what: Anything East of the Mississippi and south of the Mason-Dixon line....please come for to take 'em. Okay, okay, I'll throw in 2 trillions of dollars. 22:19, 10 October 2010 (UTC) C®ackeЯ
Actually, the US was created by very big colonialists. For instance, Washington, IIRC, called America a "rising empire." The US has almost always been an imperialistic power, and it still is. Blue Talk 22:23, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Pray tell, how many colonies does that noted Imperialistic Power, the United States, presently possess? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 22:47, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Not entirely related and certainly not a serious reply, buuuuut.... X Stickman (talk) 23:24, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Why isn't Cuba marked on that map? ħumanUser talk:Human 23:50, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Because Castro is dead. --Kels (talk) 01:42, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
"Colonies," none. Territories, which aren't colonies per se, it has several. Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands... Blue Talk 01:10, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Building an empire, one quarter at a time, an illustrated history of the United States. Also, I think you missed a few territories, weren't there ten more quarters issued "honoring" a bunch of US "possessions"? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:22, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Yeah, teh other wiki has a more complete list. And X Stickman, that is actually more pertinent than you think. Blue Talk 01:34, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Calling the expansion across the Lower 48 and the military bases "imperialism" are both examples of moving the goalposts. My point was that the U.S. never actually founded an imperial colony and its flirtation with empire at the turn of the 20th century was comparatively tiny. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 01:45, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
I was remarking on the irony that the very folks who so fervently wanted independence from an imperial power were very much intent on founding an imperial power.
So what is westward expansion, then, if not colonialism? What about the annexation of Hawaii? Blue Talk 02:06, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
The U.S. was not "imperial" to start out with, in the whole domination-and-subordination sense. The American people's aim was to settle the land themselves; the law, if I am not mistaken, was that Americans could not settle on "Indian territory" until arrangements had been made to shove the Indians off of it. Hawaii was organized-and-incorporated outright rather than taken as a colony like the Philippines. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:38, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Washington called the new nation a "rising empire." Madison was "laying the foundations of a great empire." Then there was the Monroe Doctrine not two decades later. Blue Talk 02:50, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
I think they were using the word to refer to a collection of quasi-independent states, rather than a colonial empire. Also, the Monroe Doctrine only turned imperial after a fin de siecle moving of the goalposts. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:02, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
As to your first point - when did any of the Founders use the word "empire" to describe the relationship between the states? That would have been antithetical to the federal system they were creating. As to your second point - not necessarily. Recall the Ostend Manifesto - 1854, and the annexation of Hawaii - 1842. Blue Talk 03:17, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Who said that the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1842? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:30, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
I have no idea why I wrote that. Facepalm.png Blue Talk 03:33, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
All right, then. As to the question of the Founding Fathers, it would help if you could provide the context for your quotes. I did not know about the Ostend Manifesto, but I have read it through and it looks as if it was some sort of Southern plot that, being exposed, was automatically foiled. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:00, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
The expansion towards the Pacific was very much imperialistic in nature. The "domination and subjugation" criterion is also fulfilled - the US strove to dominate North America and asserted its hegemony vis-a-vis Mexico, and it subjugated the Native Americans for that purpose. The only difference to what the European powers did, or could do, in most of their colonies comes from the fact that direct adjacency, massive immigration and comparatively small and rapidly dwindling populations of natives allowed the US to settle these territories and make them part of its national core. The US simply had the unique opportunity to build a continental empire by succesively extendind the metropolis into the periphery, resulting in a much more cohesive and long-lasting variant, but it's an empire nonetheless. Röstigraben (talk) 07:41, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Goodpost.gif Blue Talk 07:48, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Yes, great post, but the US was not unique in this - Russia managed to do the same thing (and Germany tried to). ħumanUser talk:Human 07:53, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
And the French. Blue Talk 08:00, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Oh, and doh, the Romans, the Ottomans, the Caliphate, etc. etc. etc......... ħumanUser talk:Human 08:22, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
There are big differences between the ways in which those countries expanded. Russia's expansion across Siberia was largely caused by peasants moving in search of new land, at least until they came into direct contact with the Chinese. The Ottomans used their army to smash the opposition, but again occupation of the land was left to nomads and their flocks. America's westward expansion was organised by the state to a large extent. A closer example would be the Greeks, who deliberately sent out groups of settlers to places like Massilia and Tripolitania in order to expand the Hellenic world. –SuspectedReplicant retire me 09:49, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

Handy edit link[edit]

I agree with SuspectedReplicant that the various expansions were of widely variant character. What differentiates the U.S.'s case from most of the others with which it is commonly compared is that the conquered territory was admitted to the U.S. on fully equal terms (the doctrine of "equal footing") — until the Spanish-American War the U.S. simply had no "subject territories" that had not previously been terra nullius.

