Does Colonialism work?

Colonialism can work – just look at Singapore

It is now a rich country in which most of the population lives in municipal housing while their children attend excellent state schools. There is a further crucial difference from the colonial past; Singapore now holds elections to choose its leaders. This was not the case until near the end of British rule, when the colony was allowed a measure of self-government.

But the Singapore story also shows us the price societies pay when their rulers make use of the tools colonial authorities left behind. Under British rule, detention without trial was used to stifle the threat of communism while a licensing system kept the press contained. As many Singaporean dissidents have argued, Singapore has embraced this illiberal colonial tradition to create a tightly controlled modern state.

The consequences are a country that, while wealthy, has a chilling climate for free speech and no independent trade unions. While Singapore does hold elections, there is little space for opposition politics – human rights groups say defamation laws have frequently been used to silence opposition voices.

I’ll share my thoughts later on.

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3 thoughts on “Does Colonialism work?”

  1. A question if I may:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2018/01/04/sleeping-woman-sexually-assaulted-on-plane-by-man-sitting-between-her-and-his-wife-officials-say/?utm_term=.c45c334bebe7&wpisrc=nl_az_most&wpmk=1

    Obviously this is embarrassing like heck. Has colonization made gross abominable incidents such as molestation less common or more common? I don’t know the answer. But perhaps this is an important metric by which to evaluate the success or failure of colonialism.

    Could everyone share their thoughts on how colonization affected the character of locals?

    In my opinion one positive aspect of European colonization was the abatement [albeit not end in some cases] of slavery in Africa and Islamist ruled areas. Another was freeing large numbers of nonmuslims and minority/liberal/reform/secular/atheist/ex muslims living in Islamist tyrannies. Tipu Sultan’s tyranny being an example.

    Naturally colonialism in practice was a combination of good and bad depending on the particular instance and time period.

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    1. @AnAn: Thanks for providing the interesting link. Trying to tie the alleged sexual assault incident to past colonialism, either positively or negatively, could be a stretch. I am still intrigued and stupefied by what transpired in the plane according to the Washington post column. Such incidents involving a south Asian are reported before and it could be subject for a separate post.

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