Does Colonialism work? . . . metrics to evaluate colonialism

The ever perceptive Zachary Latif asked the question of whether colonialism works. I think this needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. How to evaluate the success of colonialism? Here is one way to evaluate the success of colonialism:

  • 90% colonization of the mind
    • Has colonization improved the character and self confidence of locals?
    • Or has colonization harmed the character and self confidence of people by creating inferiority complexes and causing locals to turn against each other?
  • 9% strengthening and forming local institutions
    • This includes efficient, effective and fair judicial systems; capable police, capable armed forces, capable other civilian governance institutions. Where “capable” means that institutions provide significant capacity to the government at a reasonable cost relative to services rendered.
    • This also includes capable religious, spiritual, charitable, business association, art, cultural, press, advocacy and other civil society organizations.
    • Additionally includes quality private sector business institutions.
  • 0.9% human capital
    • Don’t need to explain why educated local people benefit the local economy
  • 0.09% physical capital
    • Access to quality and market priced transportation, telecommunications, energy, utilities, tools. Including access to efficient capital markets with a low risk adjusted cost of capital. It matters little who owns physical capital (whether “oppressor” rich people or “oppressor” foreigners); only that it accessible to all economic participants at market prices.
  • 0.01% everything else
    • This includes all income or wealth transfers [theft]; or “oppression” as defined by post modernists. Why does this not materially matter? Because income, wealth, product development, process innovation can be easily created by a team of people with character, health and intelligence. Humans have infinite potential inside them . . . the spark of transcendence. A team of humans can transform and improve the world.
      • Character is defined as love in action, self confidence, purity, authenticity, few vibrations, fluctuations, traumas in the subconscious. In Sanskrit this is called “Chitta Shuddhi”.

How have English colonizers done in their colonization of the minds of their imperial subjects? It is a mixed record at best.

One negative example is exporting post modernism to colonial subjects. “Post Modernism” or “structuralism” were created by Ferdinand de Saussure and his students as a way to deconstruct colonized peoples, causing them to be embarrassed by, hate and reject their ancient history, civilization, culture, religion, spirituality, art, literature, institutions, ancestors and elders. Post modernism divided colonized peoples into many categories of oppressed and oppressors (mostly manufactured irrational concepts) to turn different groups of people against each other; implying that power oppression rather than meritocratic competence defined local hierarchies. Another objective was to create inferiority complexes by brainwashing people with the lie that they were weak, oppressed and unable to manifest their own miracles. Today post modernism heavily influences academia, government and institutions inside most developing countries.

Sadly post modernism was one among many subtle sophisticated tools used by English colonizers to create inferiority complexes among their subject peoples. Another was creating local education systems that discouraged creativity, thinking different and problem solving; while encouraging clerk Babu style rote memorization and repetitive unthinking work.

A positive example would be exporting classical liberalism to colonized peoples. Classical liberalism is partly inspired by eastern philosophy. Ancient Greece is a branch of the ancient eastern Arya civilization. Greek philosophers were again deeply influenced by the east during the time of Alexander the Great circa forth century BC. 15th to 18th century AD European renaissance enlightenment was partly inspired by reading eastern texts.  However, Europeans implemented classical liberalism in their own societies (whereas these ideas remained more theoretical in the East) and inspired people all over the world to practice classical liberalism.

Different people can draw their own conclusions about the benefits and costs of colonization for local peoples in specific instances. However I would hope that they heavily weight the colonization of the mind in their calculations.

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Dick Scott
6 years ago

Were not the Romans influenced by the Greeks who were an early colony?

6 years ago
Reply to  AnAn

No I totally disagree. Europe took a different path when the Atheians made Socrates drink poison in his prison cell. Even though the Greeks had philosophy, its off-shoot, the romans had none. Rome was ripe for idiotic sematic monethism.

I will describe why semitic monotheism is idiotic:
The are three rational ways to explain presence of god or otherwise, as far as my imagination goes.

1) There is no god, so the world is chaotic as there is nothing that plans what is going on in the world.
2) There are many gods, each working for his/ her interest; leading to chotic world, as interests clash.
3) There is only one god, and it follows that He is nuts; how would you explain the choas that goes aroud the world?

It would take much longer to explain why non-sematic monethism could be rational. But that is for another day.
Problem with semitic monotheism is that it makes the thought process very rigid.
My favorite example is when Max Plank introduced probability to quantum Physics, Einstein was supposed to have commented that God does not play dice. See, even Einstein confused his belief for truth.

Old Blue
6 years ago
Reply to  Prashanth

Your reasoning… that which is evident here, at least… fails to even recognize one huge contributor to what you describe as chaos; man’s free will.

Chaos in the world doesn’t indicate the mental health of a deity any more than your personal actions do.

