Seven uncomfortable truths about invasions, conquests, and imperialism

Seven uncomfortable truths about invasions, conquests, and imperialism, by Arthur Chrenkoff.

Imperialism has been a part of human history since time immemorial. …

Imperialism is not a white-only thing. …Countless empires have existed in every part of the world, including the Incan and the Aztec ones in the Americas, the Zulu and the Assante in Africa, the Arab and the Ottoman in the Middle East, and the Mongol, the Chinese and the Japanese in Asia. …

Europe has been both the conqueror and the conquered. …

Virtually every part of Europe has been at one time or another repeatedly conquered and incorporated into someone else’s empire too. Before the British Empire, most of Britain was invaded and occupied by the Romans, the Germanic tribes, the Danes, and the Normans. Large parts of the south-eastern and south-western Europe were for centuries parts of Islamic empires, large parts of the Eastern one the Mongol and the Tartar ones. …

With the exception of a few “lost” tribes in the Amazon and Papua New Guinea, virtually every other indigenous population around the world has been colonised by someone sometime.

In the end, Australia was colonised by the British, but at various times over the past half a millennium it might have been colonised by the Asian Muslims, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, the Dutch, the German or the Japanese. Without defending or whitewashing imperialism in general, it is fair to say that British colonies have generally fared better than others, and British settler colonies the best, and that includes for those colonised. …

The conquered are both the victims and eventually also the beneficiaries of the conquest.

The conquest brings death, disease, dispossession and the end of the traditional way of life, but over time it also brings and diffuses more advanced technology and institutions, which lead to a higher standard of living, again, including for the descendants of those colonised. …

Most conquered are also the conquerors. …

In Australia, the overwhelming majority of people identifying as Indigenous have at least one and often several European ancestors. …

You can’t unscramble the eggs.

You cannot unsettle Australia. Indigenous Australian cannot return to their hunting and gathering past. You cannot combine Stone Age culture with modernity and try to cherry-pick the best of both. Feeling guilty for something that happened a long time ago is as useless as apologising for something that you’re not personally responsible for.

hat-tip Stephen Neil