An example is the territories taken from Mexico, for which the "domination and subjugation" argument does not hold up. Texas, if you will recall, staged a revolution against Mexico, supported by both its Spanish- and English-speaking populations, and had become an independent republic several years before its annexation by the U.S. — which Texas wanted more than the U.S. did. Mexico was the party declaring war over that issue, and the U.S. had Britain in mind rather than Mexico when pursuing that war.

You seem to be implying Mexico declared war on the US... have I misinterpreted? Blue Talk 02:42, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
The U.S. made the formal declaration, true, but the Mexicans had repeatedly threatened war if the U.S. annexed Texas, and the Mexicans made the first attack. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:50, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Ah, I see. If we're going to discuss de facto aggression, was annexing Texas was not an aggressive act? Blue Talk 02:53, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Again, the Mexicans struck first, which in de facto terms started the war. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:57, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
In response to the United States' prior action - annexing a territory Mexico believed to be within its borders. Blue Talk 03:00, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Annexing a supposedly independent republic that requested it? No. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:02, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

This argument also does not hold up with regard to the Indians, since there was no interest in subjugating or exploiting the Indians themselves, as evidenced by the facts that (1) as long as there was convenient land still remaining, the practice was to kick the Indians out to live as they would on the as-yet-unsettled lands or on the reservations, rather than controlling them where they stood; (2) when this became impossible, the Indians were maintained at government expense.

On the other hand, most colonial empires (the Spanish, to name a New World example) were founded with the explicit aim of controlling, subjugating, and/or exploiting the indigenous populations of the conquered areas, perhaps because the conquerors felt it was their burden. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:09, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Lol, the Trail of Tears was just a friendly move to help the natives find new "convenient land". I'm so glad to be informed that the US westward expansion was all done with the welfare of the previous owners in mind. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:29, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
Pardon me, but I did not say that the U.S. cared about the welfare of the Indians when kicking them out — indeed, my point was that they did not care about the Indians' fate beyond removing them from the land in question, unlike in the Spanish areas, where they were enslaved outright. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:35, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
You also said they were maintained at government expense. You are hilarious tonight. They also used to shoot them from trains. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:03, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
The maintenance at government expense (through the Bureau of Indian Affairs) came later, after they had been crowded into small reservations and could not maintain their traditional lifestyle. Many colonial empires would at that time have force-marched them to the nearest mine and put them to work under whips and chains. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:15, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
So this one was somehow different in that after force-marching them to non-arable land, it provided them a minimal level of subsistence? I don't see why the "definition" you are using is a limiting factor to what can be called a colonial empire. How about the Northern Mariana Islands? ħumanUser talk:Human 04:51, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
(Unindent)OK, first, the annexation of Texas was not the only result of the Mexican-American war. The whole of what is now the American Southwest and California also changed hands, and nobody asked the people living there whether they'd like to join the Union, it was just an old-school annexation for the purpose of territorial aggrandizement. That war served to establish US dominance over its last credible regional rival, afterwards, all they had to worry about was the British, who conveniently had a million other balls to juggle at the same time.
Second, the fact that the US eventually awarded statehood to all of its continental holdings doesn't make the American case non-imperialistic. The Europeans also didn't go with enslavement of the indigenous populations everywhere they set foot - where these people could be driven off or exterminated and replaced by settlers, they were. Apart from the US' own origin, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and to a lesser extent South Africa are all examples of such settler colonies, and since they were populated by Whites, they were eventually deemed fit for self-rule. Ejecting people from their own lands by force is subjugation of the most successful kind, because it ensures a long-term hold over the territory. This could be done in the continental US, and where it was impossible, like in the already densely populated Phillipines, Americans also established a European-style rule through a small colonial elite.
Finally, I just want to make clear that I'm not anti-American and I don't want to come across as such. What I simply don't buy into is that notion of American exceptionalism. The US behaved much like other imperialist powers of the age, they were neither exceptionally benevolent nor exceptionally evil in their pursuit of an empire. They had a very rare opportunity, and they seized it, that's all. Röstigraben (talk) 06:47, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
So this one was somehow different in that after force-marching them to non-arable land, it provided them a minimal level of subsistence? I was trying to get across that the U.S. sunk more resources into the reservations than it got out of them, unlike your average imperial colony, where the natives were put to work mining, growing coffee, etc. Also, it was much easier for an Indian to become a U.S. citizen than for an indigenous resident of an imperial colony to get comparable legal status, even before the Citizenship Act in 1924.
What about the Northern Mariana Islands? The U.S. is perhaps not allowed to retaliate when attacked? But that is irrelevant, as the U.S. had taken on imperial colonies well before that time.
Second, the fact that the US eventually awarded statehood to all of its continental holdings doesn't make the American case non-imperialistic. If you want to talk statehood, this was given to Texas and California immediately after the U.S. acquired them. The other pre-1899 acquisitions were brought in on equal footing to other territories. It took the European colonial empires centuries, in some cases, to reach that state of affairs, and only after significant prodding from the colonies. Your examples of Canada, New Zealand, etc., were not really out from under the U.K.'s thumb until the Statute of Westminster in 1931.
Ejecting people from their own lands by force is subjugation of the most successful kind... Not by definition. For example, when the Jews were dispossessed of their property and kicked out of half of Europe in the Middle Ages, they did not end up subjugated by the states that kicked them out. The same goes for the Germans kicked out of eastern Europe after World War II.
What I simply don't buy into is that notion of American exceptionalism. I would suggest that you refrain from mentioning the phrase "American exceptionalism" in the same sentence with factual matters. It is one thing to be realistic about the U.S.'s actual contributions to the world (if you would listen to the American-exceptionalist types chatter, you would gather that the Founding Fathers invented democratic government, and were the only true revolutionaries besides), and another thing altogether to sweep inconvenient facts under the rug. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:04, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
Again, Texas and California do not constitute all of the territorial acquisitions from the Mexican-American war. Arizona and New Mexico weren't granted statehood before 1912. The same is true for other territories, almost a century passed between the Alaska purchase and its accession to the Union, for example. And it's not like all of the British colonies were completely dependent on the metropolis until 1931, local self-rule was established in Canada, New Zealand and most of Australia in the 1850s. We can go on and on arguing about this, but there's simply not a strong case for a fundamental difference in the way the US treated its imperial acquisitions. Americans weren't out to establish self-determination and democracy from sea to shining sea (and later overseas), they were on a plainly expansionist course and fought two major wars for that purpose. Where they met resistance from the local inhabitants, they were swiftly subdued and displaced or exterminated. No empire in the history of the world has ever cared about the consent of the people whose land it sought to take over, and the US is no exception. Röstigraben (talk) 12:08, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
Before we go on, I would like to make sure you know that residents of incorporated territories of the U.S. (which all of the territory gained from Mexico became immediately upon acquisition, and which Alaska became immediately upon acquisition) are considered to be on equal footing with the residents of U.S. states; also that the Organic Acts creating those territories automatically conferred "home rule" thereupon.
Americans weren't out to establish self-determination and democracy from sea to shining sea (and later overseas). That is highly debatable. Much less debatable is that their track record in actually establishing democratic government in the acquired territories is quite a lot better than the colonial empires'.
No empire in the history of the world has ever cared about the consent of the people whose land it sought to take over, and the US is no exception. Uh, pardon me for thinking there is a slight difference between the slaughters of the Spanish conquistadors and the U.S. tricking the Indians out of their land by unequal treaty. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:45, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
So the slaves in the Marianas Islands get to vote? You are fucking lame, you didn't even know what I was talking about. ħumanUser talk:Human 05:27, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
I am not here discussing the unincorporated territories of the U.S., which are (or were at the time) imperial-style colonies, albeit not of the U.S.'s making. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:33, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Edit break[edit]