Natural chaos is often not exactly chaotic. Even chaos theory indicates patterns that emerge from supposed chaos. If the chaos you bemoan is the chaos of human actions, then the missing piece of the puzzle isn’t the sanity of a Creator, but the agency that Creator gave man. This is the root, for many, of a sort of resentment against God, or the very concept of God.

This resentment makes several assumptions. First, it assumes that a single deity, a Creator of the universe, would be benevolent. Second, it assumes that a benevolent God would literally prevent evil from manifesting itself on any large scale. This would include earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and other naturally occurring events that may result in human tragedy. A benevolent God would surely not let hundreds of thousands of souls perish in a tsunami, for instance. Nor would He
permit Hitler to kill millions, much less war in general. Thirdly, it assumes that this deity is responsible for everything, that man has no choice, no agency. Including man’s own inhumanity to man. Especially man’s inhumanity to man.

Separating the functions of a Creator into the constituent (perceived) functions of a God, breaking this role into many gods, is an attempt to place some divine responsibility at every level. There is a separate god of creation and one of destruction. There is a god of light and one of darkness. Of fertility and of death. Once more, this removes human choice, human agency. It also reduces a God of incomprehensible intelligence and wisdom to a set of human personalities interacting in some sort of transactional arrangement. A Mr Rodgers Neighborhood of gods where a petulant maritime deity kills hundreds of thousands because the god of fisheries permitted the theft of his favorite flounder.

The fourth assumption is that human tragedy equals something terrible and lasting in an eternal life, as if this plane of existence is the only one that really matters. And, of course, it matters in the same way it matters in our mortal thoughts. This coming from a brain that can’t wrap itself around basic concepts about how things actually work.

We’re still discovering quantum physics, yet we can diagnose the mental state of a God who created physics that can discovered, or predicted to be discovered, through math? That’s some pretty neat mental gymnastics, honestly. Humans aren’t arrogant at all, apparently.

Fifth, it assumes no, or severely limited, free will. It allows us to blame God or at least assume some mental or emotional instability. Arrogant man excuses himself from responsibility by blaming a God he rebels against.

Disbelief in God due to a lack of evidence is agnosticism. The implicit thought is that, offered sufficient evidence, an agnostic would believe. Atheism is a negative reaction to even the concept of God, and it never fails that the resentment peeks through; blame. As if every little thing were actually the will of God, which in itself an implicit acceptance that there is a God to begin with combined with a rejection of the concept of free will. Otherwise, what’s left to attack other than man’s free will?

How do you reject something that doesn’t exist? How do you resent something that doesn’t exist? How can something that doesn’t exist fail you? For an average atheist, it’s not enough not to believe; the very concept of God must be attacked if for no other reason than to save you from your delusions. But, be attacked it must.

Why attack something that doesn’t exist?

Calling out a specific spiritual tradition as idiotic is unhelpful and a bit extremist. More than that, though, is what you’re personally excluding yourself from. No single spiritual tradition has a lock on The Truth. Not one has every element of the big picture. Each has something to offer a seeker of the truth. Your derision of an entire swath of human experience, knowledge and wisdom… and there is wisdom to be found… says that you are extremely limited in what you will permit yourself to learn. This hurts no one but yourself.

Lastly, you view Einstein’s statement to be a sign of intellectual weakness, when he achieved what many so-called scientific geniuses can’t; he squared his belief in science with his faith. Chaos theory has already raised interesting questions about the predictability of chaos. Perhaps randomness isn’t so random after all. Perhaps, Sir, Einstein was closer to the truth than you can understand. What’s worse; he may have attained this level of spiritual maturity mostly within a Judeo-Christian (+ Muslim, as the Old Testament
is also bedrock for Islam) construct. Whoa. Idiotic, indeed.


I generally agree with the above. A few comments and a question:

// 90%, 9% … //

Are the percentages indicative of ballpark magnitudes of effects of the respective factors? If so, what’s the justification?

// “Post Modernism” or “structuralism” were created by Ferdinand de Saussure //

Saussure did develop structuralist ideas in linguistics, but in linguistics alone. And he hadn’t the foggiest about “Post Modernism”, for that species of specious thought wasn’t invented in his time. The connection of Post-Modernism (in the sense it is usually meant) with Linguistics is tenuous at best and, in any case, the sins of the sons cannot visit on the father .. the damned 2nd law of thermodynamics again!

// Ancient Greece is a branch of the ancient eastern Arya civilization //

Alexander the Great just turned in his grave, if he had one 😀

// Because income, wealth, product development, process innovation can be easily created by a team of people with character, health and intelligence. Humans have infinite potential inside them . . . the spark of transcendence. A team of humans can transform and improve the world. //

Very well said! The set of transformations a committed team of humans can bring about is indeed boundless (rather bounded only by the laws of Physics).

Brown Pundits