The Trump Wall between the USA and Mexico is not a dead issue as far as Trump’s most promised election agenda is concerned.
In some lighter but brighter thinking, the Trump Wall has some merits in his ambitious project, a legacy which will be lot more wider and taller than any other presidents in the history of America.
Here is a fictional dialogue between Trump and one of his close businessman friends:
Businessman: Can you shed some light on this controversial wall proposal, as many people on both sides of the border ridiculed your fancy.
Trump: It was a political stunt to please my innocent and committed worshippers. It was not meant to secure the border with Mexico either. The reason for putting forward this game plan was purely business.
Businessman: But how it can be a business venture.
Trump: You see, millions of people visit the Great Wall of China every year. And that is from where I picked up the idea. My wall will be much more grandeur in size and architecture. It will be number one tourist attraction in the world. I have built replica of Taj Mahal. But this one will be the real thing.
Businessman: It involves billions or perhaps trillions of dollars. From where the money will come from.
Trump: you know I am a great salesman, and with my charismatic personality investors worldwide will line up in front of the White House to avail this great opportunity. Moreover, I will be looking for sponsors and advertisers who can buy space to promote their products and services. The space, you can call it Trump’s Wall Street, is unlimited, running into thousands of miles from Pacific to the Atlantic.
The Case for Colonialism, published in Third World Quarterly by Bruce Gilley, argues Western colonialism was both “objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate” in most places where it existed.
Gilley, an associate professor of political science at Portland State University, claims the solution to poverty and economic underdevelopment in parts of the Global South is to reclaim “colonial modes of governance; by recolonizing some areas; and by creating new Western colonies from scratch.”
Whether the article is ultimately retracted or not, its wide circulation necessitates that its claims be held up to careful historical scrutiny. As well, in light of current public debates on censorship and free speech versus hate speech, this is a discussion well worth having. Although this debate may seem as though it is merely academic, nothing could be further from the truth.
Although it may seem colonialist views are far behind us, a 2014 YouGov poll revealed 59 per cent of British people view the British Empire as “something to be proud of.” Those proud of their colonial history outnumber critics of the Empire three to one. Similarly, 49 per cent believe the Empire benefited its former colonies.
Such views, often tied to nostalgia for old imperial glory, can help shape the foreign and domestic policies of Western countries.
Gilley has helped to justify these views by getting his opinions published in a peer review journal. In his article, Gilley attempts to provide evidence which proves colonialism was objectively beneficial to the colonized. He says historians are simply too politically correct to admit colonialism’s benefits.
In fact, the opposite is true. In the overwhelming majority of cases, empirical research clearly provides the facts to prove colonialism inflicted grave political, psychological and economic harms on the colonized.
It takes a highly selective misreading of the evidence to claim that colonialism was anything other than a humanitarian disaster for most of the colonized. The publication of Gilley’s article — despite the evidence of facts — calls into question the peer review process and academic standards of The Third World Quarterly.
Colonialism in India
As the largest colony of the world’s largest imperial power, India is often cited by apologists for the British Empire as an example of “successful” colonialism. Actually, India provides a much more convincing case study for rebutting Gilley’s argument.
With a population of over 1.3 billion and an economy predicted to become the world’s third-largest by 2030, India is a modern day powerhouse. While many attribute this to British colonial rule, a look at the facts says otherwise.
As proven by the macroeconomic studies of experts such as K.N. Chaudhuri, India and China were central to an expansive world economy long before the first European traders managed to circumnavigate the African cape.
During the heyday of British rule, or the British Raj, from 1872 to 1921, Indian life expectancy dropped by a stunning 20 per cent. By contrast, during the 70 years since independence, Indian life expectancy has increased by approximately 66 per cent, or 27 years. A comparable increase of 65 per cent can also be observed in Pakistan, which was once part of British India.
Although many cite India’s extensive rail network as a positive legacy of British colonialism, it is important to note the railroad was built with the express purpose of transporting colonial troops inland to quell revolt. And to transport food out of productive regions for export, even in times of famine.
India’s experience is highly relevant for assessing the impact of colonialism, but it does not stand alone as the only example to refute Gilley’s assertions. Gilley argues current poverty and instability within the Democratic Republic of the Congo proves the Congolese were better off under Belgian rule. The evidence says otherwise.