  1. should this be moved to Forum?
  2. Is this revelant?<sic> Hat tip 11:24, 11 October 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast

Slightly back on topic[edit]

D'Sousa accuses Obama of being an "anti-colonialist" as if that's a bad thing. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:33, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

D'Souza is making a straw man, for starters; substitute "Leninism" for "anti-colonialism" and you will probably have a more accurate rendering of what he was trying to get across. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:37, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
D'Sousa is a fucking lunatic, but this is what he said, and what started the discussion. Although, yes, that's one of the many things he meant. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:00, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
The only objective of D'Souzas weird essay is to reinforce the notion that Obama isn't "one of us". Kenyan, Muslim, socialist, anti-colonialist, whatever - they just stick any label on him that'll make him appear alien, the actual content of the theory and the evidence provided for it don't matter. Those who already have that preconceived notion of Obama as someone who's essentially different will latch onto it. When it comes to that point, it's also irrelevant whether the ideas ascribed to Obama have any actual merit - few people would subscribe to colonialism or old-school imperialism these days, but "anti-colonial" can simply be taken as another empty synonym for a vaguely non-mainstream, foreign, third world identity. Röstigraben (talk) 07:11, 12 October 2010 (UTC)
I would not label anti-colonialism "foreign" or "third world," but these days, with colonialism gone out the window, the term is certainly a synonym. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:11, 16 October 2010 (UTC)
Lol, I see what you did there. Too bad it was a stupid thing to do. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:27, 16 October 2010 (UTC)