Since independence in 1960, life expectancy in the Congo has climbed steadily, from around 41 years on the eve of independence to 59 in 2015. This figure remains low compared to most other countries in the world. Nonetheless, it is high compared to what it was under Belgian rule.
Under colonial rule, the Congolese population declined by estimates ranging from three million to 13 million between 1885 and 1908 due to widespread disease, a coercive labour regime and endemic brutality.
Gilley argues the benefits of colonialism can be observed by comparing former colonies to countries with no significant colonial history. Yet his examples of the latter erroneously include Haiti (a French colony from 1697 to 1804), Libya (a direct colony of the Ottoman Empire from 1835 and of Italy from 1911), and Guatemala (occupied by Spain from 1524 to 1821).
These counter-examples disprove Gilley’s central thesis that non-Western countries are by definition incapable of reaching modernity without Western “guidance.”
In short, the facts are in, but they do not paint the picture that Gilley and other imperial apologists would like to claim. Colonialism left deep scars on the Global South and for those genuinely interested in the welfare of non-Western countries, the first step is acknowledging this.
Following are the excerpts on the “art of disagreement” by Bret Stephens, Pulitzer Award Winner columnist at The New York Times from his recent lecture delivered at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia.
“Disagreements arise from perfect comprehension; from having chewed over the ideas of your intellectual opponent so thoroughly that you can properly spit them out.
“In other words, to disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.
“Intelligent disagreement is the lifeblood of any thriving society.
“What makes our disagreements so toxic is that we refuse to make eye contact with our opponents, or try to see things as they might, or find some middle ground.
“Instead, we fight each other from the safe distance of our separate islands of ideology and identity and listen intently to echoes of ourselves.
“The crucial prerequisite of intelligent disagreement — namely: shut up; listen up; pause and reconsider; and only then speak”.
The United Nations is not necessarily a decision-making body, but a meeting place of supposed to be of knowledgeable people sharing their knowledge with other knowledgeable people to create understanding, and more specifically to establish trust among themselves.
But when president Trump made his inaugural speech at the UN past week all norms of civility were tossed, and the world body was indeed rattled where objectives of understanding and trust were lost in the din of his loaded provocation which is dangerous to the world peace.
Hinduism is an academy of sciences. It finds its dwelling in the realm of metaphysics besides accepting the environment of physical realities where most sciences reside. That is what distinguishes the ancient Indian sciences that these go beyond the empirical confines to explore and analyze the spiritual realities as well.
They say silence is golden. And Obama is collecting a lot of gold these days after he was done with the US presidency. Is there a strategical reason for him to be quite on major issues? In the politics of silence, which is now a common practice among many world politicians, Modi of India excels in that, there is always some game plan or reason not be get involved. In the case of Obama, perhaps his rationale is, if he speaks out on an issue, the Republicans for the party’s solidarity sake will align more towards Trump. Isolating Trump from his party could be Obama’s strategy in the politics of silence.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims are fleeing their own country and crossing over to neighbouring Bangladesh as refugees because of the atrocities committed by the military junta on them resulting in massacres, hunger and hardships. While this has been going on for a while the Nobel recipient de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for no reason is completely apathetic towards the sufferings of her fellow citizens who are not Buddhists like her and the rest of the population. She should surrender her Nobel prize or it must be revoked.
It is an opportunity for US Congress men and women, especially Republicans, to exercise their nobility and virtue to save the dreams of over 800,000 Dreamers as their future is being threatened by possible deportation by apathetic head of the United States, Donald Trump. The law-abiding people came to the United States decades ago as toddlers and children along with their parents who entered the country “illegally”.
Education over the years is mostly geared towards fitting into the labour sector and securing jobs. This is called the industrial model of education. Here is a brief quote on the subject by Steven Fesmire, professor of philosophy, Middlebury College, USA, from his essay in the Conversation.
“Rather than educating whole persons for lifelong growth, this “industrial model” treats education as just another sector of the economy. In this view, education’s job is to manufacture skilled labor, and it’s expected to do so in a way that’s maximally efficient. Knowledge is seen as a market commodity, teachers and professors are delivery vehicles for knowledge content and students are either consumers or manufactured products.
Educational institutions that follow the industrial model are seen as marketplaces for acquiring and delivering content. And when tuition is involved, that’s simply the fair price for accessing that content”.